Butter Swim Biscuits are a Southern classic that I’ve been making for years due to their buttery flavor and rich texture. Butter biscuits are simple to make and require very little effort. A little bit like 7 UP biscuits, swim biscuits are baked in melted butter adding flavor and also a crispy exterior. Fabulous by themselves, served with soup, or smothered in sausage gravy.
Some breakfasts or dinners just wouldn’t be complete without buttermilk biscuits, and everyone around here knows how much I love a buttery biscuit. All varieties of them!
When you want to add some comfort food to your menu and don’t have time for homemade yeast rolls, biscuits are a quick and easy alternative that you can whip together in 15 minutes.
These homemade swim biscuits are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The recipe is easy enough that this might become one of your favorite biscuit recipes to throw together as you begin making dinner.
Butter swim biscuits vs. tradtional buttermilk biscuits
Both butter swim biscuits and buttermilk biscuits are delicious and easy to prepare, but they have some significant differences, notably in their texture and taste. Buttermilk biscuits are fluffy, and light with lots of layers. On the other hand, butter swim biscuits are a richer biscuit, with a distinct buttery flavor from butter on the inside and out.
The technique for making these two kinds of biscuits is also different. While buttermilk biscuits are baked on a baking sheet with room between them, butter swim biscuits are cooked in a glass pan and placed directly in a pool of melted butter before baking.
While some biscuit recipes can be adapted for the air fryer, these will need to be baked in the oven. When you need the oven space for other things, try making some air fryer biscuits.
What are swim biscuits?
Swim biscuits are known by a few names: butter biscuits, butter swim biscuits, and even swimming biscuits. The name is self-explanatory: these biscuits are swimming in rich, melted butter.
While the recipe for these biscuits is quite similar to other homemade biscuits (like drop biscuits, cheddar bay biscuits, or buttermilk biscuits), they’re baked in a pan in a pool of melted better with even more butter brushed on top for a heavier texture and richer flavor.
Why you’ll love butter swim biscuits
- They’re a Southern classic with a delicious flavor.
- They don’t take much effort to make and you don’t have to be a great baker to have success.
- You likely have everything you need on hand to make these.
- You can use the leftovers to make sandwiches or sliders.
- They freeze well so you can make a batch and save some for later.
Do I need to use buttermilk in butter swim biscuits?
I highly recommend you use buttermilk to make butter swim biscuits. What is buttermilk? It’s the liquid that’s leftover after cream is turned into butter. That milk is drained off and sold as buttermilk.
Back when people churned their own butter, that milk fermented during the butter-making process and took on a tangy flavor. Now, we quickly ferment the liquid in a safer way, but it still has all the properties of old-fashioned buttermilk.
Buttermilk gives biscuits a distinct tangy flavor, but importantly, it also reacts with the baking powder and baking soda to give biscuits their unique texture and rise. Without it your biscuits will not rise as much.
Butter Swim Biscuits Recipe Ingredients
- Flour – I use unbleached all-purpose flour for this recipe but you can also use bread flour, check out my experiment comparing which flour to use for biscuits.
- Sugar – It may seem like a small amount of sugar, but it’s important to give this recipe the proper flavor.
- Butter – Some of your butter will be melted, but some will need to be cold for this recipe to work well. Keep your butter cold in the fridge right up until you need it. For the cold butter in the biscuits I use unsalted, but you can reduce the salt and use salted butter. I prefer salted butter for the melted butter that the biscuits cook in.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk is the secret ingredient here. Keep it cold. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make it at home. Learn how to make buttermilk with ingredients from your pantry.
- Pantry Staples – baking powder, baking soda, salt.
How to make homemade biscuits
Step 1: Prepare your oven and pan.
Melt salted butter into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
Step 2: Begin making your biscuit dough.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar to a food processor. Process until combined. Then, add the chunks of cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal with small chunks of butter in it. You can also use a pastry cutter.
Step 3. Finish your biscuit dough.
Add cold buttermilk to the mixture and process just until it comes together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rectangle. Cut the dough into 4 smaller rectangles and stack them on top of each other. Pat into a rectangle and repeat 3 more times.
Form the dough into the shape of your baking pan. Place the dough into the buttered dish and cut it into squares with a knife or bench scrape. Brush some of the butter from the pan onto the top of the biscuits.
If you’re using a cast iron skillet or a round pan, roll the dough to a 1-inch thickness and use a 2 ½-inch round cutter to cut the dough. Place the biscuits in the prepared pan.
Step 4. Bake.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
Tips for making scrumptious butter swim biscuits
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk with ingredients in your pantry.
- If your butter gets to warm in your flour mixture, your biscuits will end up flat and tough. Make sure to keep your butter really cold until you use it and don’t touch the dough with your hands any more than you have to.
- Cut straight down when forming the biscuits, don’t twist the biscuit cutter.
How to store butter swim biscuits
Homemade biscuits are always best eaten fresh. I highly recommend eating these straight from the oven. But if you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature for about 2 days.
Butter swim biscuits do freeze well, so you can make these ahead and freeze them for later to enjoy at another meal. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then place them in a Ziploc or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
If you want to reheat your biscuits, wrap them in foil and heat at 350° for 3-5 minutes or until warm.
What can I serve with butter swim biscuits?
Butter swim biscuits are thick and hearty so they’re great for sopping up thick sauces and gravies. They’re also great for making sandwiches. Here are some of the ways we like to gobble them up:
- Serve with sausage gravy
- Serve them on the side of chicken soup
- Use them as the bread for hamburger sliders
- Make breakfast sandwiches with them
- Spread strawberry jam on them for breakfast
- Make pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches
- Serve with short rib chili
Swim biscuit FAQs
Can I use shortening instead of butter in this dough?
Sometimes, people use shortening instead of butter to make biscuits, but not in this house. In this recipe, you definitely need to set your dough in genuine melted butter. You could possibly replace the cold butter with shortening, but the flavor and texture will be quite different. Shortening isn’t nearly as pleasant to eat as butter and because it doesn’t melt as well, your biscuits will have a waxy consistency. I highly recommend using good old butter.
Why does the butter need to be cold for biscuits?
The cold butter stays unincorporated with the flour until it warms up in the oven and begins to melt. At this point, it creates pockets of steam in the biscuits that create moisture as well as the flaky layers we love so much.
What is the secret to fluffy biscuits?
The biggest secret to having delicious, fluffy, flaky biscuits is using cold butter to make the dough, and not handling the dough too much. In fact, it’s so important to keep the butter cold even after you’ve made your dough that if your hands feel warm, run them under cold water and dry them well before touching the dough. Keeping pockets of cold butter throughout your dough is the secret to fluffy biscuits.
More Delicious Homemade Biscuit Recipes to Try
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Butter Swim Biscuits with Double the Butter
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter cold and cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk cold
- 6 tablespoons salted butter melted
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Small bowl
- Baking pan
- Preheat the oven to 450º.
- Melt 6 tablespoons of salted butter into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
- In a food processor, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Process until combined. Add cold butter and process until it resembles a coarse meal with small chunks of butter in it. Or you can use a pastry cutter.
- Add cold buttermilk and process just until it comes together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rectangle. Cut into 4 smaller rectangles and stack on top of each other. Pat into a rectangle and repeat 3 more times.
- Form the dough into the shape of your baking pan if making square biscuits and roll it to fit the pan you are using. Place the dough into the buttered dish and cut the dough into squares. Brush butter from the pan onto the top of the biscuits. If using a cast iron skillet or a round pan, use a 2 ½ inch round cutter to cut dough and place the biscuits in the prepared pan.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If you’re out of buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk with ingredients in your pantry.
- Make sure to keep your butter really cold until ready to use it.
- You can use a 9 x 14 pan or a square pan. If using an iron-skillet, reduce the cooking time.
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