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With a few simple tips and tricks, you can make the best Southern buttermilk pumpkin spice biscuits from scratch with just 5 ingredients! These fluffy, flaky, buttery treats rise a mile high, creating layers upon layers of old-fashioned goodness. They’re slightly sweet, warmly spiced, and perfect with country ham, sausage gravy, or apple butter for breakfast, or delicious alongside pork stew, pumpkin chili, pot roast, pasta, or pulled pork for dinner.
Sweet Pumpkin Biscuits
Welcome fall with these quick and easy pumpkin spice biscuits! While there’s no actual pumpkin puree in these homemade buttermilk biscuits, you’ll find plenty of pumpkin spice (or “pumpkin pie spice”), which is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. The warm autumn flavors and a hint of sweetness give the flaky, fluffy biscuits a simple touch of the season. They pair well with a mug of coffee for a morning meal, or with savory entrees for supper.
Easy Buttermilk Biscuits
Biscuits are a way of life in the South, and every home cook has her favorite version. These particular spiced buttermilk biscuits are especially quick and easy, thanks to just 5 ingredients: self-rising flour, buttermilk, sugar, pumpkin spice, and butter. With a few simple tricks, you’ll achieve the perfect combination: a crispy and golden brown outside, with a light, tender inside. The 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, 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!
How to Make Biscuits Rise High
If your ideal pumpkin spice 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, 425°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 or in a cast iron skillet so that they’re all touching their neighbors. This will help them “climb” in the oven so that you get that great, tall lift!
This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of the best pumpkin spice 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.
- Sugar: for just a hint of sweetness in the dough.
- Pumpkin pie spice: a convenient blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
- 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!
What does buttermilk do for biscuits?
Buttermilk is a classic Southern pantry staple that we always keep on hand! From fluffy pancakes to salad dressing, hoe cakes to fried chicken, it’s an important ingredient in so many of our favorite recipes — including these homemade 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. Just don’t add too much liquid. You don’t want a wet dough, or you’ll have dense, gummy biscuits.
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!
How to Make Self-Rising 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 ⅛ teaspoon of salt.
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Biscuits
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. Throughout the fall, we love this seasonal twist with the addition of the pumpkin spice flavor!
- Whisk together the self-rising flour, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.
- 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.
- Coat all of the butter with flour, and then work the butter into the flour with your finger tips for about 2 minutes.
- Chill the flour mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
- Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients, and then stir with a fork or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough comes together.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a round 2 ¼ inch biscuit cutter to punch out the biscuits. Re-roll the scraps until all of the dough is used.
- Arrange the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet or cookie sheet, or in a greased 10-inch cast iron skillet, with sides touching.
- Chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
- Bake in a 425°F oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.
- Brush the hot biscuits with melted butter and serve!
These easy pumpkin cinnamon biscuits are suitable for just about any meal, at any time of day. Serve them on their own for breakfast with honey butter, jam, 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 or glazed ham steaks. In Virginia, country ham biscuits are a classic snack, and these sweet biscuits are delicious when paired with the salty meat!
On the dinner table, here are some entrées that go well with buttermilk biscuits:
- Pumpkin Chili, Classic Beef Chili, “Good Luck” Southern Chili, Easy White Bean Chicken Chili or Texas Chili
- Fall Harvest Creamy Pumpkin Soup, Grandmother’s Hamburger Soup, Corn Chowder, Tomato Soup or Split Pea Soup
- Dutch Oven Pork Stew, Beef Stew, Chicken Stew or Brunswick Stew
- Thanksgiving turkey, such as this Easy Maple-Glazed Roasted Turkey Breast, Garlic and Herb Turkey Breast, Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, or Smoked Turkey Breast
- Crispy Fried Chicken, Cornflake Chicken or Pecan-Crusted Chicken
- Savory Pumpkin Pasta
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Oven-Baked Pork Tenderloin, Cider Braised Pulled Pork, or BBQ Pork
- Oven BBQ Chicken Breast or Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast
- Egg Salad or Chicken Salad
- Shrimp and Grits
- Crock Pot Ribs or Baked Baby Back Ribs
- Crab Cakes or Crab Imperial
- Shrimp Creole
- Dutch Oven Beef BBQ, Cast Iron Skillet Filet Mignon, Grilled New York Strip Steak, Steak Salad or Bourbon-Glazed Beef Tenderloin
- Southern Fried Catfish
- Frogmore Stew
- Ranch Style Beans, Southern Lima Beans, Slow Cooker Cowboy Pork and Beans or Black Eyed Peas with Bacon
- Rosemary Oven Roasted Chicken
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
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.
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.
- For an extra sweet touch, drizzle the biscuits with maple glaze or cinnamon glaze.
- A pinch of ground cloves would also be a nice addition to these biscuits.
- Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into squares instead of rounds.
Tips for the Best Pumpkin 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 or in the cast iron skillet 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.
More Biscuit Recipes to Try
- 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits
- Butter Swim Biscuits (or Butter Dip Biscuits)
- Drop Biscuits
- Aunt Bee’s 3 Ingredient Biscuit Recipe
- Grandma’s Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Flaky Biscuits
- Cheese Biscuits
- Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
- Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Pumpkin Spice Biscuits
- 2 ½ cups self-rising flour (I prefer White Lily brand)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ cup (1 stick) very cold salted butter
- 1 cup very cold whole buttermilk, well shaken
- 1 tablespoon melted salted butter
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together self-rising flour, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. 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 fingertips for about 2 minutes. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk; 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 ¼-inch round biscuit cutter to punch out the biscuits (do not twist the cutter). Arrange the biscuits with sides touching on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a greased 10-inch cast iron skillet. 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 about 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the hot biscuits with the melted butter. Serve warm.