Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Best Ever 7 Up Biscuits - Tasty Tips on Making this Classic Recipe from Cleo Coyle

Because the word UP in Chinese sounds like the word for HAPPINESS, 7 Up is considered to be a lucky drink for weddings and other celebrationsa little piece of trivia Marc and I discovered while researching our 11th Coffeehouse Mystery, A Brew to a Kill, which features some fun (and tasty) sleuthing in New York's Chinatown.

With the Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) coming up in a few weeks, I thought it would be fun to share my version of the classic 7 Up Biscuits recipe. 
I don’t know how much luck these biscuits will bring you, but they will likely bring happiness to your taste buds. May you…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Why "7 Up" Biscuits?

I know what some of you may be thinking:

Why use 7 Up (or any lemon-lime soda)
in a baking-powder biscuit recipe?

In my view, there are two reasons... 

1 - Carbonation: The soda boosts the lightness and fluffiness of your biscuits' interiors, and...

2 - Flavor: No, the flavor of lemon-lime is not something you will taste in the final product. (I promise, I mean, who wants a lemon-lime baking powder biscuit?) What the 7 Up does is boost the overall flavor by subtly underlining the slight tang of the sour cream. Together these flavors provide complexity, helping your quickly-made boxed-mix biscuits taste more like granny's old-fashioned buttermilk biscuits.

My version of this recipe tweaks the classic ingredients, but my biggest change to the common approach is saving you time and mess. I don't turn the dough out onto a board and knead it with my hands, for example, and I don't pre-cut every biscuit and lay each out in the pan. If you're also looking for the best results from the fastest method, you might like this version, too... 

What I do is bake the biscuits as a single, square slab, which allows the interiors to bake up all the more higher and fluffier. Then I cut the big slab with a pizza cutter, making heavenly squares. My husband loves these biscuits. I hope you do to, too.

Now let's get cookin'...

Click here for
the recipe PDF.
To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo's 7 Up Biscuits
My version of the classic recipe

Makes 9 square biscuits using an 8 x 8 baking pan 


5 Tablespoons unsalted butter (unsalted butter is fresher than salted, but you can certainly use salted butter for this recipe, simply reduce the salt by half)

2 cups Bisquick** baking mix (lightly pack it into the cup and level it off)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (again, if using salted butter, reduce by half)

1/2 cup full fat sour cream

1/2 cup 7 Up freshly opened, not diet*


*Although Sprite or another lemon-lime soda will work for this recipe, the Chinese consider 7 Up good luck!

**Bisquick also makes a "Heart Smart" version of their regular product with zero trans fat. I have not tested this version of their product with this recipe, so I cannot tell you if it gives the same results, but I plan to try it in the near future.


STEP 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Be sure it's well preheated for the best results. While the oven is preheating, drop the cold butter into a nonstick 8 x 8 baking pan and pop it into the oven for about 2 minutes. When the butter is close to melted, pull out the hot pan and let it finish melting outside of the oven (to ensure the butter does not burn). Now measure out 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a small bowl and set it aside to cool. Meanwhile… 

STEP 2: Into a medium size mixing bowl, measure out the Bisquick as described in the ingredients (by lightly packing it into the cup and leveling it off). Get out a butter knife and stir in the salt (use half the amount if using salted butter).

Now add the sour cream and the 2 tablespoons of melted butter that you reserved from step 1. Using your trusty butter knife, "cut" these ingredients into the dry Bisquick. See my photos. The dough should appear crumbly.  

STEP 3: Open a new 7 Up for the best carbonation. Pour the 1/2 cup of soda into the bowl and stir it, as shown, using the butter knife until everything is combined.

Now switch to a big spoon or spatula and very vigorously stir this mixture for 20 to 30 seconds. No kidding, count as you stir and you'll notice the dough will begin to stiffen up, forming the gluten that will give your biscuits structure. 

When is it ready? When you pull your spoon or rubber spatula away the dough should come with it, feeling elastic like bread or pizza dough (see my photo below). If your dough does not do this, keep vigorously stirring until it does.

STEP 4: For best results, pop your 8 x 8 pan with melted butter back in the oven for one minute (no more) to really warm it up. This will give you the very best rise for your biscuits. Be careful now, the pan will be hot. Pour the stiff dough into the melted butter of your hot pan. Be sure to use all the dough, scraping the bowl well with a rubber spatula.

(Use an oven mitt to hold the pan and...) Quickly flatten out the dough with your spoon or spatula, stretching it to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. The dough does not have to touch the four sides of the pan, but it should be fairly close to them, as shown in my photos.

STEP 5: Immediately place the pan in your well preheated oven. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes. The edges will be golden brown and crusty, and the top should show touches of light golden browning. The top will also show some cracking.

Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and 

5 minutes out of the pan
before cutting...

Can you see the *heart* in my biscuits?
Yes, folks, I really do cook with love!

COOL IN THE PAN for at least 5 full minutes. Why? The insides are still baking in the hot pan so this is an important step.

DE-PANNING: Because of the melted butter base, the biscuit square will slip right out. Remove it like you would a layer of cake by placing a plate over the top of the pan and flipping it. Yes, the bottom of the baked biscuit square will appear golden brown and crusty. But trust me, the inside will be amazingly light and fluffy. 

COOL OUT OF THE PAN: Allow the big square to cool for another 5 minutes before cutting. Trust me, those fluffy insides are retaining a lot of heat and will still be hot when you eat them, even after 10 total minutes of cooling.

CUTTING TIPS: For best results, flip the big biscuit right side up again, and you will have an easier time cutting your individual biscuits. Use a pizza cutter for the cleanest, best-looking slices. Then slather on butter, honey, or jam; dip into hot gravy; or split and fill for an amazing biscuit sandwich.

Presentation Note

If you're serving these to guests or your family, you can keep the biscuit slab whole and slice it up right at the table (as shown above). This makes a fun, somewhat more theatrical presentation of your beautiful biscuits. This method also has the advantage of staying hot much longer than individual biscuits so you have time to get the rest of the meal on the table. 

Golden and crusty on the outside.
Fluffy and light on the inside.

Click here to download
this recipe as a PDF.

Eat with joy 

Stay cozy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

* * *

Once Upon a Grind:
A Coffeehouse Mystery

* A Best Book of the Year
Reviewer's Pick -
King's River Life

* Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews

* Fresh Pick ~ Fresh Fiction

* A Mystery Guild Selection

Delicious recipes are also featured in my 14th 
culinary mystery, Once Upon a Grind, including...

* Black Forest Brownies 
* Cappuccino Blondies 
* Shrimp Kiev 
* Dr Pepper Glazed Chicken
* Silver Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies
* "Fryer Tuck's" Ale-Battered Onion Rings
* Poor Man's Caviar 
* Caramel-Dipped Meltaways

...and many more recipes, including
a guide to reading coffee grinds...

See the book's
Recipe Guide (free PDF)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop

Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries, 

by clicking here. 

Or learn more about the
books and meet Jack Shepard,
our PI ghost 
by clicking here. 

Sign up for my Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

* * * 


  1. And if they like the crumbly outside just cut and space them further apart on a baking sheet. Close together for soft and fluffy, far apart for crunchy. This is a very versatile recipe. I cut mine, but put close together.

    1. Sue F - Thanks for dropping by today! I should note for people who read your comment that (I'm pretty sure) you are talking about the alternate version of the recipe. In that case, during Step 3, instead of vigorously stirring the dough, you would turn the dough out onto a flat surface that is dusted with more Bisquick. You would then knead the dough with more sprinkles of Bisquick until the dough appears smooth. You would then roll or pat the dough flat, and then you would need to cut individual biscuits, and then place each biscuit into your pan. That's great, but I actually don't do all that. When I'm in a hurry, I try to save time (and mess) by doing the biscuit slab, which is my little recipe for folks today. Of course, everyone has their favorite method and tips and that's what's wonderful about cooking and sharing. We all learn from each other, and we all make our own choices about what's best for our own lifestyle and kitchens and tastes.

      For those of you wondering why I’m not doing a scratch biscuit, it’s because there are already plenty of scratch biscuit recipes on this blog. You’ll find them in our index. I simply wanted to have fun presenting this 7 Up Biscuit recipe, which is very famous, but most of all…

      7 Up is considered lucky in the Chinese culture and Chinese New Year is on its way. I thought it would be fun to try, that’s all. This is simply my little variation on a classic.

      It’s all good and may we all relax, smile and...

      Bake with joy!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Looks delicious and fairly easy!

    1. holdenj - They are delicious and very easy. I'm working on a PDF now so you can save the recipe in a better format. The PDF will be uploaded before noon. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. What fun! I have to try this, even though I don't even own any Bisquick.
    I usually make biscuits in a rectangle and then cut it into squares for baking. That takes care of having to mush together the leftover bits from cutting and risk tough biscuits.
    This will be a fun adventure.

  4. Libby – Thanks for dropping in today! On the recipe, the point isn’t so much Bisquick as 7 Up. It’s considered lucky and a good omen; and with the Chinese New Year on its way, I thought it would be fun to blog this recipe. It's a very popular one. (Don't be a baking snob now...many busy families use Bisquick. I think it makes a much better biscuit than those canned biscuits in the refrigerator aisle, for instance, and it gets people actually baking rather than microwaving.) It might be fun to create a scratch recipe using 7 Up, too, a project for the future perhaps…

    The biscuits are not tough. You may not trust me on that, but they are golden and crusty on the outside and tender on the inside with delightfully fluffy interiors. And if you follow my recipe, and allow the screaming hot biscuit slab to cool a bit and set up and use a pizza cutter, you will not have any problem with crumbling as you cut.

    I also like the dramatic presentation at the table. The slab stays warm longer and you can get the meal on the table and still have hot biscuits, slicing them up in front of your family or guests. But you can also create individual biscuits by turning the dough out onto your counter, and kneading it with extra Bisquick until smooth, and then patting or rolling the dough out and cutting them up, etc. These are extra steps and extra mess, and I find the biscuit slab is just as good, but you may not, no worries. Everyone has their favorite methods that work for them. I'm just presenting another option, so relax, have fun and...

    Cook with joy!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    1. I have NO problem with the whole idea. It sounds great!
      I just meant that with "ordinary" biscuits I don't roll them out, cut with a biscuit cutter, then mush the remains back together to keep cutting. I do a modified slab approach.

      Your New York kitty has moved on from champagne to 7-up, I see. What a cutie!
      A joy, as always

    2. Libby - Oh, I see what you were saying! Thank you for explaining. It's interesting to consider that additional advantage to the slab approach, even when using a traditional recipe. That is, the slab approach or something like it means you don't have to collect and re-work the unused pieces of dough, which could leave you with tougher biscuits. That's a very good point that I didn't consider, and, I agree with you!

      LOL on my little New York stray. I loved his ears in that picture, couldn't resist sharing.

      Thanks for dropping in, Libby, you always have great food for thought, which is exactly what we like here in the Kitchen!

      ~ Cleo

  5. Cleo, I've got to see whether 7 up will make a diff in a gluten-free recipe. Trying this tonight when I make stew. Perfect!

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Daryl/Avery - You read my mind! I was thinking of you and whether this would work for a gluten-free version. It seems to me it would work, and hope you have good luck with it! Thanks so much for stopping by today. I appreciate it. Have a great week!

      ~ Cleo

  6. What a funny and delicious recipe, Cleo! Thanks for sharing. But now I'm hungry and heading for the kitchen ....



    1. LOL, Biscuit pictures always make me hungry, too. Thanks for dropping by. May you snack with joy and may the “UP” be with you! :)

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Have you posted the pdf yet? I can't find it and I would love to try this recipe.

    1. kec200 - Oh, thank you for asking and for your patience. Yes, it's up, as you've likely seen by now. (I had a bit of trouble with the computer earlier and getting things to upload properly. But it appears to be working okay. If you have any trouble downloading, let me know.) And I hope you enjoy the recipe!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. What a terrific idea to bake them as a slab. Easy as cornbread then. I think this one will be a keeper. Biscuits are always welcome at our house.

    1. Thank you for the lovely note, Grandma Cootie, and I completely agree with you. Biscuits are one of those wonderful comfort foods. In fact, my attention is straying as I type this to half a leftover biscuit sitting beside my afternoon coffee. (It's got a spoonful of apricot preserves glistening on top, and I can't wait to bite into it. :)) Here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, we have many more biscuit recipes (easy to locate in our index, listed in the side columns), and I'm sure we'll have many new biscuit recipes as we move through the year. Biscuits are definitely a favorite in the Kitchen!

      Thanks again for dropping in, GC, it's always a pleasure to hear from you!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Ohmygoodnessyum, these look just too good to pass up. I can see myself indulging in one of these little squares with my late-morning tea and a dollop of jam. Thanks for another brilliant idea!

    1. Laine - For a long time, I was skeptical about the idea of a 7 Up biscuit, but once I began experimenting with it, I saw that it truly is a fast and fun recipe. A little retro is sometimes a lot of fun, especially with the coming Chinese New Year (happiness biscuits)! With butter and jam, natch!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  10. Daryl/Avery and Cleo,
    I can report that the gluten-free / 7UP version works very well! I used my homemade gf baking mix that I keep on hand (sorghum, write rice, brown rice, potato starch, xanthan gum, a bit of sugar) and then made exactly as you directed with one caveat. I used a pie plate instead of square simply because my 8 inch walked away at some potluck. At any rate, I think the bubbles would make any gf flour blend work well! Thanks for the recipe.

  11. I can't wait to try these! I have had only biscuit fails every time I've tried to bake them. Fingers crossed!

  12. I'll have to remember that 7 Up is considered lucky and a good omen. I have both 7 UP Cake and Cobbler recipes that are quite tasty, easy to make and would be perfect dessert options for Chinese New Year celebrations (which are very popular in the Chicago region). A novel, fun fact for my kids!

  13. I just saw that this recipe was posted. It is one of my favorite recipes to make with my kids. For anyone who hasn't tried it, don't wait any longer!