The Secret Ingredient That Will Change Your Homemade Biscuits Forever

In the world of baked goods, biscuits are an all-star. The perfect biscuit is towering, golden-brown, flaky, and moist all at the same time, an ideal accompaniment to comfort food classics such as fried chicken, sausage gravy, and pulled pork.

A quintessentially American food often associated with the South, biscuits date back to at least the late 1800s, according to the Washington Post, when they may have provided cheap fuel for sawmill workers laboring very physical jobs in the lumber-producing region of Southern Appalachia. But the flaky biscuits we know today didn't come along until later, according to How Stuff Works, when more advanced flour mills were able to produce lighter, fluffier flour — and a lighter, fluffier biscuit result.

That perfect texture is what biscuit-bakers seek, relying on various techniques — such as super-cold fat and tenderizing buttermilk — to achieve it. And while we typically think of biscuits as a mix of flour, salt, butter, buttermilk, and occasionally sugar, it turns out that there's a much simpler recipe that can be called upon in a pinch to produce light, tender biscuits with just three ingredients.

Try mayonnaise in your homemade biscuits

Is there anything mayonnaise can't do? It brings creaminess to tuna, potato, and pasta salads, is a great marinade for steak and other meats, and is even used in chocolate cake, a handy trick since it combines the oil and eggs that are usually called for separately in just one ingredient. As it turns out, mayonnaise is often called for in baking recipes, said to bring tenderness to items such as pancakes — and it's a handy ingredient for using in biscuits, as well.

According to AllRecipes, a simple recipe calling for self-rising flour, milk, and mayonnaise turns out light and fluffy biscuits; The Spruce Eats lists a similar recipe, stressing that you don't taste the mayonnaise at all, and explaining that the vinegar included in mayo acts as a tenderizing agent to create a wonderful texture in the biscuits. Rather than being rolled and cut, mayonnaise biscuits are drop biscuits, using just enough milk to hold them together before being dropped onto a baking sheet or into a muffin pan. 

So the next time you're craving biscuits but don't have all the traditional ingredients on hand, reach for a bag of flour, a jar of mayo, and some milk, and tender biscuits can be yours in less than 15 minutes.