Sadly I didn’t grow up eating biscuits. Really the only time we ate them was when we got a KFC family meal and I didn’t even like those biscuits.
I didn’t learn how to make biscuits until culinary school. Though I certainly wouldn’t have minded having a sweet southern grandma teaching me how to make them growing up.
I’ve come along way since those bland KFC biscuits so today I’m sharing my favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe today alongside all the tips and tricks you need to make tender, flaky, light, and golden brown biscuits. I promise these will knock your socks off!
One of my favorite ways to serve these biscuits is either with some blueberry lavender jam or with some salted honey. They also make for great mini breakfast sandwich sliders!
How to Make Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits
Do I have to use buttermilk?
To create the best flavor AND texture, yes. I’d highly recommend using real buttermilk.
I’ve done extensive side-by-side testing on buttermilk vs. buttermilk substitutes (including powdered buttermilk) or vs. regular milk. You can read about my science of baking & buttermilk experiments here: Buttermilk 101.
At the end of the day, I find nothing quite compares to the tangy taste and thick texture of the real thing.
If you can’t use real buttermilk, you can use this substitute: 1 scant cup whole milk + 2 teaspoons distilled vinegar or lemon juice. If you’re using this substitute then I’d recommend adding some other flavor additions to the dough, such as shredded cheese, diced jalapeno, garlic powder, green onion, or everything bagel seasoning.
How to Make TENDER Biscuits
This all comes down to be super gentle with the dough. I usually make biscuits by hand with a pastry cutter because you’re less likely to overwork the dough and it’s still super quick and easy. I’ve also included instructions for using a food processor in the recipe below, if you’d prefer.
I like my biscuits to be slightly crunchy on the outside and tender and fluffy on the inside, which is what this recipe produces.
However, If you like very tender biscuits, try using a southern-style flour such as White Lilly which has a lower percentage of protein. If you can’t find that, you can create a ratio of All-purpose flour combined with pastry flour to get a similar result.
Whichever flour you use, make sure to MEASURE CORRECTLY. Too much flour will result in dense, dry, and tough biscuits.
Butter or Shortening?
I’ve also done side-by-side testing with biscuits made with butter vs. shortening and found I really prefer the taste and texture of 100% butter.
However, biscuits made with shortening create a more traditional Southern-style texture. If you want, use half shortening and half butter.
How to Make TALL Biscuits
The first step to creating tall biscuits is to do a quick “lamination” of the dough. Basically, you pat the dough out into a rectangle then fold it up into an envelope then repeat that process. I’ve included pictures below.
Now this step is optional if you don’t want to spend the time or energy on it the biscuits will still come out great. However, by taking this extra step you’re guaranteeing the biscuits will bake up tall with distinct layers of flaky goodness.
Tall biscuits require tall dough, 1-inch in height to be exact. You could even pat the dough out to 1 1/4-inches for mile high biscuits but note you’ll end up with fewer biscuits.
Another trick to ensuring you get tall biscuits is to use a metal biscuit cutter. You want to create sharp edges when you shape the biscuit dough so nothing prevents the biscuits from rising. Do NOT twist the biscuit cutter as you shape the dough. That’s why a biscuit cutter with a handle is extra useful.
A great trick to further ensure tall & flaky biscuits is to pop the tray of unbaked shaped biscuits in the freezer while your oven preheats. This keeps the butter extra cold. That way when the biscuits hit the heat of the oven the steam from the water in the butter creates those tall flaky layers. It’s the same idea as pie dough.
I prefer my biscuits to develop a golden crust, but I also know people who prefer their biscuits to be super pale and tender all the way through. Adjust the baking time for your unique oven and preferences. Whatever you do, just make sure your oven is fully preheated and hot enough. This is what helps the biscuits rise tall. Play it safe by waiting at least 10 minutes after your oven tells you it’s preheated.
How to Make Biscuits Ahead of Time
Since biscuits are best served the day they’re baked, use these instructions for making them ahead of time. You can do this with the whole batch of whatever you don’t want to eat in a day.
Place the unbaked shaped biscuit dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Remove to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake as directed, adding an additional 5 minutes to the baking time, or until golden brown.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and dust the dough with flour. I like to use a powdered sugar shaker to dust the perfect amount of flour without using too much. Gently pat the dough out into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle using your hands. You don’t need to use a rolling pin if you don’t want to!
Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Don’t worry if it’s not absolutely perfect. You want to be quick and gentle with the dough and only use as much flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking. Adding too much flour will create dense and tough biscuits. A bench scraper makes easy work of moving the dough without having it stick.
Repeat this process two more times, rotating the dough 90 degrees before each fold. By the time you’re done you will have created layers of butter similar to a croissant so the biscuit bakes up perfectly tall and flaky.