Another Buttermilk Biscuit

This post has been a long time coming. A real long time. As in years.

I know that I’ve admitted before that there are two things that are my biggest failings in the kitchen. One is pie crust. Can’t make one to save my life. It was a really big day for me when they came out with those nice ones in the dairy section at the grocery store. But pie crust isn’t such a big deal, really. Lots of people have trouble with pastry dough. I could get over that one. The other one, however, was my biggest shame. Biscuits.

Who ever heard of a Southern cook who couldn’t make a biscuit? It was just unbelievable. And it’s not like I haven’t tried. Over the years I’ve wasted enough flour trying to make a decent biscuit that you could have baked a dozen of the royal wedding cakes with it. Honestly. I tried every biscuit recipe I could find following each one to the “t.” I sifted my flour just so. Had the buttermilk at room temperature. Cut in the shortening till it was the perfect consistency. Nothing worked. They were a complete disaster every time. The tops cracked. They burned on the bottom. They were dry and they fell apart. And it frustrated me to no end.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I was trying to make the wrong kind of biscuit. What I was longing for was the biscuits I grew up with. And they were nothing like the tall, flaky, light biscuits everyone raves about. Not at all. The biscuits that I grew up eating and which were produced by nearly every cook in my little corner of south Georgia were not light. They weren’t flaky and they surely weren’t tall. They were moist! They had an almost chewy texture and they never, ever fell apart. You could slice them open, put a piece of ham or sausage in them and close them back up like a sandwich. Those biscuits had substance!

After all these years I’ve finally realized what made those childhood biscuits different. The difference was oil. Believe it or not – oil. My childhood biscuits were not made with solid shortening at all. Our south Georgia cooks made up their biscuit dough using soft winter wheat flour, buttermilk and vegetable oil. There was no cutting in involved at all. They just dumped the ingredients into a bowl, mixed it up a little, formed the biscuits and popped them in the oven. And guess what else – I have made baking sheets full of perfect south Georgia biscuits! I cannot explain to you how relieved I am that I can now make a biscuit. Whew. I thought for a while there that I was gonna have to give up my Southern cook credentials.

White Lily Flour

If you’d like to try my version of buttermilk biscuits, one of the things I’d recommend is to try finding some White Lily flour. It’s a Southern flour made from soft red winter wheat and it makes a tremendous difference in your baked products. If it’s not available where you live, any self-rising flour will work. Your biscuits just won’t be quite as tender :-)

Buttermilk Biscuits

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl (or not – most flours don’t really need sifting these days). Make a well in the center of the flour and add the buttermilk followed by the oil and the salt.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Mix the ingredients together just until all the flour is moistened. Try to avoid over mixing. You’ll have a fairly rough, shaggy dough. That’s okay – it’s supposed to look like that.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and gently knead it just 4 or 5 turns. That’s all you want to do – just enough to bring the dough together.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Now, for these biscuits instead of using a cutter, you’re going to roll them like you would a yeast roll. Just pinch off a portion a little larger than a golf ball and roll in between your palms a few times. Be gentle. Then flatten it into a disk.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Place the biscuits on a greased baking sheet with the sides touching. That will help them rise a little more.

Place the baking sheet in the upper third of the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Check a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking time and if the tops are not quite brown enough, turn on the broiler briefly to finish browning.

While the biscuits are cooking, melt a little butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush immediately with melted butter.

If you really want to experience a south Georgia treat, split one of these biscuits open while it’s still good and warm. Add a pat or two of butter and drizzle it with a little cane syrup. Oh, yeah.

And there you go – the biscuits I remember from childhood. I was afraid I’d never figure out how to make them. I feel all grown up and everything :-)


Another Buttermilk Biscuit
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The buttermilk biscuits I remember from childhood - moist and substantial.
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 tblsp. butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking sheet generously with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Create a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk followed by the oil. Add the salt.
  5. Mix all ingredients together just until all the flour is moistened. Do not overmix.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times – no more.
  7. Pinch off portions of dough a little larger than a golf ball.
  8. Roll the dough into a ball, then press to flatten into a disk.
  9. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet with the edges touching.
  10. Place the baking sheet in the upper third of the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. If tops are not quite brown near the end of the cooking time, turn on the broiler briefly to finish browning.
  11. While the biscuits are cooking, melt the butter over low heat.
  12. Remove biscuits from the oven and brush with melted butter.
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  1. Angie says

    This is one of those recipes I never thought about posting, I almost thought it was wrong somehow, although i do make them pretty often. Nothings better is it?

    • says

      I thought about you Angie when I was writing up this post. Knowing that you’re from that same general area I thought you might have had these kind of biscuits. Guess I was right!

  2. Miss P says

    I do wish you had confessed this earlier. I feel so much better. Reading all of your cooking escapades made me feel so inadequate about my lack of cooking in the past few years. However, to vindicate all of my prior feelings of inferiority as it relates to Southern cuisine and the maintenance of the best of those traditions, I am proud to say that I have mastered biscuits. And, I use shortening. And whole fat buttermilk, not some skimpy low fat stuff. And I cook them in a cast iron skillet.

    So there.

    Miss P

    • says

      Yes, I should have confessed this failing sooner. Glad I could help :-) And I don’t like any skimpy low-fat stuff, either. In my biscuits or otherwise.

  3. says

    I swear Lana, you and me have so much in common, I can’t make a decent crust nor biscuit either… now maybe I can, have not tried one with oil, always tried it the way my grandmother’s cook did, flour, buttermilk, shortening all coming together so effortless with her using only one hand… me, nothing but two hands and a big sticky mess… thanks for the recipe…

    • says

      Yep, I can remember my grandmother making this same dough using just her hand to coax all the ingredients together. I haven’t gotten quite that good yet, but thank goodness I’ve finally gotten a decent biscuit out of my oven! On to pie crusts next :-)

  4. says

    I like White Lily Flour but it is not stocked in my area. However whenever we travel south, I try to load up on it. I particularly like the White Lily Unbleached flour!

    • says

      I love White Lily. You can even feel the difference just touching it. So soft and light. BTW Michelle, I think you can have it shipped if you get desperate for some :-)

    • says

      This one will be quite different, Lynn. In thinking about it, I suppose this biscuit is more or less a cross between a biscuit and a yeast roll – no yeast though. So good with that tangy buttermilk in it.

  5. Neena says

    Bravo!!!! Your Daddy would be so proud of you. I remember that Gama made these and when she rolled them out , she made an imprint of her knuckles on the top. Her signature.

  6. Barbara says

    The real secret behind great southern biscuits is – lard. Yep, that artery clogging stuff that became taboo several years back. It didn’t cause too much damage to previous generations because they did so much hard manual labor. But if you want the real deal, now you know the secret.

  7. Jocelyn says

    Lovely looking biscuits Lana!
    I use oil for biscuits off and on if I’m in a rush. I like that I can dump, mix, and bake, with little fuss when using oil. I oftentimes add grated cheddar also. Makes them a bit denser but they still disappear in no time.
    One thing you might want to try on your next biscuit experiment, is to use lard in place of the butter or shortening or oil. Believe me, you’ll find you have the fluffiest and flakiest biscuits ever. If you can find leaf lard, all the better, its the creme de la creme of lard!
    Lard was always the baking fat in my Grandmothers home, and my Mothers home whilst I was growing up, and its been the main baking fat in my own home for well on 50 plus years.
    I bet if you research far enough back in your Southern Georgia roots, you’ll find old family recipes for biscuits & sweet pastries made with lard. : )

    I have to giggle at how some people who are not familiar with lard in baking, instantly say, ewwww, lard? Yuk! No way! at the mere mention of trying it. Yet those same people don’t think twice about frying hash browns etc in bacon fat, or using a man made chemical fat called shortening for baking!

    Oh and ps. No White Lily flour to be found where I live, but I do buy Brodies Self Raising Cake and Pastry flour all the time. Its a wonderful flour for baking, and I suspect would be much like your White lily flour.

    A recipe from my baking folder you might find interesting.

    From not quite June Cleaver.

    Love her idea of buttermilk AND heavy cream!

  8. Jocelyn says

    Oops! Post before mine and your reply was missed. Just ignore my post on trying your biscuits with lard!

  9. says

    These look great. I use butter in my biscuits and they turn out fine, but I get what you mean. Sometimes there is just something that should be so easy but is not — for me it’s gravy. I just cannot make good gravy and have watched my mama and granny make it many times. I am just lacking the gravy gene!

  10. says

    These are the same kinds of biscuits I grew up with as well, although I often us softened butter in mine instead of oil as I like the flavor butter adds. Nothing like a good biscuit with an egg in the morning. I’ll have to give your version a go soon!

    PS – adding an egg and a dash of vinegar to your pie crust makes a world of difference (my grandma taught me how).

  11. Jessica D. says

    I have been looking everywhere for a recipe for the type of biscuits I ate growing up – we always called them spoon biscuits because you don’t cut them, you just spoon them out on the pan! I’m so glad I came across your site – I have a batch in the oven right now! I can’t wait to eat them with some butter and molasses just like when I was a kid at Grandma’s house!

  12. says

    I made these biscuits and they are similar to the biscuits my grandmother made. When I went down south I grabbed two large bags of white lily flour just so I could make these.

  13. Chris says

    My grandmother, one great aunt, and the half-dozen of my mother’s female siblings made biscuits like these. Left over Christmas ham on one of these with a fried egg and some fried potatoes would be my absolute favorite breakfast ever. I may have to ask family back in Kentucky to send me some White Lily flour (my grandmother used it too). Ah…. memories. :)

    • says

      They are really good biscuits, aren’t they? So moist compared to those taller, flaky kind. I’m thinking I need to make a pan of biscuits and some ham this weekend.

      • Chris says

        They’re like the soul food version of Italian ciabatta bread with just enough buttermilk tang to keep it interesting. Perfect for everything from sandwiches to mopping up gravy. It does make me wonder how well a longer sub-roll loaf made from this dough would hold up. *imagines experimental breakfast hoagies*

  14. Terri says

    Biscuits are in the oven right now. Recently heard about making biscuits with oil, googled and found your recipe. Must say that I do love the texture of the dough. I used an ice cream scoop to portion them all out on to my sheet pan first then went back and hand rolled and flattened. Such a fast recipe, much better than cutting in the lard or butter. Almost melted some bacon grease to add, maybe next time.

    • Terri says

      Biscuits turned out excellent! Didn’t brush the tops with butter, had to mix my own self rising flour, only had skim milk but not enough so added a spoonful of greek yogurt – very forgiving recipe. Daughter ate the last two with fried eggs for breakfast. Can only imagine how great they are when you follow the recipe exactly. Writing the recipe down in my keeper file. Thanks!

  15. says

    I have had the same exact problem. Could NOT make a biscuit. My great aunt makes the best buttermilk biscuits and I couldn’t make them because she couldn’t tell me a recipe. She just throws everything in a bowl. I tried this recipe after trying many others..this one is EXACTLY like my Aunt Barbara’s!! I am so glad that I found this. I will be using this recipe every time I make biscuits. The vegetable oil really does make all the difference. Thank you!

    • says

      You’re welcome, Brooke! You wouldn’t believe how many years I tried making the flaky biscuits with shortening and they just never came out the way I wanted. Then I finally realized what I was doing wrong and started making this recipe. It’s quite different from the other style of biscuit, but it has always been my favorite.

  16. says

    It’s 11pm and I may not sleep a wink. Cannot wait to try this biscuit. For the past year, I’ve been makin’ biscuits at all hours of the day & night. Tryin’ to come up with the “smooth top” ones my Mother used to make in Eastern TN. Have tried it all. Lard, butter, half-n-half, sour cream, mayonnaise. None of them felt like the ones in my head. I can tell from the picture and your descriptive words, THIS IS IT! Yeah, bravo…….Thank you! Like you say, it’s a shame for a southern girl (who can make a killer pie crust _ ICE cold water and worked just till it will stick together) not to be able to make a decent biscuit for sausage & gravy! Thanks, again.

    • Lana Stuart says

      Hi BillieSue – it took me years to figure out this recipe. My grandmother, of course, never used a recipe. She just poured the buttermilk and oil into a huge bowl of flour and started mixing. I really hope these are the biscuits you’re looking for and I’d love to know how they turn out for you.

      • says

        ahhhhhhh……….perfect! Look right. Feel right…….and can take the middle out of it to make a home for strawberry, blackberry, and apple jelly. Covered the middle with white gravy. I’ve just got to invite somebody over for breakfast, or maybe sausage & biscuit sandwiches will be served at my next girlie get together. Now I’m goin’ back to see all the other good stuff on your website. You are the queen of biscuits, and I’m bowing at your feet! Thanks, Queen Lana.

        • Lana Stuart says

          BillieSue – I’m just thrilled that you enjoyed the biscuits! Now you’ve got me thinking about them and I just might have to go in the kitchen and make a batch :-)

  17. April says

    I’m going to give these a try based on looks alone. They look more like what my granny always made…I call them ‘sandwich making biscuits’. Bacon, garden tomato and biscuit were my favorite things to eat when I was little. They never fell apart and you could wrap them up and take them in your pocket out to play. The only thing I’m worried about is that I know she didn’t use oil, she used lard.

  18. Valerie says

    So glad to see that you use the “hand squooze” method instead of cutting them out. My wonderful Granny used a wooden biscuit bowl and always hand squooze her biscuits. I don’t even think she owned a biscuit cutter. Why bother when she had her hands? I watched her do it for years but it sure is harder doing it yourself without her. Practice has been the key for me getting somewhat close to her biscuits.

  19. Michelle Garringer says

    i grew up in central Nebraska. the biscuits we had were the canned ones or frozen premade- i had no idea howto MAKE them when i tried to do them myself, – i like you followed the shortening ( and once i went organic butter) recipes. over time and error – i used silpat sheets, that did help alot with the burned bottoms. but i too had issues with the fall apartness. i mean how DID hardees get thier biscuits to support the egg and cheese? i use King arthur flour self rising. having ten pounds of it, a couple months back i printed out your recipe and quite a few others. this week i finally made it to this one. i used canola oil ( again i’m doing organic cooking) and i used a square cupcake but squared/ brownie pan i found from Wilton. i discovered for scones which strangely DO work with the butter cutting in- it supports the sides and browns them better– anyway these are hands down best biscuits i ever made- they are flavorful i was worried about the salt but honestly i think thats totally what was missing, they are moist they dont fall apart when you hold them- and they are EASY without all that cutting butter in– even with a food processor it still takes time to measure cut the butter in and transfer to another bowl to mix enough but not overmix for scones- i will be making biscuits often now. thank you So much for posting. it IS a keeper..

    • Lana Stuart says

      I’m so glad you found a good biscuit recipe, Michell3! It took me a long time to figure out how to get this type of moist, sturdy biscuit. I’m glad other people are enjoying it as well.

  20. Fran Staley says

    We are in an RV and do not have room for extras like shortening. I always have canola oil on hand though. These were so easy and the taste and texture outstanding. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Wish I knew how to share this on facebook as I have many RV friends.

    • says

      I’m so glad you liked the biscuits, Fran! They’re our favorite. I’d love for you to share with your friends – you should see a floating bar to the left of the post with several sharing buttons. Click on the one for Facebook. Or – you can copy the URL and paste it into your Facebook status bar to share as well.

  21. Bonnie Pavel says

    I love these type of biscuits and will try the recipe. My grandmother
    made the fluffy kind and I tried forever to make them like hers. It took me until I was in my fifties to learn how!

  22. Shelby says

    I could have written this post lamenting my history with biscuits and pie crust! A few years ago I found a recipe for pie crust using flour, salt, oil and cold 2% milk. I love it. It always rolls out beautifully and is delicious.
    It also bakes in a pie pan and does not slip down in the pan. To me, it tastes so much better than store bought. Have you tried this recipe?
    Email me for the complete recipe if you are interested. Thanks for the biscuit recipe- will try.

  23. George says

    That’s way too much salt. Self-rising flour already has about 1 teaspoon per cup, which results in 350 to 400 mg sodium per serving.

  24. Bonnie Pavel says

    I made these biscuits this morning and they did taste good. However, dough was way too soft so had to add extra flour. I used Martha White flour, but used peanut oil instead of vegetable. It was all I had here. Do you think that was the problem? Thanks and I love your page!

  25. Neena says

    These are definitely South Georgia biscuits. It took me many years to learn how to make them. You are doing good with the rolling out in palm thing. I almost never got that right. You have to keep in practice though. Bet I could not make a decent one now to save me.

  26. Neena says

    Have to tell you that I ran into one of your high school friends in the grocery store yesterday. She told me she was so excited to find this recipe. She said it was her mother’s and she could not find it after her mother passed away. Just look how much happiness you bring to people.

  27. Sandra says

    I was excited to try your recipe this morning but the flour to liquid ratio is way off. This recipe needed a lot more flour to make it into biscuits otherwise without the addition it was simply glue. Please check your recipe to determine if the flour amount is correct. Thanks.


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