Christmas

Buttermilk Biscuits

November  3, 2014
13 Ratings
Photo by Erin McDowell
Author Notes

A recipe that has gotten me through many lazy brunches and a dozen fried chicken dinners. Don't be scared off by the larger quantities, I tend to make biscuits for a crowd -- hello, Thanksgiving dinner. The recipe is very easily halved for weeknight baking.

[Editors' note: The quantity of flour is important here. If you don't have a scale, make sure you're using the spoon-and-sweep method (rather than scooping your measuring cup into the flour bag): Aerate your flour, then use a spoon to fill the measuring cup with a light hand, and finally, use the flat edge of a knife to push off the excess without packing in the cup. We also like these biscuits with a little more butter—15 tablespoons (7 1/2 ounces): They're more tender and buttery.] —Erin Jeanne McDowell

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 12 to 15 biscuits (depending on cut size)
Ingredients
  • 5 cups (600) all-purpose flour (White Lily flour is best, if you can get it)
  • 1 teaspoon (3 1/2 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 cups (484 grams) buttermilk, plus more as needed
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together to combine. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms a shaggy mass, with pieces of butter similar in size to walnut halves. [Editors' note: Be careful not to overwork or over-mix your dough or it could turn out more shortbread-like.]
  3. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Toss gently to combine the ingredients, taking care not to overmix.
  4. When the dough is fully moistened and combined, turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough into a 1 inch-thick square. [OPTIONAL EXTRA STEP: Fold the dough in half, then fold the halved dough in half (fold the dough in quarters), and chill for 5-30 minutes, then press bak into a 1 inch thick square before proceeding - this fold makes for even flakier biscuits, but is optional.]
  5. Use bench knife to cut the biscuits into squares or rectangles (this means no re-rolling or risk of overworking the dough). For round biscuits, you can use floured round cutter (2 1/2 to 3 inches wide) to cut circular biscuits. When you’ve used all of the dough, bring it together and knead it lightly a few times to bring it together. Repeat cutting biscuits from the dough until all of the dough is used up.
  6. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate the biscuits for 15-30 minutes to chill before baking. Brush the chilled biscuits with egg wash before baking.
  7. Bake until the biscuits are risen and golden brown, 17 to 22 minutes. (Bonus points for brushing them with more butter after they come out of the oven, egg washed or not.) Cool slightly before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mason Alexander
    Mason Alexander
  • Mishimmy
    Mishimmy
  • Tracy A. Goode
    Tracy A. Goode
  • Annie Dempsey
    Annie Dempsey
  • Liz Summers
    Liz Summers
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.

42 Reviews

JeenaCanBake February 28, 2021
For years I have dreaded making buttermilk biscuits fearing they will be hockey pucks. This is a foolproof recipe. Thank you! By the way, I can watch you all day.
 
Elizabeth H. February 23, 2021
They definitely need more butter and salt. I recommend Bon Appetit’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits over these. Never fails.
 
Cheryl January 23, 2021
Great recipe and great instructions. I had issues with my biscuits for years and lost all confidence. I watched the video with her making these with her dad and followed all of her instructions. My family is now addicted to biscuits.
 
Mason A. January 17, 2021
Overall, a great simple biscuit recipe. Please remember to add more salt. I would add at least 3.5-4 tsp of salt or else the flavor feels a little short. Adding the folds makes for a beautiful, delicious effect.
 
Mishimmy January 6, 2021
Um, these turned out AMAZING! I'm so happy! It was so easy and perfect with the full southern fried chicken dinner I made tonight. 100% will make again (and again and again...)
 
CarolO December 18, 2020
I am 64 yrs old and have never in my life been able to make biscuits that weren’t hockey pucks. Finally SUCCESS!! They are oh so fluffy and yummy. I wish I knew this 50 years ago! Erin, you’re my hero.
 
WenDee70 December 9, 2020
Oh my word...I have made Erin's buttermilk biscuits about 6 times. I can tell you that my family is now excited to know when I am making biscuits. I have tried to make biscuits many many times in my life and I could never get it right?? Well~~be prepared to knock peoples socks off with this recipe. It is easy to understand and follow and so delish!! I am just thrilled to have found Erin and her recipes. Thanks you for sharing with us. Wendy
 
Tracy A. December 3, 2020
My mom used to take White Lily flour from our home in Alabama to her sister in New Jersey, since my aunt couldn't get it. It really does make the best biscuits.
 
ljclapper October 28, 2020
My biscuit attempts, there have been many, have all failed. Every time they turned out like hard hockey pucks. Once, my sons had a biscuit throwing session and one got a knot on his head! My self-esteem took a bigger hit...

These turned out delicious! My favorite biscuits are from a certain fried chicken place, rhymes with flopeyes, and these turned out just like them!

I recently lost 13 pounds. I found them though. They were hiding in the biscuits!
 
Anne October 24, 2020
I'm looking forward to trying this method, I've definitely been making the mistake of making them too thin and cutting them wrong. I'll have to measure out how many cups in 6oz as our butter comes in bricks with cup markings on the parchment. I could buy sticks but it's much more expensive. We pay between $4 & $5 per pound of butter compared to $7 - $8 per lb if in sticks.
 
Annie D. July 19, 2020
THE BEST! Some tips: do not overwork, keep cold, and make them thick (or just watch the video).....these were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, flaky and buttery
 
Liz S. June 27, 2020
I am on a "bake everything Erin Jeanne McDowell" kick! I started with rough puff pastry (YUM!!!!!!) and moved to biscuits. I read all of the comments after I successfully made the recipe (twice) and for anyone coming here, I would highly recommend watching Erin's "Bake it up a notch" video: Baking biscuits with Dad, a father's day 2020 video with this recipe as well as a "things that go wrong" section AND her drop biscuits. Coming to the biscuit recipe from Erin's puff pastry, I had a good understanding of how to treat the butter in the dough and I think that is key to success here as well as NOT overworking, not pressing the dough too thin and refrigerating a little. At any rate, after years of not making great (or even very good) biscuits, I am so happy with these results.
 
Mishimmy January 6, 2021
Erin is my hero. I'm so grateful she takes so much care to show how to make everything so it just works.
 
olivia December 25, 2017
These are wonderful! I'm not entirely sure if the recipe I followed was altered. For me, they weren't too buttery and turned out perfectly flaky. We sifted unbleached flour and cut the butter in with a fork. Perhaps this in addition to mixing and kneading very lightly produces different results?
 
olivia December 25, 2017
I forgot to mention I used the broiler to brown the tops. They weren't brown after 12-15 minutes.
 
Margaret R. February 14, 2016
Made these this morning and they actually turned out nicely, if a little buttery. My one warning is that I baked them on a flat sheet vs. one with raised edges - all the butter runoff had smoke spewing out of my oven. I'm still airing out my kitchen 2 hours later! At least I have biscuits to enjoy.
 
margit January 2, 2016
Can only agree with everyone that shared their disappointment here earlier!
Such a waste of time and ingredients!
 
judy November 22, 2015
5 CUPS OF FLOUR!!? HUNH!
 
Kelli H. October 26, 2015
can this dough be frozen for later use?
 
Annie D. July 19, 2020
Yes, watch the video. She says you have to cook them for like 15 minutes longer from freezer to oven
 
Irish G. October 11, 2015
Crap, crap, crap! I should've also read the comments!!! Aren't these "community picks" tested!! Just wasted my ingredients on a bunch of butter flavored hockey pucks!!!
 
Annie D. July 19, 2020
You overworked your dough. She says that IF you overwork the dough they will be hard af’
 
jenbeee October 4, 2015
I should have read the comments. Total failure! I got flat butter-soaked discs of sad.
 
Cannelloni&Cayenne September 27, 2015
"A culinary hate crime." Apt description for this heinous recipe. What a waste of flour.