Flaky layers, soft and crumbly interiors, and golden brown tops brushed with melted butter make these Southern buttermilk biscuits delicacies of the American South you’ll want to eat when visiting Atlanta and at home.
When traveling in the Southeastern United States, eating a biscuit is a must. At least, that is the conclusion I’ve come to after learning to make these Southern buttermilk biscuits at the Learning Kitchen Atlanta.
Disclosure: I learned how to make Hutchinson’s Finest Biscuits’ recipe on an International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association press trip hosted by Discover Atlanta. Also, this post contains some affiliate links. When you click on or make a purchase from one of these links, I may earn a commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you, and I only recommend products I would use myself.
So, what is a Southern buttermilk biscuit?
Unlike the crisp British biscuit, which we Americans would likely call a crunchy cookie or cracker, the Southern biscuit is a savory pastry similar to the dinner roll or English scone. However, though Southerners may serve their biscuits with jam at breakfast, you’d never see a Southern biscuit paired with clotted cream like a tea-time scone.
Classified as a quick bread, the Southern biscuit is actually leavened by using baking powder or baking soda rather than yeast. In a buttermilk biscuit, the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda or — to a lesser extent — baking powder. The quick-rising result is a tall, airy biscuit you’ll want to eat at any and all meals of the day.
When and where should you eat biscuits?
As I mentioned above, biscuits are delicious any time of day — from breakfast to dessert!
Perhaps most common at breakfast, biscuits may be served with jam or be incorporated into a dish, such as biscuits and gravy. When I dined at Ruby Slipper Cafe in Orange Beach, Alabama, the decadent Eggs Benedict duo I ordered had the fluffiest buttermilk biscuit rather than the usual English muffin as the base. You can read more about that insanely delicious breakfast in my roundup of 10 drool-inducing breakfast and brunch spots.
Though biscuits are a southern specialty, you’ll find biscuits throughout the United States thanks to restaurant and fast food chains like KFC and Cracker Barrel. Restaurants — particularly those specializing in Southern cuisine or barbecue — serve biscuits with butter and honey as a side dish with lunch or dinner. Even dessert sometimes includes biscuits. In the South, strawberry shortcakes are made with sweet biscuits, which sometimes have heavy cream and/or sugar added to the recipe.
Biscuits have become so popular, eateries completely dedicated to biscuits have popped up around the country. When I was in Seattle, I sampled a delightfully cheesy Southern-style biscuit from Honest Biscuits on a Savor Seattle food tour of Pike Place Market.
So, even if you aren’t in one of the Southern states, you likely can find a biscuit to eat anywhere in the United States. But, just in case you can’t, you can try making them at home with the recipe below!
What do you need to make buttermilk biscuits?
Before taking Hutchinson’s Finest Biscuit’s workshop at the Learning Kitchen Atlanta, I was under the misconception that making biscuits requires some magical ingredients or well-guarded secrets only Southern bakers seem to know.
What I learned is baking Southern buttermilk biscuits actually only requires five ingredients. As for equipment, your kitchen is probably equipped with most of the tools you’ll need. If you don’t bake much, you may need to purchase a biscuit cutter, pastry brush, and perhaps a pastry scraper, if desired. Below I’ve listed all the tools and ingredients you’ll need to make these delicious and flaky buttermilk biscuits.
Kitchen Tools For Making Biscuits
- Small Microwave-safe Bowl
- Small Bowl
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Liquid Measuring Cups
- Rubber Spatula
- Rolling Pin
- Biscuit Cutter
- Pastry Scraper
- Rimmed Baking Sheet
- Pastry Brush
Southern Buttermilk Biscuits Ingredients
- All-Purpose Flour from a soft winter wheat flour, such as White Lily
- Kosher Salt
- Baking Powder
- Cold Butter
- Chilled Buttermilk
How do you make Southern buttermilk biscuits?
Remember when I was intimidated by Southern bakers’ biscuit secrets? Well, as it turns out, there are a few key things to know to successfully bake buttermilk biscuits. If you take the biscuit-making workshop in Atlanta, Todd Tharp, founder of Hutchinson’s Finest Biscuits, will share these and even more tips with you!
First of all, it’s important that you don’t reach for any all-purpose flour when making biscuits. The golden standard since 1883 has been White Lily flour milled from 100% soft winter wheat in Tennessee. Todd’s recipe calls for White Lily All-Purpose Flour, but some Southern bakers prefer White Lily Self-Rising Flour.
Another tip I learned is that you want the fat to be very cold. So, when you are making Todd’s recipe, make sure your butter and buttermilk are coming right out the refrigerator.
Perhaps the most important tip: Never ever twist the biscuit cutter! Before you cut your biscuits, flour your cutter. Then push the cutter straight down and carefully pull it up without twisting. You will work hard to build flaky layers, and, unfortunately, a simple twist can prevent your biscuits from rising nice and tall.
8 Steps To Make Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits
To make the perfect Southern buttermilk biscuits, Todd has shared his instructions in eight simple steps. For the printable recipe, scroll down.
Step 1: Prep and Preheat
First, you’ll want to position your oven racks to utilize the middle to top half of the oven. Then set your oven to preheat to 500° Fahrenheit.
As your oven preheats, melt two tablespoons of butter. I prefer to melt butter in the microwave to save time, but you can also do this on your stovetop. You’ll need the melted butter later to brush over the tops of the biscuits, but, for now, set it aside.
Then place one cup of flour into a small bowl, and set it aside. You’ll use this flour later on your fork and biscuit cutter.
Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients
Next you’ll place 4½ cups flour, 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Then, using a whisk, mix it all together.
Step 3: Work In The Butter
Then place half of your butter slices into the large mixing bowl, and work the butter into the flour mixture by flattening it with your fingertips. This process should take about 30 seconds to a minute.
Once you’ve worked in the first set of butter slices, add the remaining butter into the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, break apart and flatten any large pieces of butter and toss together with the flour mixture.
Step 4: Fold In Buttermilk
Next, pour 1¾ cups buttermilk over the flour mixture. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold the flour and buttermilk together until fully combined with hardly any dry flour left in the mixing bowl.
Step 5: Shape The Dough
Before working with your dough, liberally dust a work space with flour. Then turn the dough onto your floured surface, gently shape the dough into a ball shape, and flip it over.
If needed, re-flour your work surface. Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangular shape with an inch thickness.
Next, fold the top third of the dough onto the middle third. Then, like you would fold a letter, fold the bottom third up over the middle and top third.
Now, you’ll want to turn the dough 90°. Then roll it out into a rectangular shape about one inch thick again, and repeat the aforementioned folding steps.
Once again, turn your dough 90° and repeat rolling out your dough and folding it one final time.
After completing your final folding, your dough should feel a bit stiffer and have more structure.
Step 6: Cut Dough Into Biscuits
You’re getting close to turning your dough into biscuits, so go ahead and re-flour your workspace and rolling pin again.
Once your work surface and rolling pin are sufficiently floured, roll out your dough to about one inch thickness.
Then, using a fork dipped into the additional flour you set aside earlier, poke holes all over your dough. You want the fork to go all the way through the dough to your work surface.
Next, take your biscuit cutter, dip it into the flour, and then press it straight down through the dough. Make sure to never twist your biscuit cutter as this prevents the biscuits from rising!
Then carefully place your biscuit onto a rimmed baking sheet.
Continue to cut the remaining biscuits, placing them onto the baking sheet so that they almost touch each other.
Step 7: Make Extra Scrap Pieces
With your leftover dough, gently work it into a ball again. Turn the dough onto its side, and repeat step 6.
Rather than rolling the small amount of remaining dough, take any scrap pieces and arrange them on the baking sheet to bake with the biscuits. These little scraps are quite delicious once baked!
Step 8: Bake The Biscuits
Place your baking sheet filled with biscuits onto the middle or top rack of your oven and bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown. About halfway through, turn the baking sheet to ensure they bake evenly. Once your biscuits are done, remove them from the oven and use a pastry brush to brush the tops with melted butter.
Print the recipe below to make Southern Buttermilk Biscuits at home!
- 5½ cups All-Purpose Flour from a winter wheat, such as White Lily All-Purpose Flour, divided (reserve 1 cup in a small bowl for dipping fork and biscuit cutter into)
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp Baking Powder
- 12 tbsp (1½ sticks) Cold Butter
- 1¾ cups Buttermilk
- 2 tbsp Melted Butter
- Position oven racks to use the middle to top half of the oven, and preheat to 500° Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together 4½ cups flour, kosher salt, and baking powder with a whisk.
- Thinly slice your cold butter, and add half of the sliced butter to the flour mixture. Then work the butter into the flour by flattening it with your fingertips. This process should take about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Then add the rest of the butter to the flour mixture, breaking apart and flattening any large butter pieces as you toss it together with the flour.
- Pour the buttermilk over the top of the flour mixture, and use a rubber spatula to fold the flour and buttermilk together. Do this until both are combined, leaving you with a shaggy dough and hardly any dry flour left in the mixing bowl.
- Liberally dust your workspace with flour, and turn the dough onto it. Then gently shape the dough into a ball, and flip it over. Add more flour to your workspace, if needed, and to your rolling pin. Then use the rolling pin to roll your dough into a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Like you would fold a letter, fold the top third of the dough onto the middle third, and then fold the bottom third over the middle and top.
- Turn your dough 90°, roll it out into a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick, and repeat the folding steps above.
- Turn the dough 90° again, and repeat the rolling out and folding steps one last time. Your dough should now feel a bit stiffer and have more structure.
- Add more flour to your workspace and rolling pin, if needed. Then roll the dough out to about an inch thick. Next take the fork, dip it into the flour in your small reserve bowl, and poke holes all over the dough. Make sure the fork goes all the way through to the work surface.
- Dip your biscuit cutter into the flour, and then press it straight down into the dough. Avoid twisting the biscuit cutter as this prevents the biscuits from rising properly. Then place your biscuit onto a baking sheet. Continue cutting the remaining biscuits and placing them on the baking sheet so that they almost touch each other.
- Gently reshape the leftover dough into a ball again. Turn the dough onto its side, and repeat steps 9 and 10.
- Take any scrap dough pieces and place them on the baking sheet with the biscuits.
- Place the biscuit-filled baking sheet into the oven on the middle or top rack. Bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through to promote even baking.
- Once the biscuits are done baking, remove them from the oven. Then use a pastry brush to brush the biscuit tops with melted butter.
This recipe was posted with permission.
Want to enjoy these biscuits in Atlanta?
If you live in or are traveling to Atlanta, there are two ways to enjoy these fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Like I did, you can take Todd’s biscuit-making class, or you can order a dozen of Hutchinson’s Finest Biscuits for delivery.
The 8-person biscuit workshops are usually offered every few months through the Learning Kitchen Atlanta. In two hours, you’ll learn how to make buttermilk biscuits and a quick jam from scratch. Then you’ll head home with freshly baked biscuits, homemade jam, the recipes, and tons of helpful tips. You can register for future biscuit workshops through Hutchison’s Finest Biscuits or the Learning Kitchen Atlanta, which also offers a variety of other cooking classes and events.
Of course, another option for enjoying these buttermilk biscuits — without doing any of the dough rolling yourself — is to order Hutchinson’s Finest Biscuits for a Saturday morning delivery. In addition to buttermilk biscuits, Hutchinson’s Finest offers cinnamon sugar biscuits, cheddar-chive biscuits, and a mixed dozen. Each order also includes your choice of a jam. To see if you are in the delivery zone and to place your order, check out HutchinsonsFinest.com.
If you want to visit Atlanta when you feel safe to travel again, you may be interested in reading about the 10 culinary experiences you should have in Atlanta. As you plan your future visit, Discover Atlanta is a wonderful resource for information on the area’s lodging, attractions, and dining.
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