There’s not a meal in the world that can’t be made even more delicious with a buttermilk biscuit on the side. Sure, it might be a little unorthodox to serve your dessert or a plate of tacos with biscuits, but it’s still going to taste good. Buttermilk biscuits are, of course, most frequently spotted at the breakfast table or used to sop up the sauce on something savory, but once you learn to make them yourself, you’ll want to test them out all the time.  

Don’t wait for Buttermilk Biscuit Day on May 14 (yes, this is a real thing) to enjoy these scrumptious treats! From holiday brunch to Sunday supper, biscuits are about to be a regular guest at your table. Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about buttermilk biscuits

Origin of Buttermilk Biscuits 

When you hear the word “biscuit,” you probably think of something light, fluffy, and soft. A good buttermilk biscuit should be all of those things, but it wasn’t always like that. In fact, the ones we enjoy today have evolved from something much less delightful: hardtack. 

Hardtack was one of the many names used to describe hard biscuits consumed by soldiers in centuries gone by. It started back in ancient Rome, when troops carried twice-baked biscuits made without fat or a leavening agent to sustain them on long missions. The absence of fat and leavening agents ensured that the biscuits—which would probably remind you of modern biscotti—could last for days and weeks on end. These biscuits have also been known over time as “ship’s biscuit,” “sea biscuit,” and “pilot bread.”

In the 18th and 19th centuries, American southerners added butter or lard to their hardtack. The fat helped these “beaten biscuits” taste lighter, but they still lacked leavening agents and were flat.

It was only thanks to the introduction of better mills that made flour more affordable and the development of leavening agents like baking soda that biscuits have developed into the version we now recognize. 

Why Use Buttermilk in Biscuits? 

biscuts
With a little help from buttermilk, your biscuits will have the perfect texture.  

There are two good reasons that buttermilk has become a go-to ingredient in biscuits:

  • Acidity: When added to a recipe that contains leavening agents like baking soda and/or baking powder, the acid in buttermilk gives off carbon dioxide, which helps the biscuits rise and become fluffy. 
  • Fat and liquid content: As any baker knows, fat and liquid improve the texture of most treats. Enter buttermilk, which has both! 

Try Your Hand at Different Kinds of Biscuits

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits—3 Ways

Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

Ready to make biscuits of your own? Use this easy recipe

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make your biscuits:

  • 6 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder 
  • ¼ tsp of baking soda 
  • 1 tsp of salt 
  • 2 cups of flour 
  • 1 cup of buttermilk

How to Make Buttermilk Biscuits 

flour
Whether you use a dough cutter, a food processor, or your fingers, the mixture of your butter and dry ingredients should result in pea-sized butter balls! 

Start by putting your pre-measured butter, baking powder, baking soda, and flour in the freezer for about 30 minutes before you’re ready to get to work. This will allow the butter to stay cold, which is an important step, since it creates the pockets of butter that will make your biscuits flaky. 

Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Then, use a dough cutter to work the cold butter—which you should first cut into small pieces—into the flour mixture. If you’d prefer, you can do this in the food processor. Your goal is to have pea-sized pockets of butter coated in the mixture. 

Next, add your buttermilk and mix until fully incorporated. The dough should be very wet. 

dough
It’s time to shape your biscuits. 

Cover your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Drop the ball of dough on the floured surface. Gently pat it into a thin layer, then put it in the refrigerator for five to 10 minutes to chill. Finally, use a biscuit cutter to shape your dough. 

cutting dough
These are really starting to look like biscuits! 

Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes in an oven set to 450℉. 

What Goes With Buttermilk Biscuits? 

biscuits
Chives and cheddar make a great addition.

If you want to take your biscuits to the next level, add savory ingredients to the dough before baking. Here are some ideas:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese 
  • Chives 
  • Bacon bits 
  • Cooked chunks of ham 
  • Old Bay seasoning 

You can also slather your biscuits with jam or honey butter when they’re fresh out of the oven! 

How to Store Buttermilk Biscuits 

Fresh biscuits should be kept at room temperature for the first day or two. Wrap them in foil or keep them in a plastic bag so they don’t dry out. After two days, move your biscuits to the refrigerator, where they can stay fresh for a week. 

What’s the Difference Between Buttermilk Biscuits and Regular Biscuits?

As the names might suggest, regular biscuits do not contain buttermilk, while these do. Regular biscuits are typically prepared with milk or water instead. Buttermilk adds a nice tang to the biscuit flavor and helps them rise better. 

What’s the Difference Between Buttermilk Biscuits and Scones?

Scones and buttermilk biscuits look similar and share a handful of ingredients in common. The major difference is in the ratio of ingredients, which makes biscuits more buttery and acidic, while heavy cream and eggs make scones sturdier and more crumbly. 

Enjoy Your Biscuits!

Now you’re just about ready to prepare a batch of delicious biscuits whenever the mood strikes. Your kitchen is about to become very popular! 

Chicken and Biscuits, Anyone?

Perfect Southern Fried Chicken + Buttermilk Biscuits 

Written By

Alli Hoff Kosik

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