Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

I’ve been running around like a cat on a hot tin roof and just haven’t had time to sit down to give you this recipe. Even if you are a Yankee, or not even from the United States, you too can make Southern Buttermilk Biscuits as good as or even better than a real-life Southern grandma. My family is from the South. My family lineage goes back to Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas. It was my great-grandparents who relocated to Florida. Southern buttermilk biscuits are a staple of the Southern diet. I grew up eating buttermilk biscuits. My grandmother never measured anything. I remember watching her make biscuits. She didn’t make hers with butter, like I do. She used Crisco. I shutter to think of all the hydrogenated fat I ate growing up in the form of biscuits.

Twenty years ago, more or less, I decided I needed to learn how to make a decent buttermilk biscuit. First, I bought a good 10-inch iron skillet. All respectable Southern cooks have at least one of these. I opted for buying the less expensive unseasoned iron skillets and seasoned it myself. Hopefully you have an iron skillet. If not, go get one, now. I mean it. If you need to season it, click here for a great way to do it. I’m in the process of re-seasoning mine, because my husband isn’t from these parts, and he ruined my finish on them. Let’s just say that this isn’t a fun process, so you should make sure you know how to care of your well-seasoned cast iron pans, and never let anyone clean them who doesn’t know what they are doing. You have been warned.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. These biscuits are so good that they will make you want to slap yo mama. Don’t ask me what that means. Southerners have a lot of expressions that just don’t make any sense. I will try to explain it like this. My grandmother has been ticked off about the fact that everyone else in the family thinks I make better biscuits than her for years. We went to visit her this past Mother’s Day, and I made this recipe of biscuits. She finally let it go and admitted that my biscuits are good. That’s actually a huge compliment coming from her. I’ll take it.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups (12.75 oz. or 361 grams) of All-Purpose Flour (In the South, it is traditional to use White Lily brand, but it’s not organic, nor is it available everywhere. Whatever brand of organic AP flour you have will be fine.)
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) very cold organic butter cut into 8 to 12 pieces (I used salted butter, but if you have unsalted, that works.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of non-GMO baking powder (I use Rumford brand)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 Cup (8 oz. or 237 ml) organic, grass-fed buttermilk (I used Natural by Nature brand)
  • extra buttermilk for brushing

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (260 C). Make sure there is a rack in the center of the oven.

In a large ceramic or glass bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cut up pieces of butter and rub it into the flour with your fingers. I wear latex gloves when I do this, because I can’t stand the texture or having this stuff under my fingernails. Do this until all of the butter is rubbed into the flour and the flour resembles course meal. At this point, put the bowl into the freezer.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda and pink salt

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

This is what the flour looks like after rubbing in all of the butter.

Grease your 10-inch cast iron skillet with organic extra-virgin coconut oil.

After the flour has been in the freezer for about 10 minutes, take it out. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk in the well of the flour mixture.

Stir with a large-sized dinner fork just until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated. The key is to do this with the least amount of stirring possible. The more you stir, the tougher your biscuits will turn out. You want tender biscuits, not tough ones.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

All stirred up.

At this point, you have a couple of options. The way I think they turn out best is to pat and cut them. If you choose this option, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it to the thickness you want. Use a round cutter, sharp knife or floured drinking glass turned upside-down to cut out the biscuits.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Dough lighted patted out on a floured surface ready to cut.

Place each biscuit barely touching the next around the perimeter of the skillet, making concentric circles as you go, until you have the pan full. You will have a very full pan, but you should be able to fit all of the dough into the pan. Make as many biscuits as possible, cutting as close as possible to the edges. Pull the remaining dough together gently, working it as little as possible. Cut again. If there is any remaining dough, form it into a biscuit. The biscuit in the center of picture below is not cut, but just formed from the scraps.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

All cut biscuits in the skillet. These are really thick, very large biscuits.

The other option is to use a 1/4 cup scoop and scoop the dough and roll into balls in your hand and then place them in the skillet. If you are going to do this, after you are finished stirring, leave the dough to rest for a couple of minutes. This cuts down on the dough sticking to your hands. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a pan of baked biscuits using this method. Whichever option you choose, once you are finished and have all the biscuits in the skillet, brush them lightly with buttermilk.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Lightly brushing biscuits with buttermilk. This is a regular paint brush from the hardware department.

Put the skillet on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the pan, and continue to bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. They are ready when they are a light to dark golden brown, depending on your preference. Invert the pan onto a kitchen towel, releasing the biscuits. Put the towel holding the biscuits into whatever serving device you are going to use and serve with softened organic butter, homemade jam, bacon and sharp cheddar cheese… the options are only limited by your imagination.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Golden Brown Southern Buttermilk Biscuits fresh from the oven.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Biscuit open and waiting for butter.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Half buttered biscuit and half with butter and homemade peach preserves.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

This is a pan of biscuits done by scooping and hand rolling. As you see, it makes a lot of smaller biscuits.

7 thoughts on “Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

  1. Hehe, love your grandmother’s admission there Andrea – if even she says so, you must make fantastic biscuits!! 😉 I have no doubt that you do. Interesting that from the photos, I can see that these are what we call scones in Australia (at least in appearance, not entirely sure if the flavour is the same). What we call biscuits are what you call cookies (although having said that, ‘biscuits’ and ‘cookies’ are more or less interchangeable nowadays). Anyway, regardless of what they’re called, they look incredibly yummy and I bet they would be sooo good with the homemade jams of yours I’ve seen on IG. I don’t have an iron skillet (as they’re not really popular here, although presumably you can buy them), but I’ve just learnt a lot about them thanks to that link you added in there about seasoning them. I had no idea there was such a science behind it all – interesting! 😀

    • Ah, yes, there’s always that bit of confusion with the different lingo. Yes, this is something like a scone. I don’t know what true scones are like. Here in the U.S., they tend to be dry and bland. These biscuits, when fresh out of the oven are nice and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They go well with sweet or savory fillings. You don’t have to make them in a cast iron skillet. You could use a round cake pan or even a regular cookie sheet. Just make sure you grease the pan or use a silicone baking mat. You should give it a try. Yes, I’m quite the geek when it comes to learning about things I find useful. I’m in the process of reseasoning my cast iron with the high lignan flax oil, which I had to order online. And now that I have gone vegan, I am going to have to re-work this recipe so that I can still enjoy biscuits. Wish me luck. And thanks, Lisa, for stopping by the blog. XO

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