How to Make the Best Buttermilk Biscuits, Step by Step
Tall, homemade buttermilk biscuits with flaky, buttery layers are quick and easy to make with just 6 ingredients
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Above: Best-Ever Buttermilk Biscuits. Article, recipe, and photographs by Annalise Sandberg.
Buttermilk biscuits are one of my favorite things to bake for my family. They’re simple and so delicious! We love these flaky biscuits with butter and jam or honey, topped with sausage gravy, or even as the base for a really great homemade breakfast sandwich.
If you’ve never made biscuits before, now is the time to bake your first batch. I’ve been baking biscuits for over a decade and have learned all the tips and tricks for success. I’m going to show you how to make the best homemade buttermilk biscuits — tall and so flaky, with soft and tender centers and a delicious buttery flavor.
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How to make flaky buttermilk biscuits from scratch
Six ingredients and about 30 minutes total time are all you need to make these delicious homemade biscuits.
1. Combine dry ingredients
In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
These buttermilk biscuits require both baking powder and baking soda as leavening. The baking soda reacts with the acid in the buttermilk, creating carbon dioxide and some rise, but it’s the addition of baking powder that makes them rise tall. Standard double-acting baking powder like Clabber Girl is great for this recipe.
2. Cut in cold butter
Add cubed cold unsalted butter to the mixing bowl and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs and pieces of butter are roughly the size of peas. If you don’t have a pastry blender (aka a pastry cutter), you can use a fork to mash the butter into the dry ingredients. You can also use two knives, holding a knife in each hand, and slicing through the butter in opposite directions.
It’s important that you work quickly so that the butter stays cold. When the hot oven hits the pieces of cold butter scattered throughout the biscuit dough, the butter melts and makes steam. That steam creates height and flakiness as it tries to escape.
If your kitchen is warm, or if it takes more than a few minutes to cut in the butter, place the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes to get everything cold again before proceeding with the recipe.
3. Stir in cold buttermilk
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the cold buttermilk. Use a rubber spatula to combine them, stirring and folding the ingredients together until the dough is rough and shaggy, but no bits of loose dry ingredients remain. Dump dough out onto a floured work surface and finish bringing it together with your hands, gently folding and kneading it until dry bits have been mostly incorporated and the dough is uniform. If the dough starts to feel sticky, add a dusting of flour.
4. Fold and roll
Fold the dough over on top of itself, similar to how you close a book, then use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about an inch thick. Repeat this process 2 more times, dusting with more flour if needed.
This “folding and rolling” step continues to smooth the dough and increases the flakiness and height of the biscuits by adding more layers of those pockets of cold butter.
5. Cut into rounds
Roll the dough to 3/4 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut dough into biscuit rounds. Press the cutter firmly down through the dough and then lift it straight up (do not twist the biscuit cutter, or you'll press and seal the layers of dough and the biscuits won’t rise properly). You should have about 9 biscuit rounds. (And note that most cookie cutters aren’t tall enough to cut biscuits without mashing the layers.)
Gather the scraps and stack them on top of each other (don’t roll into a ball). Use a rolling pin to roll scraps back out to 3/4 inch thick and cut 3 more rounds to make 12 total. These last few biscuits won’t look as lovely as the first 9, but they'll still be flaky and delicious!
6. Bake biscuits
Place biscuit rounds about 1/4 inch apart on a quarter baking sheet pan (one that’s 9x13 inches) or in a 9x13-inch baking dish that’s lined with parchment paper or greased with nonstick baking spray. Baking the biscuits close together helps them rise upward and keeps them soft. If you want crispy biscuits, space them farther apart on the baking sheet. If you want biscuits with shiny golden tops, whisk an egg with 1 Tbsp. of water to make an egg wash, and brush tops of the rounds.
Bake biscuits at 400°F until they are tall and golden brown on the tops and the bottoms, 18-20 minutes.
How to keep and store biscuits
Homemade buttermilk biscuits are the most fresh and delicious the day they are baked, but they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for two days.
Get our best buttermilk biscuit recipe
This is the best biscuit recipe! They’re so easy to make, even if this is your first time, with just a few ingredients and minimal prep time. These homemade buttermilk biscuits have flaky layers, delicious buttery flavor, and they’re the perfect accompaniment for breakfast or brunch, or as a snack or side dish any time of day.
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