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. 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.)

  2. 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?

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

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