Cold butter and an easy stacking technique make these the best Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits you’ll ever devour! Make these anytime! It’s biscuit o’clock somewhere!
The Road to Biscuit Town
You’d think that by being born in Chattahoochee County, Georgia, I’d have had my Flaky Buttermilk Biscuit game down years ago. Sadly, no. Most of my childhood biscuits came out of a can. Poppin’ Fresh was my buddy, but I was completely spoiled by occasionally enjoying my Grandma Olga Mae’s incredible biscuits. She would whip up those flaky, buttery beauties every Sunday like it was nothing. I had dreams of recreating her all butter biscuits, with layer on layer on flaky layer.
When I became a “grown-up” I put my mind on figuring out how to get the biscuits of my dreams out of my head and onto a plate. I read a lot of recipes, tried a lot different techniques, and made some truly heinous hockey pucks. But I never gave up! I kept trying, and I finally brought all my hard work together into what I believe are some of the fluffiest, flakiest, most tender biscuits outside of the South.
What you’ll need to make these biscuits
- All-purpose flour No fancy flours here. I use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, but any brand will do.
- Baking soda Baking soda reacts with the buttermilk right away to give your biscuits a nice lift.
- Baking powder Baking powder also works immediately when combined with liquid (the buttermilk), but is “double acting”, meaning it also lifts your biscuits when it hits the heat. To ensure you get all that lift, check the expiration date of your baking powder. You want to use the freshest possible to ensure you get tall biscuits!
- A touch of sugar The biscuits I love the most always have just a touch of sweetness. You can leave that out later, but try it just this once. I think you’ll like it!
- Salt Unless your doctor told you to leave out salt, don’t ever leave out salt. Whether baking or cooking, salt enhances the flavor of all the ingredients. Friend not foe, unless otherwise directed.
- Buttermilk Buttermilk helps to create an overall taller, tastier, flakier, fluffier biscuit. Who doesn’t want that? I always have buttermilk in my fridge, but if you don’t, making your own substitute is easy. For every cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Butter Cold. Cold. Cold 🥶 The high heat of your oven hits the cold, cold butter. The butter releases steam that pushes up and out of the dough, creating flaky layers as a fabulous side effect. I love science!
Let’s make biscuits!
- Weigh your ingredients! I include both volume (cups) and weight (grams) for most of the ingredients, but I personally always go by weight. I used to just scoop my flour and go, but my baked goods never turned out exactly the same each time. When I switched to weighing my ingredients, I found that I had much more consistent results. If you try one of my baking recipes and it doesn’t turn out just right, chances are that our “cup” is just a little different. When you go by weight, 260 grams is 260 grams every single time. My daughters gave me a scale one Christmas, but you can find an accurate, easy to use scale online for as little as $10.
- Mix the dry ingredients In a bowl, or in the food processor, mix all the drys together so you don’t have clumps of baking powder or salt all in one spot. Uck.
- Cut in your butter I usually work fast and use my fingers to mix the butter into the dry ingredients, just like I do when making the topping for a crisp or crumble, but sometimes I go the food processor route. If I use the food processor, I freeze my butter for 10-15 minutes beforehand so I don’t end up breaking it up too much with the machine. Bigger butter chunks mixed in is one of the ways that you give your biscuits nice layers.
- Add cold buttermilk Whether I cut in my butter by hand or by machine, I mix in the buttermilk in a bowl with a flat spatula, rice paddle, or Danish dough whisk. It won’t look like you have enough liquid, but trust the process! Everything will come together.
- Cutting and stacking I learned my biscuit stacking process from Brian Hart Hoffman of Bake From Scratch magazine. Instead of rolling out your dough and cutting out biscuits, I pat the dough into a square, cut it into quarters, and stack them on top of each other, like doughy legos. Then I just give ’em a big smush down toward the counter until they’ve formed a single square again. I repeat this process a total of four times and each cut-and-stack adds more layers to your biscuits. Also, each time you cut and stack, you incorporate more of the stray dry bits. It all comes together! Next, since the dough is already in a square, I press it just a bit further into an even rectangle, and cut out square biscuits. Alternatively, you can use a traditional biscuit cutter to cut out round biscuits, gather the scraps, and keep going until all the dough is used.
- Chill your biscuits Chilling your biscuit dough gets the butter cold again and cold butter plus hot oven equals flakiness! This is because, as the heat hits the butter, steam is released, and this pushes the layers you’ve created apart even further. Oh boy, science is cool!
- Egg wash Although these biscuits would taste great baked as is, an egg wash will give the tops of our biscuits a shiny brown top, and everyone knows brown food tastes better! The proteins in both the white and the yolk promote browning, while the fats in the yolk add a nice shine. Beautiful and delicious!
- Bake hot and fast Now that you are a scientist, put your oven on 450° F and bake your biscuits for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. The high heat will do all the things; brown the biscuits while creating all the layers. Amazing!
Jazz up your biscuits!
Now that you know how to make Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, you can play around with them and make them your own! I like to toss in herbs and cheese, as well as different proteins to my dry mix, just before I add in the buttermilk, to jazz up the flavor! I’ve made Ham and Swiss, Bacon and Gruyere, Garlic and Chive, and these delicious Rosemary and Romano Cheese biscuits were a huge hit!
Making these into drop biscuits
Okay, I think I’ve made biscuits sound a little less scary. However, if you don’t feel up to all the rolling out and cutting out (or are feeling a bit lazy this morning 🥱), I’ve got you covered. One of the most common biscuits in the South are simple drop biscuits, where you literally mix everything up and “drop” spoonfuls into your skillet, or on a sheet pan, and bake. How can you convert this biscuit recipe to drop biscuits?
- Mix all the dry ingredients and cut in the butter. No change.
- Add 1 cup cold buttermilk (an extra ¼ cup than original recipe) and mix. It will be sticky.
- Drop large mounds of biscuit dough either into a cast iron skillet or a parchment lined sheet pan. I like to use a 2 oz (¼ cup) scoop for an even easier biscuit.
- Brush with egg wash and bake as directed.
Looking for other ways to Bake your Biscuit? Try these:
- Ham and Swiss Buttermilk Biscuits
- Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
- Breakfast Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Greek Yogurt Cream
MAKING THIS RECIPE?
Tag @cooksleepread on Instagram using the hashtag #cooksleepread, so I can see how it turned out and be sure to leave a rating below! ❤️
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
- 2 cup all-purpose flour 260 g
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter 113 g, very cold and cut into small cubes
- 3/4 cup buttermilk 180 g, very cold
- 1 large egg whisked with 1 tbs water, for egg wash
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or butter a cast iron pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
- Toss cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients and, using a pastry cutter or your fingers, mix in the cold butter until you have a mixture of flat pieces and crumbly, pea sized bits of butter mixed into the flour.
- ALTERNATIVE FOOD PROCESSOR INSTRUCTIONS: Place cubed butter in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you get all you other ingredients together. Measure all of your dry ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add chilled butter to the dry ingredients and pulse 5-6 times, or until most of the butter is in pea sized, or smaller, pieces. Pour into a mixing bowl and proceed with the rest of the instructions.
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the cold buttermilk. Gently bring the wet and dry together until you have a fairly uniform, loose dough. The flour won't look all mixed in and that's okay. It will come together.
- Dump the butter/dry ingredient mix out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, gently bring it everything together into a rough square.
- With a bench scraper or knife, cut into four smaller squares. Stack the pieces of biscuit dough on top of each other. Smush it all down into a square again. Repeat this cutting and stacking procedure 3 more times, for a total of 4 cut-and-stacks.
- Pat the dough into a rectangle at least ½ inch thick. Using your bench scraper or a knife, cut into square biscuits and place each piece on your parchment lined baking sheet. Place sheet pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking. (If you're baking your biscuits in a cast iron pan, you'll want to freeze your biscuits on a sheet pan (or other stable surface like a cutting board, no judgement) as well. Don't freeze the cast iron! Icy cold cast iron pan = delayed cook time!)
- ALTERNATIVE ROUND BISCUIT DIRECTIONS: Using a biscuit cutter, or even a small drinking glass or mason jar, cut out your biscuits and place on your sheet pan or in a buttered cast iron pan. Do not twist the cutter when cutting them out! That will effectively seal the edges of the biscuits, keeping them from fully rising. Just press in and lift straight up. Gather your scraps as you go and gently re-form them together and cut as many biscuits as you can. Place in freezer as above.
- Remove biscuits from the freezer. Brush the tops of the biscuits lightly with an egg wash and sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired.
- Bake in a 450° oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.