Tender Rye Biscuits: Rye bread flavor without the wait

Isn’t getting older and growing up great? No, I’m not going to start a rant on aches, pains and bifocals, I’m totally serious. Getting older has been a heck of a lot of fun lately.

I hope you’re still with me, because I think it’s an interesting discussion. In the past couple of years, I’ve been trying so many more new things and going so many more places, it’s been delightful.

For instance: we hosted an exchange student from France, we adopted a special needs cat, we took 4 teenagers to DisneyWorld, I had an MRI, and I started wearing socks that didn’t match on purpose.

I met lovely new people and reconnected with others, and faced some truths about myself along the way.

Each of these things was a new experience, and one I don’t think I would have necessarily done one or two years ago.

In the kitchen, I tried so many new foods, too. I ate umeboshi plum, eel, Biscoff spread, smoked salmon, fern, octopus, pap (white cornmeal mush), bobotie (an African corned beef and egg dish) and …

A Reuben. That’s right, I’m 44 years old and I’d never had a Reuben sandwich before. My mother loves Reubens, as does my dad. My husband had eaten Reubens in front of me but I had never taken the plunge before this year. Not even one bite.

I know exactly why I’d never eaten the famous rye/corned beef concoction before. Yep, it was the sauerkraut. The name just gave me the willies, and the pale skinny little fronds in a jar didn’t really inspire either.

So why the change of heart and the plunge into deli legend and lore?

No idea. None. It may have been hearing others order them during our weekly takeout days. It may have been part of my new explore-the-world-more philosophy, but whatever the reason behind the fateful purchase of the first Reuben, I’ve been delighted ever since. What an incredible combination of sour, rich, sweet, briny goodness topped off with hot buttered rye toasty heaven!

When I’m thinking about toasty rye, I can’ t help but think about these Tender Rye Biscuits. In bread world, rye is one of the more fickle breads to work with. But biscuits are so much more reachable, this recipe can put that rye craving to rest faster than you can make it to the Stage Door Deli.

Let’s get started on some Tender Rye Biscuits.

In a large bowl, combine:
2 ½ cups King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend
½ cup King Arthur Organic Pumpernickel Flour
3 teaspoons Bakewell Cream*
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda*
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor (optional, but makes a big difference in flavor)

Whisk together to combine the flours, leaveners, and flavoring. You can certainly leave the Deli Rye Flavor out if you don’t have it, but it’s the essence of true deli taste in a powder. Honestly, you’ll think you’re in Katz’s at the counter.

*No Bakewell Cream? Substitute 1 tablespoon baking powder and reduce the amount of baking soda to 1/4 teaspoon.

Use your fingers to work in 4 tablespoons of butter or vegetable shortening. In this case, I used butter-flavored vegetable shortening.

Keep the pieces of butter or shortening about the size and thickness of a dime. These flat “leaves” of fat will provide flakiness to your biscuits.

Add 1/2 cup sour cream all at once, and then 3/4 cup cold milk. Combine with a folding movement until the dough is nearly all moistened.

Like this. A few dry spots, but not to worry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently fold it over on itself about 5 or 6 times; not really as firmly as kneading bread, just enough to make a few layers. This will finish bringing the dough together.

Pat the dough into a 9″ square about 1/2″ thick, and divide evenly into 16 squares: 4 across, 4 down.

Bake the biscuits in a preheated 400°F oven on a parchmentlined baking sheet for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned on tops and bottoms.

Here they are, tender, flaky biscuits that make the whole house smell like your favorite deli.

Now, where are we headed for toppings? In the test kitchen, we ate them warm from the oven, straight up.

Or how about smoked salmon and a schmear of cream cheese, or a bit of egg salad? Pastrami, corned beef, and a little horseradish sauce were all discussed, though. How about toasted, with dilled scrambled eggs?

So far, we haven’t run out of ideas, but we’d love to hear yours. How would YOU take these biscuits to the next level?

While we’re talking food and adventures, what have YOU tried this year that’s new to you? Happy, silly, weird, or wonderful, let’s share!

Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Tender Rye Biscuits.

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See other biscuits recipes.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Elliot

    Great in theory, but these are WAY, WAY too salty. I’d leave out the salt altogether, there is enough in the leavening. Otherwise, a nice recipe.

    Thanks for the feedback, Elliot. It’s hard to determine the “correct” amount of salt for recipes, as everyone’s taste is so, so different… Glad you enjoyed them aside from the salt, though. PJH

  2. catieartist

    I hope your DH cold is better by now. They are making there way through the west coast too.
    I wanted to know if I made a mix of the general purpose GF flour and the whole grains flours (just minus wheat as gluten isn’t a problem for me) with a bit of xanthan gum, could I make these? I so hate to have to make biscuits with so much starch. I am afraid of the hi-carb diabetes possibility as we grow older. I lived on whole grains before I gave up wheat, and love to make whole grain wheat-less items. What does the master baker say?

    Whole Grain Gluten-Free Baking is possible. Just like it’s wheat based cousin, it’s going to take some experimenting to achieve success. In the test kitchen, I have found that a 100% whole grain loaf does work:

    Converting this specific recipe is not something we have tried. Yes, xanthan will be required, maybe 1/2 teaspoon per cup of g-f flour. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  3. Action_Kate

    YOWZA, I think these are the best and the easiest biscuits I have ever made! They came out absolutely perfect! I always have trouble with biscuits being flaky or tender, but these are divine. And I much prefer the rye flavor to the boring literal white bread which most biscuits are. These are now my official go-to biscuits. So fast and so good!
    So glad you liked them Kate! My hubby has a cold right now, so I’m going to make these to get him well fast. Wish me luck! ~ MaryJane

  4. Tonia

    Oh, these are perfect! I’m having my mom over for “high” tea tomorrow and I’ll make these small and split-n-fill w/tomato jam (homemade from last year’s bumper crop of tomatoes), goat cheese and roast turkey. Yum!
    OH, my! That sounds amazing! Have a lovely time. Are you wearing full dress, hats and gloves? ~ MaryJane

  5. amgbooth

    You are killing me here. Two days ago I made the Sour Cream Rye Muffins. I ate eleven of them. I wanted to have them with kielbasa and eggs, but I ate the last two before the eggs and kielbasa were done cooking. I’ll have to try these next, maybe with a sprinkle of everything topping and/or bacon?
    Too funny, and definitely the sign of great baked goods. :). I think the topping would be lovely on the biscuits, and provide a real contrast of crunch and tender biscuit. Let us know how it turns out. ~ MaryJane


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