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!*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.