Hammin’ It Up

The delicious debate over ham biscuits.

Photo by Tyler Darden

The never-ending debate about ham biscuits makes for delicious arguments.

When it comes to ham biscuits, it is what it is. Or is it? The variations and the passion they inspire are legion. Originally a quick, portable meal eaten by slaves, ham biscuits have evolved into the go-to for any Southern gathering. As a result, every family, caterer, and restaurant in the state has its own recipe.

Most begin with a warm, split (not cut!), and, preferably, homemade biscuit, but then… Should the biscuit be full- or bite-sized? Buttermilk or baking powder? A thin beaten biscuit (made by literally smacking the dough with a stick) is traditional; some choose a sweet potato biscuit to contrast with salty ham; and a few outliers even prefer a soft roll. Spreads are equally contentious—butter, mayo, mustard, pimento cheese, and jelly all have their supporters. The star of the sandwich is Virginia country ham, sliced paper thin … or generously thick. Of course, there’s no loser in this delicious debate—any chosen combination creates the ultimate Southern snack. 

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