Small Batch Recipes For Baked Goods And Desserts

Quick and Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

These Quick and Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits are buttery and full of soft, flaky layers.  Only a few ingredients are needed to make the all-butter biscuits, and with the help of a dough folding technique, you can have tall and flaky biscuits in no time!

Buttermilk biscuit with melted butter on top

RECIPE AND POST UPDATED 5/16/2021

Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

If you are new to bread making, the buttermilk biscuit is a good beginner recipe.  You get used to working with dough and this biscuit recipe is an easy one to master.

You may see buttermilk biscuits are referred to as a quick bread.  This means no yeast is in the recipe to make the bread rise.  A combination of leaveners and acidic ingredients create the rising action in these little biscuits.  For this recipe we use:

  • Baking Powder – Baking powder is a mix of baking soda and a weak acid, like cream of tartar.  To keep the base and acid from reacting in the can, a buffer like cornstarch is included.
  • Baking Soda – Baking soda is also called sodium bicarbonate.  If you watch the Great British Bake Off, chance are you have heard them use this term often.  
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk is fermented milk and it has a high level of acidity.  The acid in the buttermilk combines with the baking powder and baking soda to make the biscuits tall.  Additionally, buttermilk tenderizes the gluten in the flour to produce a tender biscuit.

There is also one other key ingredient in buttermilk biscuits – Cold Butter.

Homemade buttermilk biscuit on a table

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Buttery Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

These biscuits are made with butter.  Cold, cold butter.  You may have come across recipes that use shortening instead of butter.  And while I’m sure they taste great, I have never tested shortening, so I can’t say for certain how they turn out.

We talked about the leavining agents in the biscuits.  Cold butter also plays a key role in the tall, flaky layers of these Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Butter contains water.  When cold water is hit with hot air (i.e. the hot oven), the water turns to steam.  So, where all of the little pieces of butter are in the biscuits, we are essentially creating little steam pockets.  Which make the biscuits poof up.

Not to mention, butter and bread is simply a delicious combination.

Mixing Cold Butter Into Biscuit Dough

Once again, the butter should be cold.  But you may be asking, how do I keep the butter cold when I mix it into the dough?  Because, if you have every made a pie dough, you know that you have to work the butter into the flour to get it incorporated.

I have a couple tips:

  1. Use frozen butter – I keep a couple sticks of butter in the freezer to have on hand.
  2. Grate the butter – Use a box grater – like the one you use to grate cheese – to grate the cold butter.
    • You aren’t over-handling the butter, which will heat it up.
    • Grating the butter gives you smaller pieces, which are easily distributed into the flour with the simple turn of a spoon.
  •  
Stack of buttermilk biscuits

What You Need To Make Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

What makes the recipe a bonus – the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.  You don’t need yeast, eggs or any special equipment to make these Quick and Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits.

Ingredients

  • Flour – Good ol’ all-purpose flour.
  • Unsalted Butter – The colder the butter, the better.  I keep sticks of butter in the freezer for these types of recipes.
  • Buttermilk – If you don’t have – or want to buy – buttermilk, no worries, I’ll get to that in a second …
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda
  • Salt and Pepper – Both add flavor.
  • Honey – The honey doesn’t make the biscuits sweet, it simply balances the savory flavors of the biscuit.  

Baking Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Wooden Spoon or Sturdy Spatula
  • Biscuit Cutters
  • Baking Sheet

How To Make Homemade Biscuits

  1. Grate the butter – Then stick it back into the freezer until you are ready for it.
  2. Make the buttermilk – ONLY if you don’t have buttermilk.
    • Pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup.  Then, fill with milk to the 1 cup mark.  I prefer whole milk, but 2% also works.  I don’t recommend skim.
    • Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes – it will curdle and thicken.  And when it does, you know it is done.
  3. Measure and stir together your dry ingredients 
  4. Stir the grated butter into the flour mix – I like to use a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula to stir the flour into the dough.  Just enough that the butter flakes are coated.
  5. Add the buttermilk and honey – Make a well in the middle of the flour mix, and add 2/3 of the buttermilk and honey.    
  6. Stir the dough – You want the dough to be coarse and crumbly.  The dough will be ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Add more buttermilk as needed in small increments.  I find that I usually don’t need all of the buttermilk, and use the extra to brush the tops of the biscuits.
  7. Form the dough into a rough rectangle – With your fingertips.  No rolling pin here.  A 3/4-inch to 1-inch thickness.
  8. Fold and turn the dough – This is called ‘laminating’ the dough.  Flatten, fold, turn, repeat.  5 to 6 times.
  9. Cut the biscuits – I recommend a biscuit cutter because they are sharp.  Press straight down with the biscuit cutter and don’t turn the cutter.  If you turn the cutter, you will seal the edges of the dough and the biscuits won’t rise as tall.
  10. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet – Close together, but not touching.  The reason for this is I prefer the biscuits to get golden all around the edges.
  11. Brush the tops of the biscuits – With the remaining buttermilk.  If you had to use it all, you can just brush the tops with milk (or buttermilk, if you bought it).  Brushing the tops of the biscuits makes them golden brown.
  12. Bake – Ovens will vary, and baking times may vary too.  I find 20 minutes to be a great bake time.
  13. Enjoy! – The biscuits are divine when the are warm.  
Buttermilk biscuits on a cutting board

Common Questions For Making Homemade Biscuits

Why do the ingredients have to be so cold?

The refrigerated ingredients contain water, which creates steam when heated. This reaction is what produces tall, flaky biscuits.

Why do you grate the butter?

The small pieces you get when you grate the butter distribute evenly into the flour. Which means you don’t have to overwork the butter.

I don’t have buttermilk. Can I make it?

Yes. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup with milk to the 1 cup mark. The only milk I don’t recommend using is skim milk.

Can you make the biscuits with shortening instead of butter?

There are many biscuit recipes that use shortening instead of butter. I have not tested it, and I can’t say for certain how they taste or turn out.

I want make more biscuits. Can the recipe be doubled?

Yes. Keep in mind that you will be working with a lot of dough. So some elbow grease will be required to fold and flatten the dough.

Can the biscuits be flavored with other spices/seasonings, or even cheese?

Yes. I have used a variety of herb, spices, and cheese. The result was a pretty delicious biscuit. Add a little grated cheese to the top of the biscuit for an outstanding snack!

What size biscuit cutter should I use?

I use a cutter that is almost 3-inches in diameter. Though, any size will work.

Why don’t you use a rolling pin to flatten the dough?

I don’t want to overwork the dough – which will make the butter melt and make a chewy biscuit. So I recommend folding and flattening the dough with your fingertips.

Do I have to use the flatten, fold, turn technique?

If you aren’t concerned about having a lot of flaky layers, then you don’t have to laminate the dough so many times. I highly recommend it though.

I have extra scraps of dough, what should I do with it?

Form the extra dough scraps into a biscuit and bake it along with the other biscuits.

More Homemade Bread Recipes

Bite of a homemade buttermilk biscuit

Quick and Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

These Quick and Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits are tender and full of butter flavor, nestled in tons of flaky layers.  Having a good biscuit recipe is a staple in any baker's kitchen and this one is easy with only a few simple ingredients.  Don't have buttermilk in your fridge?  No worries – you can make your own!
Prep15 mins
Cook20 mins
Total35 mins
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 3-Inch Biscuits
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss

Equipment

  • 1 – Baking Sheet Unlined

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (plus more for dusting) all purpose flour (spoon & level to measure)
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (VERY cold & grated (see Notes) )
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold (reserve and set aside 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or any sweetener)

Instructions

  • Using a box cheese grater, grate the cold butter onto a piece of parchment paper. Put the grated butter in the freezer until ready to use.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk. Place it in the refrigerator until ready to use. See Notes for Homemade Buttermilk.
  • Preheat oven to 425F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula.
  • Remove the butter from the freezer and add it to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. 
  • Remove the buttermilk from the refrigerator and reserve and set aside 1 tablespoon – this will be used to brush the tops of the biscuits. 
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the honey and 2/3 of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. Mix gently and add more buttermilk as needed until the dough is coarse and crumbly and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. You don't want the dough to be too wet, and you may not need all of the buttermilk.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, gently work the dough together and form into a rough rectangle.  If the dough is sticky, lightly flour the top of the dough.  
  • Once the dough has come together, fold the dough in half. With your fingertips, gently flatten the dough.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold in half again, gently flattening the layers again.  Repeat this step 5-6 more times.   Keep the surface lightly floured as needed to avoid the dough sticking to your work surface. The folding and rotating is what creates the flaky layers in the biscuit.
  • Flatten the dough to approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Dip the biscuit cutter into flour. Starting in one of the corners of the dough, gently press the biscuit cutter straight down – making close cuts to get as many biscuits as you can before having to re-work the dough. Note – The number of biscuits you get will depend on how thick your dough is and what size biscuit cutter you use. Re-flatten and cut any remaining dough.
  • Place the biscuits close to each other, but not touching, on the baking sheet. With a pastry brush, brush the reserved buttermilk on top of each biscuit.
  • Bake the biscuits until the tops are golden brown, about 18 – 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve warm!  You can also brush on some melted butter or honey before serving.  

Notes

  1. Homemade Buttermilk – Pour a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup, then pour milk to the 1 cup mark.  Stir and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before using.  I prefer whole milk, but 2% will also work.    
  2. Cold Butter – Butter is, by far, the most important ingredient in this recipe, and it needs to be VERY cold before using.   I even go so far as to just keep sticks of butter in the freezer for recipes that need very cold butter.
  3. Grate the Butter – Grating the frozen butter on a cheese box grater is a great way to get small pieces of butter evenly distributed into your dough, without having to over-handle the butter.   A pastry cutter will work as well, just cut the butter into tablespoons before using.
  4. Work by Hand – When preparing your dough, I do not use a rolling pin because I don’t want to over-work the dough or melt the small butter pieces in the dough.  The folding and flattening technique is an easy alternative and it gives you more control of the dough and its thickness.
Keywords Easy, Flaky, Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
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