How To Make Buttermilk Biscuits


(Originally published July 1, 2008) I told my mother I was going to do a web tutorial on how to make buttermilk biscuits, a staple in the south. She said “Oh, you HAVE to do that new recipe!”. Now, admittedly, these are awfully good. So good, in fact, that my mother has abandoned the long taught family method in lieu of this one. The finished product is lighter and more tender than our usual biscuit and it is worth the effort. If you have had problems in the past with your biscuits turning out to be more like hockey pucks than our beloved southern staple, this recipe is the one for you.

The cast! Featuring milk from Piggly Wiggly, butter or margarine, a tablespoon of lemon juice added (because I rarely have buttermilk in the house so this is a homemade concoction), and self rising flour. That’s it! (The actual recipe is at the bottom of this page)

For those of you who have no idea what self rising flour is….


You’ll also need salt and baking powder to make your biscuits rise :).

This is only IF you don’t have self rising flour available where you live.


Put your flour in a bowl (With the salt and baking powder stirred into it if you don’t have self rising) and toss in the margarine. Now you need a pastry cutter or just fork with long tines , which is what I use.

Reckon I’m just not fancy enough for the pastry cutter.

I actually own three of the dern things. They’re floating around here somewhere…


Begin by simply cutting the butter into the flour.

Sit down and turn on the tv, this will take a few minutes (make sure your butter is cold).


When it looks like this and you can’t find any lumps of butter, you’re good to go :). Stick this bowl in the fridge for ten to fifteen minutes. If this is your first time making biscuits with this method, I recommend fifteen. The colder it is, the easier the next step is going to be.


Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to your milk before you go get your bowl out of the fridge.

Stir it around and let it sit a minute or two.


Pour milk into flour mixture and stir until just moistened.


This is gonna be much looser than your typical biscuit dough, but it should look something like this.


Flour a surface.

I like to roll out waxed paper or do this on a large baking sheet so I don’t have such a hassle with the counter top.

Most folks just use the counter top though.

Be generous with the flour, you’re going to need it.

Dump out your dough onto the floured surface and sprinkle more flour on top of it.


Brush some flour on your hands and then wipe down your rolling pin really well. This is a family heirloom. My great grandmother bought it with green stamps for my mother when she was twelve. Once you have flour on your dough and on your hands, knead the dough with your hands two or three times. Don’t over knead your dough!

I always say: In dough, as in relationships, it is never good to be too (k)needy.

How do you knead your biscuit dough? If you’ve never done this before. Just place your dough ball (or wad as I call it. Attractive term, huh?) on a flat surface and then press down on it with the heel of your hand. Then fold it over into a bit of a ball again and repeat with the heel of your hand once more. You’ve just kneaded your dough twice. Stop there because we really don’t want to over knead and that is the most common mistake I’ve encountered in people’s biscuits turning out flat.

The second most common mistake I’ve encountered when biscuits turn out flat is someone who has accidentally followed the recipe for self rising flour biscuits using all purpose flour.


Roll it out until it is about 3/4 of an inch. Then lightly square it off with your hands. It should be about 9×5 inches at this point. You are going to have to stop after rolling it the first time and wipe down your rolling pin with flour again, as well as sprinkle some more on the dough to keep it from sticking.


Here is where these little suckers take on a bit of arrogance in my book. Normally, you would just roll it out and cut them, but in this recipe we want tender little pillowy biscuits, so we’re going to put a little more effort in them. Take one side of your dough and roll it over to the middle. Repeat with the next side until you have something like this.

I know this is awfully wet but go with me here……

Now pat or roll that out with your hands back to the original 3/4 inch and gently shape it back into a rectangle.
Repeat this process of folding over and patting out two more times. Don’t be afraid to dust your surface and your dough with a little more flour if need be. Oh, and you didn’t really have to use the rolling pin, you could have just patted it out all along with your hands, but I wanted to show you my heirloom rolling pin!


Now we’re ready to cut our biscuits. Most folks would use a biscuit cutter for this, but diehard southerners know one of the best way to do it is to use a swanky swig! Tin can is also acceptable as is a drinking glass. I used a smaller mouthed swanky swig because I prefer a bit smaller biscuits. I have small people in my house. :)

What is a swanky swig? Typically, it is a jelly jar which was decorated by the company to add charm and flair, thereby making it “swanky”.


Cut out your biscuits by pushing straight down with your glass, don’t twist it. I didn’t really waste all of this dough but I was trying to make it look a little more uniform for the picture. Normally, we cut them suckers one right on top of the other, then wad up the leftovers, pat it out, and cut again.

A lot of readers have said that they cut their biscuits with pizza cutters and just do a grid pattern. This ends up with square biscuits but no wasted dough! I do this every now and then myself.


Place these on a well greased baking sheet and make sure the sides touch, This helps them rise evenly and higher.


Bake at 450 for thirteen to fifteen minutes.


Until they look like this.

While still hot, brush with melted butter.

Now you’re done!

Alrighty, here is the actual recipe and I promise I will put an easier one up on my blog eventually but after doing all of this work to get the tutorial posted, I’m thinking these aren’t that pretentious after all.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
  • 2 1/4 c self rising soft wheat flour *
  • 1 1/4 c buttermilk (or whole milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice added)
  • flour for dusting
  • melted butter for brushing baked biscuits

Instructions

  1. Cut butter with a into 1/4-inch-thick slices.Put butter slices on top of flour in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour with a long tined fork until crumbly. Cover and chill 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over into itself, like you are folding a piece of paper into a letter, in three sections. Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).
  3. Press or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place, side by side, on a parchment paper-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet. Try to make sure they touch because this will help them rise higher.
  4. Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.
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*For instructions on how to make your own Self Rising Flour, please see the FAQ section of my site by clicking here.

VOILA!! I’m done!!!!


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Comments

  1. Shelly says

    I’m a lil confused & need guidance please. Your recipes have the “top” step by step directions with pictures & then the “bottom” official recipe. They don’t always match. I’m not being ugly & am only trying to become a better cook & learn new recipes & I need clarification.

    On the “top” recipe you say to press down on dough with the heel of your hand. Then fold it over into a bit of a ball again & repeat with the heel of your hand
    once more. ‘You’ve just kneaded your dough twice. Stop there because we really don’t want to over knead.’
    But on the “bottom” directions you say: ‘Fold dough over into itself, like you are folding a piece of paper into a letter, in three sections. Repeat entire process 2 more times.’

    To me the top directions say to fold the dough over into itself a total of twice only..2 folds. But the bottom directions tell me to fold the dough twice like folding a pc of paper into a letter (which would be 2 folds. bringing the bottom part up to the middle & then the top part down to the middle) ‘then do that 2 more times’ ..which to me would be a total of 6 folds.
    For someone who has never made biscuits, nor has any experience kneading (me) this is confusing. Please help..anyone. Thank you!

    • Emily says

      I came to the comments section to see if anyone had discussed which was better, butter or margarine. Then I came across the above post…..ugh.

      She actually explains this very clearly in the step by step. If you keep reading after she says “stop there because we really don’t want to over knead” then you will see she explains how to roll it out until it is 3/4 of an inch thick, then fold it over on both sides and roll it out again. You do not knead your dough with the heel of your hand anymore than the initial 2 times. When she says “Repeat the entire process 2 more times” she is referring to to only the rolling it out and folding it over. It is a separate step entirely and is explained that way.

      Also, I’m typically super non-confrontational but your post came off very rude in my opinion (this is directed towards the above post, written by Shelly). The recipes and instructions found here are EXCELLENT and I’ve never found them not to match up. However, even if they did, that would just be simply human error and well hey, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Move on. Good luck becoming a better cook, maybe you will find a better attitude along the way!

      • Shelly says

        Miss Emily, (and Christy if you too were offended) I sincerely apologize that you thought my post was rude. It most certainly was not written in a hateful, rude manner or attitude. I have never made biscuits or any type of “bread” before so the terms “knead” “fold” etc are like Chinese writing to me. I agree that Christy is A+++++ #1 on her directions. “I” am just having trouble understanding for the reason given… never having any experience. I will re-read Christy’s directions as well as yours…well the helpful parts anyway and hopefully can make sense of it for ME. I’ll take the high road so to speak and not lash out at you like you did me because this is not a ‘free for all’ website, it’s one to help others learn to cook new things. Just a lil reminder: You can’t see a person’s expression or hear their tone of voice over the internet. Ditto on the attitude :)

  2. Cheryl says

    I have never been able to make biscuits. I can bake everything else….
    I tried this and am ashamed to admit I still cannot make biscuits.
    I even added a little more buttermilk – the dough was still dry and crumbly.
    I don’t know what I did wrong.

  3. Michelle says

    So yummy! I love how easy this recipe is. I grated the butter into the flour, for kicks and giggles, and did them square because I hate wasting dough. My kids inhaled them so fast! Grandma’s raspberry jam may have helped a little with that, but a biscuit sandwich is only as good as the biscuit!

    Thank you for putting these good Southern favorites out there for so many to enjoy. I grew up eating good food like this, and love that I can provide the same joy to my own kids. :)

  4. Linda says

    Hi.

    I am from Vancouver, Canada. Everytime I travel to California – I ALWAYS order biscuits and gravy (you can’t find this menu item up here). I am exited to try this recipe.

    One question though – will this work if I substitute some of the butter with reserved bacon grease?

    Thanks.

  5. Chybest says

    Hi Christy. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial on this wonderful recipe. Have not tried my hands on bakin biscuit buh wants to start with this cos it caught my apitite. Plz my question is can one use all purpose flour wen using salt n bakin powder as risin agent, if no which type is adivsable den?. Thanks a million

  6. D Austin says

    I want to tell you that somehow, your blog is SO much easier to read and understand than some trusted classic cookbooks… I love to cook, but I have failed at certain things because there were little “bits of wisdom” which were never shared. For example, in this recipe, you EXPLAIN that folding over and back again is what helps the biscuits become fluffy (I can actually “see” it in my mind, with the way you describe it) AND having the sides lightly touching helps to have them rise HIGHER. You have a great way of speaking plainly and to the point, even with a bit of humor thrown in (“wad”). Thank you so much for all your work! God bless!

  7. Chakia says

    I found this website looking for a recipe to make butter rolls. So I decided to look for another recipe for my buscuits also and I love that Christy shows pictures!!! Make me feel like she’s here in my kitchen with me!!! I will be using this for now on and recommending it also!

  8. Cindy West says

    I’m going to try the recipe-thank you for all the pictures. They look like biscuits my grandmother use to make. I’ve been trying to replicate her biscuits for years. She was an amazing lady and I Miss her every day. I have one suggestion to cut down the time that it takes to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Use a grater. (Keep a box of butter in the freezer so that when you get ready to make these biscuits it’s easy to pop out of the freezer and grate). Thanks so much for all you do.

  9. Missy says

    Christy, my family loves this recipe! I’ve been making it for a couple of years now. Can’t remember when I first found you! Tonight I had a bunch of ham to use up so I chopped it real small and after patting out the dough 3 times, I rolled it half as thick as I usually do. Then I put shredded cheese on half, topped with the ham and folded it over. After I transferred it to the baking sheet, I used my pizza wheel to cut into 12 (but left it close together)and then baked it for pretty much the normal time. My kids LOVED it and said I HAD to write it down. It came out so awesome I wanted to thank you for the inspiration!

  10. NickieDay says

    Christy,

    I just made the biscuits from your recipe and it was perfect. I had always been good at making biscuits and then I joined the navy and didn’t bake for a long while. When I got out and wanted to make Granny’s biscuits, for some reason it wasn’t working. The major flaw was the flour. I was buying all purpose instead of self rising and viola! perfect biscuits again. Thanks so much for sharing.

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