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These old-fashioned Southern-style Sweet Potato Biscuits are flaky, fluffy, and just like Grandma made them! Stir together the easy recipe from scratch for a perfect side dish with a holiday turkey, a tasty vehicle for a country ham sandwich, or a quick make-ahead breakfast. These simple tips will teach you how to make sweet potato biscuits that rise a mile high!

Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet full of homemade sweet potato biscuits with a side of apple butter

Sweet Potato Biscuit Recipe

Biscuits are a way of life in the South, and every home cook has her favorite version. Here in Virginia, old fashioned sweet potato biscuits date all of the way back to our founding fathers. In fact, Thomas Jefferson’s sweet potato biscuits were served at the first meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774, and are still enjoyed to this day!

Pouring buttermilk into a white mixing bowl

While some homemade sweet potato buttermilk biscuits recipes can be dense and flat (thanks to the added moisture from the mashed sweet potato), that is certainly not the case here! With a couple of simple tricks, you can make biscuits from scratch that are perfectly golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside, with light, fluffy layers on the inside. They are truly the best sweet potato biscuits!

Pastry blender over a white mixing bowl

Pair them with country ham for a simple appetizer, snack or breakfast; serve them alongside other roll recipes for Thanksgiving or Christmas; or add them to your bread basket at your next Sunday supper. These crowd-pleasing sweet-and-savory homemade sweet potato buttermilk biscuits are a convenient and simple treat that you can prep ahead and stash in the freezer for busier days.

Stirring together sweet potato biscuit dough

Ingredients for Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Biscuits

This is just an overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for old fashioned sweet potato biscuits. As always, specific measurements and complete baking 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 baking powder and a bit of salt already added. It’s traditionally made from a softer, lower protein version of all-purpose flour, which yields tender, flaky biscuits.
  • Sugar: just enough for a touch of sweetness.
  • Butter: for great flavor! Make sure that it’s very cold (or frozen).
  • Mashed sweet potatoes: add flavor, subtle sweetness, and body to the biscuits.
  • Buttermilk: for its acidity, as well as its fat and liquid content. Make sure that it’s cold before adding it to the dough.
Skillet of sweet potato biscuits before baking

What Type of Sweet Potatoes to Use?

I prefer using roasted, mashed sweet potatoes for this old-fashioned recipe. The texture of the sweet potatoes is ideal and they’re not too wet. That said, if you don’t have time for the added step of roasting your own potatoes, you can substitute with canned yams (drained, patted dry, and mashed) or with canned sweet potato puree.

To roast your own potatoes at home, preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Poke holes all over the outside of two large (or 3 small) sweet potatoes. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet and roast until tender, about 45-60 minutes. Cut a slit in the top of each potato to release steam. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and mash to a smooth puree. Chill the mashed sweet potato before using it in the biscuit recipe.

Brushing melted butter on top of homemade sweet potato buttermilk biscuits

How to Make Sweet Potato Biscuits from Scratch

This easy sweet potato biscuit recipe comes together in exactly the same way that you would prepare traditional Southern Buttermilk Biscuits — with one exception: you’ll add mashed sweet potatoes to the dough.

  1. Whisk together self-rising flour and sugar.
  2. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in the cold butter.
  3. Whisk together mashed sweet potatoes and buttermilk.
  4. Stir the potato mixture into the flour mixture.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 4-6 times (folding it over on itself). This process will help add those flaky layers to the biscuits. Feel free to flour your hands, the countertop, and the dough itself, as necessary, to prevent sticking.
  6. Pat the dough to 1-inch thickness and use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Arrange the cut biscuits in parchment paper lined (or greased) cast iron skillet or round cake pan with sides touching.
  7. Freeze for 10-15 minutes to chill the dough while you preheat the oven.
  8. Bake in a 450°F oven for 15-20 minutes. The biscuits are done when the tops are golden brown and you can see that the inside layers are cooked through — not doughy or wet. Once they come out of the oven, brush the biscuits with melted butter (for great flavor), and serve warm!
Hands holding a skillet full of the best sweet potato biscuit recipe

What to Serve with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Biscuits are a staple in many homes because they’re so versatile! Serve them on their own for breakfast with honey butter, jam, or apple butter. Add eggs on the side, or stir up a skillet of sausage gravy. In Virginia, country ham biscuits are a classic snack or meal at any time of day!

For a regular family dinner, or on a Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday table, here are a few entrées that go well with sweet potato biscuits:

Light and flaky sweet potato biscuits on a small plate on a dinner table

Make Ahead Sweet Potato Biscuits

While they’re best served warm, straight-from-the-oven, you can bake the biscuits up to 3 days in advance and store 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.

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.

Flaky southern sweet potato biscuits on a wooden serving board

Shortening, Lard or Butter?

This is the buttermilk biscuit recipe that I grew up with, using all butter. The most traditional Southern home cooks will tell you that old-fashioned sweet potato biscuits were made with lard, which is a pork product, and therefore has a nice flavor. You can substitute half of the butter with lard or shortening in this recipe, if that’s your preference. Shortening (or lard) will give the biscuits a slightly puffier texture.

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 flaky sweet potato biscuits! The buttermilk serves a couple of purposes 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 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.

The amount of buttermilk that you need will vary, depending on the day and depending on how much moisture is in your sweet potatoes. Start with ¾ 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 1 cup of buttermilk to bring the dough together. If the dough feels too wet and sticky, don’t worry — you can sprinkle in extra flour until you get to that firm consistency.

Side shot of a pan of old fashioned sweet potato biscuits

Recipe Variations

  • Some sweet potato biscuits include warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves. You can even keep it simple with a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Omit the sugar for a savory biscuit, or add more sugar for a sweeter biscuit.
  • Use canned sweet potato puree instead of the roasted, mashed sweet potatoes. Just make sure to pat it very dry before adding it to the dough.
  • Add cooked, chopped bacon to the dough for a salty, smoky contrast to the sweet biscuits.
Three flaky layers of sweet potato biscuits stacked on top of each other

Tips for the Best Sweet Potato Biscuit Recipe

  • Use a cast iron skillet or a round cake pan. While you can bake these biscuits on a rimmed baking sheet, I find that they rise highest when tucked inside a round pan. The biscuits “climb” vertically on the sides of the pan, and don’t spread horizontally. This creates tall, fluffy, flaky sweet potato biscuits.
  • Keep the ingredients COLD. It’s really important for the butter, sweet potatoes and buttermilk to stay as cold as possible. Leave them in the refrigerator until the last possible minute, and try not to touch the dough too much with your fingers, which can cause the butter to start to melt. You want those little pieces of butter to melt in the oven, releasing steam and reacting with the baking soda to form bubbles of carbon dioxide, which help the biscuits rise a mile high!
  • Grate Frozen Butter. My dad always freezes his butter and grates it into the dry ingredients, rather than cutting it in with a pastry blender or forks. Feel free to use that trick to keep your butter really cold, too!
  • Knead the Dough. By folding the dough over itself (or “laminating”) at least 4-6 times, you’ll add those nice flaky layers to the biscuits. No need for any fancy process or technique — just push out, fold back over on itself, and repeat. Don’t do this for too long, though, or you’ll get the dough too warm.
  • Don’t Twist the Biscuit Cutter. Firmly press the cutter down into the dough, but don’t actually twist. 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 in the 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!
Overhead shot of grandma's sweet potato biscuits in a cast iron skillet

More Biscuit Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet full of homemade sweet potato biscuits with a side of apple butter

Sweet Potato Biscuits

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 33 minutes
Servings 10 – 12 biscuits
Calories 259 kcal
These old-fashioned Southern-style Sweet Potato Biscuits are flaky, fluffy and just like Grandma made them!

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups self-rising flour (such as White Lily brand)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 ½ cups cold mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • ¾ cup cold whole buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted

Instructions

  • Lightly oil or grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet, or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together self-rising flour and sugar.
  • Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly and some pea-size pieces of butter remain.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together mashed sweet potatoes and buttermilk. Stir the potato mixture into the flour mixture just until the dry ingredients are moistened. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit more buttermilk. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add a bit more flour.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead 4-6 times.
  • Press dough to 1-inch thickness.
  • Using a round biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out biscuits and arrange in the cast iron skillet. Roll out the scraps once, and cut additional biscuits if necessary. Do not continue rolling and cutting or you may end up with tough biscuits.
  • Place the skillet in the freezer for 10-15 minutes so that the dough can chill while you preheat the oven.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Bake biscuits until golden brown and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Brush warm biscuits with melted butter and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use a cast iron skillet or a round cake pan. While you can bake these biscuits on a rimmed baking sheet, I find that they rise highest when tucked inside a round pan. The biscuits “climb” vertically on the sides of the pan, and don’t spread horizontally. This creates tall, fluffy, flaky sweet potato biscuits.
  • Keep the ingredients COLD. It’s really important for the butter, sweet potatoes and buttermilk to stay as cold as possible. Leave them in the refrigerator until the last possible minute, and try not to touch the dough too much with your fingers, which can cause the butter to start to melt. You want those little pieces of butter to melt in the oven, releasing steam and reacting with the baking soda to form bubbles of carbon dioxide, which help the biscuits rise a mile high!
  • Grate Frozen Butter. My dad always freezes his butter and grates it into the dry ingredients, rather than cutting it in with a pastry blender or forks. Feel free to use that trick to keep your butter really cold, too!
  • Knead the Dough. By folding the dough over itself (or “laminating”) at least 4-6 times, you’ll add those nice flaky layers to the biscuits. No need for any fancy process or technique — just push out, fold back over on itself, and repeat. Don’t do this for too long, though, or you’ll get the dough too warm.
  • Don’t Twist the Biscuit Cutter. Firmly press the cutter down into the dough, but don’t actually twist. 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 in the 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!

Nutrition

Serving: 1biscuitCalories: 259kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 114mgPotassium: 240mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 7655IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: sweet potato biscuits
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: 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. I was so excited to make these,I had a sweet potato biscuit with country ham at a restaurant recently and wanted to try these out. Unfortunately I did something wrong, they looked beautiful, but tasted very floury, and not much other flavor. Not sure what I did wrong, if you have some advice I’d appreciate any suggestions!

    1. Hi, Dawn! I’m sorry that they tasted floury. I’m not sure what you might have done wrong, as I’ve not encountered that issue. I wonder if you maybe used a little too much flour? If you measure the flour by scooping it directly into the measuring cups, rather than spooning and leveling, that can give you a lot more flour than you want. Other than that, it’s hard for me to know exactly what the issue might have been. 🙁

  2. 5 stars
    I had watched my grandmother make these biscuits so I from memory put a recipe and was going to send a recipe to a great nephew and looked up and found your information. I use a lemon juice in milk and let it sit for a little bit and it keeps the biscuits lighter.

    1. Thanks, Martha! You’re essentially making homemade buttermilk by adding the lemon juice to the milk, so yes — that definitely helps to make the biscuits lighter. 🙂

  3. Ok, these biscuits sound amazing and Im going to try them asap but can we talk about that bowl?! Can you tell me where you found that?