Cast iron buttermilk biscuits are made from scratch and turn out buttery and tender, with irresistible flaky layers. In this post, I'll share tips and tricks to make the perfect batch of buttermilk biscuits every time.
If you're a self-taught cook or a novice baker, making biscuits from scratch may be intimidating, but homemade buttermilk biscuits are surprisingly easy to make with the right ingredients and a few tips and tricks.
In this post, I'll teach you how to whip up fluffy, flaky cast iron buttermilk biscuits perfectly every time. All you need is a 10 inch cast iron pan, a mixing bowl, and a few simple baking ingredients.
Serve your homemade biscuits with sausage gravy, strawberry jam, or whipped honey butter for breakfast or brunch. They also make a great side dish for your next weeknight meal - they go great with a batch of creamy vegetable soup!
Ingredients and substitutions
- All-purpose flour - The base of your biscuits. I haven't tested this recipe with other types of flour so I can't say how the recipe would turn out with substitutions.
- Leavening - You'll need both baking powder and baking soda for the proper lift in this recipe. One cannot be substituted with the other.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of your biscuits.
- Butter - If using salted butter, cut the listed salt in half. Your butter should be very cold, straight from the refrigerator or freezer, for best results. I like to shred mine on the large side of a box grater for easy incorporation into the dough.
- Buttermilk - Adds the perfect amount of acidity paired with the leavening agents in this recipe. To make buttermilk substitute, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Fill to the 1-cup line with whole milk and allow to set for 5 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe as directed.
Tips and tricks
There are a few keys to making a successful batch of biscuits: using cold butter, handling your dough as little as possible, and folding. The goal of folding is to create layers of cold butter throughout your dough, which results in flaky, fluffy layers.
- Cold butter: Make sure your butter is very cold, straight from the refrigerator or freezer. Cold butter is important because you want it to stay solid throughout the dough, instead of melting and incorporating into the flour. Those cold butter pockets produce steam while baking, which creates those flaky layers in the oven.
- Grating butter: I recommend grating your butter on the large side of a box grater. The butter shreds incorporate easily into your flour mixture with very little effort.
- Handle dough as little as possible: After the buttermilk has been mixed into your dough, it will look shaggy. This is normal. The goal is to handle the dough as little as possible. Warm hands melt the butter in the dough, which we don't want (see above). Plus overworking the gluten in the dough makes your biscuits turn out tough.
- Folding the dough: Once your dough is mostly mixed, but shaggy and sticky, turn it out onto a floured surface. Gently form your dough into a rectangle and pat it down with your hands. Fold the rectangle in half, then turn it and gently pat it down into a wide rectangle again. You'll do this five times total before cutting out your biscuits. If you're a visual person, here's a great YouTube video showing how exactly to fold biscuit dough: Biscuits and Shortcakes: Folding and Turning
- Cutting your biscuits: Your biscuits can be sliced with a knife or cut using a biscuit cutter. When cutting your biscuits, take care not to twist the cutter - this seals the edges of the biscuit, reducing the rise in the oven.
What to serve with biscuits
Biscuits can be served plain, with butter, or with a sweet or savory topping like gravy or jam. Here are a few of my favorite toppings:
Once completely cooled, transfer baked biscuits to a tightly sealed container. Biscuits will keep for up to 2 days at room temperature, up to a week in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer. To thaw frozen biscuits, transfer to the countertop and allow to thaw for 1-2 hours.
Cast Iron Buttermilk Biscuits
- 2 cups (240 g) all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1 cup (227 g) buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter a 10 inch cast iron skillet (or similarly sized baking dish) and set aside.
- To a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and remove clumps. (Or, add to a food processor and pulse a few times).
- Grate cold butter using the large side of a box grater and add to flour mixture, tossing to combine. Or, use a pastry cutter to cut cubed butter into flour mixture. (Or, add to food processor and pulse until butter is pea sized. If using a food processor, pour mixture into a large bowl at this time).
- Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and add buttermilk. Gently stir until ingredients are mostly incorporated. Dough will look shaggy and sticky. Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Gently pat dough with lightly floured hands into a large, flat rectangle, about 10-12 inches wide and about ¾ inch thick. Keep extra flour nearby and continually flour the surface, dough, and your hands as needed. Fold dough rectangle in half, turn to the right to make your new rectangle horizontal, and gently pat back into a large rectangle. Repeat 4 times, folding your dough 5 times in total. Pat dough into a large rectangle, about ¾ inch thick.
- Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut biscuits out of dough (do not twist your cutter, this seals the edges). Reform leftover dough gently and continue cutting until all dough is used - you should get about 7 to 8 biscuits.
- In prepared cast iron pan, place biscuits close together (or touching if possible) for a better rise in the oven. Bake for about 16-20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
- Homemade biscuits keep for 1-2 days at room temperature in a sealed container, up to 1 week in the refrigerator, or 2-3 months in the freezer. If freezing, seal tightly with foil or plastic wrap and store in a freezer safe container.