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.

Adapted from Kelly Alexander | Southern Living: No Taste Like Home | Oxmoor House, 2013

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? *How Do I Make Self-Rising Flour?–Renee Schettler

HOW DO I MAKE SELF-RISING FLOUR AT HOME?

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

A rimmed baking sheet with rows of 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.
Kelly Alexander

Prep 30 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 45 mins
Side Dish
Southern
18 biscuits
123 kcal
4.95 / 19 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Southern Living: No Taste Like Home cookbook

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Equipment

  • 2-inch (5-cm) round biscuit or cookie cutter

Ingredients 

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter cold, plus more for the pan if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups store-bought self-rising flour such as White Lily or Martha White brands, or 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons homemade self-rising flour* (see NOTE above), plus more for the dough and the work surface
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk either low-fat or full-fat
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter melted

Directions
 

  • 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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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1biscuitCalories: 123kcal (6%)Carbohydrates: 12g (4%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 19mg (6%)Sodium: 19mg (1%)Potassium: 40mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 224IU (4%)Calcium: 23mg (2%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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!


Originally published April 28, 2014

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
        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!

      2. 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. 4 stars
    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. 5 stars
        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…

  3. 5 stars
    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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