The Best Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits


So easy to make, these are the best flaky buttermilk biscuits EVER! I always thought making light, tender biscuits at home was impossible. Not anymore!

Several super flaky buttermilk biscuits on white platter.

Light and tender, these flaky buttermilk biscuits are absolute biscuit perfection. For years I basically considered myself a failure in the biscuit-making department. I’m pretty sure I was over mixing, over kneading, and generally over thinking the whole process. Which is why I’ve largely stuck with these pretty amazing buttermilk drop biscuits as my go-to. 

I’ll never turn my back on those drop biscuits. But I knew I wanted…and needed…to conquer classic mile high buttermilk biscuits once and for all. And I can honestly say these really are the best flaky buttermilk biscuits EVER. Ever. 

They are a go-to bread side dish for us, because unlike breadsticks or rolls, you don’t need to plan ahead at all to account for rising, kneading, etc.

Pulling apart super flaky buttermilk biscuit on white plate.

If you would have told me years ago that I would be making biscuits-not-from-the-can several times a month AND actually getting requests to bring these famous biscuits to family gatherings, I probably would have rolled my eyes (I have a talent for rolling my eyes). 

What else can you do with homemade biscuits?

Since falling in love with these biscuits, I’ve used the base recipe for everything from chicken pot pie to biscuit cinnamon rolls (holy  moly, these are lifechanging). 

And while I will probably reinvent chocolate chip cookies until the day I die, I don’t forsee ever needing to experiment with another classic, super flaky buttermilk biscuit. This is the one. The only biscuit recipe I’ll ever need. 

Super flaky buttermilk biscuit on white plate cut in half with jam and butter.

Secrets to perfect flaky buttermilk biscuits

One of the keys to me finally conquering homemade biscuits was when I started using my food processor to mix up the dough. Successful, flaky biscuits rely on not overworking the dough (similar to pie crust). You want the butter pieces to stay really cold as they are being worked into the dry ingredients.

The cold pieces of butter begin to melt and sizzle as the biscuits bake which creates the pockets of steam that in turn make for ultra-flaky layers. And trust me, you want ultra-flaky.

However, if you don’t have a food processor, never fear, you can still make these babies! The trick is to grate the cold/frozen butter into the dry ingredients with a box grater, toss together quickly, and then stir in the buttermilk without overworking the dough. You can do it, I promise. 

Buttermilk BiscuitsSeveral super flaky buttermilk biscuits on white platter.

Over the years of making this recipe again and again and again, I’ve gone from cutting the biscuits out in a classic round shape to instead patting the dough into a thick rectangle and using a bench scraper or knife to cut squares. You can see both examples above.

Guess what? Square biscuits taste just as delicious as round biscuits and you don’t have to reroll the scraps and keep cutting out with a cookie cutter. (Also, the rerolled and cut biscuits are never as flaky and tender as the first batch). 

I hope you give homemade biscuits a try! Whether you’re a biscuit beginner or someone who has perfected the art, I think this recipe might quickly become your go-to like it is for me!

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The Best Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Yield: 12 biscuits
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
The Best Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons very cold butter cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, more or less (here is a guide for making your own buttermilk)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is like coarse meal and the butter is in small, pellet-sized pieces (slightly smaller than a pea). This will take a few short pulses in the food processor.
  2. Pour in the buttermilk and mix/pulse only until just combined. The dough should start to come together but you don't want to overmix the dough. If there are lots of dry patches throughout the dough, add a bit more buttermilk, just a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough comes together.
  3. Scrape the dough out of the food processor or bowl onto a lightly floured counter. Gently pat (do not roll with a rolling pin!) the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Gently fold the dough in half or in thirds, repeating for a total of 4-5 times and pressing it gently to 1-inch thick after the last fold. These folds, combined with the cold butter, are what help to create flaky layers in the biscuits.
  4. Use a round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut into circles. Do not turn the cutter while pressing into the dough, just press firmly enough to cut all the way through the dough.
  5. Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper. Place the biscuits on the pan with the sides barely touching each other. This helps the biscuits rise up instead of out. If you like crustier sides to your biscuits, space them further apart. They won't rise as high but they'll have golden edges.
  6. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are lightly golden on top and bottom, taking care to not overbake. Serve immediately.

Notes

I struggled making biscuits for years. They were never very tender. Until I got a food processor and I firmly believe that delicious biscuits are more about how you work (the key being not to overwork) the dough rather than the actual ingredients. Using a food processor keeps the butter colder and the dough comes together more quickly.

If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender or two forks or knives to combine ingredients, just take care not to overwork the dough and let the butter get too warm.

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Recipe Source: adapted slightly from this recipe at southern.food.com
Recipe originally posted April 2013; updated May 2019 with new pictures, commentary, recipe notes, tricks and tips

Buttermilk Biscuits

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