Cutting the Butter into Chunks
Many recipes call for cold butter cut into small pieces. After testing hundreds of biscuits, the cooks in the Southern Living Test Kitchen found that grating a frozen stick of butter with the large holes of a box grater made the best dough and was much faster too. The ice-cold shreds of butter incorporate into the flour more evenly, improving the dough’s flavor and texture.
Choosing the Wrong Flour
Whole grains are having a moment right now, but for a classic Southern-style biscuit, we prefer White Lily self-rising flour. It’s made with softer winter wheat, which has less protein. Less protein means more tender biscuits. (If you can’t find White Lily, use all-purpose bleached flour.)
Forgetting To Chill the Butter and Flour
Once you’ve combined your butter and flour, put the bowl back in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to make sure the butter stays cold. You want to make sure the butter doesn’t soften before the biscuits go in the oven.
Skipping the Buttermilk
Buttermilk gives biscuits their signature tang and keeps the dough tender. Make sure it’s very cold when you add it to the dough.
Overworking (or Underworking) the Dough
If you stir the dough too much, the biscuits will be hard and tough. If you don’t stir enough, they will have a floury, uneven texture. Our Test Kitchen cracked the code: Stir the dough 15 times for the perfect texture.
Using Your Hands To Shape the Dough
Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough; the heat of your hands can actually soften the butter.
Rolling the Dough Out Once
For layers and layers of buttery goodness, you can’t roll out your dough one time. For flaky layers, fold and roll the dough five times before cutting.
Twisting the Biscuit Cutter
When you’re ready to cut your biscuits, punch straight down with your biscuit cutter. Twisting the cutter “seals” the edges, which keeps your biscuits from rising high.
Baking On an Unlined Pan
Place your cut biscuits on a parchment-lined baking pan to avoid sticking.
Placing the Biscuits Far Apart
When you set the biscuits on the baking sheet, make sure the sides are touching. As they bake, they will cling to each other, rising bigger and taller.
Baking at a Low Temperature
A hot oven helps biscuits bake—and rise—quickly. We recommend 475˚F for 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven as soon as they are lightly browned.
Digging in Too Soon
We know, we know—at this point, you’re dying to enjoy those hot, flaky biscuits. But one final step will make them truly over-the-top. Simply brush the tops with melted butter and prepare for the best biscuit experience of your life.