Project NYT: Old South Buttermilk Biscuits

buttermilk biscuits

I don’t know exactly why, but I’m continually amazed when something that I cook or bake turns out to resemble a prepackaged grocery store product that I used to eat or buy. I realize that one of the best things about going the homemade route in the kitchen is that you’re avoiding all the prepackaged business, but I still get some strange sense of satisfaction when I open the oven to see a familiar food staring back at me. Weird, right? Although, maybe it’s my inner-self’s way of saying, “See, you can totally make that yourself, eat better and save bunches of beans in the process.” Now if only I could figure out how to DIY J.Crew clothes. Hmm…

Jared and I were enjoying a sleep-in-too-late-and-then-wake-up-starving kind of Saturday morning last weekend when I whipped up this simple biscuit recipe from the NYT cookbook, and while we were eating, I kept hearing myself say how much they reminded me of those Pilsbury Grands biscuits that you pop out of the tube. The biscuits I normally bake are tall and fluffy drop biscuits that sort of break in half like a muffin or scone. These biscuits really bake up in perfect circles and almost peel away in layers rather than flakes. And they taste amazing, too, which is the real sign of success.


Old South Buttermilk Biscuits
From The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Amanda Hesser, p. 655 – 656)

• 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used unsalted butter instead, which worked just fine.)
• ¾ cup buttermilk, or more as needed
• whole milk or heavy cream for brushing (optional)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Grease a baking sheet, and set aside. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl (I used the large bowl of the food processor for this). Cut in the shortening or butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives (or short pulses with the food processor) until the mixture resembles course cornmeal.

Add enough buttermilk to form a soft dough, and stir until the mixture forms a ball (again, I did this gradually with short pulses in the food processor). Knead lightly in the bowl for about 30 seconds until the dough holds together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board, and roll to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a small biscuit cutter (a glass works in a pinch), and put on the greased baking sheet. If a glazed surface is desired, brush the tops with milk or cream.

Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes (I made smaller-sized biscuits, which took about 9 minutes to bake).


I love making biscuits because I always seem to have what I need for them on hand. Seriously, you don’t even need an egg. How easy peasy is that? Mix that with the fact that you get to make a dough, roll it out and cut a dozen perfect circles that will bake up in minutes, and I’m one happy camper. They’re simple steps, but they’re simple steps that make you feel like a baker. Love.

What’s your biscuit philosophy? Tall and fluffy? Small and layered? And how do you top them? Jam, honey, butter? Or maybe you have another genius use for biscuits that you’d like to share. I’d love to hear it!



  1. April Phillips says

    Tall and fluffy!! I love buttermilk biscuits, and I love adding sharp cheddar cheese to them. Then I don’t add anything! I could eat them all day :)

  2. Chris says

    An inspirational post. Biscuits are the great mountain I have yet to climb. I attended a school in South Carolina from 7th-9th grade (before going back to the W-burg in 10th!) where the school cook make homemade biscuits. They were so massive, so fluffy, so delicious, that I’ve been afraid of making biscuits ever since.

    That being said, I did just make sweet potato biscuits last weekend for a party, and served them Virginian style, with a slice of (salty!) ham. But those biscuits are meant to be thin and not too fluffy.

    Which leaves the Southern breakfast biscuit as a personal challenge…

    I’ve been putting this off under the excuse of ‘I don’t know where to find buttermilk in London’ but in the age of Google, that excuse doesn’t cut it. So I’ve found a store that sells buttermilk, and tonight will be the first attempt at biscuit making. :-)

  3. Edy says

    Those look yummy! Here is a tip that you might try next time – double your batch and then freeze whatever you don’t want. Once you cut them out, place them on wax paper on a cookie sheet, freeze, and then put into a freezer container or ziplock bag. Whenever you are ready to cook them, just cook them frozen and add a few extra minutes to the cook time. I love doing this because I don’t have to make them as often and it is easy to pull a few out for breakfast.

    • says

      That’s a great idea! Thanks for the tip! A super smart plan for mornings when you have company staying over, too. Time always seems to get away from me when we have people at our place, so make-ahead ideas are always super handy.


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