Apple Butter Ham Biscuits, a traditional Southern party appetizer, makes a delightful addition to your biscuit bar. The perfect all-year round appetizer, apple butter ham biscuits are a party-pleasing way to use up ham leftovers.
Originally Published May 5, 2011 Revised 2019
“If I had a dollar for every apple butter ham biscuit I have helped prepare, I would buy more shoes. Lots of shoes! Giggles Joyce Pinson, Friends Drift Inn
Apple Butter Ham Biscuits Recipe At-A-Glance
Prep Time – 20 minutes Cook Time 15 – 20 minutes – Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 12 biscuits
Ingredients Self-Rising Flour – Unsalted Butter – Buttermilk – Bacon Drippings – Ham – Friends Drift Inn Apple Butter – Greens for Garnish
Equipment Large bowl – Whisk – Stirring Spoon – Pastry Cutter (or two knives) – Cast Iron Skillet – Biscuit Cutter (or water glass)
Why Does Apple Butter Go with Ham Biscuits?
Friends Drift Inn Spiced Apple Butter
Apple Butter is one of my favorite fruit spreads! Especially for fall – but right on up through Appalachia’s Little Winters and springtime. I talk a lot about apple butter and why I love it in our What is Apple Butter article.
Ham biscuits are my favorite use for apple butter! They are the ultimate appetizer for Southern inspired entertaining!
Apples and pork are a natural pairing. I never thought about it much. Growing up in a rural community of Germanic descendants, putting apples and ham on the table was an everyday occurrence.
Friends Drift Inn Apple Butter is a highly concentrated fruit spread like apple sauce, only cooked down and spiced. It is thick, smooth, and rich in flavors.
There are no added preservatives or food colorings. It is an old-fashioned blend of lush apples, sugar, and spices.
Apple Butter by nature does not contain fats or salt.
By combining apple butter with a salty slice of country ham you get a combination of richly flavored fruit, which cuts the fat and salt in ham. Apple butter and ham is one of those pairing you will come back to again and again.
Making Ham Biscuit Sandwiches – Tips and Traditions
Here in Appalachia, most families have a dozen recipes for biscuits. There are cathead biscuits, rolled biscuits, dropped biscuits, cheese biscuits, angel biscuits and even half-pound biscuits.
Biscuits and gravy are the fuel of the Hillbilly Nation. We make no apologies. We know what is good.
Is Louisville part of the Hillbilly Nation? That is up for debate. But I can tell you no Kentucky Derby Party is complete without country ham biscuits!
As a habit, I do not mention brands on this site except in a cultural reference. But if you live in Appalachia, you know the only flour to make biscuits with is Hudson Cream Flour.
How this Kansas brand endeared itself to mountain folk is a story for another time. But Hudson Cream Flour rules in the mountains.
A few tips about making ham biscuits:
- Use a flour made with hard winter wheat mixed with softer varieties.
- If you are not using a self-rising flour, be sure your baking powder has not expired.
- Preheat the cast iron skillet in the oven.
- buttermilk, shake it up. And don’t use low-fat buttermilk!
- Do not overwork the dough.
- When you cut the dough, just stamp it. Do not twist, you will overwork the dough.
- Biscuit cutters work best, but in a pinch, you can use a water glass or orange juice can.
- When ready to put biscuits in the skillet, place in bacon drippings. Then flip over. This saves you from brushing the tops.
Bacon drippings and cast iron makes the bottoms brown; giving the ham biscuit a stable foundation.
Can I Substitute Oil or Butter for Bacon Drippings?
Here’s the thing. Bacon drippings add a little pop of bacon flavor to the biscuits. With bacon drippings in cast iron, you will get a biscuit with a nicely browned bottom.
A brown bottom biscuit will be more stable to split and stuff; let alone feast upon.
Do what you want. But here at the big red barn it is always bacon drippings with cast iron skillet biscuits.
Kentucky and Country Ham
Leftover Ham or Kentucky Country Ham?
You can use whatever kind of ham you want for this recipe. But for an authentic experience, try a country ham. Look for Kentucky Proud hams!
My grandma’s people were known for making some of the best country hams in Cynthiana. It was before my time, but I have been in several smokehouses. They evoke a strong emotional response.
The wood smell permeates your clothes. Heritage methods of curing, the smoke, the salt, the sugar….it takes me back in time. I connect to family history.
There is a family story about a city-slicker who came to the farm and bought a whole hog. When the meat was prepared, he was angry having received only two hams. He insisted there should be four.
Everyone knows that only the back legs of a porker are used for hams – right?
What is a Country Ham?
Unlike a “city ham” which is wet cured, country ham is dry cured. It is salty. So salty that some go to the trouble of rinsing the ham before they start the final cooking process.
Perry defines country ham:
A southern favorite, these hams are dry-cured, meaning they’re rubbed with salt and seasonings, smoked, then aged anywhere from 4 months to 3 years. Salty and chewy, the intensely flavored meat is usually served with biscuits or incorporated into casseroles and salads. It’s sold both uncooked and cooked, and mostly bone-in.
We take country ham very seriously here in Kentucky. At the 2018 Kentucky State Fair, a country ham was auctioned for charity to the tune of $2.8 million according to the Courier Journal.
But we are not the only ones obsessed with country ham.
Country Ham Fans
He goes a step further than Dawn – and right to the heart of the matter.
County Ham IS the South’s answer to Italian Prosciutto.
Country hams are cured with a dry rub, much in the manner of an Italian Prosciutto, and, like prosciutto, they are hung to dry in carefully temperature- and humidity-controlled environments.
Here in the US, we often romanticize European food customs. Prosciutto is highly coveted. But maybe, just maybe Kentucky prosciutto is the next big thing.
The University of Kentucky, along with several forward thinking farmers and chefs, is currently documenting flavor profiles of various heritage pork breeds and methods of curing pork to truly have a “Kentucky Prosciutto.”
Pretty cool stuff! If you are interested contact the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture Chef-in-Residence, Bob Perry.
Tips to Prepare Apple Butter Ham Biscuits
To keep things less frenzied, especially if preparing for a party, make biscuits a day ahead of time.
Here’s what they say:
At Southern Living, there’s only one way to split a biscuit. And that’s with a fork. Take a fork and poke it all the way around the edge of the biscuit to the center. This way, you don’t smash it by cutting it with a knife and it stays flaky and fluffy. And you have a perfectly flat surface for spreading jam or butter.
It is not like me to disagree with Southern Living. But for ham biscuits, I would rather have a very precise cut to make a level platform for the ham and apple butter. Using a fork sometimes makes the bottom crumble – and for this recipe I advise against it.
Some ideas I have learned along the way include:
- If the apple butter biscuits are going to be dressed and sit awhile, use dairy butter to spread a barrier on both the top and bottom cut sides, so biscuits do not get soggy.
- If you are adding greens to the biscuit, be sure and pat them dry.
Biscuit Bars, Holiday Appetizers and Leftover Ham
They would be awesome bites for a fall backyard wedding!
How Many Ham Biscuits Per Person?
In the Real Simple article cited above, Dawn Perry recommends about 3 ounces of country ham per person as an appetizer, and 4 ounces a person for the main course.
With this size ham biscuit sandwich, one biscuit per person is the norm.
How do you make a great ham biscuit for a biscuit bar? While we absolutely love a cathead biscuit, big and fluffy, the most successful biscuit bars offer up a range of spreads to compliment the star of the show.
Ham Biscuits and Kentucky Derby Parties
While it is true apple butter ham biscuits are a natural at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter they are one of my favorite bites for Mother’s Day brunches, and Kentucky Derby Season.
Ham biscuits are especially good paired with a classic Southern appetizer, deviled eggs.
How Kentucky is that?
Choose Your AssortmentPrint
Apple Butter Ham Biscuits are an elegant way to use up holiday ham. Serve for breakfast, brunch, or at cocktail parties – especially Kentucky Derby Parties. Perfect for biscuit bars!
- 2 cups of Self-Rising Flour + a handful to flour the surface (Whisk flour in the bag and spoon into cup for measuring)
- 1/3 cup of Butter, unsalted + butter to spread
- ¾ cup of Buttermilk (shaken)
- 3 tablespoons Bacon Drippings
- About 2 ¼ pounds of Country Ham (3 ounces per biscuit) – you can substitute city ham
- ¾ cup of Friends Drift Inn Apple Butter (1 tablespoon per biscuit)
- Greens for topping
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Put skillet in oven to warm.
- In a large bowl, add flour and cut in butter. (Use two knives or a pastry cutter)
- Add buttermilk, blending just until moistened. Walk away for five minutes to let dough rest.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn dough out. Pat dough to make a ½ inch slab. Do not overwork.
- Cut biscuits. A biscuit cutter is best, but a water glass will work. Put cutter in flour, and stamp. Do not twist cutter.
- Remove skillet from oven. Measure bacon drippings into hot skillet.
- Place biscuits one at a time in skillet. Flip each biscuit so they get bacon goodness on both sides. We do not mind if biscuits touch a little.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and flip onto a large platter.
- Let cool.
- Split biscuits with a knife. OPTIONAL Use dairy butter on the top and bottom cut surface to work as a barrier, keeping biscuits from becoming soggy.
- Add about 3 ounces of ham per biscuit.
- Spread with Friends Drift Inn apple butter.
- Add greens if desired.
Apple Butter Ham Biscuits are a good choice for breakfast, brunch, teas, and cocktail parties. They are the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We love them in the cool days of fall, served with a bourbon cocktail.
For biscuit bars, we just pile the biscuits on a platter and let folks assemble them as they wish.
Do not overstuff biscuit sandwiches, they tend to crumble.
Our recipes are formulated to compliment our products. If you are not using Friends Drift Inn Apple Butter, we cannot speak to how this recipe will taste.
Keywords: ham biscuit, Kentucky Derby, how to make ham biscuit sandwich, how many ham biscuits per person, easter, ham leftovers,