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Southern-Style Buttermilk Biscuits

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Whip up some rich and flaky buttermilk biscuits to round out your meal.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Southern buttermilk biscuit recipes typically call for White Lily flour, a low-protein brand primarily available in the southern U.S. states that makes for ultra-tender, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits. I can’t find White Lily flour easily where I live, so I use a blend of all-purpose flour and cornstarch to get a similar effect. These buttermilk biscuits are rich, buttery, and flaky with a toasty golden crust. Plus, they’re easy to make. You can throw the dough together in 15 minutes and end enjoy the biscuits with your dinner less than fifteen minutes later.

These are traditional roll and cut biscuits; for a simpler drop biscuit method, see this recipe.

What you’ll need to make Buttermilk Biscuits

buttermilk biscuits ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by combining the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a food processor.

Pulse briefly to combine.

mixed dry ingredients

Add the cold chunks of butter.

cold butter added to dry ingredients

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand with a few pea-size clumps of butter intact.

dry ingredients mixed with butter

Transfer the mixture to a bowl.biscuit mixture in mixing bowl

Add the buttermilk.

adding buttermilk to biscuit dough

Stir until the mixture comes together into a shaggy mass.

shaggy biscuit dough

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and bring together into a loose ball.

ball of biscuit dough

Gently pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick.

rectangle of dough

Cut the dough in thirds.

cutting dough in thirds

Stack the pieces on top of one another.

stacked pieces of dough

Pat out into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick again. You can see in the photo below how this process creates layers in the dough, which makes for deliciously flaky biscuits.

second rectangle of dough

Cut the dough into thirds again.

second cut into thirds

Stack the pieces up again.

stacked pieces of dough

Finally, pat the dough into a rectangle with a final thickness of about 3/4 inch.

biscuit dough ready to cut

Cut the dough into 12 small squares (these biscuits are on the smaller side).

biscuit dough cut into squares

Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

biscuits on baking sheet

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until golden.

buttermilk biscuits fresh out of the oven

The biscuits are best served warm out of the oven (though a few minutes in the oven will revive slightly stale biscuits).

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Note: This recipe was updated in November 2020. To reference the original recipe, click here.

Southern-Style Buttermilk Biscuits

Whip up some rich and flaky buttermilk biscuits to round out your meal.

Servings: 12 biscuits
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, plus a bit more if necessary (see note)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a 13x18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl.)
  3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand with a few pea-sized clumps of butter intact. (If making by hand, "cut" the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, two knifes, or your fingertips.) Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the buttermilk and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until the dough comes together into a shaggy mass. If the dough seems too dry, add a few more tablespoons of buttermilk. Do not over-mix.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with a bit more flour and bring together gently into a loose ball. Pat the dough into a rectangle about ¾ inch thick.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into thirds. Stack the pieces on top of one another and pat out into a rectangle about ¾ in thick again, flouring the surface lightly as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
  7. Cut the dough into thirds again. Stack the pieces on top of one another and pat into a rectangle with a final thickness of about ¾ inch.
  8. Dust the blade of a sharp knife with flour and cut the dough into twelve even squares (they will seem small). Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly golden on top and a rich, golden brown on the bottom. The biscuits are best served warm out of the oven (though a few minutes in the oven will revive slightly older biscuits).
  9. Note: If you’d like to make your own buttermilk, check out the easy method here.
  10. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The biscuits can be frozen, unbaked, for up to 3 months. They can be baked without thawing; they may just take a few extra minutes in the oven.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 biscuit
  • Calories: 179
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Sodium: 148mg
  • Cholesterol: 26mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • These are so delicious. The stacking of the dough worked so well that a few toppled over and thus got gobbled up right away. My roots are Southern, so it was cool to know about the cornstarch addition since no White Lily flour is in sight. Thanks, Jenn.

  • I am from the south and had never used cornstarch in my biscuits before. Also the layering of the dough made for taller flakey biscuits. Really liked. Your cookbook is excellent by the way and I turn to it regularly for inspiration.

  • Every time I make these biscuits I am amazed by how quick, easy and delicious they are. One of my favorite recipes in your cookbook!

    • — Sarah Greenawalt
    • Reply
  • I made these last night, and they were a hit! My husband has Celiac disease, so I used an equal amount Krusteaz gluten-free baking flour instead of the regular flour. I kept all other ingredients the same. It was a gluten-free baking success! This is a minor miracle in itself! My husband said they were so good, you would never know they were gluten-free!

    • — Estelle Kratochwill
    • Reply
  • Love!! Making these made me think of all the times of cooking with my southern grandma. I live in the Midwest now, so having southern type foods around is always a joy.

  • Wonderful biscuits. The layering method described creates beautiful height and lightness to the biscuit. I added some sharp cheddar cheese to the batter before layering and sprinkled a little on top for the last 5 min of baking. So good with a hearty soup or stew.

    • Wonderful biscuits. The layering method described creates beautiful height and lightness to the biscuit. I added some sharp cheddar cheese to the batter before layering and sprinkled a little on top for the last 5 min of baking. So good with a hearty soup or stew.

  • DELICIOUS!

  • I am usually not a biscuit person as so many are dry and not all that good. This recipe changed all that!! Flavor, soft and moist without being too soft and moist. Ahh, will someone pass the butter and honey please?

    • — Deborah Wigren
    • Reply
  • Yes I have made these biscuits! My mom is from Georgia and she never taught me how to make biscuits. Your recipe is “spot” on and is exactly the way biscuits are made. My Aunt would make biscuits every morning when we visited and your recipe is exactly like her recipe. They are delicious. Now I use your recipe and everyone loved my biscuits. This is my go to recipe for biscuits. I received your cookbook last years for Mother’s Day and I use it all the time. The steakhouse burgers are delicious. My husband loves them. Everyone who tries them raves about the burgers. I use grass fed beef and they are very delicious. I always follow your recipe exactly and they turn our perfect every time. Burgers with roasted potatoes. The kids love the burgers.

  • Great recipe and excellent instructions. Very easy. Like the idea of using the food processor.

    Thank you

    Mary Lou

    • — Mary Lou Branchaud
    • Reply
  • I have been baking biscuits forever, and this recipe is probably one of the best I have ever made. It creates great biscuits with layers that are really delicious. I use whole grain flour like einkorn and have to add a bit more moisture but they still come out amazing. The addition of the corn starch makes them light and fluffy and I make these at least once a week. They are a hit.

  • I’ve been making biscuits for 30 years and have tried several recipes. This is absolutely my favorite and is easier than some of the others. Thanks for the perfect biscuit!

  • This is definitely the best recipe for biscuits! They were so flaky and delicious!

    • — Joanne Francis
    • Reply
  • These are insanely delicious and fun to make to boot. I had White Lily flour so omitted the corn starch and, since I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, added a few drops of lemon juice to whole milk. Still unbelievably good.

  • made these this morning for my wife as she returned home from work. it was my first attempt at biscuits and they turned out great, looked just like your photo (some even toppled over), so easy to do and they taste wonderful. I especially like the flakiness and layering as it bakes, makes it simple to separate the layers, also topped with melted butter to keep the tops soft. I didn’t expect them to get as large as they did and was pleasantly surprised at their size. Might try doubling the sugar for a bit more sweetness next time.

    • Amazing biscuits! So light, flakey and buttery. My family absolutely loved these with the chicken pot pie filling I made. I can always count on you Jenn for outstanding recipes

  • I made this recipe for my grandkids and they love them. This is is most requested biscuit I make. I would also like to say I am best known as a biscuit burger, but not with this recipe. I highly recommend this recipe.

  • I don’t write reviews for things, but this recipe has ended a life long quest for THE biscuit recipe. This is the biscuit all other biscuits will be judged against.

  • I didn’t have corn starch and substituted corn meal just to try it. They turned out excellent and are my “go to” Sunday morning biscuit.

  • Absolutely delicious–flaky, buttery, and so quick and easy!
    I felt like trying a new recipe, and this was perfect.
    This will be my new go to recipe for now on.

  • Question: based on your comments… if we have White Lily flour, can we omit the cornstarch? Or sub an equal amount of flour for the cornstarch?

    • Hi Sarah, Yes I would sub an equal amount of flour for the cornstarch.

  • These turned out great. I am a novice biscuit maker. Luckily I live in the south so I had access to White Lily flower. They were easy and delicious.

  • Like another review, I made them early and left them in the refrigerator and then baked them. A big success!

  • These biscuits were absolutely ridiculous. Light, flaky, and very very tall: utter perfection. I, as a Canadian, have no business making southern biscuits this good!

    Can’t wait to add a bit more sugar and use them in strawberry shortcakes next summer. Thank you once again, Jenn.

    • — Listen Linda Listen
    • Reply
  • I made these! I’m a Virginia girl who has been making biscuits for 70 years and eating them a little longer. Lemee tell you: THESE ARE THE BEST EVER!

    I had to mix by hand because I don’t have a mixer. I made the dough up to the add milk step and refrigerated overnight. In the morning I mixed in the milk and cooked them up.

    As we say in Hawaii: Broke da mouth!

  • These were awesome. Even better with sausage gravy!! Thanks for a quick easy recipe

  • Made these the night before Thanksgiving, cutting the individual biscuits and refrigerating until baking right before T-day dinner. Baking time was slightly longer since they were cold. They were delicious, thank you!

  • Absolutely delicious! First time making biscuits and turned out great. So easy. I didn’t have buttermilk so I used Greek yogurt and milk. Also added a bit of cheddar cheese between the layers. Went really well with your stew recipe. Thank you. Will look into making more of your recipes

  • I made these last night for Thanksgiving dinner and we loved them. I didn’t use my food processor, just a hand pastry blender. They rose nice and high, even a few tumbling over they got so high. I added an extra tablespoon of Buttermilk and it was just right. Thanks Jen.

  • I made these ahead for Thanksgiving. I baked a couple for our dinner and froze the rest. They were excellent! They rose beautifully, were incredibly flaky with all the beautiful stunning and delicious layers! The size was perfect. The directions were wonderful, easy to follow with the ability to adapt to every kitchen. Very well done.
    Thanks Jenn!

    • — Catherine Kelly
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, these look yummy. Can they be frozen? There’s only 2 of us.

    • Sure! I prefer freezing them unbaked, but you can go either way.

      • Hi, how do you cook them after you freeze them? Do you need to let them thaw first, or just cook them for the same amount of time?

        • Hi Kelly, you don’t need to thaw them first, but they may take a few minutes longer in the oven. Hope you enjoy!

  • I made this recipe the day I received it in my email box. We are empty nesters and this recipe was easy to cut in half. They turned out great, but next time I would brush the top of the biscuits with melted butter to give it just a bit more of that golden color. I will make this again and maybe next get my grandson involved.

    Thank you for sharing wonderful on-line recipes and my friend Kristen who introduced me to your cookbook and recipes.

  • What is the equivalent in cups to 10 Tablespoons of butter?

    • Hi Diana, that would be the equivalent of 1/2 cup (one stick) + 2 tablespoons. Hope that helps!

  • Your biscuit recipe sounds wonderful and I will be certain to try it (like many of your recipes.) I find it humorous that you “laminate” the dough by piling it on top of itself twice to create layers. Why not just do folds as you would for danish and croissant dough?

    • Hi Lisa, You could definitely do folds; I think cutting it makes for a more even rise but either way is fine.

  • Hi Jenn,
    I would like to try this recipe and I am wondering if it would be possible to sub out the AP flour and cornstarch with cake flour? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Trish, I think it will work. Please LMK how it turns out. 🙂

  • Hi! I love your biscuit recipes…both the one in your cookbook and this one….it appears you removed the cream cheese on the website version? I really loved the cream cheese addition, can you advise what the amount of cream cheese was? Thanks!

    • Sure Maura, You can find the original recipe here.

      • Jenn,
        Original recipe link doesn’t seem to work.

        Joe

        • Sorry about that Joe! I just fixed it. 🙂

      • Thank you !!!

  • Why do some comments refer to cream cheese, when there isn’t any in the recipe?

    • Hi Diane, The recipe was recently updated. I replaced the cream cheese with additional butter to simplify the recipe. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Hi, Jenn! I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve never made biscuits before. I want to make these ahead to bake later tonight. Can I pat out the dough, and go ahead and cut it into biscuits, and refrigerate the biscuits on the sheet pan already cut-up?

    • Sure – enjoy!

      • Could I make the dough the night before & then refrigerate until baking the next day?

  • Jenn,

    The one piece of equipment that isn’t in my kitchen is a food processor. I do all my cutting in of butter, shortening, etc. by hand with a pastry blender. Very old school, but it works! My pie crust is exceptionally flaky! Will that work for these biscuits? The recipe looks great and I’ve been trying to find a classic buttermilk biscuit recipe. And your recipes never, ever disappoint!

    • So glad you like the recipes! And, yes, you can make these without a food processor – enjoy 🙂

  • These are awesome. I’ve made them several times now. This last time I was out of buttermilk and since I have never been impressed with the method of adding lemon juice to regular milk, I decided to try and substitute sour cream. It worked great and my biscuits had that slight tangy buttermilk flavor. I added just a bit more sour cream than what the recipe calls for in buttermilk.

    • — Natalie McKenzie
    • Reply
  • Well thought I would be daring and try your biscuits. Made them gluten free. My flour blend of almond, coconut flour and tapioca. They were a bit too wet, so had to add more of my flour blend. Cooked them for 12 minutes and still not quite done. Extra 5 minutes and done. They did fall and flattened out almost like a cookie to 1/2″. We let them cook and found they tasted very good. A little to sweet for a biscuit, but will work out well for a desert. Maybe bread pudding. Will see. So any hints? Have you used Cassava flour? Maybe that would be a better choice. Will still give 5 stars as it turned out good for us.

    • Hi Carol, glad to hear you enjoyed the biscuits despite some minor issues. You asked for some hints – – are you referring to how to use them because you think they’re a bit too sweet for you, or for how to achieve a fuller biscuit? If so, you may want to include the cream cheese and give an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix like this one by King Arthur a try. I know a lot of people report having success with it. Hope that helps!

  • Super easy and very tender and delicious. I guess I will have to make twice as many next time as everyone wanted seconds. My son said they were the best biscuits ever.

    • — Michelle Rodriguez
    • Reply
  • I’m excited to try this recipe and am looking for lily flour but can only find it in self rising. Could that be substituted and if so, what’s are the modifications? Thanks

    • Hi Marisa, I’d suggest following the recipe with all-purpose flour. The recipe would be different with either White Lily or self-rising flour and, because I haven’t tested it that way, I’m not sure how the biscuits would turn out. Sorry!

  • Can you use gluten free flour?

    • — Janene Montlouis
    • Reply
    • Hi Janene, I haven’t made these with gluten-free flour but a few readers commented that they have successfully. I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try it!

  • These are incredibly good and very easy to make. Like all of your recipes.

    • So glad you enjoy them!

  • These will become part of my collection for favorite biscuit recipes and I only have 2 others so this says something. I am so picky about biscuit recipes! This is a no fail and very first time using cornstarch in biscuits, thanks!

  • You have done it again. I have another favorite recipe on the fridge. Jen I am running out of magnets! Thank you for this recipe along with all the others.

  • I followed your instructions to the letter but my biscuits didn’t rise very much. What did I do wrong?

    • — Virginia Lehner
    • Reply
    • Hi Virginia, Sorry to hear you had a problem with these. Is your baking powder old? If so, that could be the problem. If your baking powder is fresh, a poor rise is sometimes caused by overworking the dough or the fat not being cold enough. I assume you cut the biscuits with a sharp knife? Some people use a drinking glass to cut round biscuits, which can prevent the biscuits from rising. If you want to give these another shot, try patting the dough to a final thickness of 1 inch instead of 3/4 inch – that will give them a boost. Hope that helps!

  • This is my 3rd batch and they came out absolutely perfect again! All you have to do is exactly what Jenn says & they will be as soft as your grandmother’s.

  • Hi Jenn, what’s the difference between this and the one in your cookbook? I’m trying to decide which one to make.

    • It’s the same recipe – hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • When I left for college this year, my mom sent me a binder full of recipes that she thought would be tasty and easy for me to make. She included this recipe, and I finally was able to make it for the first time. I am by no means qualified to use a kitchen, and it’s a miracle that I have made it this far feeding myself. These were the best biscuits I’ve ever had, beautifully layered and perfectly moist. I am living proof that the recipe is easy to follow. I wish I could upload the picture of them because they were gorgeous.

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