No. 224: Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits

In my 4-H days I perfected cloverleaf dinner rolls - buttery, flaky rolls that separated into perfect bites. I had them down to a science, and I have to say ...they were pretty darn good.

I think I was 11 or 12-years-old when my mom asked me to make them for the Thanksgiving meal. I can still feel the swell of pride in that moment, knowing that my rolls would have a place on the dining room table in a cloth lined basket of their very own. My Mamaw and Papaw were also visiting for the holiday. I was eager to show off my baking abilities. Like any grandaughter, I could already picture their ooo's and ahh's at my kitchen prowess.

Things didn't quite turn out how I hoped. The Thanksgiving stakes were high, and I was so nervous making the rolls that I misread the recipe. Instead of a 1/4 cup of water, I put in a 1/4 cup of salt. That is a big whoops, my friends. A mighty big whoops.

I knew when the rolls came out of the oven that things weren't quite right. The hard little biscuits I pried out of the pan didn't have the same light and airy quality. Still, I put them in the basket without tasting, hoping for the best.

I have such a wonderful family. Everyone at the table tried at least one bite of the salty rolls. They then put them down immediately. No one said a word.

Sometimes when I bake rolls or biscuits, I think back to that day. While I do remember the mistake (and hope to never repeat it), I mostly remember how loving and supportive everyone was ... even without saying a word.

Come to think of it, I should make another run at those rolls. It's been a long time.

Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits

If these are Smitten Kitchen's favorite biscuits, they have to be good. I was excited to try them and couldn't wait to get my hands on some buttermilk.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk

To make

Heat oven to 400 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Flour, butter and buttermilk

(Dry ingredients with butter and buttermilk.)

Add buttermilk and stir until large, craggy clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together.

For round biscuits: Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2-inch thick. Using a round cutter (2-3 inches), press straight down and transfer rounds to prepared sheet, spacing two inches apart.

For drop biscuits: Drop 1/4-cup spoonfuls onto baking sheet, spacing two inches apart.

Dropped biscuits

Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Final biscuits

Cool slightly, then serve warm, with butter or jam.

The results

This is now officially my favorite biscuit recipe. If you have another amazing one I should challenge it with, please let me know. But for now, here resides the reigning champion.

I was able to easily whip these biscuits together in the last thirty minutes or so that my overnight roast needed to crisp up. When the roast came out, I cranked up the heat and threw these little guys in. Fifteen minutes later, flaky, happy, airy biscuits came out.

Biscuits and jam

(Hasty photo when all I wanted to do was devour this biscuit with blackberry preserves.)

Smitten Kitchen's amounts are right on, and her description of how everything comes together is perfection (i.e. 'craggy dough').

I went the drop biscuit route, because I love the imperfect way everything comes together. This method reminds me of my mother and grandmother.

Enjoy these biscuits, and let me know if there are others I should be making as well. Mr. McC and I are happy to taste test:)

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina