Southern-Style Buttermilk Biscuits
Learn the secrets of making southern-style buttermilk biscuits that bake up tall, fluffy, and light as a cloud. Homemade bread in 20 minutes or less!
*This buttermilk biscuit recipe originally published on September 15, 2016. I thought it was about time it was updated. So, I’ve added a video and answers to some frequently asked questions. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these buttermilk biscuits as much as my family and I do!*
This is a sponsored post, written by me and created in partnership with White Lily Flour. All opinions expressed herein are straight from my heart.
I may not have been born in the south, but you’d never know it by the way I bake biscuits.
Much of the credit goes to my husband. He’s not a southerner either, but he is truly a connoisseur of buttermilk biscuits. Actually, he’s a lover of all kinds of southern comfort food, but biscuits are a top favorite for him. And one he craves on a weekly basis.
Almost every Saturday, from the time we were first married, he’s begged me to make biscuits for his breakfast. And since I love to bake, I always do it.
Honestly, it’s not just because I love to bake. It’s also because biscuits are so quick and easy. They’re a quick bread, so similar to waffles or scones or cornbread, they whip up in a snap.
He loves to make breakfast sandwiches with them, but he’s also been known to slap a piece of fried chicken in there with some cole slaw.
For me, nothing beats a warm biscuit slathered with butter and strawberry jam.
I can remember years ago, back in my architecture days, I had a client who was from South Carolina. Whenever we would have project meetings, she would always put out freshly made biscuits and jam for all the designers and contractors to nibble on while we talked business.
I had already caught the baking bug way before then, so I loved that she had made it her tradition to bake like that every day. It amazed me that she could put out bread, fresh from the oven, on such a frequent basis. I told her so, and that’s when she shared the secret that so many southerners already know.
As it turns out, biscuits are one of the simplest things you could ever make.
HOW TO MAKE SOUTHERN-STYLE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
To make these tall, fluffy biscuits, you’ll need:
- Baking Powder
And that’s it! Just 5 simple ingredients.
In fact, if you use self-rising flour that brings the list down to just 3 ingredients.
Start by placing the flour, baking powder, and salt in a big bowl. Give these dry ingredients a quick whisk, just to make sure they’re combined.
Next, add the butter. I know a lot of bakers bake biscuits with shortening, but I like to use all butter because I prefer the flavor.
Now the key to a tall biscuit is cold butter, so don’t take it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it. And once you do, you want to work fast.
When the cold butter hits the hot oven, it releases steam that makes the biscuits puff up.
Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender– it works really fast and I like it better than using my fingers because the butter stays colder this way.
You don’t need to go too crazy with the cutting in, in fact, it’s better to under-work it than to over-work it. I stop just as soon as the pieces are no bigger than pea-sized. Here’s a pic, so you can see what I mean:
See how there are some little nubs of butter still visible? That’s what you want.
The final ingredient is buttermilk. Again, it’s best if it’s cold.
I like to start by stirring it in with a spatula, but you will see that after a little while it looks like there’s not going to be enough liquid for all that flour. Don’t worry though- just get in there with your hands and knead it a few times. It will come together, and be pretty sticky at that!
Dust the work surface with flour, so the dough doesn’t stick to your counter, and form the biscuits.
Flatten the dough to a thickness of about 3/4-inch, and then use a 2-inch diameter cutter to make rounds.
I find it’s really helpful to dip the cutter in flour before every cut, just to keep things from sticking. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet, and into the hot oven they go.
As you can see, I like to bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
You should get anywhere from 9 to 12 homemade biscuits to a batch.
And if you place them on the tray so that their sides are just barely touching, they’ll have room to spread while still supporting each other. This way they’ll bake up nice and tall!
CAN YOU MAKE HOMEMADE BISCUITS WITHOUT BUTTERMILK?
I always keep buttermilk on hand because I use it in so many things (from cakes to waffles to of course, biscuits).
But if it’s not a go-to ingredient for you, you can make a reasonable facsimile. Just stir 2 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice or white vinegar into 3/4 cup regular milk. Let that sit for 10 minutes or so, until the liquid gets thick and looks curdled.
Another option is to make cream biscuits.
Just use half the amount of butter (so, 1/4 cup aka: 4 tablespoons), and swap the buttermilk for 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream.
TROUBLESHOOTING: WHY ARE MY BISCUITS FLAT?
Nothing is sadder than a flat biscuit! We like ’em sky high around here, so I pat the dough to a thickness of no less than 3/4-inch before cutting them out.
Also, it’s really important to work quickly so the dough remains cold. If at any point your flow gets interrupted (to answer a phone call, get the kids a juice box, whatever), pop your ingredients into the fridge to keep them nicely chilled while you do your thing.
And if you’re worried that you’ve taken too long to make your biscuits and things have gotten too warm, put them into the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, or the freezer for 5 to 10. The colder they are when they hit the hot oven, the higher that steam will make them rise!
If all else fails, the culprit could be your baking powder. Baking powder does expire after a while, so make sure it’s not past its date. This goes for self-rising flour too!
TENDER & FLUFFY BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Ideally, biscuits should be so tender they practically melt in your mouth. To achieve this, be sure you don’t overwork your dough.
The less you knead your dough, the better. Overworked dough will produce a tough biscuit, so just give it a few quick turns to make sure all the flour is incorporated.
- Add a 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to every cup of all-purpose flour to make your own self-rising flour. Or check out this recipe for All-Purpose Flour Biscuits.
Happy biscuit baking!
WHAT GOES WELL WITH BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
My family really loves to have homemade biscuits and a big pot of soup for dinner, especially during the cooler months. We especially love this biscuit recipe alongside a bowl of steamy corn chowder or broccoli cheese soup.
It also works well as a topping for our favorite chicken pot pie! Just swap out the puff pastry and use biscuits instead.
We often enjoy biscuits for breakfast too. They’re great sandwiched around a fried or scrambled egg. Even better if bacon is involved!
And sometimes we just keep it simple: buttered, with a dollop of homemade jam or apple butter, or a drizzle of sweet honey.
HOW TO STORE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Slip them into a zip-top bag once they’re completely cooled, and these buttermilk biscuits will keep at room temperature for about 2 days, or in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
CAN YOU FREEZE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS?
I freeze homemade biscuits all the time! It’s great to have a stash in the freezer.
Just zip them into a freezer bag and they’ll keep in the freezer for a couple of months.
Thaw them in the fridge or at room temp.
HOW TO REHEAT BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Nothing’s nicer than a hot biscuit!
These reheat nicely in the microwave, for about 10 to 15 seconds on full power (per biscuit).
Or, wrap them loosely in foil and heat them in a 170 degree F oven until warmed through.
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour*
- 1 tablespoon (14.79 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (4.93 g) kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, (1 stick), cold
- 3/4 cups (180 g) buttermilk,, cold
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together until combined, then cut the butter into half-inch cubes and add to the bowl.
- Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are no bigger than the size of a pea.
- Stir in the buttermilk until a shaggy dough forms.
- Knead the dough with your hands a few times, to gather the dough into a ball and incorporate any flour that may be left in the bottom of the bowl.
- Dust the work surface with flour, and flatten the dough to a thickness of 3/4 inch.
- Dip a 2-inch diameter cutter into flour and cut rounds.
- Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet (with their sides barely touching) and bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden.
When you’re talking about a recipe that only has three ingredients, it’s important that each of those is the best you can get your hands on.
Let’s start with ingredient number one: flour. Self-rising flour is what every respectable southern baker keeps in her cupboard for biscuit baking, and White Lily Enriched Bleached Self-Rising Flour is the gold standard. White Lily mills their flour from soft red winter wheat. Soft winter wheat has a lower protein content, which makes it ideal for more delicate baked goods. You can be sure that with White Lily, your biscuits will bake up light-textured, fluffy, and full of flavor. This is the White Lily difference. It’s like an insurance policy that your biscuits will be better than those made with any other kind of traditional flour. Southern bakers have known this secret for generations. That’s why White Lily flour has become known as “the light baking flour.”
Next comes butter.
These are in the oven as I write. I’ve been living in the South for 30 years and have been trying to make biscuits, experimenting with every recipe I find. Can you help me troubleshoot your recipe? I double-checked my measurements and followed your directions, yet the dough was so wet that I couldn’t properly make round biscuits because I couldn’t get them off the board. I did flour the board and not too lightly. What did I do wrong?
Thanks for your advise!
Biscuits can be a little tricky! I promise it’s not you. The amount of liquid you need can vary a great deal. If you live in a humid environment, you can definitely use less. I’d suggest using the least amount of buttermilk possible, in order to form into a ball. And definitely flour your board liberally! I also flour the cutter as well. Hope this is helpful!
Well it’s Easter and I thought instead of making rolls like I normally do I decided to try making biscuits. I’ve never made biscuits before, but I trust your recipes as I’ve used them before.
The biscuits were a fail! But I know where I messed up. I had no buttermilk so I was doctoring up milk with vinegar. I’ve done this before and never had a problem, this time I did. But it was a stupid mistake. I didnt have a clean 1 cup measuring cup (no shade!) so I added in the milk in 1/3 cups at a time, I doubled the recipe, but instead of adding vinegar at each measurement I waited and just put the vinegar at the last addition. *I knew when I poured that last bit of milk in there that it was wrong* Ever do that?
So I took a chance and mixed them up, cut them out and baked them.
They were the fluffiest delicate little vinegar biscuits. The vinegar was an aftertaste but still there.
I will make these again! I’m a pretty good cook and baker and truthfully I’ve never had a disaster like that before.
I’ll be sure to let you know how the next batch works out!
Why do the bottom of my biscuits burn
The most likely culprit would be the baking sheet you’re using. Lighter-colored pans are best!
Best biscuits I’ve EVER made — and I’ve been cooking for 45 years, just never mastered biscuits until now!! Thanks!!
Beginner here 😉
Which 2 ingredients do you omit if using self rising flour?
Hey Abbylee! You’ll want to omit the baking powder and salt. It’s noted in the Recipe Notes, just below the video in the recipe card. Good luck!
I was following your thoughts on cake flour. Then you talk about making biscuits with all purpose flour. ????????? Explain please. Which is it
I made these! They turned out perfect! Thank you! Buttermilk is not a common ingredient in my part of the world. I just used yoghurt diluted in some milk. Around a quarter cup thick yogurt mixed with half a cup of milk. Worked perfectly like a charm. The biscuits came out beautiful and crispy. Also folded in some chunks of butter when I was rolling it out. Jus as an extra precaution. Lol. I was very happy with the reduced baking powder and butter which still gave me a perfect biscuit. The last recipe I tried used almost double of what you did. Loved yours.
I totally love this and im happy to try it out.
I think 475 is a little high for the oven temperature
You need a very hot oven for biscuits- it causes the cold butter to release steam and make the biscuits rise.
These turned out great and were so easy and quick to make. I actually had to put the dough in the fridge for a bit while putting my baby down for a nap :). Next time I might cut down a bit on the salt because they’re on the edge of being a bit salty, but great recipe, I’m sure saving it!
Hello, I made these scones on Heritage Day, 24 September, and believe me, it was a hit. I like the cutting in of butter, no more rubbing in butter with fingertips. Thank you 4 a great recipe. It was so soft & big, 2 perfection
I successfully made these gluten free today, using 1 cup each Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 and Pamela’s flour and adding an extra splash of milk. They are rich and buttery on the inside and super crispy and golden on the outside! I wasn’t sure they would turn out well using GF flour but they puffed up beautifully. It’s really hard to bake or buy gluten free biscuits and bread that compare to the original, but this recipe was just as good, if not better, than any non-GF biscuits we’ve had in the past. Thank you for the incredible recipe!
That is so great to know Bryn! Thank you so much for sharing this, I know it will be helpful to other readers.
Hi Allie, I just made these biscuits and they were amazing. This is a recipe I will keep for a very long time. Thanks for sharing, Mimi!
So happy you enjoyed!
OMG! They look yummy! We are on lockdown in South Africa because of the Coronavirus pandemic, it will be lovely to make these for my son. Also, we call them scones here and biscuits are what Americans call ‘cookies’.
I made these today and they were great.
I made two changes, and I mildly regret both.
1) I added a buttermilk “glaze” to help them brown. Not necessary, not harmful
2). I thought 475 was too hot and they would brown too fast, so I cooked at 450. Don’t do that. You lose that pop of heat that makes them rise.
So, don’t do what I did, and these will be excellent.