Homemade Biscuits

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Flaky and buttery homemade biscuits hot from the oven! I guarantee these little guys will disappear fast from the dinner table. The key to creating tender and flaky layers is how small pieces of cold butter are incorporated into the dough, as well as the process of stacking the layers. Learn to master the technique and you’ll be a hero in your household.

Flaky homemade biscuits stacked on top of each other on a white plate

Homemade biscuits with crunchy tops and flaky layers make any meal feel special. This quick bread recipe allows you to mix, shape, and bake in a short amount of time. This works out well when preparing a feast for the family. However, there are a few crucial techniques to be aware of before you get elbow deep in flour.

This country-style buttermilk biscuit recipe is one that I tested extensively for my cookbook, Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking. After many experiments in the test kitchen, I finally nailed just the right contrast of texture and flavor. Although it seems simple and requires very few ingredients, that’s what makes the preparation and process even more important.

side by side photo showing hands breaking apart butter and buttermilk being poured into a bowl

hands shaping biscuit dough into a square

Use cold butter and layer the dough

To ensure separated layers when you pull the biscuit apart; first, chill the butter and then press the slices into large flat discs with your fingers. The small butter pockets melt into the dough during baking and leave holes for steam and gas to expand and make partitions in the layers.

Roll the dough, cut into 4 squares then stack them on top of each other. This adds extra layers that wouldn’t be there if you just cut the biscuits immediately after mixing and rolling out. Make straight down motions when using the biscuit cutter as any twisting motion makes them stick together on the edges and will ruin the layers.

side by side photo showing knife cutting dough into squares and then square pieces stacked on top of each other

wooden rolling pin flattening out biscuit dough on a cutting board

Ingredients for homemade biscuits

All-purpose flour contains 10 to 12 percent protein to provide structure created by the gluten network formed during mixing. Leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder promotes browning and rise which also helps neutralize the acid in the buttermilk to reduce some natural tanginess.

A small amount of sugar helps accelerate golden color formation as the biscuits cook quickly in the oven. It also adds a bit of crunch. Chilled butter provides flavor and lots of mini layers in the bread. Buttermilk hydrates the flour proteins for gluten formation, keeps the biscuits moist, and adds extra flavor from the slight tanginess in the cultured milk.

person pressing a biscuit cutter into dough

Why you chill the dough

Briefly freeze the butter and flour mixture after breaking into smaller pieces, and then chill the cut out biscuits to ensure defined layers. This keeps the butter from melting into the protein network as it is mixed, rolled and shaped. The key is to create separate sheets of dough before it even goes into the oven.

Something unique about this recipe is that the dough may seem slightly dry initially. Rest assured that the lightly floured and rigid surface adds wonderful texture to the tops of the biscuits. After all your hard work, you’ll be rewarded with hot, fresh, and buttery biscuits to dip into homemade gravy or to use for eggs benedict.

baked homemade biscuits on a parchment paper lined sheet tray

More bread recipes

Rest the biscuits before baking

Once the biscuits are cut, rest and chill before baking. This allows the gluten network to relax after all of the kneading and rolling. It also keeps the butter cold for building flaky layers. Relaxing the dough also helps the biscuits rise evenly during baking so the heights are more symmetrical and not fallen over.

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Homemade Biscuits

Flaky and buttery homemade biscuits hot from the oven! I guarantee these little buttermilk biscuits will disappear fast from the dinner table.
Pin Print Review
4.11 from 19 votes
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Servings 14 biscuits
Course Bread
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for topping
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus 2 tablespoons, chilled

Instructions 

  • Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat to 450°F (232°C).
  • In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  • Cut 1 cup of butter into 1⁄8-inch thick pieces. Add a few butter slices at a time into the flour mixture and toss to coat.
  • Squeeze each slice of butter between a floured thumb and pointer finger, pressing and breaking the butter off into flat, nickel-sized pieces.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining butter then toss to combine. Freeze the mixture in the bowl until chilled, 15 minutes.
  • Gradually add 1 cup buttermilk into the chilled flour mixture, stirring with a fork until incorporated.
  • Knead the biscuit mixture in the bowl a few times until a shaggy dough forms; it will look slightly dry. If needed, add an extra 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttermilk so that most of the flour is hydrated and can be kneaded into the dough.
  • Lightly dust a working surface with the flour. Place the mixture onto the floured surface and shape and press with hands until combined into a 1-inch thick square, about 8 x 8 inches, the dough will not be sticky.
  • Cut the dough into 4 even-shaped squares and stack them as evenly as possible on top of each other.
  • Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a 1-inch thick square, 8 x 8 inches.
  • Leave about a 1⁄4-inch border along the edges when cutting the biscuits to give even layers.
  • Using a 2 1⁄2 -inch floured biscuit cutter, press straight down into the dough, without turning.
  • Transfer to a parchment paper–lined sheet pan and repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Refrigerate the biscuits for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Transfer the biscuits to a new parchment paper–lined sheet pan.
  • Make sure that the biscuits are at least 1 inch apart on the sheet pan.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter then brush the tops of each biscuit and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake until golden brown, 10 to 11 minutes.
  • Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Substitute gluten free flour for all-purpose wheat flour. I recommend Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour.

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Nutrition Facts
Homemade Biscuits
Amount Per Serving
Calories 243 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 8g40%
Cholesterol 36mg12%
Sodium 392mg16%
Potassium 147mg4%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 435IU9%
Calcium 65mg7%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    Jessica,
    I love all the information on your recipes, the science of it. Your details are unique and I learn so much from you. I like to make biscuits but now they will be better than ever. I can’t wait to try the layering and when I make these I will be thinking of what each ingredient does and yes, I am thinking about those pats of butter melting as the biscuits bake.
    Thank you – Judy

  2. Brittany O. says

    Thanks for the specifics on the recipe.
    Very helpful information provided on what the ingredients do.

    The photos were very helpful also in that they helped to clarify the stacking process in better understanding how you meant for the layering process.
    Therefore providing a more flakier biscuit.

    I heard that substituting vinegar into whole milk produces the thinking agent for the buttermilk(in the event that buttermilk isn’t available or on hand),..do you think it might affect the flavor even though lots of butter is being used..?
    Thanks.

    • MJ Hamilton says

      My mother was a dietitian and told me this trick years ago. I typically use lemon juice instead of vinegar but it does not affect the flavor. I prefer buttermilk, but in a pinch, this will work. I’ve also read a little sour cream or yogurt added to milk may work as well but haven’t tried it. I’m far from a culinary expert but hope this helps. I’m baking the biscuits this morning and can’t wait to try them.

  3. Sonya says

    This is now my go-to recipe for biscuits. I followed it step-by-step and they turned out perfect – buttery and flakey! Thanks Jessica for your recipes and the science behind the process.

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