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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!

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 about flavor and health. 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 until I learned how unhealthy shortening is) 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.

Tips for the best biscuits

This recipe is gloriously simple but it is important to keep a few simple tips and tricks in mind if you want to end up with some of the best biscuits you’ve ever tasted. Here they come. 

  • Use very cold butter or other solid fat. Keep the butter as cold as possible. Keep in mind that your hands give off a lot of heat so try to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid melting the butter.
  • Don’t overwork the dough. This will cause the glutens in the flour to overdevelop, ending you with a dough, overly dense finished product. Get things mixed in and then stop.  
  • Dime sized butter. Keep the butter pieces about the size of dimes or slightly smaller. These large-ish pieces of butter will work to let off steam in the oven, puffing up the biscuits as they bake. 
  • Chill. If the dough gets too warm before baking, pop the biscuits in the refrigerator for a few minutes. 
  • Get the oven hot. I recommend somewhere around 450 degrees F to start then reducing it after a couple of minutes. This will allow for a maximum amount of steam to release from the butter and for the biscuits to rise optimally. Just keep an eye out to make sure they don’t burn. 
  • Check your baking powder. Make sure that your baking powder is less than 6 months old. It loses its leavening power past that point.
  • Cut straight down. When cutting the biscuits, it can be tempting to twist the cutter. Don’t do it. This will seal the edges of the dough and prevent the biscuits from rising properly.
  • Keep them close. Bake the biscuits close to each other/touching. They provide support for each other, allowing them to rise higher for a lighter, airier finished product.

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.

Add cubed cold unsalted butter and toss it lightly in the flour so it’s coated on all sides.

3. Use your fingers to smash each cube of butter. Do this quickly and don’t take too much time so the butter doesn’t get too warm.

Once the cubes are smashed quickly break the butter into dime size pieces. This should take no more than a minute to do. Just lift the butter with the flour and crumble as fast as you can.

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, press it down slightly then fold it in half. Lightly press it down again then fold it in half three or four times. Don’t knead it and be gentle. On the last press down, flatten the dough to 1 1/2″ thick with your fingers.

6: Cut 2″ biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet or on parchment paper. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and just slightly brown on top, about 20 minutes. If your pan is very dark, the bottoms may brown faster so keep an eye on things.

Troubleshooting: Why didn’t my biscuits rise?

The first possibility is that your butter or fat got too warm before baking. Start with very cold butter and make sure not to over handle the dough. Second is old baking powder. Make sure your baking powder and/or soda is less than 6 months old otherwise it will not work properly.

How to freeze biscuits

You can freeze these classic buttermilk biscuits before or after baking them. Here’s how to do it. 

  • Before baking. After cutting the dough, arrange the biscuits in a single layer in an airtight container. If you find yourself with multiple layers, that’s fine. Just separate them with a layer of parchment paper. Store the biscuits in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, you can bake them directly from frozen. Just tack on a few extra minutes to the bake time.
  • After baking. Allow the biscuits to cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container and storing them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw at room temperature before rewarming them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes or until heated through. In a rush? Pop a thawed biscuit in the microwave for about 30 seconds. 

What to serve with biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are delightful on their own but they are even better when served with a delicious spread, alongside other breakfast treats, or as part of dinner. Here are some ideas for you. 

  • Fruit spread. Grab your favorite jam or jelly or whip up some homemade apple butter.
  • Add some protein. Serve these breakfast biscuits with slices of country ham or homemade breakfast sausage. Feeling brunchy? Add an egg or two.  
  • With gravy. Biscuits and gravy are a classic southern combination. Ladle some of my red-eye gravy over these flaky buttermilk biscuits. 
  • Chicken pot pie. Instead of fussing with a pie crust, make the filling for chicken pot pie and top each serving with a warm biscuit. Delicious.

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 16 biscuits
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 2 cups self rising flour *see notes if you don't have self rising
  • 8 tablespoons butter 1 stick
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk you may need up to 1 cup
Makes: 2inch round2inch height


  • Preheat the oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Cut cubes of cold butter and toss it around lightly in the flour to coat on all sides.
  • Use your thumb and index finger to "pinch" and flatten each cube of butter. Be quick here so it doesn't soften.
  • Once the butter is flattened, use your hands to lift the butter and flour, tossing and breaking up the butter until it's about the size of a dime or a little smaller.
  • 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 1 1/2" 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 450 degrees for 5 minutes then turn down the heat to 400 and continue baking until the biscuits are golden brown about 12 to 15 minutes longer.


Note 1: 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. 
Note 2: Dark cookie sheets can burn the bottom of your biscuits. Keep a close eye on them if your pan is black. 


Serving: 1biscuitCalories: 114kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 57mgPotassium: 32mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 194IUCalcium: 17mgIron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
a basket of buttermilk biscuits

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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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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.