Buttermilk biscuits made from scratch are incredibly easy and come out tall, fluffy and flaky with just one simple trick. They are wonderful on their own, with a smear of butter, or as a base for sausage gravy, strawberry shortcake, or your favorite breakfast sandwich.
I think you all know by now that I am a total carbaholic, so it probably comes as no surprise that I absolutely adore biscuits. I don’t make them often, though, reserving them for special occasions or a treat when out for breakfast or brunch. Like anything that is only consumed once in a while, when you DO eat it, you want it to be absolutely phenomenal.
The biscuit recipe I have been making for the better part of ten years was always fine, but most definitely not phenomenal. They were good, but not mind-blowing. I wanted sky-high biscuits with umpteen buttery layers, and I’m thrilled to tell you that they are HERE. With just a few tweaks and simple tricks, I had the biscuits of my dreams.
There’s just something magical about pulling apart that soft biscuit, watching the steam wisp out of the middle, and then savoring each buttery, flaky layer.
I can now enjoy sausage gravy and strawberry shortcakes with reckless abandon!
How to Make Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch
Biscuits are one of the simplest baked goods to make, in terms of both ingredients and time, but they have been known to cause even the most even-tempered bakers to pull their hair out.
Light, fluffy biscuits and hockey pucks are separated by a very fine line. Below are some tips to help make sure you end up in fluffy biscuit land, and not on ice…
Cold butter is key. For biscuits (as well as pie crusts) I find that cubing the butter and then putting it on a plate in the freezer for about 15 minutes before using it keeps it nice and cold while mixing.
Mixing the butter and dry ingredients quickly so the butter remains cold and firm is crucial to producing light, tender biscuits. The dough will likely be shaggy and rough, and that’s okay; if you work it until it’s smooth it will be overworked and result in tough biscuits. A light touch and little pressure is important.
Folding the dough envelope-style is the biggest difference I’ve found when re-working my biscuit recipe. It creates incredibly tall biscuits with layer upon flaky layer of buttery goodness.
When you cut the biscuits, whether with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, push straight down, then pull right back up. DO NOT twist the cutter… I used to make this mistake and couldn’t believe the difference it made when I stopped!
The intense heat of the oven creates the steam needed to raise the dough and create airy, fluffy biscuits. Make sure your oven is completely preheated before baking the biscuits.
Can Buttermilk Biscuits Be Made Ahead and/or Frozen?
Yes, to both!
While I think there is nothing quite like a biscuit fresh from the oven, you can absolutely make them and then reheat them. In order to get that warm, fresh-from-the-oven taste and texture, I recommend reheating in a 350-degree oven (a toaster oven is perfect for this, too!) for about 5 minutes. Perfection.
If you’d like to prepare the biscuits ahead of time without baking them first, you can do that, too. Simply prepare the dough and cut out the biscuits, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Once completely frozen, place the biscuits in a freezer ziploc bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Make Buttermilk Biscuits in a Cast Iron Skillet
Easy! Simply place the biscuits in a large cast iron skillet, leaving space between each one so that they have room to grow and rise.
This is a great option if you love the bottom of your biscuits to have a little crisp and crunch to them!
It goes without saying that buttermilk is a key ingredient in BUTTERMILK biscuits, and you might have some questions about it, especially if you don’t use it often.
So, below you will find many of your buttermilk questions, answered!
How Can You Make Buttermilk if You Don’t Have It?
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can easily make it using a combination of regular milk and either lemon juice or white vinegar (this is referred to as “clabbered milk”; here’s how to do it:
Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir together, then use as directed in the recipe. (You can scale up if needed; if you do not need a full 1 cup, discard what you do not need.)
How Can You Tell if Buttermilk Has Gone Bad?
Since buttermilk already has a characteristic sour smell and taste, and it can take a long time for it to actually get moldy, it can be difficult to tell if it has gone bad. And because it is acidic, it will take a long time to actually develop mold.
Buttermilk should typically be used within a couple of weeks of opening it, but if you shake it up and the consistency is “off” from when it was originally opened (super thin or extra chunky), then discard it. Also, if it emits a more foul odor than the traditional sour smell, then pitch it as well.
Can Buttermilk Be Frozen For Later Use?
Yes! Most recipes don’t call for more than 1 cup of buttermilk at a time, so I’ve found the best and most efficient way to freeze buttermilk is in 1 ounce (2 tablespoon) portions.
To do this, I love these silicone ice cube trays (also perfect for making homemade baby food!) – once frozen, I pop them out and store in a freezer ziploc bag until I need them. Thaw in the refrigerator and then whisk well to reincorporate the buttermilk (it will separate when frozen).
You can store the frozen buttermilk for up to 3 months.
Now, who’s ready to bake some light-as-air, buttery, flaky buttermilk biscuits?!
You now have all of the tools and tips you need to make the most incredible homemade biscuits from scratch. With just a tiny bit of extra time and effort, you’ll never, ever want to pop open a can of biscuits again.
Buttermilk biscuits made from scratch are incredibly easy and come out tall, fluffy and flaky with just one simple trick. Eat them on their own, with a smear of butter, or use as a base for sausage gravy, strawberry shortcake, or your favorite breakfast sandwich.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
Using a pastry blender (or two knives or your fingertips), quickly cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.
Using a rubber spatula or fork, stir in the buttermilk until the mixture forms a soft, slightly sticky ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and quickly form into a rough square. Be careful not to overmix. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough letter-style into thirds, then lightly pat the dough back out into another 1-inch rectangle. Try to handle the dough as quickly and lightly as possible. Repeat the folding 2 more times; after the final fold, press or lightly roll the dough into a ½-inch-thick rectangle.
Using a 2½-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out the dough rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Pat and roll the remaining scraps to cut out more rounds. Brush with the melted butter and bake until the biscuit tops are light golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Brush with additional butter immediately, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. The biscuits are best served the day they are made, however leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 5 minutes.