It’s hard to beat a warm, tender buttermilk biscuit straight from the oven. Learn how to make homemade biscuits from scratch that will become a family favorite you’ll turn to again and again.
While making homemade biscuits might sound intimidating, I’m here to change your mind. With basic ingredients and a few simple steps, you can make biscuits from scratch that are so much better than the ones you buy in a tube.
A Southern staple, biscuits are a type of quick bread known for their soft, flaky layers and buttery flavor. We like to eat them with butter or fresh jam, like Peach Vanilla or Strawberry Rhubarb or smothered in sausage gravy.
You can’t go wrong with a little honey, or cut breakfast biscuits in half and fill them with bacon, eggs and cheese. They’re also great when subbed for English muffins in these Breakfast Melts.
While this post focuses on how to make a traditional rolled biscuit, there are several other types of biscuits you may be familiar with. They are all unique and delicious.
Types of biscuits
These are the classics and the type most people think of when they picture biscuits. Soft buttermilk dough is rolled out, layered and cut into rounds. These easy buttermilk biscuits double in height while baking and are full of flaky layers that make light-tasting bread. They are scrumptious when slathered with Smokey Pimento Cheese or just butter!
You can change this classic recipe up and make sour cream biscuits or sweet potato biscuits, or add fruit for blueberry biscuits or strawberry biscuits. They all start with a basic buttermilk dough.
Extra milk added to the dough makes it thinner and easy to drop by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. This type of biscuit does not rise as much as the rolled variety and has a bit of a coarser texture. Cheddar Biscuits are a great example of this fluffy, tender version.
Biscuits with a richer, heavier texture that are usually shaped in wedges. Fruit is often incorporated into the sweet dough although some savory scone recipes use bacon and cheese. Try my favorites — Blueberry, Strawberry and Oatmeal — with nuts and dried fruit.
This version is sweeter and crumblier than a classic biscuit. They are often used in summer desserts layered with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Strawberry shortcake is the most popular variation.
For a twist on strawberry shortcake, substitute these Strawberry Biscuits for regular shortcakes. Or use them as a sweet topping for Strawberry Cobbler.
If you’re looking for more biscuit recipes, try these:
Why you’ll love Southern homemade biscuits
- These tender, flaky biscuits are easy to make
- You’ll likely have most of the ingredients on hand
- They taste delicious right out of the oven served with butter
- You can customize the recipe — try adding cheese and caramelized onions to the dough
What you’ll need to make the best homemade biscuits
Butter – I use unsalted; just be sure it’s cold. You can even put it in the freezer before using it. Some like to grate it with a box grater, but I find cutting it into cubes works great.
Flour – regular all-purpose flour makes flaky biscuits. My favorite is King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill since neither are bleached.
Pro tip: Not sure which is the best flour to use for biscuits, I’ve broken down all the pros and cons for bread flour vs all-purpose flour.
Buttermilk – use this to activate the baking soda. As with the butter, make sure it’s cold. You can substitute whole milk instead, but it might not be as fluffy. For a true Southern biscuit you should use buttermilk.
Pro tip: If you’re out of buttermilk, you can make your own with just two ingredients. Here are three different methods for how to make your own buttermilk.
Pantry staples – baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt
Egg and cream – to brush on top of the biscuits for a golden brown finish. Substitute whole milk if you don’t have cream.
How to make biscuits from scratch
Add the dry ingredients to a food processor along with the cold pieces of butter. Process until the butter resembles coarse crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a pastry cutter.
Pour in the buttermilk and process just until it looks shaggy, it should not form a ball.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Handling as little as possible, form it into a rectangle. You should be able to see little specks of butter in the dough.
Cut the dough into four sections.
Stack each layer on top of each other.
Pat this into another rectangle and repeat the process 3 more times.
Pro Tip: Stacking and re-stacking the dough creates lots of flaky layers in the finished biscuits. Use really cold butter and buttermilk and keep your warm hands off the dough as much as possible. You want it to stay cold.
Pat or roll the dough to a 1-inch thickness. Using a round biscuit cutter, cut straight down without twisting. This keeps the layers tall. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Beat the egg and cream together. After removing the biscuits from the freezer brush the tops with the mixture and bake. Try adding some flaky salt and pepper to the tops and bake for about 15 minutes.
By following these steps you’ll get tall, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits that will make any meal a little better. They’re so scrumptious that you’ll want to make them for every meal.
What else can you do with flaky biscuits?
- Biscuit-topped Beef and Guinness Pie is an easy and flavorful one-pan meal.
- Top your favorite Chicken Pot Pie.
- Make mouth-watering biscuit sliders with Bourbon Chicken or Pork Carnitas.
- Dunk biscuits in Zesty Chicken Soup or serve alongside Short Rib Chili.
FAQs and tips
The key is keeping the butter and liquid cold so the fat doesn’t melt. Chunks of fat make flaky, fluffy layers. Also, be careful not to overwork the dough. If it’s handled too much gluten will start to form and your biscuits will be chewy, not flaky.
Yes, you can make these in advance. Once you have placed the biscuit dough in the pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Too much flour will make your biscuits dense. To avoid this, fluff your flour with a fork and use a spoon to scoop it into the measuring cup. Then level it with the flat edge of a knife.
Both help baked goods rise. Baking soda works by reacting with an acidic ingredient (in this case, buttermilk). Baking powder is baking soda combined with a dry acid and is usually labeled “double-acting.” This means it reacts once when combined with a liquid and again when it is exposed to heat from the oven. Using both creates even more leavening and lift.
The acidity in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and baking powder to make the biscuits rise.
Since regular milk lacks acidity, it will not give you the same results as buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk. Let it sit 5-10 minutes until thickened.
When you’re cutting the biscuits, be sure to punch straight down through the dough. If you twist the cutter it will seal the edges and the biscuit won’t rise as high.
If you find yourself with more biscuits than you can eat right away, you have a few different options for storage. If you plan to eat them in a day or two, place the cooled biscuits in an airtight container and store them at room temperature. To store them for up to three months, place the biscuits in a plastic freezer bag and transfer them to the freezer.
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How to Make Homemade Biscuits from Scratch
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons butter cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon cream
- Preheat oven to 425º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a food processor, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Process until combined. Add cold butter and process until it resembles coarse meal with chunks of butter the size of peas.
- Add buttermilk and mix lightly just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Cut into fourths and stack each fourth on top of each other. Pat into a rectangle and repeat 3 more times.
- Pat or roll dough to 1 inch thickness. Using a 2 ½ inch round cutter, cut dough without twisting. Place on prepared pan and freeze for 10 minutes.
- Remove from freezer. Beat egg and cream together in a small bowl. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pepper.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can use a pastry cutter instead of a food processor.
- Use very cold butter and cold buttermilk.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk.
- Try to handle the dough as little as possible.
- You can freeze the dough. Let the biscuits freeze on a cookie sheet then place in a freezer bag until you are ready to bake. Let the dough thaw in the refrigerator before baking.
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