These Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits are one of my favorite memories from childhood. Served with butter and syrup for breakfast or filled with a slice of ham or sausage, they're moist, substantial, and totally delicious! Now, if you're thinking of the kind of homemade buttermilk biscuits that rise high and turn out flaky, then this is not that recipe. These biscuits are made with oil, not butter and the result is incredible!
This recipe was a long time coming. A really 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.
What Southern Cook Can't Make 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 William and Catherine's 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.
Searching for the Perfect Recipe
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was trying to make the wrong kind of biscuit. What I was longing for was the old fashioned buttermilk biscuits I grew up with. And they were nothing like the tall, flaky, light ones that 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.
Those biscuits 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!
The Right Fat Makes All the Difference
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 dough using soft winter wheat flour, buttermilk, and vegetable oil.
There was no cutting in of shortening 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 now made pans full of perfect south Georgia biscuits! I cannot explain to you how relieved I am. Whew. I thought for a while there that I was gonna have to give up my Southern cook credentials.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- These biscuits are so moist and substantial you can use them as you would bread.
- Kids love them with jam, jelly, or syrup.
- They're just good!
The Simple Ingredients You'll Need
- Self-rising flour (if you have White Lily brand in your area, be sure to use it; if not, any brand will work)
- Buttermilk (gives the dough a rich, tangy taste)
- Vegetable oil (use any neutral-flavored oil such as canola)
- Salt (optional but I like to add a bit to boost the savory flavor)
- Butter (for finishing the tops after baking)
You'll find detailed measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you'll find the recipe card.
If you'd like to try my version of old fashioned 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 :-)
Sift the Flour and Add the Wet Ingredients
STEP 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet or cast iron skillet generously with cooking spray and set aside.
STEP 2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl (or not - most flours don't really need sifting these days).
STEP 3. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the buttermilk followed by the oil and the salt.
Mix the Dough
STEP 4. 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.
STEP 5. 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.
Form the Biscuits
STEP 6. Now, for these biscuits instead of using a biscuit cutter, you're going to roll them with your hands like you would a dinner 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.
STEP 7. Place the biscuits on either a greased baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet with the sides touching. That will help them rise a little more.
Bake in a Hot Oven
STEP 8. Place the baking sheet in the upper third of the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. 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.
STEP 9. 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.
Add Butter and Syrup for a Treat
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 honey or 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 :-)
Wrap any leftover biscuits and store them in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Rewarm in the microwave or oven.
Yes, you can! The best way to make biscuits in advance is to make and roll out the dough and place individual unbaked biscuits on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Freeze for a couple of hours and then transfer to a freezer bag or container until you're ready to bake. Place still frozen biscuits on a baking pan and bake at 425 degrees adding an additional 5 minutes to the baking time.
Not to worry! Just make your own by mixing 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.
You can reheat biscuits in the microwave, but I think they're much better when rewarmed in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the biscuits on a baking pan or in a cast iron skillet leaving a little space between each. Heat in the oven for about 5 minutes. Serve piping hot.
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Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray a baking sheet or cast iron skillet generously with cooking spray and set aside.
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk followed by the oil and the salt.
- Mix all ingredients together just until all the flour is moistened. Do not overmix.
- Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times – no more.
- Pinch off portions of dough a little larger than a golf ball.
- Roll the dough into a ball, then press to flatten into a disk.
- Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet or skillet with the edges touching.
- 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.
- While the biscuits are cooking, melt the butter over low heat.
- Remove biscuits from the oven and brush with melted butter.
Can I make them ahead? Yes, you can! The best way to make biscuits in advance is to make and roll out the dough and place individual unbaked biscuits on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Freeze for a couple of hours and then transfer to a freezer bag or container until you're ready to bake. Place still frozen biscuits on a baking pan and bake at 425 degrees adding an additional 5 minutes to the baking time.
What if I don't have self-rising flour? Not to worry! Just make your own by mixing 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.
What's the best way to reheat biscuits? You can reheat biscuits in the microwave, but I think they're much better when rewarmed in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the biscuits on a baking pan or in a cast iron skillet leaving a little space between each. Heat in the oven for about 5 minutes. Serve piping hot.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.