The Fluffiest Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
I have been making this buttermilk drop biscuit recipe almost weekly for YEARS. It’s a one-bowl recipe that whips up with 5 simple ingredients that I always have on hand.
This buttermilk drop biscuit recipe yields the fluffiest, softest, most tender biscuits. It’s a high-moisture recipe making it forgiving to slight errors in flour quantity or in handling, and nowadays I throw them together without even measuring. For you, however, I took exact measurements and triple-tested to be sure. So tie on an apron, yo. Biscuits for dinner.
5 secrets to the best-ever, easiest-ever buttermilk drop biscuits:
- A kitchen scale. Weigh out your flour, then whisk in baking soda and powder. Place the bowl on the scale again, tare it off, then grate in the butter. Easy. Tare again and weigh in the buttermilk. Gently toss the ingredients to make a shaggy dough, and you’re done. Not only does it make for spot-on measurement, it eliminates excess measuring cups.
- A cheese grater. Simply grating cold butter into the dry ingredients creates the pockets of fat in the biscuits that melt to yield the steam that gives wonderful flaky layers and rise. I hold the grater in one hand over the bowl placed on the scale so I can weigh it right in. It eliminates the mess and effort of measuring out, cubing, and then cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter. That’s 1 tool and 1 step instead multiples of both.
- A whisk. Whisking the dry ingredients serves to aerate the flour (like sifting would). This incorporated air creates more lift in the biscuits (read: FLUFFY!). The same whisk easily and evenly distributes the grated butter.
- Gently fold the buttermilk into the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula to lightly turn the mixture over in the bowl until the flour is 95% incorporated. Avoid using a strong arm and don’t overmix. We want to avoid developing too much gluten in the dough, which will result in tougher biscuits. A few floury patches in the dough are fine.
- Stop at the shaggy stage. At the shaggy-dough stage with typical biscuits, you’d turn your dough onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough together before using a cutter to make rounds. These steps (and the accompanying mess!) are eliminated with this simple scoop and drop method.
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits Ingredients:
- All-Purpose Flour. It is in everyone’s pantry and works perfectly here. Bread flour will yield tougher biscuits and cake flour will make them dry. A low-protein pastry flour would also work, just use the same weight. (Note that in Canada our common “pastry” flour is Cake & Pastry flour, which is actually more like cake flour and will dry them out due to a stronger bleaching process that makes the flour absorb more water.)
- Real buttermilk or one of these great buttermilk subsitutes. Note that real buttermilk is rich in phospholipids which yield the absolute most tender biscuits (you must try at least once!) but a swap will do the trick.
- Cold butter. Straight from the fridge. Frozen is even better but not necessary. Salted or unsalted is fine here. I tested using salted, which everyone has on hand. It must be cold so that the structure of the biscuit sets before the butter melts and runs out. This creates the pockets of steam that yield flaky layers and a wonderful lift.
- Baking soda and baking powder. These leaven the biscuits. Read on below for the science reasons why I use both instead of one or the other.
I use a large ice cream scoop (yielding 5 oz dough by weight) to portion directly onto the parchment paper. You can also use two spoons. It’s about 3/4 cup per biscuit, or 5 biscuits per batch (you can always spoon a bit of dough off of one and add it to another to make them even, no need to obsess about portioning).
The astute baker will wonder why I use both baking soda and powder in this recipe when typically buttermilk recipes only use baking soda.
I use both baking soda and baking powder in biscuits for two reasons:
- The baking soda (a chemical base) neutralizes the acid in the buttermilk to create carbon dioxide that expands the air bubbles in the dough to leaven the biscuits. But I love a bit of buttery, delicious tang so I don’t want to neutralize it all. Using partly baking powder gives us the extra rise.
- I love to double (triple! QUADRUPLE!!) this recipe and if it were made fully with baking soda, multiplying the batch is likely to leave pockets of unreacted soda that taste salty and metallic.
Can you freeze biscuits?
Leftover baked biscuits freeze supremely well and lend themselves beautifully to a quick warming up in the microwave and a breakfast-y slathering with butter and jam.
I don’t recommend freezing the dough. You will likely end up with puddles of butter and greasy biscuits. The cold batter doesn’t set before the butter melts in the oven.
- 10 oz all-purpose flour (2 1/4 cup lightly spooned and levelled)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 oz cold butter (6 tbsp)
- 11 oz by weight buttermilk (1 1/3 cups)
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Grate the butter into the flour mixture and whisk again to combine.
- Measure in the buttermilk and switch to a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to fold the ingredients gently together until a shaggy dough forms. It will not be totally uniform, and that's ok.
- Spoon dough on to prepared baking sheet. You'll have 5 5-oz biscuits. Bake 10 minutes, rotate pan, and bake 8-10 minutes more, until golden and tops feel springy (not soft) when you gently press down on the centre.