9 Secrets To Fluffy Biscuits

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Making fluffy biscuits doesn’t need to be left to the professionals. So I have 9 secrets to fluffy biscuits that will help you rock out your next batch like a pro. 



 

Last year when visiting Nashville I took a biscuit making class from an Emmy winning chef who wrote a documentary on the history of the Southern biscuit. Yes Emmy winning. Let’s just say I was in sitting there in awe.

So while she taught us how to make biscuits, she also taught some of the secrets of what makes southern biscuits better than all the rest. 

I’ve been using those secrets to make my own homemade buttermilk biscuits and self rising flour biscuits perfectly tall and fluffy. There are definitely some tips, or secrets, to what make a biscuit so darn irrestible. So here are my go to 9 secrets to fluffy biscuits…. 

Grab some butter. Let’s do the darn thing. 

Secret to Fluffy Biscuits #1: Use cold butter

butter cut into flour using a pastry blender

Cold butter is key to making your biscuits fluffy. Warm butter will be absorbed into the flour and prevent them becoming all fluffy. Its similar to making pie crust. Cold butter will not be fully absorbed by the flour which means you will have small chunks visible in the dough. Those pieces when they are in the oven will melt, and the water in the butter will steam causing the layers of flour to push apart creating flaky layers. 

So remember always use COLD butter. I like to use a  pastry cutter, as well to keep my hands out of the mixture to prevent my hands from warming up the butter causing it to melt. 

Secret to Fluffy Biscuits #2: Use cold liquids

cup of buttermilk

Just like you should use cold butter, you also want to make sure your liquids that you add are also cold. Whether that’s heavy cream, milk or buttermilk just make sure they are cold as well. This way the liquid wouldn’t warm up the butter too much. 

Just remember ingredient temperature should always be the same. So if something calls for something cold then they all should be. Room temperature ingredients called for would then also all be room temperature. 

Secret to Fluffy Biscuits #3: Measure Your Flour Correctly

cup of flour

This is key to fluffy biscuits. If you use too much flour then you will end up with dense biscuits.  So you want to be sure to measure your flour correctly. 

If you are using a dry measuring cup, then first fluff up your flour with a fork. It tends to settle in the container. And then use a spoon to scoop the flour into the cup. Once you have a heaping cup, level it off with a flat edge. 

Do not pack down the flour into the cup which can result in too much flour in your cup. 

For best accuracy use a kitchen scale and measure by weight, not by volume. 

Secret To Fluffy Biscuits #4: Keep It Fresh 

baking powder and baking soda

Leavening agents that is. Biscuits rely on baking powder and baking soda. So if you haven’t used yours in awhile, they may have expired.

If they aren’t fresh then they won’t create a reaction (aka bubbles). No bubbles = no rise. 

To test your baking powder: Mix a little with hot water to see if it bubbles. If it doesn’t throw it out. 

To test your baking soda: Mix a little with an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to see if it bubbles. If it doesn’t throw it out. 

Click here to read more about baking powder vs. baking soda 

Secret to Fluffy Biscuits #5: Make them by hand.

bowl of biscuit dough

Biscuit dough needs to be made gently and worked gently. And using a stand mixer or hand mixer will just overwork your dough. 

So get out a mixing bowl and make those biscuits by hand. I use only a pastry cutter,to cut the butter in, and a rubber spatula to stir the mixture together but that’s it. 

Secret To Fluffy Biscuits #6: Place Close Together

unbaked biscuits close together on a cookie sheet

One secret to fluffy biscuits, then you want to make sure to place them close together so they are touching on the cookie sheet. 

This will ensure the edges will be nice and fluffy. If they are separated then the edges will be crispy because they will be exposed to heat. 

Secret To Fluffy Biscuits #7: Knead Gently.

biscuit dough kneaded together

You do need to knead the dough to help create those flaky layers. By kneading you are folding the butter and flour over on each other which will create the layers, but too much kneading will cause you to overwork the dough. Overworking the dough will make them tough. 

This has to do with the gluten, the protein that is formed in the flour. When the flour becomes hydrated, the two proteins gliadin and glutenin in the flour form gluten. The more you knead, the more you will expose the flour to the liquid in the dough causing gluten to form. Gluten protein is what make a baked good chewy. This is good for bread. Bad for biscuits. 

So be careful and only knead your dough together a few times. 

Secret to Fluffy Biscuits #8: Do Not Twist

biscuit cut out with a biscuit cutter

When you cut out your biscuits, you want to make sure to not twist the biscuit cutter. when you press down on the dough. 

Twisting the cutter will result in lopsided the biscuits not tall fluffy ones. By twisting the cutter you “seal the edges” and this prevents the biscuits from rising up nice and tall. 

So press straight down into the dough and pull straight up. 

Secret to Fluffy Biscuits #9 Bake at a high temperature

tall fluffy biscuits

Biscuits need a hot oven to rise nice and tall. The hot oven helps that butter to steam which helps those biscuits to rise. 

If the oven temperature is too low, then the butter will melt and not steam. 

And this isn’t a secret I suppose but whatever you do, don’t forget to brush melted butter over the top once baked to send those homemade biscuits over the top. 

butter brushed on top of a biscuit with a silicone brush

More Baking 101 Tutorials To Check Out

Biscuit Recipes To Try

buttermilk biscuits stacked with a knife and butter next to it

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits

 Make these easy buttermilk biscuits for your next brunch!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: breakfast
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 biscuits
Calories: 167kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (240 g) all purpose flour spooned and leveled
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup (240 mL) cold buttermilk plus additional for brushing on top

Instructions

  •  Prepare pan and oven. Pre-heat your oven to 450°F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.  You can also bake these in a cast iron skillet or a round cake pan.
  • Combine dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Cut in butter. Add the cubed, cold butter to the mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces with a pastry blender, until pea-sized. You can also do this with your fingertips by squishing the butter pieces into the flour. Pour in your cold buttermilk and stir to combine. It will form a slightly wet, sticky dough and butter pieces will remain visible.
  • Add your buttermilk. Add the cold buttermilk and stir to combine. It will form a slightly wet, sticky dough and butter pieces will remain visible.
  • Shape the dough. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Empty the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and bring the dough together with lightly floured hands You want to gently knead the dough by patting the dough into a 1/2-inch thick circle and then fold the dough in half. Repeat 3 more times.
  • Cut out the biscuits. Using a 2 1/2- inch biscuit cutter, press straight down into the dough. Do not twist the cutter, which can cause your biscuit sides to seal shut and not rise fully and come out lopsided. Press out as many biscuits as you can with the first batch, then gently press the dough scraps together to cut out the remaining biscuits. Do not overwork the dough.
  • Bake the biscuits. Place the biscuits next to each other on the cookie sheet so they touch (optional step: freeze for 10 minutes before baking to help firm up the butter). Brush tops with additional buttermilk right before baking. Bake for about 13-15 minutes until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling. I like to brush on butter and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt before serving.

Notes

  • Tools: Pastry cutter, pastry mat,biscuit cutter
  • Make ahead: You can shape and cut out the biscuits, then cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking. 
  • Storage: Store the biscuits in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to one week (fridge is best to retain moisture).
  • Freezing: You can freeze baked old fashioned buttermilk biscuits in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I love putting them in a sealable plastic bag and squish as much air out as possible. They will thaw pretty quickly at room temperature. I also love warming them up in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds. You can also freeze unbaked biscuits. Place your biscuits onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze solid (about 1 hour), and then transfer to sealable plastic bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, simply place bake frozen, no need to thaw. You may need to just add on a few minutes of baking time.
  • Measure your flour correctly so as not to overmeasure it. Here is a tutorial on how to measure your flour the right way!
  • Be sure to use COLD butter and buttermilk to ensure flakiness.
  • Handle the dough as little as possible so you end up with a tender biscuit.
  • When you cut out the biscuits, press straight down and up. Don’t twist the cutters. Otherwise, the biscuits will come out lopsided.

Nutrition

Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 182mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 1mg
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23 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These tips are fantastic for baking/cooking everyday. Thank you for offerIng simple to understand, methods for product freshness, and the how to’s for delicious biscuits!

    1. aw you’re very welcome Cathy! I’m so glad you found them helpful!

  2. Christine says:

    Hi Heather! I’m about to try your biscuits with Greek yogurt/almond milk instead of buttermilk. Your default recipe is for 8 biscuits, but I want to make 12. The problem is, when moving the slider to change the number to 12 (or even 4), the grams of flour remain the same, 240. Do you know how many grams of flour make 12 biscuits (it says 3 cups)? Thank you, can’t wait to make!

    1. Hi Christine, to increase the yield I would simply make a batch and a half. Or simply make smaller/flatter biscuits. Hope that helps!

    2. 1 Cup of flour = 120 grams of flour

  3. Mistake in ingredients part of recipe. Says buttermilk, plus more to brush on top – think the additional is meant for butter.

    1. Not a mistake – I brush extra buttermilk on top before baking. And after they are baked, I brush on butter before serving.

  4. What happens if you don’t have baking soda or buttermilk

    1. Hi Cathy, you can always make a quick homemade buttermilk – for every cup of buttermilk replace with 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar) and let sit for 10 minutes before using. As far as baking soda, you can try replacing with baking powder but replace with 3x as much baking powder (but I haven’t tried this with my biscuits).

  5. I need for homemade biscuits. The one I am using they do not rise and I make sure the oven is hot on 450.

    1. Check your baking powder to make sure it’s not old. Put vinegar or lemon into a bowl with some of your baking powder to see if it bubbles- if it does, your baking powder is good. That is not the issue then.

      You may be overworking your dough OR YOU Need to make sure that you are not twisting your dough when you cut your biscuits out with the cutter. That seals the edges & keeps the biscuits from rising.

      1. all great tips thank you!

  6. Lisa Davis says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve done a few thins wrong and you mentioned if you do it like this then they will not be fluffy. I’m fixing to bake some to see if they come out tall and fluffy I stead of this and hard, no fluff. I definitely twisted my cup when cutting the biscuits. I really enjoy the tips and hope to hear more from you on tips about baking cookies.
    Thanks again, Lisa Davis/ Baton Rouge La

    1. HI Lisa, I’m so glad you found the tips helpful!!

  7. Does Bisquick and other such products make fluffy biscuits?

    1. Hi Helen, I don’t bake with bisquick as it’s a pre-made mix but yes it should make good biscuits!

    2. Is using butter better than using Crisco which my grandmother used. Her biscuits were high, light and very fluffy. Does using butter have a better taste and does it bake the same?

      1. I prefer butter because of the flavor. Shortening has no water to it so you might get a higher fluffier biscuit, but nothing beats butter for taste for me 🙂

      2. Just go 50/50 on the butter and Crisco, it is what we do.

      3. Love that idea!

  8. I learned to make biscuits from my grandma, and I think they were good, but never fluffy and not a lot of rise…she always had me twist on the cut. Also she would use bacon grease to coat the pan, AND used lard instead of butter…and when I greased the pan, she had me lay the biscuits in the grease and flip over before baking(so that the tops were good and greasy).when done they were somewhat hard and flat. I just made them like this for years, until I came across your article! Thank you so much for all these tips! I am gonna try doing these tricks today and see if it works! Hopefully this will help me make some big ol southern cat head biscuits! I’m a guy, and southern, so this advice will help me to make my granny proud. She once told me, if you learn how to cook, you will never go hungry. She is long gone now, but I still make her flour, lard and water gravy,but now maybe I can have decent biscuits to eat with it! Thanks again so much!!

    1. Katherine says:

      Same with my Grandma, but she liked it that way…HARD. She would scoop out the fluffy inside and throw it away before she ate the biscuit with jam and white gravy. I too like the jam & gravy combo but nothing beats a nice fluffy biscuit : D

      1. that’s too funny! But hey if that’s how Grandma liked it then who are we to argue LOL! 🙂

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