Southern Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

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In our house, the tallest, flakiest, fluffiest homemade biscuits are a must on a weekend morning! These old fashioned buttermilk biscuits are tender and easy to make with minimal ingredients but maximum deliciousness.

Love a good biscuit recipe? Try my honey butter biscuits, or level that up with a honey butter chicken biscuit for breakfast! You can also grab a batch of addictive Red Lobster copycat garlicky Cheddar Bay biscuits.

honey being drizzled on a stack of fluffy buttermilk biscuits

Make the Best Buttermilk Biscuits You'll Ever Have!

Breakfast has always been an important part of my family. From the moment we got married, my husband and I stocked our tiny kitchen with coffee, teas, and plenty of butter and flour, which were all really cheap at the commissary.

Many, many mornings, my parents' oversized hand-me-down dining table in our tiny San Antonio, Texas apartment was crowned with flaky homemade biscuits, honey butter, jam, and oftentimes whatever else the other wives brought over so we could all eat together before the boys got to work at the hospital on base.

These southern buttermilk biscuits hold a special place in my heart and they have sat on every rendition of dining room table in our home since those newlywed days a decade ago. The biscuits are flaky, soft, and so delicious; they have layers upon layers of buttery goodness that make for the best biscuits I've ever eaten.

They're beautifully golden brown and crisp on the edges yet fluffy and flaky with a little extra tenderness on the inside. Made with simple ingredients, these easy buttermilk biscuits land in your belly in 20 minutes. What's not to love about them?

Dare I say these are the best biscuits you'll ever make? I dare.

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Why You'll Love This Flaky Biscuit Recipe

  • Easy to Make - this is a hands-on approach to biscuits rather than using a food processor to mix the dough, but the ease that these biscuits come together with make me wonder why I would want to dirty another appliance!
  • Learn Culinary Techniques - beginner cooks, you'll be learning about cutting butter, laminating butter into dough, and, of course, baking classic American biscuits.
  • Best Biscuit Recipe - if you love a flaky and buttery biscuit, you need no other recipe!

Equipment

  • Rolling Pin - I don't really even roll the dough in this recipe, per se. I'll kinda whack it into a rectangular shape with the rolling pin.
  • Kitchen Scale - a must when baking for accuracy...though I've found my biscuit recipe is a little lenient.
  • Pastry Cutter - this may also be called a pastry blender if you're looking for it in stores.
  • Baking Sheet - you can bake your biscuits on a cookie sheet or in a cast iron skillet.
  • 2 inch Biscuit Cutter- this is basically like a cookie cutter with a handle, so it's easier to cut the dough
  • Large Mixing Bowl - gotta love a one bowl recipe! Everything is mixed inside of a large bowl.

Ingredients for Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

ingredients for southern buttermilk biscuits
  • Baking Powder - buy aluminum-free baking powder, otherwise you'll have metallic tasting biscuits.
  • Baking Soda - use brand new baking powder and baking soda, the fresher they are, they taller and lighter your biscuits will be.
  • All-Purpose Flour - I usually use White Lily flour, but I know it's not available everywhere. Any brand of all purpose flour works perfectly.
  • Cold Buttermilk - buttermilk is usually found in the dairy section around the heavy cream in your local grocery store. It's especially easy to find out the holiday season.
  • Unsalted Butter - keep the butter extremely cold in this recipe. As it melts, the steam will lift the biscuits and create those flaky layers.
  • Kosher Salt.

How to Make Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits

This is an easy recipe for tender buttermilk biscuits; there's nothing like hot biscuits fresh out of the oven, and these only take at most 25 minutes from start to stomach.

hand cutting cold butter into dry ingredients in a bowl

Step 1 | Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then use a pastry blender to cut the butter until the mixture coarse meal and the butter is the size of sweet peas.

buttermilk being mixed into biscuit ingredients

Step 2 | Add the buttermilk into the flour mixture and stir together until the dough comes together into a shaggy mealy texture. It looks dry, but it'll come together as you press it with your hands in the next step.

hands flattening buttermilk biscuit dough

Step 3 | Turn biscuit dough out onto a clean work surface and carefully pat dough into a rectangle. It may seem a little dry and crumbly, but try gently pressing and folding the dough so the buttermilk can completely incorporated into the dry ingredients.

hands folding biscuit dough

Step 4 | Fold the dough in thirds over the middle on a clean work surface so the dough comes together and forms flaky layers, this is a rudimentary version of lamination. Do it as many times as you like, but at least three folds will give you flaky layers.

biscuit dough getting wrapped in plastic wrap

Step 5 | Wrap the biscuit dough in plastic wrap to rest in the fridge. This chills the butter back up after you've touched the dough so much with warm hands.

cutting out biscuits from rolled out dough

Step 6 | Press and roll the cold biscuit dough out to an inch thick on a clean work surface. Cut out the biscuit dough using biscuit cutters.

unbaked biscuits on a baking sheet

Step 7 | Brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk and place onto your hot baking sheet. Bake the biscuits until the tops are golden brown.

a stack of old fashioned buttermilk biscuits with honey drizzled over top

Step 8 | Serve hot, brushed with melted butter on top and drizzled with honey or other toppings.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Buttermilk Substitute - can't find or just don't have buttermilk on hand? Make your own buttermilk: First suggestion, buttermilk powder. It's absolutely fabulous and keeps in the fridge, all you need is some water to mix into it. Or second, use whole milk with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Let it sit and sour for five minutes before stirring and using in the recipe.
  • Fats - as a southern girl, I love using different fats in my biscuits. They all lend a different flavor and ability. Fats like leaf lard and shortening won't add flavor but their higher melting point will lead to flakier biscuits. While the deep south classic of cooled bacon grease works just as well as leaf lard, but will give your biscuits that hearty bacon flavor.
  • Add honey to the dough - my recipe for honey butter biscuits are sweet, tender, and AMAZING!
  • No pastry cutter - there are much easier ways to cut your butter into the dry ingredients but hey, this is the old fashioned way of doing things. A food processor pulsed to blend the flour mixture and butter into pea-sized nuggets is fast and easy, but if you don't have one you can grate frozen butter into the flour with a box grater.
  • Self-rising flour - This type of flour has baking powder added to it already. So if you're using self rising flour, omit the baking powder.

Pro Tips

These are the best tips from a southern belle for the most perfect buttermilk biscuits.

  • Use fresh baking powder and baking soda. These ingredients lose potency as they get older, meaning they won't help your biscuits lift and rise to their full potential. I wouldn't use baking soda and powder older than 3 months for biscuits.
  • If you want seriously flaky, tall biscuits keep nothing at room temperature, always keep things cold. Keep your butter and buttermilk nice and cold so the butter doesn't melt while the dough is being manhandled. Bonus points for having cold flour, too.
  • White Lily Flour - I may be a little biased but I think white lily flour is the best for tender biscuits since it's made with winter wheat and treated to break down the proteins in the flour.

Why is that important? Because gluten activation, which is what we want in bread for strong, hearty bread structure, is what we don't want in delicate baked goods like cake, pie crust, and light and airy buttermilk biscuits! So if you can find white lily flour at your local grocery store, snatch it up!

a close up of a basket of flaky southern biscuits, showing the many layers in them
  • No pastry cutter - there are much easier ways to cut your butter into the dry ingredients but hey, this is the old fashioned way of doing things. A food processor pulsed to blend the flour mixture and butter into pea-sized nuggets is fast and easy, but if you don't have one you can grate frozen butter into the flour with a box grater.
  • Do not twist your biscuit cutter. Use an up-and-down motion when cutting the dough because if you twist the cutter, it'll seal off the edges and close the layers you worked so hard for!
  • A hot baking sheet means perfectly browned bottoms. Keep the baking sheet in the oven as it preheats, then place the biscuits right on top and hurry them into the oven. The heat from the baking sheet keeps the butter from melting onto it, instead the biscuit bakes from both the ambient heat and the hot sheet at the same time.

Make Ahead Instructions

What's absolutely fantastic about these biscuits is that you can make them ahead for whenever you need them: holiday mornings, busy weekends or weekday mornings, or whenever a hot, flaky biscuit is just needed, you know?

Keep the cut-out biscuit dough frozen for up to 3 months, then arrange the frozen biscuits onto your ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

What Goes With Buttermilk Biscuits?

honey butter glaze being brushed onto a honey butter chicken biscuit
  • Make Biscuits and Gravy - a southern classic that is simple to make: a country white gravy flavored with breakfast sausage.
  • Breakfast sandwiches - I will put a poached egg with sizzled up ham and a little chimichurri or chili crisp in between a halved biscuit and let me tell you something: magic happens.
  • Drizzle of honey - keep it simple with a drizzle of sweet honey over your biscuits. You can't go wrong.
  • Chicken pot pie - doesn't matter the time of day, biscuits go with just about everything. Instead of puff pastry or pie crust, biscuits can top my easy Chicken Pot Pie. 
  • Fried chicken - if you haven't caught onto the pure joy that is a honey butter chicken biscuit, honey let me tell you: you haven't lived.

Storage and Reheating

Keep your fluffy biscuits in an airtight container or zip-top bags for up to 3 days.

To reheat, warm them in a 300 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes or until warmed through.

FAQs

What does buttermilk do in biscuits?

Buttermilk adds tangy flavor, a bit of richness, and acidity to react to the baking soda to help our biscuits reach taller heights as they bake.

Are biscuits scones?

Biscuits are not scones, there's a big difference between the two: the inclusion of eggs. Southern biscuits have more acidity and butter making flaky, fluffy layers in the dough, while scones are denser, richer, often sweet with sugar and cream added.

Why didn't my biscuits rise?

There can be two reasons:
Your leaveners are old and no longer have any lifting power. I always say keep fresh baking powder and baking soda (less than 6 months old) on hand because you're risking them not working. They have short shelf lives.
Or two, you twisted the biscuit cutter while cutting the dough out, locking down the layers. Straight up and down motions only!

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📖 Recipe

Southern Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

Eden Westbrook
Discover the perfect southern buttermilk biscuit recipe: easy to make, super fluffy with tons of incredibly flaky layers, and deliciously buttery.
4.93 from 14 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Breads
Cuisine Southern
Servings 8 biscuits
Calories 192 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups 250 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter cold and cubed or grated
  • ¾ cups buttermilk cold
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk for biscuit tops
  • melted salted butter for brushing

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Set an ungreased baking sheet in the oven while it's preheating.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces of butter are about the size of peas. You can also grate frozen butter into the dry mixture using a box grater.  
  • Stir in the ¾ cup of buttermilk until the dry ingredients are just combined and the dough is shaggy and dry-looking.
  • Transfer your biscuit dough onto a clean work surface, flatten and fold the dough with your hands into a rectangle. It's alright if the dough seems like it's too dry, as you work the dough the buttermilk will moisten the dry flour mixture.
  • Fold the dough by thirds onto itself, then flatten into a rectangle again using your hands. Repeat this at least 3 more times, flattening the dough into a ½-inch thick rectangle, and folding by thirds to build the flaky layers in your biscuits.
  • Optional step: wrap the folded dough with plastic wrap and set in the fridge or freezer to chill for 5 to 10 minutes. This will ensure you have cold butter that'll keep your dough laminated and flaky, like when making croissants.
  • Unwrap the biscuit dough if you chilled it, and flatten the dough to 1 inch thick. Dip a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter into a little excess flour and cut biscuits using an up and down motion. Never twist, that will seal up the edges.
  • Brush the 1 tablespoon of buttermilk onto the tops of the biscuits, so they'll be golden brown when ready.
  • Place the biscuits onto the hot prepared baking sheet quickly in the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes or until the tops are golden.
  • Remove from the oven to cool and brush the melted butter on top of each biscuit. Serve with honey butter, jam, gravy, chicken, etc.

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions

Freeze the cut-out biscuits on a single layer, then keep in a freezer-safe zip top bag.
Keep the cut-out biscuit dough frozen for up to 3 months, then arrange the frozen biscuits onto your ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Pro Tips for Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

Use fresh baking powder and baking soda. These ingredients lose potency as they get older, meaning they won't help your biscuits lift and rise to their full potential. I wouldn't use baking soda and powder older than 3 months for biscuits.
If you want seriously flaky, tall biscuits keep nothing at room temperature. Keep your butter and buttermilk nice and cold so the butter doesn't melt while the dough is being manhandled. Bonus points for having cold flour, too.
Do not twist your biscuit cutter. Use an up-and-down motion when cutting the dough because if you twist the cutter, it'll seal off the edges and close the layers you worked so hard for.
A hot baking sheet means perfectly browned bottoms. Keep the baking sheet in the oven as it preheats, then place the biscuits right on top and hurry them into the oven. The heat from the baking sheet keeps the butter from melting onto it, instead the biscuit bakes from both the ambient heat and the hot sheet at the same time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 192kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 4gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 355mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
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12 Comments

  1. Made these this morning; my first ever attempt at biscuits and I was intimidated, not gonna lie.

    All I could find between two grocery stores was a circle cookie cutter so I used that; I think it was about 2.5 inches in diameter and I ended up with six biscuits. Very happy with how these turned out, and not nearly as complicated as I imagined following this clear recipe and tips. thank you!

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  5. lovealwaysashleyj says:

    My husband just asked me the other day if I could make homemade biscuits and gravy sometime! I am definitely going to use your recipe! 🙂

    1. Thanks Ashley! Should I post a gravy recipe too?? Also, If you can't find White Lily flour, use cake flour instead!

      1. lovealwaysashleyj says:

        Yes a gravy recipe would be awesome! And thanks for the tips girl! 🙂

        1. No problem! I'm so excited for you to try out the recipe!

  6. lovealwaysashleyj says:

    My husband just asked me the other day if I could make homemade biscuits and gravy sometime! I am definitely going to use your recipe! 🙂

    1. Thanks Ashley! Should I post a gravy recipe too?? Also, If you can't find White Lily flour, use cake flour instead!

      1. lovealwaysashleyj says:

        Yes a gravy recipe would be awesome! And thanks for the tips girl! 🙂

        1. No problem! I'm so excited for you to try out the recipe!