Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Biscuits

I wanted a biscuit with fall flavors - something that would be complimentary to the Thanksgiving or Christmas table.

Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below

I made many batches of biscuits before landing on my recipe for buttermilk biscuits. I fed workmen who were working around my house, I fed the cable guy, I fed my neighbors, but finally decided that the end recipe was tender enough, moist enough and tasty enough and I was very happy.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Buttermilk Biscuits on a piece of parchment paper with oranges and cranberries around.

There were three keys that led me to my final recipe. The first was that you really need to use self-rising flour. It is made from a soft wheat and produces a really tender biscuit. If you can’t find self-rising flour (or if it’s late and you just need biscuits but don’t have any self-rising flour at home), you can make your own self-rising flour by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Make three cups of this substitute and then measure out the 2⅓ cups needed for this recipe. 

A parchment lined square baking pan with cranberry orange pecan buttermilk biscuits inside.

The second key was the trick of grating the butter into the flour mixture. The goal is to cut the butter into the flour without leaving the pieces too big, nor too small. Grating the slightly frozen butter created pieces of butter that were all the same size and were easy to incorporate. Use the butter wrapper to hold onto the butter (which will start to melt as soon as you hold it) and be careful when you get to the end of the stick.

Finally, I used a technique borrowed from Shirley Corriher, a personal culinary hero of mine who wrote the book Cookwise (which is very worthwhile reading). Shirley keeps her biscuits moist with a very wet batter because it makes sense – if you want something to remain moist, you have to start with it moist. Right? With a moist batter, you can’t roll and cut out the biscuits so instead, she tosses the biscuits back and forth in her floured hands and just pops them into the cake pan. I find it easier than rolling and cutting, frankly, and there’s no waste at all.

A stack of cranberry orange pecan buttermilk biscuits with one broken open and buttered in front.

With those three keys, this buttermilk biscuit recipe was born. Then came time to add ingredients and have some fun with it.  With cranberries on my mind, I thought about one of my favorite crostini toppings for holiday entertaining – a simple cranberry orange crostini. So, this recipe for Cranberry, Orange and  Pecan Buttermilk Biscuits simply folds in  those flavors of cranberries and orange, along with a few pecans for good measure. You can use a food processor or mini chopper for the cranberries and the pecans if you like, but you don’t have to. The biscuit recipe has enough sugar in it (which is quite controversial to folks, it seems!) to sweeten the cranberries just enough, making this a biscuit that can be a savory accompaniment, but is sweet enough to have with tea in the afternoon and feel like a treat. 

Close up of a cranberry orange pecan buttermilk biscuit with a few cranberries and an orange slice.

I present to you… the Cranberry, Orange and Pecan Buttermilk Biscuit!

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

Both baking soda and baking powder are chemical leaveners used in baking, but how do they differ? How do you...View Technique

Advertisement - Continue Below

Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:
    large or 16 regular biscuits


  • 2⅓ cups self-rising flour
  • 8 teaspoons (2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick, frozen for 10 minutes
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • cup chopped pecans
  • 1⅓ cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour for shaping


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Line a buttered 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. Place the cranberries in a food processor and pulse until they are evenly chopped.
  3. Combine the self-rising flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Grate the butter into the flour and stir it in to coat evenly. Stir in the chopped cranberries, zest of 1 orange and pecans. Gently stir in the buttermilk. The dough should be quite wet.
  4. Spread the all-purpose (not self-rising) flour out on a small cookie sheet. With a spoon, scoop evenly sized balls of dough into the flour, making sure they don’t touch each other. With floured hands, coat each dough ball with flour and toss them gently from hand to hand to shake off any excess flour. Place each floured dough ball into the prepared pan, right up next to the other. This will help the biscuits rise up, rather than spreading out. You might need to do the above in batches.
  5. Place the cake pan on the arranged shelf in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Brush the tops of the biscuits with some melted butter and pop them back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until nicely browned. Turn the biscuits out onto a plate, and then invert them again so they are right side up. Pull or cut the biscuits apart and serve immediately with some butter and perhaps some honey too if you like.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (30)Post a Reply

  1. I have diabetics in my family. Do you think I could use Splenda or Equal for the sugar? I love your recipes and teaching videos and miss you On QVC. Thanks!

    1. Hi Susan. You could try substituting Splenda or Equal, using the substitution proportions suggested on the box. I haven’t done that, so I can’t vouch for the success, I’m afraid, but you could give it a try. Sugar is hygroscopic, which means that it holds onto water and helps to make baked goods moist. I don’t think you’ll get the same effect from those sugar substitutes, but they would work to help sweeten the biscuits. With regular biscuits, I’d just tell you to leave the sugar out, but with the tart cranberries in this recipe, I think you’ll need something to counter balance. Good luck.

    1. No – you do not need to cook the cranberries first. Just process them to chop them up and then add them according to the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Fresh cranberries are seasonal here in the South, so I had to use dried cranberries. The biscuits were great; however, I will not add the pecans the next time.

  3. Hello.
    Your cranberry biscuit look delicious. I don’t care for orange. I’ll make them without.
    Can you recommend something else?
    Thank you!

  4. Nydia. Made the orange cranberry biscuits was I to use teaspoon to spoon out from the dough mixture to work with all purpose flour or should I have used a soup spoon. The biscuits were smaller but very tasty. Decided to use soup spoon next time for a larger biscuit. What do you say.

    1. Hi Nydia. You can use any size spoon to scoop the batter out into as many biscuits as you like. I recommend making 9 or 16 biscuits at a time. That would be 3 rows of 3 biscuits or 4 rows of 4 biscuits in an 8-inch baking pan.

    1. Sorry you had a problem with the recipe, they usually come out light and moist. All ovens are different and it seems like they may have gotten overcooked which could dry them out. You can try baking them for 20 minutes next time and then brushing with the butter and bake longer if needed.

  5. 5 stars
    I love the recipe! I forgot to add sugar. But I made a glaze with orange juice and confectioners sugar and poured it over as soon as I took them out of oven.( I left it off 4 of them without just to see what the taste difference would be. Both are delicious. Another change I had to make some buttermilk and I infused it with the orange rind and a little fresh thyme. Then cooked the biscuits in a cast iron skillet that I preheated with about 3 Tbs. butter. Skillet made a crunchy butter pecan crust that puts it over the top😻Delicious!

    1. These biscuits are really best when eaten the day you make them. If you do have to make them ahead, to re-heat them, wrap the biscuits in foil and place in a 350°F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. You can brush some melted butter on top if you like.

  6. Has anyone tried Gluten Free flour like Cup 4 Cup? If so are there any other adjustments that need to be made?
    Thank you.

  7. Would leaving out the pecans severely diminish the flavor of these? My family is not a fan of pecans…. Unfortunately. Also, could you use dried if frozen or fresh are unavailable?

    1. Hi Jeannette,
      You can absolutely leave out the pecans. As for the cranberries, you can try with dried cranberries, but the texture will be quite different – not necessarily bad, just different. I would be sure to give them a rough chop first.

    1. As soon as you add the buttermilk to the self rising flour, it will start activating the baking powder. You can prep all the ingredients but you don’t want to add the buttermilk until you are ready to bake them. It shouldn’t sit for more than 15 minutes. The other option would be to bake them in the morning and then reheat in foil for about 10 to 15 minutes in a 350°F oven.

  8. Hello, can I simply chop the fresh cranberries if I don’t have a food processor? I really like the fresh cranberries, thank you.

  9. Dear Meredith, I adore all things buttermilk and biscuits so I want to try your recipe. HOWEVER, I am gluten free. Do you think they turn out ok? Any suggestions? I will use Cup4Cup.flour which contains xanthan gum. Thanks!

    1. This recipe has not been tested with gluten free flour. If you have made other recipes with a gluten free substitution, then you should have good results. If you give it a try, please let us know how they turn out.

  10. OMG, these are the absolute best biscuits I’ve ever eaten! I used some lemon jest too because I didn’t have enough orange zest. Next time I’ll add some chopped rosemary too, I think that would be great. Definitely the only biscuit recipe ill use from now on (modifying it for savory ones though)!

    1. You can add lemon juice or vinegar to milk to make buttermilk. Add 1 tablespoon per cup of milk and let it stand for about 10 minutes before using it in the recipe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *