The Guilty Pleasure:Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix Where To Get It: Your favorite grocery store The Price: About $2.25 (plus a couple pantry staples) What It Really Costs: Depends on your feelings about baking mixes (and partially hydrogenated oil).
If you've been reading my Guilty Pleasures articles for a while, you'll know that I don't find much pleasure in dinner at Red Lobster. The kitchen plays it too safe for my taste, churning out dishes that mainstream Americans adore, but just make me yawn. There is, however, one exception.
It's those Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
As I'd mentioned before, they're universally loved for a simple reason: Warm, soft carbs bathed in garlic butter are delicious. The one problem is that you have to Red Lobster to get them. Or at least, you once had to step outside of your house. Not anymore.
Some marketing genius at Darden (Red Lobster's parent company) realized they could take the mix that they ship to the restaurants, and package it for home use. Now, according to the box, you can have the same biscuits that Red Lobster makes at their restaurants in the comfort of your own home. Does the claim stand up? Let's find out.
The first thing I had to do was go get some of the genuine article. Did you know you can go to Red Lobster and just buy biscuits by the half-dozen to go? Until I wrote this article, the thought never occurred to me. At $2 for a half-dozen, it's a decent deal for a quick snack on the road. At least, as long as you don't mind your car smelling like garlic butter.
Once I got back home with the pre-made biscuits, it was time to get to work. It's pretty simple. There's two bags in the box. One has the biscuit mix, and one has the garlic butter seasoning. The biscuit mix is pretty close to supermarket standby Bisquick, with the addition of some buttermilk powder and a good bit more fat added to the mixture.
Add some shredded cheese and water to the mix, scoop it out into biscuits, and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. While the biscuits are baking, you melt down some butter, and add the seasoning packet. Once the biscuits are hot out of the oven, you brush the butter on the biscuits. It's a piece of cake all around, and my kitchen ended up a lot cleaner than when I make biscuits from scratch.
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But how does it taste? It's the real deal. Flavor-wise, the two were completely indistinguishable, right down to the little flakes of parsley on top. If anything, the mix came out better than the ones you get at Red Lobster. The biscuit dough didn't have a chance to sit around; the leavening was at full power, resulting in fluffier biscuits. The biscuits we got direct from Red Lobster were a little underbaked, just slightly doughy in the middle. It's something I wouldn't even consider at the restaurant, but it was noticeable when sampled side by side.
Compared to the fresh-baked biscuits at Red Lobster, $2.25 for a baker's dozen Red Lobster-sized biscuits (the box says it makes 8 to 10 biscuits, but calls for a bigger portion than the restaurant makes) is a decent deal compared to ones straight from the restaurant. However, making biscuits at home is dirt cheap, and pretty easy. Even better, you can make your biscuits at home with real butter instead of hydrogenated shortening.
While I'll stick with making my own biscuits, the Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix is a perfect stand-in for the real deal from Red Lobster. Possibly even better.