American Biscuits are a Southern US classic. They’re effectively savoury buttermilk scones that are flaky rather than crumbly & make an excellent side or breakfast. Ideally served warm and smothered with butter, I can’t stop eating them!
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The phrase “biscuits and gravy” is met with very different responses in the UK and US! In the UK you will get a mixture of blank faces, horror and disgust.
Visions of digestive biscuits with beef gravy aren’t that appealing. But in the US, especially in the Southern states, they’re going to ask you what time breakfast is!
This is because American Biscuits aren’t anything like UK biscuits. Cookies are what American’t call UK biscuits. And not just the chewy soft ones. All of them.
Which leaves the word “biscuit” free and clear for other uses. And they choose to use it to mean buttery, flaky savoury scones. Or ‘savory’ scones as they’ll spell it! Not to be confused with British Cheese Scones either – they are indeed savoury but they’re still not biscuits!
American Biscuits have a few uses, mostly revolving around breakfast, hence why they are also known as Breakfast Biscuits.
They can be used for a breakfast sandwich, a bit like how we might use an english muffin. McDonalds even replace their McMuffins with Biscuit sandwiches in many of their Southern US restaurants. Or serve both.
How to Make American Buttermilk Biscuits – Step By Step Video
So What About “Biscuits and Gravy”?!
Then there is the aforementioned ‘biscuits and gravy’. At this point you’ll not be surprised to know that the gravy is not like British gravy either!
Sausage Gravy is made with actual sausage and milk. It’s very tasty but not photogenic! But lets concentrate on the Buttermilk Biscuits for the time being.
Breakfast Biscuits are similar to scones but without the sugar. The other difference is that they’re more buttery and are made in layers. So they’re flaky rather than crumbly.
I make them in a similar (but much quicker) way as puff pastry. The dough is rolled out, folded and rolled again. The folds are repeated twice more and then the biscuits are cut.
Because Biscuits are a quick bread, just like Soda Bread, they don’t use any yeast and they’re ready in under 25 minutes.
How to Serve Breakfast Biscuits
Ideally you should serve biscuits with lashings of butter. Lashings. I actually mostly eat them just like this.
They’re best warm. If they’re not fresh out of the oven I just give them 30 seconds in the microwave. You can also make little sandwiches out of them. I like ham and melty cheese.
For extra decadence, I sometimes melt on some homemade Garlic Butter. Although I have to admit I don’t tend to so this for breakfast!
And then you can top them with Sausage Gravy or a vegetarian option like Creamed Mushrooms. I always thought that the soft texture of the Biscuits wouldn’t work with the soft texture of the gravy but actually it is rather delicious.
I do sometimes add bacon to my mushrooms for an extra flavour. And I often add a poached or fried egg.
Biscuits are also served as a side. Just like a bread/dinner roll. They are especially common with Southern Fried Chicken and other sides like Macaroni Cheese and Green Bean Casserole. Or even going back to breakfast with Steak and Eggs!
Make Breakfast Biscuits into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
Breakfast Biscuits are incredible as an additional side to any of my Americana Feasts. You could switch out the Garlic Rolls in my Big Americana Feast or Vegetarian Feast or serve them as an extra.
They would also make an excellent side for any of my Everyday Americana Feasts like my Ribs, Slaw & Sweet Potato Feast or Glazed Ham & Mac’n’Cheese Feast.
And then of course Breakfast Biscuits are ideal as part of a Brunch Feast. Try adding them to my Big Prep-Ahead Brunch Feast or Vegetarian Brunch Feast instead of or alongside the Bagels. Make sure to smother them in the Homemade Butter!
My Bagel, Avocado & Egg Feast could also become a Biscuit, Avocado & Egg Feast!
Adding either Sausage Gravy or Creamed Mushrooms will also make for heck of a Brunch Feast. Also add egg and/or bacon to make it extra special. It wouldn’t be un-American to drizzle over some maple syrup too!
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Breakfast Biscuits
I use plain (all-purpose) flour and baking power in this recipe. You could technically use self-raising flour and only a little extra baking powder. But don’t. You get much more control from adding your own raising agent.
There is no need to sieve the flour but it won’t hurt if you want to.
I always use salted butter. When I can I make my own (so easy!). If you only have unsalted butter, it is fine to use but you may wish to add a little extra in the way of sea salt flakes.
Buttermilk is what you get when you make butter out of cream. Take the butter out and you are left with the buttermilk. I also use buttermilk to marinade my Southern Chicken Wings. If you don’t have homemade buttermilk, you can buy it in any supermarket right next to the cream.
But it is worth noting that bought and homemade buttermilk do have different consistencies. I don’t know why but the stuff you buy is much thicker. As I think you are more likely to buy it than make it, I have written the recipe based on the thicker commercial buttermilk.
Because it is thicker, you need more to achieve the correct consistency of the dough. So if you use homemade buttermilk, expect to use up to half less. Either way, make sure to add it a little at a time.
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can alternatively use plain yoghurt or milk with a little lemon juice mixed in. I explain this method more in my recipe for Chilli & Oregano Soda Bread.
There are not actually many ways that I tend to vary this recipe other than in respect of the size and shape.
Sometimes I make the Biscuits square, sometimes round and sometimes I roll the dough into a round and then cut it like a pizza for wedge shaped Biscuits. I also sometime make mini Breakfast Biscuits or even really rather large ones.
You could of course flavour the biscuits if you wish. Something simple like mustard powder and fresh chives would appeal to me most. You could also add chilli flakes to heat things up. You could go to the next level and add cheese or even pieces of cooked bacon. Slathering them with garlic butter would be pretty epic.
There are many recipes for sweet and fruit flavoured biscuits out there. But I think I’d rather just make a scone!
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
Buttermilk Biscuits are vegetarian!
To make them vegan is easy, you just need to make a couple of swaps. The butter can be replaced with a dairy-free baking block. Something hard is ideal for the dough but you could use a softer, more flavoursome spread for melting and brushing on after baking.
The buttermilk can be replaced by your favourite dairy substitute milk. Add lemon juice to the milk to simulate the acidity of buttermilk. Easy peasy.
Make it Allergy Friendly
My Breakfast Biscuits are naturally nut and egg free.
Gluten Free: Its very easy to make these gluten free. Simply substitute the plain flour for a good gluten free flour. You don’t want a lot of gluten in the Biscuits so the texture shouldn’t be overly affected. Also check that your baking power is suitable for gluten free diets.
Dairy Free: Simply follow the instructions that I’ve given above to make the recipe suitable for vegans.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Breakfast Biscuits
There is nothing terribly specialist needed to make these Biscuits. You will need the usual suspects for weighing and measuring like scales, spoons and a liquid measure.
Something to mix the dough in and something to mix it with would be helpful but actually you could make it on a clean surface with your hands if you wanted!
A rolling pin would be helpful as would a sharp knife or some cookie cutters. A sharp edge on the biscuits will give you a better rise.
The Biscuits need to bake on something. You could use anything from a cast iron skillet (quite traditional) to an enamel tin, ceramic dish or regular baking tray.
And then there are a couple of items which you don’t need but which will make things easier. A flour shaker is one. Simple but it does make sprinkling flour for kneading and rolling that bit more even and under control.
The other is a silicone pastry brush. You could spoon the butter over the top of the Biscuits but the pastry brush does make things a little more refined. Plus it has a million uses!
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
Once you make the dough and cut out the Biscuits you can either bake them straight away or freeze them. I wouldn’t keep them in the fridge as the baking powder will sit and continue to react with the buttermilk. Frozen biscuits can simply be baked from frozen – they will just need a little longer cooking time.
American Biscuits can also be cooked and then kept for a few days or frozen. They are better the fresher they are but they are fine to keep for a couple of days, especially if you warm them through before eating.
Leftover Breakfast Biscuits
Any leftovers can be eaten over the next few days or simply frozen to eat at a later date.
Stale biscuits could also be blitzed up and used like breadcrumbs, fried to make croutons for a salad or even used in a bread and butter type pudding.
Breakfast Biscuits Tips
Your butter does need to be cold. If it is an especially warm day, you can freeze then grate the butter into the flour. It then only really needs to be stirred in rather than rubbed.
The butter does not need to be rubbed in all that well. Some lumps won’t hurt, just like with the grating method.
I make sure to bake any offcuts of dough. They won’t be quite as fluffy as the actual Biscuits but it still tastes great and waste is very very bad!
Whilst the dough does need a bit of a knead to make it come together, try not to overwork it. Be gentle and stop as soon as it comes together. Overworking it will make the baked Biscuits tough.
You can cut the dough rectangle into 3 pieces and stack them rather than folding to make the layers. Stick to 3 layers at a time, maybe 4 at a push. I tried more and it didn’t work out well!
The cuts around the edge of each biscuit want to be sharp. So use a sharp knife or cutter rather than a blunt glass. Also avoid twisting a cutter. Sharp straight edges allow the biscuits to rise high and even.
I do sometimes cut a Biscuit in half to check if is cooked all the way through. It can be easy to end up with a doughy interior, especially if you like your baked goods on the lighter side of brown like me.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
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More Bread Based Recipes
Breakfast Biscuits (Savoury American Scones)
- 225 g Plain Flour - plus extra for rolling & kneading
- 1 tbsp Baking Powder
- 0.5 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 100 g Salted Butter - cold
- 250 ml Buttermilk - less if thinner and homemade
- Preheat the oven to 230c or equivalent.
- Measure 225g Plain Flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp Baking Powder and 0.5 tsp Sea Salt Flakes directly to the flour.
- Weigh out 75g Salted Butter and use a sharp knife to cut it into small cubes. Add the cubes to the flour.
- Use the tips of your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it has the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. You do not need to rub in as well as if you were making British Scones. Some small lumps are fine.
- Slowly add 250ml Buttermilk to the flour mix a little at a time. Keep stirring until a soft dough forms. It will be soft and a little sticky. You may not need to add all the Buttermilk. You will need to add much less if it is homemade and on the thin side.
- Dust a clean flat surface with flour and empty the dough onto the surface.
- Knead the dough until it comes together and is much smoother. Don’t be too rough with it however or you will create tough biscuits.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle about 2cm thick. Dust with more flour as needed.
- Fold one third of the dough on top of the rest of the rectangle.
- Fold the remaining uncovered third on top of the last fold.
- Roll the dough back out into a rectangle of the same size. Repeat the folding and cutting twice more until you have 9 layers in total.
- Finally roll the dough back out to a depth of roughly 2 cm.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into squares. Trim the edges if you wish.
- Or use a cookie cutter to make rounds.
- Use a little of the remaining 15g Salted Butter to grease your preferred baking tin.
- Move the biscuits to the greased tin. They can be placed quite close together.
- Brush the tops of the biscuits with any leftover buttermilk if available.
- Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and melt the remaining butter in the microwave or in a small pan.
- Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter whilst still hot.
- Serve while still warm.
You mostly got the blog correct, but as an American living in the UK (from Texas) I gotta say that we have biscuits with everything! Not only breakfast. We have them with dinner too! It’s not uncommon to have beans, rice and biscuits to sop up all the delicious juices. I’m about to try your recipe, they look flaky and buttery 💪
As yes, unfortunately as a recipe writer I often have to name recipes so that people find them. I made these with mac and cheese, glazed ham and green beans just the other week! Reheated a couple in the air fryer the next morning and had little bacon sandwiches – best of all worlds in under 24 hours!
As a Brit I love a scone but I’ll never make a savoury scone again. These are delicious! I added some grated cheddar and they are the best!
Siobhan King says
Kiwi living in UK, my mothers generation was of the culture where being able to rustle up some scones in ten or twenty minutes was an essential life skill.
It pains me to say this but these are so much better than scones. This recipe is really simple and easy to follow. I found it because I was looking into the difference between the American definition of biscuit vs the British. I found all the info before the recipe very useful and it’s possible to skip straight to the recipe from a link at the top.
That person’s loss I say as they are missing out.
I am from the Northeastern US and we don’t understand biscuits and gravy 😂 The biscuit idea, yes, we eat them as scones with butter or cream and jam or honey, or as dinner rolls with butter 🙂 I can’t wait to try these, they sound delicious and the technique is different from any I have learned.
I have NEVER made biscuits before and only eaten them once, so I was not sure how this would go, but they were DELICIOUS! The recipe was very easy to follow, and the biscuits came out buttery and flakey and wonderful. I’m making these again next weekend, this time I’m going to figure out sausage gravy…
Aw fab, I’m so pleased to hear that! I’ve actually not made them for ages but I’m putting them on the meal plan for this week now you’ve reminded me!
JOHN JENNINGS says
Flippin great we are British ex pats living in Greece ( 15 years) and as we cant get butter milk here could never really have real biscuits .My wife and I are both avid cooks and when I saw your butter recipe leading on to th biscuits I was sold we use a carton of long life cream but the butter is great and the butter milk is great when chicken is soaked in it and the biscuits are out of this world brought back great memories of our honeymoon in the States Cheers
John and Liz Kalymnos, Greece
I’m so pleased you enjoyed it and thank you for letting me know too, it always makes my day 😁
Christopher Strome says
A well written recipe. Light, airy biscuits are a foundation of Sunday breakfasts and brunches here in the Southern United States. The temptation to overwork the dough is what you really have to avoid. I do use a dough scraper to help fold the dough for rolling out as it’s pretty delicate and a bit of a mess. Cold is your friend with the butter and the dough shouldn’t be wet so be careful as you add the buttermilk. Just an aside, you can imagine our general confusion when reading something like Harry Potter and the topic of biscuits. We definitely don’t equate biscuits as being what we refer to as cookies. Great job in explaining a Southern American classic.
Thumb got tired scrolling before I found the recipe and gave up
And yet, in shock news, you managed to scroll right on past the recipe to leave a sad little comment. You’re also clearly as blind as you are stupid – there is a button to jump straight to the recipe right at the top of the post. But you know, thanks for wasting my time and energy. Have a nice day. And book a Specsavers appointment. And maybe a personality transplant.
A man whose thumb gets tired that easily is no man at all.
I am from the South in America, and these biscuits were some of the best I’ve had! My family was very impressed with how they came out & I was SO happy with this recipe. Thank you for sharing. We had such a fun time making them, and they came out literally PERFECT. Cheers
I don’t think I could ask for a better review from a more qualified person! I’m so pleased you enjoyed them and thank you so much for letting me know, feedback like this makes all the hard work totally worthwhile and really make my week! x
this is my first time to try to bake a biscuit. I’ll always buy/order it every time I go to America . I’ve been missing it so I thought I’ll make it myself. I think I didn’t have to use the 250ml buttermilk because it became to sticky and difficult to handle. I also expected it to rise a bit but its only about 1cm high.
The taste is good though but not as airy in texture as the ones I have tried in America.
Hi Dolly, I’m sorry that the biscuits didn’t turn out quite as you expected – unfortunately I think you might not have followed the recipe entirely correctly. You’ll notice step 12 – “Finally roll the dough back out to a depth of roughly 2 cm” should mean that even if the biscuits didn’t rise in the oven (there is no reason that they shouldn’t), they wouldn’t be 1cm after baking anyway. Hopefully you’ll have better luck next time.
Angela McDonald says
Have you tried to make monkey bread with this recipe? I really want to try it, and the recipe I found said to use the pre mixed biscuits in a tube, but you can’t get them in the UK. Thanks, Angela.
Hi Angela, I do have a recipe for Chocolate Monkey Bread but I don’t use biscuit dough, I use an enriched yeasted bread. I’ve never tried the canned biscuit dough but I hold out very little expectations for it to be honest – a bit like the croissant dough in cans we get here – not nice!
I’m a good baker and so I don’t know why these did not work. I followed everything exactly – folding the dough, cutting them into rounds and using real buttermilk. At 12 minutes in the oven they looked like the photo above and quite wonderful. However when I cut one or two in half, the base of the biscuit was doughy and uncooked. I put them back in and they became more and more golden and deeper in colour. I kept checking them and each time the base of the biscuit was uncooked and doughy. The flavour initially was great but I don’t know what went wrong. When I eventually took them out they were bordering on burnt and still doughy and raw on the bottom of the biscuit. Makes no sense to me. Very disappointing, as I’ve never had any issues with things cooking before and often make bread, cakes, scones and biscuits (English ones).
Hi Sofia, I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed. It sounds like you oven might run a little hotter than mine or perhaps you cut them a little thicker than me. Unfortunately there are many things that can affect a bake. Everything from the brand of four, fat content of the butter, the altitude at which you’re baking to the colour and material of your baking sheet. It sounds like you almost certainly should reduce the oven temperature if you try them again, this is good advice anytime that something is looking over baked on the outside and undercooked on the inside. I have however tested this recipe a number of times and I remain confident that it is a great recipe. Good luck next time.
Janice Pattie says
I just love American Biscuits, the best I had were spread with molasses butter. I’ve always been intrigued by the layering and you have explained it so well.
Oooh molasses butter sounds amazing!
CAMILLA HAWKINS says
I’ve seen these US biscuits on my time line for so many years that it’s high time I bit the bullet and tried making some as the fact that they look just like a scone but aren’t a scone has intrigued me no end!
You should def try them, they’re super quick and easy. They’re certainly not a world away from a scone but just a little different. Let me know what you think!
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie says
Interesting! I’ve heard of biscuits and gravy, but I didn’t actually know what they were until I read this. Well now I do! And I really, really want to try them 😀 Eb x
Yup its an odd one isn’t it – I’d come across it a few times on my travels but wasn’t 100% what it was. It was a bit of a revelation when I actually tried it!
Jacqui Bellefontaine says
Well I knew they were called biscuits but i didnt know they weremade by a different method. They certainly look good
No it was something I’d had, was aware of but wasn’t quite sure how they were made. Lots of recipes I found used shortening rather than butter but butter felt like a much nicer way forward!
Yummy. The end!
Sometimes yummy is all you need!
Jill @MadAboutMacarons says
As a Scot who loves cheese scones, I know I’d love these. Thanks for educating me on the USA methods as I still don’t get the lingo at times! Had me in hoots of laughter about the Brits’ reactions to biscuits and gravy.
You’re welcome – I love learning about the differences between “our” and world foods. American food especially intrigues me because we’re so similar in many ways but then totally different in a bunch of others! Keep you eye out for my next post which is the “sausage gravy” to top your biscuits with!
Karen Parrow says
This ratio of buttermilk to flour is way off. I doubled the recipe and 250ml buttermilk was enough for 500g flour. My husband is from the South so I’m used to making biscuits
I’m sorry that the recipe didn’t work for you. Did you make any substitutions that might of affected it? Or used an especially thin buttermilk perhaps? This recipe has been tested numerous times with spot on results. Whilst there will always be some leeway in baking depending on various factors, I cannot comprehend that all of a sudden the quantities are 100% out. I hope you have more success next time.
Helen - Cooking with my kids says
I knew an American biscuit wasn’t a biscuit, but had no idea what it actually was. These I can get on board with though – they look delicious.
Its funny how something so normal to such a huge chunk of the world’s population is almost unheard of and unknown to another huge chunk. It blows my mind sometimes!
Wow Chloe, your posts are just epic. Love the way you manage to get so much into them and relate them back to your feasts. I knew that American biscuits are scones, but had no inkling about the layering bit. Will try that next time I make scones – if I remember! They do look exceptionally good.
Commercial buttermilk is different to homemade as it’s cultured, which is why it’s so much thicker. But I’ve often used homemade in scones and soda bread to good effect.
Lol yes unfortunately they’re a little epic to write too but my desire for consistency will continue to rule me! Thanks for the explanation on the buttermilk, I never thought about it being cultured. I keep meaning to coluture some regular cream before making butter and seeing if I like it – I’m not that convinced I will! Let me know how your flaky scones turn out won’t you!