Buttermilk Biscuits

I first experienced these biscuits on a visit home for dinner with my parents.  My mom had just come across the recipe in a New York Times article about buttermilk and thought they might make a good addition to the dinner she was preparing.  I’m sure whatever she made that night was delicious, but all I can really remember from that meal were the biscuits.

I’d never seen or tasted homemade biscuits like this before.  Not dry, uniformly textured and crumbly like your standard baking soda biscuit, these buttermilk beauties were large, tender and extremely flaky.  Served warm out of the oven with a quick brushing of melted butter and you have, what is in my opinion, the perfect biscuit.

Delicious slathered with butter and drizzled with honey or jam, these biscuits are also substantial enough to hold up to more serious fillings like ham and pepper jelly or crispy fried chicken and gravy like the guys at Pine State Biscuits do on their famous Reggie.

This is a solid recipe that produced outstanding results the very first time I tried it out — then again, it doesn’t hurt to have your mom to show you the ropes the first time through.


Recipe from chef, Scott Peacock courtesy of The New York Times

Making your own baking powder by combining fresh cream of tartar and baking soda will produce biscuits with the most lift.  Don’t be afraid of the hot oven temperature either as this will allow the heat to get on the biscuits quickly and sufficiently brown their tops.  When forming the dough, mix in the buttermilk until the mixture just holds together.  The last thing you want to do in this recipe is overwork the dough and ruin the biscuits flaky, buttery texture.


  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed lard or unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 2 cups chilled cultured buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Place a rack in the upper-middle position of the oven and preheat to 500°.
  2. Make your own baking powder by sifting together the cream of tartar and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the salt, baking powder and salt.  Add the lard or butter and quickly work the pieces into the flour with a pastry cutter or the tips of your fingers.  The pieces should be coarsely blended and resemble large peas.
  4. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk.  Quickly mix the ingredients until the mixture just comes together and forms a shaggy mass.  Add 1-2 more tablespoons of buttermilk if the mixture seems dry.
  5. Immediately turn the dough out onto to a generously floured surface and quickly knead the dough about ten times until a ball forms.  Gently flatted the dough and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough out a thickness of 3/4 inch.
  6. With a fork that has been dipped in flour, pierce the dough at half inch intervals before using a fluted, 2 1/2 or 3 inch biscuit cutter to stamp out the biscuits.  When you have run out of room to stamp out more biscuits, carefully reform the dough and press out as many as you can.
  7. Arrange the biscuits  on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven a brush the tops with the melted butter.  Serve warm with butter, honey and/or jam.

Makes about 10-12 large biscuits

No matter what you like to put on your biscuits, rest assured that if you follow this recipe, you will be rewarded with outstanding results.  You
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  1. I’m always in search of the perfect biscuit and yours look divine! I always skip over the ones that call for Crisco or lard because I just can’t do either of those. But since this one gives the option of butter, bring it on! Which did you use, out of curiousity? Thanks for the great pictures and recipe.

  2. I have to make biscuits at some point soon. To me, they represent one of the classics of American cooking and I still haven’t made them, which is appalling. When I do, I will definitely be making this recipe.

  3. Danielle – No need to worry about not using lard. In fact, I’ve only tried making these biscuits using butter and they’ve turned out well every time.

  4. Rest assured these would not last a minute over at my abode!

  5. wow sono favolosi!! segno la ricetta!! complimenti!

  6. I would actually prefer the lard! That makes it more flavorful. There’s nothing wrong with lard; in fact, it has less transfat than butter does! Thanks for the great recipe!

  7. Memoria – Next time I get my hands on some, I’m definitely going to try a 100% lard batch to compare the two. I’m guessing the lard might create an even flakier texture.

  8. Your biscuits look so fluffy! I am pretty bad with most of my baking endeavors – yours look picture perfect.

  9. I happen to love buttermilk biscuits and yours look wonderful. I love the fact that you used butter…. I bet these are to die for with a drizzle of honey!!

  10. Just finished a bowl of corn chowder and all I could think of was these biscuits and how I NEED one. Sure wish I had a batch right about now.

  1. August 3rd, 2010