Classic Butter Biscuits
These classic butter biscuits are so tender and flaky and filled with that irresistible butter flavor! The recipe only calls for 6 simple ingredients and comes together very quickly. You can have fresh hot butter biscuits on the table in just about 30 minutes!
Biscuits made with all butter are flaky, tender, and have the most addictive flavor! A hot buttery biscuit can be made into the best breakfast, dinner side dish, or perfect snack. Once you make homemade biscuits, you won’t be able to stop. These will soon turn into a family favorite.
Why make an all butter biscuit?
- Biscuits made with all butter (as opposed to lard, shortening, or a combination) will give you the highest rise! When the water in the butter evaporates in the oven, it creates steam and helps to boost the biscuits high.
- Flavor! Biscuits made with oils tend to have a more neutral flavor while, in my opinion, a biscuit made with all butter is the most flavorful.
- All butter biscuits tend to brown more easily than others. Because butter contains milk solids (including sugars), when it bakes in the oven the sugar caramelizes turning the biscuit a golden color.
Ingredient Functions & Substitutions
Butter: Technically you can make this recipe with any type of fat: butter, shortening, or lard. The reason I like to do an all butter biscuit is mostly for the delicious flavor! It also helps the biscuit to rise more than other fats because of the higher water content in the butter.
Flour: Flour is the main structure for these biscuits. All-purpose is recommended but you can also make biscuits using self-rising flour.
This recipe can be made gluten-free by substituting the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour. I suggest using a 1 to 1 gluten free flour blend.
Baking Powder: Baking powder does most of the leavening in the biscuit. It gives the biscuit the rise and some fluffiness.
Baking Soda: You might be wondering why baking soda is needed if this recipe already contains baking powder. While baking powder does the heavy lifting, the baking soda balances out the acidic ingredients.
Salt: Salt is what gives these biscuits flavor. It’s not so much that it makes these biscuits too savory. In fact, these biscuits are perfect topped with a sweet jam or salty eggs.
Buttermilk: The buttermilk in this recipe is what gives moisture and holds everything together. Because buttermilk is cultured, it has an acidic quality to it. I personally love the tang that buttermilk brings to biscuits. If you do not have any on hand, you can easily make a buttermilk substitute!
Put 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and add enough milk to the measuring cup until it measures 1 cup. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes before adding it to your dough.
You can also use a non-dairy milk substitute but it may affect the flavor of the biscuits.
These biscuits can be flavored by adding new ingredients directly into the biscuit dough.
- Fresh Herb Biscuits: Add in 1 tablespoon each of fresh minced rosemary, thyme, and sage to the dry ingredients. These biscuits are phenomenal with sausage gravy.
- Garlic Cheddar Biscuits: Add ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 200 grams (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the dough. Melt 28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter and combine with ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Brush over the biscuits when they come out of the oven.
- Blueberry Biscuits with Lemon Glaze: Add fresh blueberries, lemon zest, and cinnamon to the biscuit dough. Top with a lemon glaze.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC BUTTER BISCUITS
These biscuits utilize the Biscuit Mixing Method. The purpose of the method is to reduce gluten development which keeps the biscuits light and tender while also working to create layers in the dough to create flakiness.
STEP 1: COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
STEP 2: CUT IN THE BUTTER
Add the cold diced butter to the mixing bowl and cut it into the flour mixture.
I like to use a pastry cutter to cut the fat through. You could also use a fork or even your hands but you want to make sure the fat stays very cold. As soon as the mixture resembles coarse meal you are ready to add the liquid.
STEP 3: MIX IN THE BUTTERMILK
Pour all of the buttermilk into the bowl at once and gently stir together. I like to use a wooden spoon for this but you could use a rubber spatula if you like. Stir just until the mixture is all one mass but not until smooth. You want it to be lumpy and you don’t want to stir very much.
STEP 4: SHAPE THE DOUGH
Flour a clean work surface and your hands. Gently gather all of the dough and place it on the floured surface. Now, using your hands, pat the dough out to about a 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick disc. You may need to dust a bit of flour on top of the dough. Fold the dough in half and then turn it 90 degrees. Pat out and fold again for a total of 6 times. This process is creating layers that will create flaky biscuits.
STEP 5: CUT OUT THE BISCUITS
Press the dough out to about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick and use a biscuit cutter to cut out your biscuits. When cutting out, dip your cutter in flour, press straight down, and pull it back up without twisting it. Gently pat the scraps together to cut out the rest of your biscuits.
STEP 6: BAKE
I like to place my biscuits in a buttered cast iron pan very close together to bake. I believe this helps the biscuits to climb onto each other and rise up taller.
Once baked, you can brush with melted butter and sprinkle with flaky salt.
Can I use a combination of different fats in biscuits?
Yes! You can use any combination you want. If you want the tenderness of a lard biscuit but the flavor of a butter biscuit, then use both. I suggest using half of each.
Why does the butter and milk have to be cold in biscuit recipes?
Using very cold butter and milk is key to a flaky, tall biscuit! If the butter is too warm then it will mix into the flour mixture too well and won’t create steam pockets. If it stays cold then the little pieces of butter will stay intact and release steam in the oven when the water in the butter evaporates off.
Cold buttermilk helps to keep the butter cold in the dough.
PREP & STORAGE
How to prep ahead: Make the biscuit dough the day (or 2-3 days) before serving. Prepare as directed, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or in a buttered cast iron pan) and wrap with plastic wrap. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and bake directly from the refrigerator.
How to store in the refrigerator (or at room temperature): Biscuits are best eaten fresh, but they can also be stored after completely cooled at room temperature and wrapped in foil for 2 days.
How to store in the freezer: Freeze the biscuits raw and bake straight from frozen at 425°F/220°C for 18-21 minutes, until baked through.
- 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 10 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
- 240 grams (1 cup, 240 milliliters) buttermilk, cold, *see note for substitution
- Position an oven rack to the center position and preheat to 450°F/230°C.
- Spray a cast iron pan (or cake pan) with non-stick spray or line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Measure out all ingredients. Dice the butter into small cubes. Keep the butter and buttermilk in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To Make the Biscuits:
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour (240 grams, 2 cups), baking powder (1 tablespoon), baking soda (¼ teaspoon), and salt (1 ¼ teaspoon).
- Add the cold diced butter (85 grams, 6 tablespoons) to the mixing bowl and cut it into the flour mixture. To do this, press down on the fat with the wires of the pastry blender or the tines of a fork as you move it around the bowl. Continue cutting the fat into the flour until most of the pieces of fat are about the size of peas with some pieces being about the size of a walnut half.
- Add the cold buttermilk (240 grams, 1 cup) into the bowl and stir with a spoon or a silicone spatula just until combined. This should only take a few turns. The dough will be pretty wet and sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Dust flour over the top of the dough. With floured hands bring the dough together into one mass.
- Pat the dough out (do not roll with a rolling pin) until it is about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick. Using a bench knife (or a metal spatula can be helpful if you do not have a bench knife), fold the dough in half and then turn it 90 degrees. Pat out and fold again for a total of 6 times. This process is creating layers that will create flaky biscuits.
- Press the dough out to about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick and use a round cutter that is about 2.5-inches (6 cm) in diameter to cut out your biscuits. When cutting out, dip your cutter in flour, press straight down, and pull it back up without twisting it. Twisting can seal the edge of your biscuit, not allowing it to rise fully. Gently pat the scraps together to cut out the rest of your biscuits. Alternatively, you can pat the dough into a rectangle and use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 8 rectangular-shaped biscuits.
- Place the biscuits in the prepared cast iron pan or baking sheet with the edges touching so they will rise up against each other.
- As an optional step, place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. This will ensure that your biscuits will not spread too much and will allow your oven to fully pre-heat.
- Bake at 450°F/230°C for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Do not open the oven door for at least the first half of baking time. You want the steam to stay trapped in the oven to help with the rise.
- Optional: Brush biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle with flaky salt.
*A note on buttermilk substitute: Buttermilk is acidic which adds a slightly tangy taste to these biscuits and also tenderizes and activates the baking soda, helping the biscuits to rise. If you do not have buttermilk on hand you can make a substitute using one of the options below.
- Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt: Combine ¾ cup sour cream or plain yogurt with ¼ cup water and use in place of the buttermilk. This is the best option for buttermilk substitute.
- Milk: Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar with enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand for 5 minutes before using. The higher the milk fat the better the substitute will be. 1% or skim milk is not ideal.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0