Kitchen Tip: Trick for Cutting Butter into Flour

Kitchen Tips & Tricks | 37 comments

Do you have trouble making tender, flaky, biscuits, pie crusts, or scones?
You know when a recipe, particularly something like a biscuit or scone recipe, tells you to cut the butter into the flour mixture? There are several ways you can go about doing this.

Ways to cut butter into flour:

  • Use a food processor and pulse the mixture until you have a crumb like mixture.
  • Use two knives and literally cut the butter into the flour until you have little tiny bits of butter.
  • Use a pastry blender which ultimately works pretty similar to the knife method but is easier.

Tips for Flaky Biscuits

Or you can use this little trick, my personal favorite. Why is it my favorite? You can work with the butter while it’s frozen (I store extra butter in the freezer), thus keeping the butter as cold as possible. Little bits of very cold butter mixed in with the flour mixture is the key to moist, flaky biscuits, pie crusts, scones, or any other recipe that calls for the butter being cut into the flour.

What is the trick?

I like to take a frozen stick of butter and grate it using the largest holes of a box cheese grater, as opposed to cutting the butter using other methods such as a food processor or pastry cutter. It works great for me this way, but it certainly isn’t the only method that works. I do think it’s faster than cutting with a pastry cutter and definitely has less clean up than a food processor. Work’s for me!

Tips for Flaky Biscuits

Then, mix the cold, grated butter into the flour mixture. After you’ve mixed it all up, stick the bowl of the flour and butter mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to get the butter really, really cold again. Finally, proceed with the rest of the recipe according to the instructions.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Beth @ Bethcooks - October 12, 2010 @ 7:19 am

    This is such a great tip! I will definitely be trying this out over the weekend! Thanks so much for sharing it :)


  • 2
    Lynn - October 12, 2010 @ 7:24 am

    I agree and do this too. I saw this tip several years ago in Cook’s Illustrated and loved it. I have used it many times since. It works great!


  • 3
    Jenn @ Frugal Upstate - October 12, 2010 @ 7:44 am

    This is a great tip!

    When I cut shortening into flour for my biscuits I just “rub” it in with my fingers. . . but of course if I try that for pie crust it will warm it up and melt it in-which would be a “bad” thing :)


  • 4
    Alli - October 12, 2010 @ 7:53 am

    What a great tip, thank you! I’ll definitely be using it to make some biscuits later tonight.


  • 5
    Maris (In Good Taste) - October 12, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    Great tip! Until I picked up a mini food processor I had a lot of trouble with this step.


  • 6
    Konnie - October 12, 2010 @ 9:35 am

    Love this tip! I’m going to start a stash of butter in my freezer too!


  • 7
    the blissful baker - October 12, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    i always use the food processor because it’s easy, but this method looks great too! thanks for the tip :)


  • 8
    Kris - October 12, 2010 @ 11:37 am

    Love this trick! I have a garlic cheddar biscuit recipe that will be much flakier now.


  • 9
    Amy - October 12, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

    Thanks! Now it can use this method rather than my old way. Looks so much easier than most ways….Thanks again!


  • 10
    SusieBee at eatlittleeatbig - October 12, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    What a great idea!


  • 11
    Cookie - October 12, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

    I saw Aaron do that on Big Daddy’s House over the weekend for making scones and wanted to try it. Glad to know it works!


  • 12
    Sarah - October 12, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

    Wow, that is a great way to do it! I’ll have to try that sometime.


  • 13
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef - October 12, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

    i freeze butter & then grate it too! but i never thought to stick the flour/butter back in the freezer. good tip!


  • 14
    Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread - October 12, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

    Great tips! I do the same thing with the cheese grater for my butter!


  • 15
    Olga @ MangoTomato - October 12, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

    I have the same 4 plates from Macys! Love them :) Great photos.


  • 16
    Lexis - October 12, 2010 @ 3:53 pm



  • 17
    Milena - October 12, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

    oh. my. goodnes. you are a GENIUS! you know, I don’t have a food processor nor a pastry blender in my house, and the only way for me was the one with the two knives…. which made me really tired after the one (and because of this only) time i’ve made pie dough. but now thanks to you i’ll be doing it much often!!! thanks a million!!


  • 18
    Yum Yucky - October 12, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    Welp, I already hungry, but now my hunger pangs are in full throttle. Thank you very much.


  • 19
    Barbara Bakes - October 12, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    Nice tip. I’ll have to give frozen shredded butter a try. It was so nice to meet you this weekend.


  • 20
    Niki - October 12, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

    Well THAT makes a ton of sense, especially since we frequently stock up on butter and freeze it when it’s on sale anyway. Fab tip!

    I enjoy your blog a whole lot! I hope you’ll stop over and visit sometime over at Free 2 Be Frugal.


  • 21
    Shelby - October 13, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    What a great idea! Thanks!


  • 22
    Sandra Jonas - October 13, 2010 @ 6:55 am

    What a fabulous idea!!! can’t wait to try it.

    I have been following your blog for some time now & I think this may be my first comment; but you are at my dinner table often.
    Thank you for all the really great recipies & shortcuts.


  • 23
    megan @ whatmegansmaking - October 13, 2010 @ 7:43 am

    Great tip! I have a scone recipe that calls for grating frozen butter, and I agree that it’s easier than cutting it into cubes!


  • 24
    Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday - October 13, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    That’s a great tip. I have done it before and it’s very effective.


  • 25
    Kim - October 14, 2010 @ 6:28 am

    Never in a million years would I have thought of that. And I always groan when the recipe calls for cutting in the butter. It just never works properly for me – too fine or too big. Thanks for the tip!


  • 26
    Emy - October 14, 2010 @ 10:03 am

    Thanks! This is really a great tip!


  • 27
    Innkeeper Seely - October 14, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Fantastic. I have a hard time with anything that calls for cutting in butter. (When my sister visits I force her to make pie crusts to stash in my freezer. She has the touch.)


  • 28
    Manny - October 15, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    That’s two great ideas you’ve given me this week, the ziplock bag for filling shells worked like a charm too!


  • 29
    ub - November 09, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.


  • 30
    Sharon - November 28, 2010 @ 11:18 am

    Well – that’s the “gratest” idea I’ve ever seen for cutting in chilled butter! :-)


  • 31
    Sarah - January 26, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    This tip is awesome and I’m going to give it a try! Thank you for sharing! :)


  • 32
    Suddenexpression - January 25, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    What a wonderful idea! Thanks for that!


  • 33
    Ms. Pris - September 20, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I have never had success cutting butter in using the food processor, because the pieces get too small. But I don’t have the hand strength to cut in using knives or a pastry cutting tool.

    I was looking for ideas and alternate methods last night and found this post. I used my food processor to shred the frozen butter and then tossed it with my dry ingredients. The result was really perfect biscuits, puffy and airy. Thank you so much. I am going to use this technique always, whenever I make biscuits or pie crust.


  • 34
    Bianca - November 27, 2013 @ 6:51 am

    Thank you so very much!!!!!


  • 35
    Adele - February 01, 2014 @ 10:40 am


    This seems like a great and neat trick! I was wondering, after you grate the butter, what do you use to stir it into the mixture? Thanks :)


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — February 13th, 2014 @ 12:50 PM

      a wooden mixing spoon

  • 36
    Kelly - December 08, 2014 @ 5:20 am

    OMG. I want to kiss you. Not being creepy, sorry. Just, I live in China and I don’t own a food processor or a pastry cutter thing so this is life-saving and awesome and quick and YAY! Thank you muchly!


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