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I’ve been pretty satisfied with my go-to biscuit recipe for years now. While my biscuits always deliver on incredible butteriness and flavor, they unfortunately never achieve that sought-after tall, fluffy rise with delicate, flaky layers that you see in the photos of Southern cooking magazines.
My biscuits definitely win on taste but come up a bit short (literally) in achieving airy, pillow-like texture and stellar presentation. However, that all changed recently thanks to a serendipitous baking tidbit I happened to catch while channel surfing past a Food Network episode featuring a bustling diner whipping up tray after tray of impossibly high, golden biscuits.
Although there was no precise recipe shared, a few of the pro tips I managed to overhear gave me an “aha moment” and I just knew would be the keys to taking my biscuits from good to great. I couldn’t wait to incorporate those ideas into my own tried-and-true recipe to finally achieve the texture I was missing.
Of course, it took some experimenting to get the balance and ratios of new additions just right. But after a few batches, I’m thrilled to say I’ve cracked the code on how to make these ultra-flaky, featherlight biscuits that seriously rival any down-home Southern cook or famous biscuit shop out there!
Why You’ll Love These Flaky Biscuits
- Sky-high rise – Nearly double the height of average biscuits means more nooks and crannies for catching melty butter.
- Flaky layers – Alternating sheaths of dough and butter mean every bite contains ethereal crispness.
- A hint of sweetness – A touch of sugar perfectly offsets the rich, savory biscuit flavor.
- Simple ingredients – Common pantry staples mean biscuits are always within reach.
- Begging to be shared – Gorgeous golden peaks and homemade flavor makes these irresistible to even non-biscuit fans.
Tips for Superior Southern-Style Biscuits
Keep Butter & Milk Ice Cold
Chilled butter and milk help create lots of steam for fluffy biscuits with flaky layers.
Work the Butter Gently
When cutting butter into the flour, be careful not to overwork it. Pea-sized pieces are ideal.
Stir Milk Until Just Combined
Gently stir in milk without over-mixing for tender, delicate biscuits.
Pat Dough Gently
Handle biscuit dough as little as possible when shaping so biscuits stay fluffy.
Cut Straight Down
Use a straight up and down motion when cutting biscuits to avoid sealing in steam.
Arrange With Room In Between
Leaving space between biscuits allows them to expand while baking.
The Main Ingredients
All-purpose flour gives biscuits structure. I prefer unbleached, but bleached works fine too.
Baking powder provides lift and makes biscuits rise beautifully, especially when shaped straight from the fridge.
Butter imparts richer flavor than other fats. Chilled butter also creates those flaky layers.
Milk contributes richness and moisture. Whole milk or buttermilk both work wonderfully.
A small amount of sugar balances flavors. You can omit but I prefer a teaspoon.
A teaspoon of salt really enhances the flavors and makes everything pop.
How To Make Fluffy, Flaky Biscuits
Mix the Dry Ingredients
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Cut in the Cold Butter
Work the chilled butter into flour using a pastry cutter or your fingers until pea-size pieces form.
Make a Well, Add Milk
Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Gently stir just until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn Out onto Floured Surface
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Do not overwork it.
Gently Pat into a Rectangle
Pat gently into a rectangle roughly 1/2-inch thick.
Cut Out Rounds
Cut straight down into rounds using a biscuit cutter or glass, without twisting.
Bake Until Golden
Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes until tall, golden brown and fluffy!
What to Serve with Biscuits
- Sausage or bacon
- Eggs cooked any style
- Milk gravy, mushroom gravy or sausage gravy
- Chili or hearty stews
- Fried chicken
- Butter, fruit jams or preserves
- Clotted cream and jam
- Fruit compotes or baked apples
- Honey butter
- Half whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
- Buttermilk instead of regular milk
- Salted butter reduces added salt
- Alternative fats: coconut oil, shortening, or lard
What is the secret to flaky biscuits?
Chilled butter cut into the dry ingredients creates pockets of butter that steam and then crisp up during baking for super flaky texture. Gently handling dough is key too.
Should biscuit dough be sticky?
The biscuit dough should be just moist enough to stick together when pinched without being overly sticky. Add an extra spoonful or two of milk if too dry.
Why do my biscuits not rise?
If your biscuits don’t fluff up much, be sure not to twist the cutter and restrain from overworking the dough. Chilling dough helps too.
Can the dough be made ahead and frozen?
Yes! Form unbaked biscuits then freeze on a baking sheet covered well. Transfer frozen biscuits to a freezer bag. Bake frozen for 15+ minutes at 400°F.
What milk is best for biscuits?
Whole milk has more fat for the flakiest texture, but any milk works. Buttermilk adds delicious tang. For ultimate flake, the colder the better.
How do you make drop biscuits?
Drop biscuits simplify shaping. Rather than knead and roll out dough, drop spoonfuls directly onto baking sheets using an ice cream scoop. Result is less layered but still tasty!
How long do baked biscuits last?
Biscuits are best day-of, but leftovers keep covered at room temperature up to 2 days. Refresh leftovers by splitting and toasting.
Is bread flour better for biscuits than all-purpose?
No – avoid using high protein bread flour. All-purpose flour allows biscuits to reach impressive heights without getting overly tough and chewy.
Fluffy & Flaky Biscuits
- Large mixing bowl
- Pastry blender or fork
- Rolling Pin
- Round biscuit cutter
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- 2 cups All-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 6 tablespoons Cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup Cold whole milk or buttermilk for a tangier taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together.
- Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- Stir in milk gently just until a shaggy dough forms.
- Turn onto a floured surface and pat gently into a 1-inch thick rectangle.
- Cut rounds using a biscuit cutter without twisting the cutter.
- Arrange on a baking sheet with space in between. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and fluffy. Enjoy warm!