Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

These Southern buttermilk biscuits are easy as heck to toss together from just three ingredients—self-rising flour, buttermilk, and butter—and turn out flaky and fluffy and just like grandma’s. Maybe even better. Here’s how to make them.

A rimmed baking sheet with rows of Southern buttermilk biscuits.

These Southern buttermilk biscuits require nothing more than self-rising flour, butter, and buttermilk. Lest you think such a simple and easy recipe couldn’t possibly turn out flaky, buttery, perfect homemade biscuits like grandma used to make, consider what our recipe testers are saying about this recipe: “Spectacular.” “Sinful.” “Easy.” “Buttery.” “Lofty.” “Air.” “Perfect.” “An absolute keeper.” Sorta makes you want to try them, doesn’t it? Originally published April 28, 2014.Renee Schettler Rossi

*NOTE: How To Make Self-Rising Flour

Knowing where to find may be a birthright in the South, but we know it isn’t necessarily a given for everyone else. And outside of the South, it can be a little tricky to find. Here’s how to make your own self-rising flour for homemade buttermilk biscuit baking emergencies. It’s a very easy equation: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 cup all-purpose flour. [Editor’s Note: In case you haven’t a calculator handy, when you do the math for the recipe that follows, that equates to 1 tablespoon baking powder + 1 teaspoon salt + 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Although you may want to make a second batch so that you have ample flour for dusting the work surface as you knead the dough. Now go bake.]

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Quick Glance
  • (13)
  • 25 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 18 biscuits
4.9/5 - 13 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Southern Living: No Taste Like Home cookbook

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Special Equipment: 2-inch (5-cm) round biscuit or cookie cutter


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Slice the cold butter into 1/4-inch-thick (6-mm) slices. Dump the flour in a large bowl and toss in the butter slices. Using a pastry blender or a couple knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pretty crumbly and resembles small peas. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Lightly butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, gently stirring with a fork just until the flour is moistened. The dough will be very sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. Using floured hands, press or pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick (18-mm) rectangle (it should measure about 9-by 5-inches or 23-by 13-cm). Sprinkle the dough with a little additional flour. Starting at a short end, fold the dough over onto itself in 3 sections as if folding a letter-size piece of paper. You should end up with a rectangle shape. Press the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick (18-mm) rectangle (yes, again) and repeat the entire process 2 more times, adding additional flour as needed.

Press or pat the dough to a 1/2 inch (12-mm) thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with a floured 2-inch (5-cm) cutter. Place the biscuits side by side on the prepared baking sheet. The biscuits should touch. Quickly and gently press together the dough scraps while the dough is still cold and cut out as many more biscuits as you can.

Bake the biscuits for 13 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush the tops with the melted butter and let them cool ever so slightly. The biscuits are best warm from the oven. Don’t dally.

Print RecipeBuy the Southern Living: No Taste Like Home cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This Southern buttermilk biscuits recipe, as described by my wife, is SINFUL! And I couldn't agree more. The recipe is very traditional and straightforward. I LOVE the folding of the dough, which created beautiful layers.

Because the biscuits are brushed with melted butter upon leaving the oven, I found them perfect with no other toppings. I couldn't resist dropping one in some homemade soup...WOW! Now that's some kind of dumpling. I was able to collect the dough scraps after cutting and make a few more perfect biscuits. There was little, if any, waste. This recipe gave me nearly 20 nice, plump biscuits.

I’m a Southern girl at heart, so no one could’ve stopped me from making this Southern buttermilk biscuits recipe. They're warm, light, airy, buttery heaven. These biscuits are soooo mouthwatering and can be enjoyed any time of day. They’re practically easier than popping open that can of pre-made biscuits (and certainly safer) and the taste is incomparable, so there's no excuse to avoid making homemade biscuits.

The best part is that with only 3 ingredients, you probably already have everything on hand.

I enjoyed these with a drizzle of honey…yum. They’d make a great biscuit for a breakfast sandwich in savory form or they could stand to be slathered with jam or cream and berries for a sweet offering. This is a great recipe to keep close by (which I intend to do). Don’t expect them to last long!

These Southern buttermilk biscuits came together easily and were wonderful with a shmear of salted butter. The dough was a little wet, so I used additional flour for each turn and fold before rolling the dough. I re-rolled the scraps and couldn't tell the difference between the biscuits from the original rolling out and the re-rolling out. Great with homemade chicken soup.

This Southern buttermilk biscuits recipe was fast, easy, and spectacular. The extra step of folding the dough, as you would puff pastry, allowed the biscuits to reach lofty heights previously unseen in my kitchen. Truly spectacular results for a non-baker. An absolute keeper for me.

When you live in the land of biscuits, it takes a really great one to get a rise out of you (ha ha). This Southern buttermilk biscuits recipe makes just that biscuit. I'd never used the fold-over technique before, and it's obviously a good way to get all that butter into the dough. And it's fun, too. These were lightly golden brown on the outside, soft and buttery and flaky on the inside. In fact, they ended up being dinner since they beat everything else I'd had on the projected menu.

My biscuits were a thing of beauty! I'd never made buttermilk biscuits before, and I was pretty intimidated by the prospect of making these for company. Result? Amazingly beautiful and delicious biscuits! They were gone in a flash. I highly recommend this recipe.

To be honest, my first batch didn't turn out as expected—I think the self-rising flour I used was too old and I'm pretty sure the temperature of my oven was off as the biscuits didn't rise or brown properly. However, I tried the recipe again using the homemade self-rising flour. I worked the dough a little less than the first time, and I made them a little thicker. I also turned my oven up 25°F.


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  1. Try substituting 1 tablespoon of high quality frozen bacon grease for 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle very small pieces throughout the flour before adding the butter step. It adds another level of taste.

  2. These biscuits have changed my life. Strong comment, I know, but hear me out. I am a 50 year old man that loves to make biscuits and gravy, but I’ve never been able to make an edible biscuit. My gravy is great (thanks Alton Brown), but I’ve always had to settle for frozen biscuits. They aren’t great, but were 1000 times better than my attempts…… until today. I made a batch of these biscuits and a tear came to my eye. I realized that I am now complete. These biscuits rose wonderfully while baking. I took them out of oven when lightly brown. They were crusty in the outside, yet lightly layered on the inside. Wonderful flavor. I’ve been told that making biscuits is easy, now I believe, finally. Thank you!

    1. Travis, we’re so pleased to hear this! We’re delighted to hear that your search for the perfect biscuit is over and so glad that you now have a complete biscuit and gravy combo in your arsenal. Thank you for taking the time to let us know.

  3. These are excellent. Try baking them in a cast iron pan, because that makes everything even better:)

  4. Thanks for this recipe. The biscuits are the best I’ve ever had.

    This is my second time making them. The first time Little Ms I-Already-Know-Everything combined the ingredients and didn’t read the method until after the biscuits were in the oven. This time I prepared the proper laminated version for the top of a chicken pot pie. Even the scrap that I gathered together from the crisply cut edges and mashed together into globular biscuits of a sort were light and exceptional.

    But I couldn’t help myself. I added 1/4 tsp of baking soda because of all the acid. I wanted insurance. It didn’t hurt anything.

    1. Little Ms. I-Already-Know-Everything, I do the same thing. (And even on my own site. You can image jut how happy I make our director of recipe testing, Beth Price!) Glad you stuck with it and delighted the wee bit of baking soda help. Any photos, by any chance?

      1. Sorry. It was gone almost as soon as it hit the table!

        But I know I’ll make them again — just as easy as airy! I’ll try to remember to send a pic when I do. And I’ll certainly incorporate this method into scone-baking as well.

        I’m also sending a link to a Southern friend who’s presently living in France. I can just picture her serving them to her vrai fraçaise landlady.

  5. These biscuits were a cinch to make and very tender. I froze my cubed butter in my stainless steel stand mixer bowl for about 10 minutes and then proceeded to mix the ingredients with my stand mixer, and I skipped the refrigeration step. The dough is sticky but I used parchment paper on my counter to roll them out and dusting with flour along the way helped. These baked up perfectly at the 13-minute mark and they were quite delicious and light in texture. I froze half of the uncooked biscuits for later by placing the dough circles in a single layer in a baking dish and tightly wrapping the dish with plastic wrap.

    1. Does using the stand mixer to mix in the buttermilk not overwork the dough? I was planning on using my food processor but just to cut in the butter. If you’re having success using your KitchenAid, then I’m going to go ahead and mix in the buttermilk (just) to the dough prior to dumping it out on the silpat. I’m going to use my silpat to try folding the dough over several times too, like shown on your video — soooo much easier than doing it with my hands. Plus watching the video showed me not to worry about adding too much self-rising flour onto the dough while folding. I’m usually trying to work in as little flour as I can. Many thanks for the very helpful video — just like standing at the elbow of the cook when learning techniques involved in baking. Since we’ve retired, I’ve been trying to get into baking more. It’s fun learning what I’ve picked up so far but seeing a video on making my biscuits flakier is a basic technique I really needed to SEE!

      1. Hi Michelle, Nathalie is the best biscuit baker! I interned with her for 2 years and learned so much from her. Her folding technique makes biscuits so light and fluffy. I would use a gentle hand though when mixing the dough otherwise you might end up with a tough biscuit.

  6. I have always been a cornbread girl and with a fresh cup of hot coffee, nothing was better. But you know with age comes wisdom and variety is the spice of life. Biscuits made with White Lily and folded over, wow! Just yummy wow!

  7. I used this recipe after many failed attempts! I wanted my grandma’s biscuits and I nailed it with this recipe!

    1. Dina, you made our MONTH by telling us this! Thank you! It never ceases to amaze me how food can instantly take you back to another place and time. I’m grateful you were able to recreate something from your grandma with this recipe. We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

  8. I’ve made these biscuits twice now – once as written and once with a tablespoon of sugar. The biggest difference that I noticed was that the biscuit bottoms in the batch with sugar were much crisper than those without. I used the mixture of regular and cake flour that a commenter above mentioned because I haven’t made the commitment to buying soft flour online – yet. I also skipped the round cutter and just sliced into rectangles with my bench scraper; they might not have been as pretty but they were still layered, flaky and delicious.
    The genius of this recipe is in the folded layers. It creates such a light, layered biscuit so easily and quickly. I have looked for an outstanding yet quick biscuit recipe for years and I’m pretty sure I’ve finally found it!

    1. Love that you’ve found your go-to biscuit recipe here, Jenny! And yes, the sugar will definitely add to the caramelization and crisping where the biscuit meets the hot sheet pan. We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know that you, too, love the ethereally flaky layers.

      1. Do you think adding sugar would keep them from rising their highest?

        I’m not a very experienced baker but am going to try these with both buttermilk and some buttermilk powder I have on hand, and wondered what you personally thought of adding sugar.

        1. Michelle, love that you’re exploring baking and asking questions and trying things! This may sound like a dumb question but may I ask why you’d like to add sugar? Is it to impart just a subtle sweetness to the biscuits or were you looking to make them more like shortcakes to serve at dessert?

      2. Renee,

        I am still using this recipe as my go-to for biscuits—but making it just now, I noticed that it says “makes about 18 biscuits.” Ha! Not in this house! I’ve just been slicing the dough up with a bench scraper and what started out as 18 biscuits a year ago, is now down to about 9. That’s 9 big beautiful buttery babies. Still works perfectly (with a few extras minutes in the oven) and now I don’t feel so bad about not sharing.

        1. Hah! I love everything about what you just wrote, Jenny. Everything. And 9 biscuits is how it should be in your household with no shame whatsoever—it has no place around food. Love that you followed up and thanks for the reminder to indulge when we find something that speaks to our soul!

  9. I am admittedly a little obsessed with the search for the perfect buttermilk biscuit. I, too, had never tried the folding method before and the biscuits were beautiful but I didn’t get the same rise as I’ve gotten with biscuits before and they weren’t quite as tender as my usual food processor (read: minimal handling) biscuits. After reading all of the comments, I will definitely try it again with sugar and perhaps just making my own self-rising flour because I can’t get White Lily flour where I live. I did use King Arthur self-rising flour so perhaps that is partially the cause of my disappointment.

    1. Karina, we find that biscuits are a very, very, very personal thing. And we appreciate your candor and are glad to hear you’ll try these again with a few subtle tweaks. Kindly let us know how it goes…

      1. I’ve been meaning to write an updated response. I finally was able to get a hold of some White Lily flour after a trip to Atlanta. This recipe is perfect using the White Lily flour- crunchy on the outside, soft in the inside, and a beautiful rise. I have finally found my perfect biscuit recipe!

        1. Karima, I SO appreciate your follow up! And I’m so incredibly pleased to hear that you had such spectacular results with these, just as we did, and that you’re equally enthralled with them as we are. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  10. These were really wonderful. I’ve always been disappointed in the biscuits I’ve made. And when I stumbled across some White Lily flour (Los Angeles, Surfas) I looked for a butter-based recipe. My family ate two batches in one day. I did prefer the recipe with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Not sweet but with the salt/leavening tamed.

  11. Love this recipe. My problem is that I follow the recipe as you have it written and my dough is very sticky. It sticks to my hands. Sticks to my bench scraper and cutting board. I add 1/4 cup more flour so I can at least be able to knead the dough. I’m adding flour to my hands and flour everywhere. Is this a normal thing or am I doing something wrong? Please give me some advice.

    1. Hi Manual, what type of flour did you use? Are you able to find White Lily or other Southern flours? Instead of trying to knead the dough, think more of folding the dough. A flexible cutting board dusted with flour makes quick work of the folding without the need for a bench scraper. Just use the board, instead of your hands, to fold the dough. We posted a video below of Nathalie Dupree, the Queen of Biscuits, turning and patting a very wet dough. Hope this helps.

  12. I am so glad I found this recipe. The key seemed to be the folding. I don’t recall seeing my grandmother do that. So the first time in my life I made an honest to goodness yummy HIGH biscuit. No hockey puck!

    The one difference I did do is the cutting. I did not use a round cutter, I simply patted it square/rectangular. Then cut the biscuits rectangular, as I did that separated them a touch to keep the perforation I created. This was because A) Mammaw did this way. B) It actually (to me) makes sense. No fooling with the dough more than needed, just cut the square/rectangle grid, put in pan, pop in oven.

    As an FYI: My son did the second try of recipe. He said he put the folded dough directly into the pan, then cut into the rectangle grids. The end result was very tasty, there was some separation problems but not enough for us to not consider his method in the future.

    1. Michelle, I love everything you say. I, too, like to cut my biscuit dough. And you really need no other reason than Mammaw did it! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next! Love that your son bakes!

  13. Hi, David and testers:

    Has video posts/blogs of recipe preparation (by Leite staff or testers) ever been considered? Visuals would definitely be great!

    So today I gathered all the ingredients to make these delicious looking biscuits but then felt intimidated and put everything away. I wish there was a VIDEO available so I could actually see how the dough is kneaded and folded!

    1. Angelina, fear not! biscuit making is easy. We are gearing up for video production, but it’s costly and we need to take it slowly. But here’s a video on biscuit making in general from the master of Southern cooking, Nathalie Dupree. I hope it helps!

      1. I enjoyed watching the two videos. I’ve recently begun making biscuits using self-rising flour and just like the second recipe EXCEPT that I use 2-1/4 cups of self-rising flour, 1 cup of heavy cream AND 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. I stir them together just until mixed. Since I use cold cream, the butter forms little pieces all over the dough! I usually do not fold the dough but next time, I might try folding the dough. I make mine on a Silpat so folding the soft dough sounds a lot easier if I let the Silpat help me do it.

        Would love to see the video David said you were planning if you could advise me where it is!

        1. Michelle, thanks for the insight into your biscuits! As far as videos about biscuit-making, you won’t find a more perfect and august teacher than Nathalie. If you want to see the videos we’re making (none is about biscuit make), you’ll find one here. Let it run and the remainder will also show.

  14. I just made these and they are delicious. They are so flaky even my son loves them. I will definitely be making these from now on. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

  15. I used this recipe to make buttermilk biscuits for the first time ever last Thanksgiving. Wow, I was quite impressed! As a 30-year-old California girl, I had only dreamed of biscuits this good. I ordered White Lily self-rising unbleached flour from Jet. I used salted, high-quality butter and reduced-fat buttermilk. I also used a KitchenAid mixer to knead the dough for me the second time I made the recipe, which made adding the extra flour much easier! They turned out perfect with lots of towering layers! Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. Jessica, you’re so very welcome! Many thanks for taking the time to let us know you adore these biscuits as much as we do. So glad this recipe has become a staple for you. And as you surmised, when there are so few ingredients in a recipe, the quality of each is astoundingly important. You may be from California but it sounds like you have Southern sensibilities!

  16. I made these lucious pillows of deliciousness last night to have with stew and there really are no words! OH EMMM GEEEE! They couldn’t be any easier to put together. I made bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits for breakfast today and they are still so moist and yummy! Tomorrow morning I will finish them up with sausage gravy. I will be making these again and again and again and…well, you get the idea! Thanks!

  17. Great recipe! Bad print layout. One blank page and whole page devoted to a picture of biscuits is a tad frustrating. Might want your designer to take a look at that.

  18. QUERY TO B Hi! Buttermilk is not available where I live. Is there anything I can substitute it with? Will yoghurt work?

    1. Catharina, rather than use yogurt, simply make an easy buttermilk substitute by adding a little white vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. For each cup of buttermilk that you need, measure 1 scant cup of milk and then stir in 1 tablespoon white vinegar or fresh lemon juice.

  19. Made this tonight to take to a football game tailgate party! Had to try one when they came out of the oven. Yum! My friends will love the buttery flavor of these high-rise home-style biscuits. Thanks for the recipe.

  20. I made these right after you posted the recipe and they were flat-out amazing! I doubled the recipe and froze half of them and then took one out at a time in the mornings. Definitely the breakfast of champions! One quick question now, though. I’m thinking of making them for dinner guests and it would be great to be able to prep them through the folding and cutting stage and refrigerate until time to bake. I’ve done that before with biscuit doughs but not with self-rising flour. So I was wondering what y’alls (Virginia girl here) 2 cents would be on that!

  21. Sugar helps biscuit dough retain moisture and relax gluten formation, which in this case would make biscuits fluffy. Also, a bit of granulated sugar combined with the milk sugars (like lactose) already in the dough aid in browning.

              1. Pleasure is all mine, ma’am. (To be read in the most thick, foghorn leghornesque drawl you can muster.)

  22. I’m from the Deep South and have been teased about only using White Lily flour for 30 years now from my husband side of the family. If you haven’t guessed, they are not from the South, although they all come to our home on major holidays and have for 30 years now.
    I’ve taught my children and so many others to make biscuits the very same way you do. I’ve even been called out of church on a Sunday for a biscuit emergency. However, you need to add one tablespoon of granulated sugar to the flour. This will not make the dough sweet. But it will make all the difference.

    1. Becky, well, shame on them! I’m in hardcore Northerner through and through. But I’d never disparage nor come between a cook and her White Lily. I value my life too much.

      Curious: What does the sugar do? Add some moisture?

  23. Rather than brush the baked biscuits with melted butter, I melt the butter to golden brown in cast iron in the hot oven. Then, I bake them in the browned butter in cast iron. They’re divine, though they do have soft edges from touching during baking. I also flip the biscuits when placing them in the cast iron, so both sides have been brown buttered. Mom did it this way without browning the butter, when I was a girl. I discovered the browned butter by happenstance, a happy, happy happenstance of just a few extra minutes that made all the difference.

    1. Woah. I am, quite literally, dropping everything to make these biscuits your—and your Mom’s—way, Amy. Many, many thanks. I love the sounds of these and I know I won’t be the only one…

  24. This is the closest I’ve found to my own personal biscuit recipe! I add about a tablespoon of sugar and an extra teaspoon of baking powder to mine. I also start my oven at 500 and take it down to 450 a minute or 2 after putting the biscuits in. They take exactly 12 minutes to cook. I wooed my husband into marrying me with these!

    1. Tammy, well, if these biscuits are anything like yours, and you got your husband to marry you with them…then ladies (and some gentlemen), start your ovens.

  25. Lisa Fain over at Homesick Texan has a similar recipe that she calls “Thwack Biscuits”. You would think that with all the thwacking involved that the biscuits would be dense and tough, but they are some of the best biscuits that I’ve made so far. And that folding over the dough method makes for some great layers in the finished biscuit.

  26. these are heaven – i’ll never use another buttermilk recipe again! and thanks to wegman’s for carrying white lily. i have to drive 45 minutes to get it, but it’s so worth it…

  27. I just made these for breakfast for my Southern husband. He loves them, as do I. I got 8 biscuits out of the recipe–I’m really bad with dough. But, they still turned out absolutely delicious. Perfect inside and out.

    1. Dana, turning out biscuits everyone loves isn’t what I’d call being bad with dough! You’ll get better with practice. And since these seem to be so beloved, I gather you’ll have lots of practice!

  28. I sifted together 1/2 cup of cake flour and 1 3/4 cups of all purpose to approximate the protein content of the White Lilly flour that is preferred in this recipe. I had them both, so why not! Plus, I added a tsp of sugar, too, to cut the salty flavor a little. I’ve always folded biscuits and scones using this folded dough method, though I don’t fold it quite so many times, maybe only 2, 3-folds for nice flakey biscuits. These were delicious!

  29. I love Southern Biscuits, but there is no White Lily Flour in NYC that I know of. I have pleaded with the manager of Fairway to stock it, promising it will sell, but so far no dice. King Arthur Flour is great, but, honey, it sho ‘nuf isn’t soft wheat.

    1. White Lily will ship. I think you have to order about four bags to make it worthwhile, but I keep all my flours in the freezer anyway.

      King Arthur does have a softer wheat flour (and the self-rising, which I often use). It’s not quite the same, but it’s close…and White Lily isn’t the same as it was 15-20 years ago either.

    2. I know its two years later but it may still be worth mentioning. White Lily flour can be purchased on Amazon. It usually costs about $10 for 2 bags of flour.

      1. Bianca, many kind thanks! That’s incredibly helpful. We’re adding a link to the mention of White Lily in the ingredient list so that with a single click readers can be taken directly to that page. We so appreciate you taking the time to remind us of that!

  30. I’m so intrigued! I’ve never heard of this folding of the dough technique for biscuits. The maxim I’ve always lived by for biscuits is the less you handle the dough, the more tender the biscuits. Does the kneading and folding not develop the gluten too much?

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