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How to Make Homemade Southern Biscuits (Recipe with Photos)

A pan of freshly baked homemade southern biscuits.

While frozen and canned biscuits or even biscuits from a mix are acceptable to many, most Southerners know they have performed an important accomplishment when they can create an excellent biscuit from scratch every time.  This recipe is a great start to learning how to make great biscuits.

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

A perfect accompaniment for bacon, eggs, sausage, gravy, or jam, the humble biscuit is a staple of Southern cooking. While frozen and canned biscuits or even biscuits from a mix are acceptable to many, most Southerners know they have reached an important accomplishment when they can create an excellent biscuit from scratch every time they get out the mixing bowl.

No matter where you live, however, biscuits are a quick bread that most families will enjoy. The recipe below is a good start, but if they aren’t exactly perfect that’s okay. Biscuits are a menu item that takes a bit of a knack to figure out.

If you don’t give up, each batch will be a little better than the last one. You’ll probably make a batch or two that are just terrible and several batches that are mediocre before you finally accomplish the perfect breakfast biscuit. Just don’t get discouraged. You can make a delicious biscuit if you just keep trying.

What makes a delicious biscuit is as much about texture as it is about the ingredients. A wonderful biscuit is light and fluffy with steaming soft insides. If you can have a slightly crisp outside, it’s even better. The secret of this wonderful texture, though, is how you handle the dough. Handling biscuit dough is exactly the opposite of how you handle yeast bread dough.

You need to treat biscuit dough delicately to keep the texture tender, so no beating and pounding of this dough. Stir it gently with a spoon and only mix enough to combine the ingredients, particularly after you’ve added the buttermilk. You also want to work quickly enough to get the biscuits in the oven as the leaveners begin to do their chemical magic.

You can bake these biscuits on a cookie sheet or a cake pan. However, to give a nice crispness to the outside of the biscuit, while keeping the inside of the biscuit steamy soft, you may want to consider baking them in a cast-iron skillet. Preheat the skillet in the oven for excellent texture.

Many Southern cooks use shortening or lard in their biscuit recipes, which does create a decent biscuit. However, butter adds much more flavor to them. Additionally, milk is an acceptable liquid for biscuits if you don’t have buttermilk. However, the buttermilk adds extra fat, tenderness, and flavor to the recipe. If you do decide to use milk instead of buttermilk, simply omit the baking soda in the recipe.

A halved homemade biscuit on a plate with maple syrup.

Homemade Southern Biscuits Instructions

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 sticks) cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk

The set of ingredients to be used for the recipe.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Stir it well so that the leaveners are thoroughly incorporated with the flour. Using a pastry blender or a fork, add the butter to the dry ingredients. You want to mix it up so that tiny pieces of butter are distributed throughout the mixture. The final result should be the texture of something like cornmeal. When the butter melts in the baking, these bits of fat will lead to light fluffiness in the final product.

The dry ingredients mixed in a glass bowl.

Step 3: The time when you begin adding buttermilk is the crucial point in the creation of the biscuit. Start by adding one cup of buttermilk and stir gently.

Just use a large spoon and kind of flip the mixture around to incorporate the buttermilk. Add splashes of buttermilk, stirring a little at a time until the mixture is a slightly sticky play-dough texture. You may not use all of the buttermilk, or you may use a bit more than 2 cups. You’ll learn through experience the perfect amount, but don’t be afraid. It’s better to have a slightly stickier dough than needed than to have it too dry and crumbly. Don’t beat the dough with a spoon.

The ingredients after the buttermilk has been added carefully.

Step 4: When the biscuit dough has just come together and there are no more pockets of dry ingredients, turn the dough out onto a floured surface.

Pressing gently with a rolling pin, smooth the dough into a 10-inch circle, or until it is about an inch thick. Don’t press too hard. Just gently roll it out.

The dough is flattened with a wooden rolling pin.

Step 5: Using a 2-3 inch biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits into rounds.

Place them in a pan spaced apart or with the edges just touching.

The dough is then shaped into small medallions and placed into a skillet.

Step 6: Bake in the center of the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on top.

Serve warm, topped with jam, jelly, honey, gravy, or any other topping that you prefer.

A lovely set of freshly baked homemade biscuits.

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