Never-Fail Lard Biscuits

I haven’t made biscuits with lard since junior high school home economics class. My brother-in-law, Don, had a homestead-raised hog processed at the Leighton Locker in Leighton, Iowa a week or 2 ago and gave me 3# of the lard that was rendered. It has no preservatives and is not hydrogenated.

For my first effort at baking with lard again I turned to my 60’s and 70’s Farm Journal Cookbook collection, where lard is listed as the FIRST choice of fat in this recipe for biscuits. They called them “never fail” so I figured I couldn’t go too far wrong.  At about 4¢ you can't beat 'em.

My husband had cut off a portion of the frozen lard, and I am keeping it in a fruit jar in the refrigerator. It was cool when I measured it out for this recipe; I think that made it easier to cut in.  I usually use self-rising flour for biscuits, but I used regular unbleached all purpose flour I buy at the Amish store at Stringtown, near Kalona, Ia. I am using the new Argo baking powder recently available in our area; I really like it. I used skim milk for the milk; it’s what I had on hand.

I cut the recipe in half for the 2 of us, expecting some leftovers. Wrong this time! My husband’s first comment was “Now THIS is GOOD!” The biscuits were very light, as you can see, tender, but not crumbly. Even the ones I patted out to use the scraps were tender. The dough was very easy to work with, I sprinkle my board with flour I keep in a $5 stainless steel shaker for making pasta.
When I make this recipe again, and I will, I will probably pat them out a little thinner, and cut them out with a little bigger cutter, maybe 2 ¼-2 ½” instead of the 2” the recipe called for. If I’m in a hurry, I just cut my biscuits into squares with a sharp bench knife. If you use a cutter or knife, be sure to cut straight down; do not twist, to get a good even rise and that “split” in the middle of your biscuit.

Never-Fail Baking Powder Biscuits

1 cup Flour, All-purpose – sifted (4 ½ ounces)
½ tablespoon Baking Powder (1 ½ teaspoons)
½ teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Lard
3/8 cup Milk (3 ounces)

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse meal or crumbs.
Make a hollow in the flour-shortening mixture and stir in enough milk to make a soft dough that leaves the sided of the bowl and sticks to the mixing fork.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead with the heel of the hand 15 times. Roll 1/2" thick.
Cut with a 2" cutter; place close together on a baking sheet for soft sides, 1" apart for crusty sides on ungreased baking sheet. I use parchment paper.  Bake in very hot oven (450°) for 10-12 minutes. Serve at once.
If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt.

6 – 8 biscuits          "Homemade Bread" By Farm Journal - 1969

March 2010 cost: 21¢ for the recipe or 4¢ per biscuit

Per Serving: 124 Calories; 5g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 6mg Cholesterol; 307mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.


  1. I made these this morning ad they didn't rise enough for me

    1. Perhaps you are used to biscuits rolled thicker to start can certainly do that, although you will get fewer.
      I often let them set 10 minutes before baking and find they rise higher, especially if my lard was very cold.
      When you knead them, be sure it is lightly - about 10 to 15 times. When I don't knead them, they don't rise as high.
      Don't give up, this is the "classic" recipe that appears in most older cookbooks.


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