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Classic All-Butter Buttermilk Biscuits

Every good cook needs to know how to make buttermilk biscuits. A truly southern classic, get your steps from an actual southern woman and make your best batch yet!

a basket of buttermilk biscuits

I made my first batch of biscuits before I left elementary school. I’m sure they were terrible, but thankfully 30+ years of practice has helped that a bit. Here’s what you need to know to make those tender inside, a little crispy on the outside pieces of heaven.

What makes buttermilk biscuits better?

For me it’s all about the flavor. There is simply no substitute that really compares to that of the tang of the buttermilk, and now I use all butter in mine (I grew up making them with Crisco) and the flavor is just other level.

What is buttermilk? Does it have butter in it?

Buttermilk is actually the slightly tangy liquid left behind after butter is made–so it doesn’t technically have any butter in it. Today we just call this liquid “buttermilk” which is different than it’s cousin “cultured buttermilk”.

Years ago cream was cultured much more than it is today, meaning healthy good bacteria fermented the cream (mostly because refrigeration was scarce) and then it was used to make butter. You can buy cultured butter in some grocery stores in addition to other cultured dairy like sour cream and yogurt. Cultured buttermilk has a similar tangy flavor and is an essential in buttermilk biscuits.

 Can buttermilk biscuits be frozen?

Yes they sure can! You have two options: freezing dough or freezing already baked biscuits. To freeze the dough, cut circles and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze until mostly firm (1-2 hours) but hopefully not frozen to the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a zip-top bag or air tight container. You can bake them from frozen by baking at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Just keep an eye on them.

Your second option is to bake your biscuits, cool to room temperature then transfer to an air tight container and freeze. You can thaw them in the microwave or wrapped in foil in a 350 degree oven until heated through–about 10 to 15 minutes or so.

I don’t have self rising flour. What can I use instead?

People have sent me hate mail over my use of self rising flour. I get it. It’s not available everywhere–apparently it’s a southern thing. So if you don’t have self rising, use the following:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

Mix them together in a bowl and proceed with the recipe.

Tips for the best buttermilk biscuits

  • Use buttermilk if you possibly, possibly can. There’s just not a truly equal swap for it.
  • Keep your butter and buttermilk super cold. Use them straight from the fridge and handle the butter as little as possible after grating it into the flour.
  • Avoid the temptation to add tons of flour to your countertop when you turn out your dough. Just 3 or so tablespoons is plenty to keep the dough from sticking.
  • There is no need to “knead” biscuit dough. Just turn it over and over on itself three or four times, and press it lightly each time. On the fourth turn, use your fingers to gently press the dough to 1″ thickness.
  • When cutting your biscuits, don’t twist the cutter. This seals the edges of the dough and keeps them from rising.

Steps for making biscuits

1: Add self rising flour to a medium bowl. If using homemade self rising, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir it a couple of times with a fork to lighten it.

2: Grate 1 stick cold unsalted butter on a box grater as quickly as possible to keep the butter cold.

3. Add the butter to the flour and toss lightly and quickly with the flour to break up any huge lumps of butter, but don’t fuss with it much.

4. Add buttermilk and stir just until no pockets of flour remain–about 20 strokes around the bowl. The dough will be wet.

5. Lightly flour your countertop and your hands. Scrape out the dough and turn it gently, folding it over and lightly pressing it (not kneading) three or four times. On the last press down, flatten the dough to 1″ thick with your fingers.

6: Cut 2″ biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and just slightly brown on top, about 20 minutes.

a basket of buttermilk biscuits

Classic All-Butter Buttermilk Biscuits

A soft, flaky biscuit is the staple of a southern dinner table. Make your best batch ever!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 10 people
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 2 cups self rising flour *see notes if you don't have self rising
  • 8 tablespoons butter 1 stick
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk


  • Preheat the oven to 400. Get a baking tray or cookie sheet and set aside.
  • On the large holes of a box grater, grate the cold butter in to the flour. Toss it around lightly and quickly to separate the pieces in to the flour just until it's coated.
  • Stir in the cold buttermilk with a fork until everything is well incorporated and no pockets of dry flour remain, about 20 strokes.
  • On a lightly floured counter, turn your dough over on itself three to four times and then pat it to a one-inch thick circle with your fingers. Don't knead it. 
  • Using a biscuit cutter or a glass with a sharp edge, cut out your biscuits. Don’t twist the cutter–go straight down and back up to prevent sealing the edges–it can keep your biscuits from rising.
  • Place the biscuits on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they are brown. 


If you don’t have self rising flour, use: 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt 
Mix together and proceed with the recipe. 


Serving: 1biscuitCalories: 180kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 97mgPotassium: 47mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 305IUCalcium: 25mgIron: 0.2mg
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Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

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  1. In case of no available buttermilk, can whole milk with lemon juice or vinegar be substituted? Or is powdered buttermilk okay?

    1. Technically yes all those would substitute fine. I just hate them all ?. The flavor just isn’t right–but in a pinch it will still get ’em baked. –Rachel

  2. Pinned this recipe for my granddaughter. She loves learning new recipes…this will be great for her. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Stacey–and gosh, those pictures are terrible! I kind of cringe when I look at them but I was just starting out in photography and I’ll just leave them, it’s a good reminder of how we grow when we practice!

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