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With a few simple tips and tricks, you can make the best Southern buttermilk biscuits from scratch with just 3 ingredients! These fluffy, flaky, buttery treats rise a mile high, creating layers upon layers of old-fashioned goodness. The 3 ingredient biscuit recipe is perfect with country hamsausage gravy, or jam for breakfast, or delicious alongside soupchilipot roast, or pulled pork for dinner.

Bowl of the best 3 ingredient biscuit recipe

3 Ingredient Biscuit Recipe

Biscuits are a way of life in the South, and every home cook has her favorite version. These particular buttermilk biscuits are especially quick and easy, thanks to just 3 ingredients: self-rising flour, buttermilk, and butter. With a few simple tricks, you’ll achieve the perfect combination: a crispy and golden brown outside, with a light, tender inside. This 3 ingredient biscuit recipe yields buttermilk biscuits that are puffy and tall, not dense or flat, and exhibit that hard-to-achieve cross between a tender crumb and flaky layers.

In the Southeastern United States, “biscuits” are typically soft leavened quick breads, similar to scones (but not sweet), and made with baking powder and/or baking soda instead of yeast. While the recipe and ingredients are incredibly simple, there are a few tricks to mastering the perfect tall, flaky biscuit recipe. Just stick with it, learn as you go, and follow my tips in the instructions below. You’ll ultimately achieve perfect 3 ingredient biscuits — and boy, are they delicious!

Drizzling honey over the best 3 ingredient biscuit recipe

How to Make Biscuits Rise High

If your ideal biscuits include tall, buttery, flaky layers, then you’ve come to the right place. After years and years of practice, I’ve learned a handful of simple ways to achieve those elusive mile-high treats:

  • Very cold ingredients are essential. Biscuits get their light, fluffy texture when cold butter expands in a very hot oven, creating pockets of steam. That’s why this recipe calls for freezing the cut biscuits for about 10-15 minutes before baking.
  • The oven must be very hot — in this case, 475°F. When the cold biscuit dough interacts with the high heat of the oven, the water in the butter and buttermilk heats rapidly and releases steam, pushing the dough upward. If an oven is set at a lower temperature (such as 350°F or 400°F), the fat inside the dough heats too slowly and melts before the biscuits can fully rise.
  • Folding the dough on itself multiple times builds visible layers.
  • Do not twist a round biscuit cutter — just punch straight down and pull it straight back out. Twisting the biscuit cutter seals off the edges of the biscuits and they therefore will not rise as high.
  • Arrange the Biscuits with Sides Touching. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet so that they’re all touching their neighbors. This will help them “climb” in the oven so that you get that great, tall lift!
Grating butter into a bowl

Ingredients for Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of the best buttermilk biscuits. As always, specific measurements and complete step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Self-rising flour: a common pantry staple in most Southern households, self-rising flour is simply flour with the leavening and salt already added. I prefer an extra-fine soft winter wheat flour made by White Lily. This low-protein, low-gluten flour gives Southern biscuits that perfectly crisp-on-the-outside, light-on-the-inside texture.
  • Butter: I like salted butter, but you can use unsalted butter if you have it on hand. Make sure that your butter is very cold.
  • Buttermilk: for its acidity, as well as its fat and liquid content. In conjunction with the leavening agents, the acidity helps the biscuits rise. The buttermilk also gives the biscuits a nice, subtle tanginess and a tender crumb. Keep the buttermilk nice and cold before adding it to the dough!
Tossing grated butter with self rising flour

What does buttermilk do for biscuits?

Buttermilk is a classic Southern pantry staple that we always keep on hand! From fluffy pancakes to salad dressinghoe cakes to fried chicken, it’s an important ingredient in so many of our favorite recipes — including these homemade buttermilk biscuits! The buttermilk serves a couple of purposes in an old-fashioned biscuit recipe that you can’t achieve with regular milk:

  • Flavor: the buttermilk gives the biscuits a nice, subtle tanginess
  • Acidity: the acid in buttermilk helps the biscuits rise, because the acid from the buttermilk reacts with the alkaline baking soda, causing it to give off carbon dioxide. Baking powder will also react with buttermilk’s acidity to a small degree.
  • Texture: the fat and acid in the buttermilk also yields a fluffy, light, and tender crumb.

The amount of buttermilk that you need will vary, depending on the day. Start with 1 cup, and then add more if the dough feels too dry and crumbly. If it’s humid or rainy, there’s already moisture in the air and in the flour, so you will likely need less liquid in your dough. On a cold, dry winter day, you may need a bit more buttermilk to bring the dough together.

I get my buttermilk at a local country market near our house — and this is the REAL stuff — the liquid that runs off a batch of fresh butter. It makes the most delicious biscuits and cornbread! The buttermilk that you buy in a grocery store is probably just cultured milk (check the label) — which is a far cry from the real thing. If you have access to a local dairy or similar small market, I highly recommend getting your hands on the ultra-thick, ultra-rich buttermilk that will truly make your homemade biscuits stand out.

Pouring buttermilk into a bowl

Buttermilk Substitutes

Don’t have buttermilk? No problem! In a pinch, you can make your own buttermilk at home to use in this recipe. To do so, pour either 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a large measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 1 cup of liquid. Give it a stir, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then use it in the recipe as directed!

Cutting biscuits on a baking sheet

3 Ingredient Biscuit Recipe with All Purpose Flour

If you don’t have a bag of self-rising flour in your pantry, that’s no problem. You can make 1 cup of self-rising flour by placing 1 cup of all-purpose flour in a bowl. Whisk in 1 teaspoon of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

This recipe calls for 2 ½ cups of self-rising flour, so you would need to combine 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour with 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Brushing buttermilk biscuits with melted butter

How to Make Buttermilk Biscuits with Self Rising Flour

Buttermilk biscuits made a regular appearance on our weekend breakfast table when I was growing up. Both my mom and my dad perfected their recipe over the years, using a juice glass to pop out the round little gems on a floured countertop before church on Sundays. Today, I serve biscuits to my own family at least once a week — most often in the bread basket at dinner. No matter which entrée I’m offering, I know that the boys won’t go to bed hungry if this 3 ingredient biscuit recipe is on the menu!

  1. Place the self-rising flour in a large bowl.
  2. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the cold butter into the flour. The butter doesn’t need to be frozen — just make sure that it’s really well chilled.
  3. Coat all of the butter with flour, and then work the butter into the flour with your finger tips for about 2 minutes.
  4. Chill the flour mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  6. Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients, and then stir with a fork or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough comes together.
  7. Turn the dough onto a floured surface.
  8. Fold the dough over onto itself 6-8 times, just until it comes together. This process will help add those flaky layers to the biscuits.
  9. Pat the dough into a rectangle that’s about ¾ inch thick. You don’t even need a rolling pin — just your hands will do the trick.
  10. Use a round biscuit cutter to punch out the biscuits. Re-roll the scraps until all of the dough is used.
  11. Arrange the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet or cookie sheet, with sides touching.
  12. Chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Bake in a 475°F oven for 11-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.
  14. Brush the hot biscuits with melted butter and serve!
Holding a pan of buttermilk biscuits

What to Serve with Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

These easy buttermilk biscuits are suitable for just about any meal, at any time of day. Serve them on their own for breakfast with honey butterjam, or apple butter. Add eggs on the side, use them to make an egg sandwich with sausage, bacon or cheese, or stir up a skillet of sausage gravy. In Virginia, country ham biscuits are a classic snack!

On the dinner table, here are some entrées that go well with buttermilk biscuits:

Hands picking up a buttermilk biscuit from a tray

Make Ahead

While they’re best served warm, straight from the oven, you can bake the biscuits up to 3 days in advance. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Reheat day-old biscuits by placing them on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes.

How to Freeze Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Allow the biscuits to cool to room temperature, then wrap tightly in an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter overnight or in the microwave for a few seconds.

Hands holding a basket of homemade buttermilk biscuits

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • If you don’t have buttermilk or self-rising flour on hand, see my notes above to make your own buttermilk and your own self-rising flour at home.
  • Grating the butter into the flour is easier, in my opinion, than using a pastry cutter, pastry blender, or food processor to cut or pulse the cold butter into the flour. Any method will work, though, so pick whichever works best for you. Ultimately, you should see small pea-size pieces of butter throughout the flour that resemble coarse crumbs.
  • Add cheese. About 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack would be delicious.
  • Stir in diced pimentos and shredded cheese for “pimento cheese” biscuits.
  • Add seasonings or herbs. Try a bit of garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, or chives.
  • Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into squares instead of rounds.
Side shot of 3 ingredient buttermilk biscuits on a dinner table

Tips for the Best Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

  • Keep the butter very cold. It doesn’t need to be frozen before grating, since I find that frozen butter is much harder to work with. Just a really firm, chilled stick works perfectly.
  • Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour — do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour packs it too tightly into the measuring cup and results in dense, dry biscuits.
  • Keep the dough cold. I’ll say it again — the key to tall, fluffy, and flaky biscuits is cold ingredients. Don’t forget to chill the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
  • Arrange the Biscuits with Sides Touching. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet so that they’re all touching their neighbors. This will help them “climb” in the oven so that you get that great, high rise.
  • Don’t twist the round cutter. Firmly press the cutter down into the dough, and then pull it straight back out. Twisting the biscuit cutter seals off the edges of the biscuits and they therefore will not rise as high.
  • Brush with melted butter. A quick swipe of melted butter adds a ton of rich flavor and buttery taste to the warm biscuits.
Side shot of buttermilk biscuits on a tray with honey drizzled over top

More Biscuit Recipes to Try

Hands holding a pan of buttermilk biscuits

3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Chilling Time 20 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 9 biscuits
Calories 255 kcal
With a few simple tips and tricks, you can make the best Southern buttermilk biscuits from scratch with just 3 ingredients!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ½ cups self-rising flour (I prefer White Lily brand)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) very cold salted butter
  • 1 cup very cold whole buttermilk, well shaken
  • 2 tablespoons melted salted butter

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  • Place flour in a large mixing bowl. Using the larger holes on a box grater, grate the stick of butter into the flour. Use your fingers to coat all of the butter with flour, and then work the butter into the flour with your finger tips for about 2 minutes. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk, and stir with a wooden spoon (or with your hands) just until a shaggy dough comes together.
  • Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Fold the dough over onto itself 6-8 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a rectangle that’s about ¾ inch thick.
  • Use a 2 ½ -inch round biscuit cutter to punch out the biscuits (do not twist the cutter). Arrange the biscuits on the parchment-lined baking sheet with sides touching. Re-roll the scraps and cut out additional biscuits until all of the dough is used.
  • If time allows, place the biscuits back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to chill again before baking.
  • Bake for 11-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the hot biscuits with the melted butter. Serve warm.

Notes

  • If you don’t have buttermilk or self-rising flour on hand, see my notes above to make your own buttermilk and your own self-rising flour at home.
  • Add cheese. About 1 cup of grated cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack would be delicious.
  • Stir in diced pimentos and shredded cheese for “pimento cheese” biscuits.
  • Add seasonings or herbs. Try a bit of garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, or chives.
  • Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into squares instead of rounds.
  • Keep the butter very cold. It doesn’t need to be frozen before grating, since I find that frozen butter is much harder to work with. Just a really firm, chilled stick works perfectly.
  • Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour — do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour packs it too tightly into the measuring cup and results in dense, dry biscuits.
  • Keep the dough cold. I’ll say it again — the key to tall, fluffy, and flaky biscuits is cold ingredients. Don’t forget to chill the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
  • Arrange the Biscuits with Sides Touching. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet so that they’re all touching their neighbors. This will help them “climb” in the oven so that you get that great, high rise.
  • Don’t twist the round cutter. Firmly press the cutter down into the dough, and then pull it straight back out. Twisting the biscuit cutter seals off the edges of the biscuits and they therefore will not rise as high.
  • Brush with melted butter. A quick swipe of melted butter adds a ton of rich flavor to the warm biscuits.
  • Recipe adapted from White Lily Flour.

Nutrition

Serving: 1biscuitCalories: 255kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 5gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 141mgPotassium: 74mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 438IUCalcium: 40mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: 3 ingredient biscuit recipe, 3 ingredient biscuits, buttermilk biscuit recipe, buttermilk biscuits, homemade buttermilk biscuits
Course: bread, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

      1. Hi, Nikki! Yes, you can absolutely use a cast iron skillet, or just transfer the biscuits from a smaller plate/tray onto the baking sheet before they go into the oven. Whichever you prefer!

  1. 5 stars
    Wow! I am shocked at how well these biscuits turned out. They are just perfect. I added a little kosher salt because why not. I used the frozen and grated butter trick and it worked so well!