This easy-to-follow tea biscuit recipe makes wonderfully flaky and buttery biscuits every time. They are soft and fluffy inside and made with just 6 simple ingredients.

A stack of flaky butter biscuits on a cooling rack.

What is a tea biscuit?

The origin of tea biscuits dates back to Britain in the 17th century. Initially known as “biscuit bread,” these simple baked goods were made from a mixture of flour, water, and sometimes fat. Over time, the recipe evolved to include additional ingredients like sugar, butter, and leavening agents, resulting in the tea biscuits we enjoy today. They became a popular accompaniment to afternoon tea, served alongside a cup of tea or coffee.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Easy to make – Just 6 simple ingredients and completely made by hand. The dough comes together quickly in one bowl. Then you roll it out, cut the dough into circles, and bake. These are the easiest and best tea biscuits you’ll ever make.
  • Easy to serve – Traditionally served with jam and clotted cream during afternoon tea but anything goes with these biscuits. They are great for breakfast with a spread of butter or jam. You can also serve them as a side instead of dinner rolls.
  • And even better to eat! – These biscuits are rich and buttery. They have distinct layers of flaky tender crumbs. The texture on the inside is incredibly soft and fluffy and just melts in your mouth.
A bunch of butter biscuits scattered on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Key ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour – Provides structure. Can be substituted with whole wheat flour for a healthier option but, please note, the texture won’t be as soft.
  • Salt and sugar – Balances taste.
  • Baking powder – Adds lift and makes the biscuits fluffy.
  • Unsalted butter – Adds flavor and richness, and prevents the biscuits from being dry.
  • Buttermilk – Adds tenderness and moisture. Can be substituted with any kind of milk or homemade buttermilk. The higher the fat content, the more moist the biscuits.

How to make tea biscuits:

(the ingredient amounts are listed in the printable recipe card further below)

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until only pea-size chunks remain.
  2. Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together.
  3. Gently knead on a floured surface and roll out to a 6×9″ rectangle. Cut into 3 equal parts.
  4. Stack each third on top of one another. Roll out again to a 6×9″ rectangle.
  5. Using a 2¼ or 2½-inch biscuit cutter, cut as many circles as you can. Gather the scraps and repeat with the layering technique. Cut out more biscuits from the rest of the dough.
  6. Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top.
raw biscuit dough being cut and on a baking sheet

Expert tips:

  • Use cold butter and buttermilk – You want those little pieces of butter to remain solid before entering the oven so they will expand and produce steam during the baking process, creating those flaky layers.
  • Be quick but gentle – Working quickly will help prevent the butter from melting or softening too much. You also want to be gentle while working the dough so you don’t create too much gluten, causing the biscuits to be tough.

How to store:

The tea biscuits can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

How to freeze:

Once completely cooled, transfer to a freezer-friendly container or ziplock bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Warm up in the microwave or toaster oven before serving.

Two biscuits on a plate with a jar of jam.


Are scones and tea biscuits the same?

Scones and tea biscuits are similar in that they are both baked goods commonly enjoyed with tea, but they have distinct differences. English scones tend to be richer and denser, often containing eggs and cream, resulting in a cake-like texture, while tea biscuits are typically lighter and fluffier, made with basic ingredients like flour, butter, and sugar.

Can I make tea biscuits without buttermilk?

Yes, you can substitute buttermilk with a mixture of milk and acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar. Simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk, stir, and let it sit for a few minutes until it curdles slightly. This makeshift buttermilk can be used in place of buttermilk in your tea biscuit recipe.

What is the best flour to use for tea biscuits?

All-purpose flour – it gives the best of both worlds, a crunchy outer crust and soft inside. Cake flour will make for a softer biscuit but you won’t get that nice outer crust, and bread flour will make for a tougher biscuit.

Why are my tea biscuits dry?

Tea biscuits can become dry due to overbaking, insufficient fat, excessive flour, inadequate liquid, or outdated leavening agents. To prevent dryness, ensure accurate measurements, proper mixing techniques, and adherence to recipe instructions for baking time and temperature.

Two biscuits on a plate with a jar of jam. One biscuit with clotted cream and jam on it.

You might also like:

Did you make this recipe? Please kindly leave a comment with your star rating below.

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Best Tea Biscuits

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.5 from 6 reviews
  • Author: Lily Ernst
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 biscuits
  • Category: breakfast, side, snack
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American


This easy-to-follow tea biscuit recipe makes wonderfully flaky and buttery biscuits every time.


  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (114g) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup (188ml) cold buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 450F and set side a baking sheet lined parchment paper or non-stick baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until only pea size chunks of butter remain.
  4. Add the cold buttermilk all at once and stir until dough forms.
  5. Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out onto a 6×9″ rectangle. Cut the rectangle into thirds. Stack each third on top of one another and roll the dough into a 6×9-inch rectangle again.
  6. Using a 2¼ or 2½-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many biscuits as you can and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Do your best to piece together the scraps and use up all the dough with the layering technique, without overworking the dough or melting the butter with your hands.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.


The biscuits are best enjoyed the day of. Leftovers can stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Magpie

Quick and easy to make biscuits that melt in your mouth and made with just 6 simple ingredients.
Quick and easy to make biscuits that melt in your mouth and made with just 6 simple ingredients.

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