Judith Hausman
April 24, 2013

Photo by Judith Hausman

Serve your onion biscuits with a slice of ham.

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To me, ham means biscuits, even here in New York’s Hudson Valley. We will soon be celebrating spring with the ham of a local pig, raised a few miles away. There will be asparagus, a leek-and-potato gratin, a salad of young greens and caramelized onion biscuits.

Now, biscuits are flexible and forgiving. If scallions (green onions) are truer to seasonal where you live, skip the caramelizing and they’ll be fine. (You could also let perky chives provide the onion flavors.) I use thyme in this recipe because my own is actually green now, but other herbs, such as parsley, rosemary or even sage, would be complimentary, too. If you use only herbs, and not cooked onion of some kind, add a bit more buttermilk.

Biscuits can be leaner or richer, too. I like the lightness of buttermilk and butter, but you can get serious with bacon fat and cream, if you dare. You could also meet in the middle with some of each. Since the dough should not be too wet or too crumbly-dry, you might need to adjust amounts a little with these substitutions. Fat or shortening is softer than butter and may distribute differently in the flour. Cream doesn’t “wet” the ingredients as much as milk. Adding cooked bacon or mushrooms or a half cup of grated cheddar cheese (reduce the second amount of butter to 4 tablespoons if using cheese) creates other delicious variations. Trust yourself and experiment. In fact, I think I’ll make a second batch with some of the leftover ham!

Yield: 10 to 12 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter.

Onion Biscuits


  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, divided (or a combination of shortening, bacon fat and butter)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cup flour (use up to 3/4 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat until they are soft and golden brown. Stir frequently, be patient and avoid burning them. Add the vinegar and the thyme, and let cook briefly until the liquid evaporates. Set aside to cool. 

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, and then cut in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter (or other fat) until the mix looks like large crumbs. Add the buttermilk and the onions, mixing until just moistened. Do not overmix or overhandle. 

On a lightly floured board, pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut with a cookie cutter (or a small glass), and arrange on a baking sheet (parchment paper or a silicone sheet are very helpful here). 

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.


You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:

Herb Biscuits

Tomato Cheese Biscuits

Read more of Locavore Recipes »

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