Skip to main content

Flaky, Buttery Biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits on a cooling rack on a marble countertop.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Judy Haubert

Biscuits are an icon of Southern baking, and some say it takes a lifetime to learn to make a really good one. To learn the feel of the biscuit dough is a skill that requires experience, but anyone can become a biscuit master if they are willing to put in the practice. Your hands and eyes are your best tools as you mix the dough. For this recipe, you fold and stack the dough to create the flaky layers. How you punch out the biscuits is also important. Never twist the cutter; the biscuits will have more loft if you don’t compress and seal the edges. Use any leftover biscuits for lunch or breakfast sandwiches or to make Southern Party Mix.

This recipe was excerpted from 'Cheryl Day's Treasury of Southern Baking' by Cheryl Day. Buy the full book on Amazon. Head over here for more biscuit recipes

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What you’ll need


Makes about 12 biscuits

1½ cups (188 g) cake flour (not self-rising)
4 cups (500 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tsp. fine sea salt
3½ tsp. (15 g) baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1½ tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. (3 g) baking soda
¾ pound (3 sticks/340 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 4 Tbsp. (57 g) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
2 cups (473 ml) buttermilk
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
  1. Step 1

    Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, the fine sea salt, baking powder, sugar, and baking soda. Add the cold butter cubes and toss to coat. Working quickly, cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or pinch the cubes with your fingertips, smearing them into the flour. You should have various-sized pieces of butter ranging from coarse sandy patches to flat shaggy shards to pea-sized chunks. Give the ingredients a good toss with your hands to make sure all the pieces of butter are completely coated in flour.

    Step 2

    Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the buttermilk, and use your hands to mix the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until you have a shaggy dough. Gently turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. The dough should still look crumbly. Now be prepared to get messy! Using the heel of your hand, smear the butter into the flour—that is how you build those flaky layers. Bring the dough together by smearing, folding, and turning it, then repeat until there are no more dry bits of flour remaining and the dough comes together in a mass.

    Step 3

    Flour a rolling pin and lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll the dough into a 12-by-14-inch rectangle, with a long side toward you. Begin by doing a tri-fold, starting from the right: Fold the right side of the dough over the center and then fold the left side over the first fold, lining up the edges and pressing the layers together. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll it out again into a rectangle, then fold the dough in half from the top down, pressing the layers together. Roll the dough out again into a rectangle and fold it in half once more, pressing the layers down again. Then, using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut the dough in half and stack the bottom half on the top half, pressing the layers together. Dust the dough lightly with flour, and roll the dough out again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.

    Step 4

    Dip the edges of a 2¼-inch biscuit cutter in flour and punch out the biscuits; do not twist the cutter, or you will seal the layers of the dough you have worked so hard to create, and the biscuits will not rise as high. Make sure to dip the cutter in flour after every cut, and arrange the biscuits 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Then carefully gather up your scraps, press them together until you have a cohesive mass, roll them out again, and cut more biscuits. The scrap biscuits may bake a little topsy-turvy, but that’s okay; they will still be flaky and delicious. (If you don’t want to bake all the biscuits at once, you can freeze some on a baking sheet until solid, then wrap and freeze them to bake at a later date. You can bake them directly from the freezer; just give them 5 to 7 extra minutes in the oven.) You can bake the biscuits now or refrigerate them for up to 1 hour before baking.

    Step 5

    Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and give each one a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through for even baking, for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. The biscuits are best served hot out of the oven (you will want to taste one immediately, and give yourself a pat on the back).

    Step 6

    If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to 1 day. To reheat, place the biscuits on a wire rack in a preheated 350°F oven for 5 to 6 minutes. To freeze leftover biscuits, wrap in foil and place in a large ziplock bag. To reheat the biscuits, place the foil-wrapped biscuits in a 350°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, then carefully open the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Image may contain: Coat, Clothing, Adult, Person, Photography, Advertisement, Fruit, Food, Plant, Produce, Head, and Face
Excerpted from Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking by Cheryl Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021. Buy the full book from Artisan Books or Amazon.
Sign In or Subscribe
to leave a Rating or Review

How would you rate Flaky, Buttery Biscuits?

Leave a Review

  • I'm always looking for a good biscuit recipe and while I don't know Cheryl Day by reputation, I saw that she was being featured with a collection of her recipes. As I started to read the biscuit recipe there were certain things that stood out to me that seemed odd, (in odd I mean unhealthy). Not including the sprinkling of Maldon sea salt on the biscuits, they weigh in at a whopping 982 mg sodium per biscuit. This is the equivalent of two fast food hamburgers. If you were wondering, an 1/8th tsp of Maldon sea salt would be an additional 290 mg of sodium, meaning that ONE biscuit would be 60% of the daily allowance of sodium for a normal individual. The food industry has become extremely irresponsible with its use of salt as a flavor enhancer and has unnecessarily dulled the pallet to the point that there are those like Ms. Day who have increased salt in recipes to a dangerous level. For those that are unaware, salt, baking soda, baking powder and buttermilk are all high in sodium. Most baking powders and baking sodas nutritional information listed on their product is based on a serving of 1/4 tsp, (though in all my almost 60 years, I have never seen a recipe that called for 1/4 tsp of baking powder or baking soda. The good news is that there are alternatives for baking powder and baking soda that are salt free.

    • Tommy L

    • San Angelo, TX

    • 5/17/2023

See Related Recipes and Cooking Tips

Read More
Chocolate Croissants
This illustrated guide to making pains au chocolat will point you toward patisserie perfection.
Blueberry Crumble Pie
You want to bake a blueberry pie, but you don’t wanna fuss with a lattice crust. We’ve got just the thing for you: blueberry crumble pie, a fresh option for summer. 
Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
Our favorite carrot cake is moist, full of shredded carrot and fragrant spices, and topped with an extra-tangy cream cheese frosting.
Banana Muffins With Brown Sugar Streusel
The classic banana muffin recipe gets a boost from several supporting ingredients in this rendition of the bakery favorite.
Blackberry Pie With Lattice Crust
With loads of juicy blackberries and an easy lattice crust, this may just be the world’s most perfect pie.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Our favorite recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie gets a crumb topping with cinnamon and brown sugar and a flaky, buttery bottom crust for the best of both worlds.
Olive Oil Thumbprints With Lemon Curd
Adding a healthy glug of olive oil to shortbread dough causes what are already tender cookies to dissolve into crumbs in your mouth.
Cheater’s Croissant Dough
This recipe skips the butter in a block, and instead lets you spread room-temperature butter over the surface of the dough.