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Flaky Butter Biscuits

Flaky Butter Biscuits 8.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post

Mar 27, 2019

These gorgeous biscuits manage to be both tender and sturdy, so you can enjoy them on their own or use them to build a sandwich. The combination of butter and buttermilk makes for a clean, slightly tangy flavor that is classic. Folding the dough several times helps create flaky layers.

Depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen, you may need to use more or less buttermilk. You don't want the dough to be crumbly, but it should start to hold together in the bowl without being gluey. If you wish to make round biscuits, you'll need a 2-inch round cutter. To cut rectangular biscuits, a metal bench scraper works well.

8 - 12

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-12 servings

  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams; 1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • Scant 3 cups (355 grams) flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) table or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (250 grams) regular or low-fat buttermilk (see headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) salted or unsalted butter, melted, for optional brushing


Cut the cold butter into 1/8-inch-thick slices; refrigerate until you're ready to make the dough.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl, and refrigerate that as well.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Add the cold butter pieces to the chilled dry ingredients, tossing them until they are evenly coated. Press the butter pieces between your thumbs and forefingers into small flat pieces, or “leaves.” (Some pieces as big as a quarter are okay.) Add the buttermilk, as needed, and mix gently until just combined. The dough should be barely cohesive; don't worry if there are dry bits, because they will be incorporated as you pat and fold the dough.

Lightly flour your work surface. Transfer the dough there, patting it into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds as you would a letter, bringing one-third in over the middle third, followed by the final third over the other two. Gently roll or pat the dough into another rectangle. Repeat this fold-and-roll process once more if the dough isn’t cohesive or if you want to create more layers.

Lightly flour the top of the dough. Use the 2-inch cutter to create 10 to 12 rounds of dough, being careful to cut straight down and not twist the cutter (to ensure the biscuits get the best rise). You can re-roll the dough once, though you might not get the same rise. Or use the bench scraper or a sharp chef's knife to square the sides and edges of the dough rectangle, then cut 8 to 10 squares or rectangles. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake (upper rack) for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back after 14 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.

If you wish to brush the biscuit tops with melted butter, do so as soon as they come out of the oven. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes," by Martin Philip (Harper Wave, 2017).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per biscuit (based on 12, using regular buttermilk): 180

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 8g 12%

Saturated Fat: 6g 30%

Cholesterol: 20mg 7%

Sodium: 270mg 11%

Total Carbohydrates: 23g 8%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 1g

Protein: 4g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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