5 from 7 votes

Tender & Flaky Homemade Biscuits

Flaky Biscuits with jam | photo by Zoë François

There’s nothing better than tender, flaky biscuits.

There are three things that guarantee tender, flaky biscuits every time: flour, fat and folding. The type of flour you use will take your biscuits from tough to tender. I use a combination of cake flour and all-purpose flour, so that I have enough structure in my biscuits to create the flaky layers, but they are tender when I break into them. Then there is fat. You want it cold. It should be blended into the flour, but you also want some pieces to stay in tact to create the flakiness. This is just like making pie dough. Lastly there is folding. By folding the dough, you create even more layers and the biscuits are guaranteed to be flaky.

Flour 101

There are essentially 3 kinds of white wheat flours that are most common in baking recipes. But, beyond those there are some flours you may run into. Here is a very brief description of what makes the flours different and how you usually use them. There are always exceptions, so be sure to use the flour called for in the recipe.

Most common flours:

  1. bread flour – this has a high amount of protein (13-16%). The protein is what creates gluten when you mix flour and liquid together. Gluten gives dough the stretch and structure you need to rise, particularly in breads. This flour has too much protein to be used well in cakes, cookies, biscuits and pie doughs.
  2. all-purpose flour – this flour has plenty of gluten developing protein (10-12%), but not as much as bread flour, which makes it more suitable for many cakes, cookies, biscuits and pie dough. You will find bleached and unbleached versions. I tend to use unbleached, because I prefer the flavor and it has a nice creamy color to it. If you are going for a pure white color in your cake, then bleached is the way to go.
  3. cake flour – this is the lowest protein (7-8%) of them all and so it is perfect for delicate cakes and in combination with all-purpose flour makes for a really tender biscuit. You can’t use this flour for bread, because it has so little gluten development that the bread wouldn’t have the structure to trap the gases developed by the yeast. Almost always bleached, although King Arthur Cake Flour came out with an unbleached version.

Less common, but still useful:

white lily all-purpose flour or southern flours – these are traditionally made with soft winter wheat and are lower in protein (9%), so they are traditionally used in biscuits in the south. It is what I was trying to recreate by combining the all-purpose and cake flours.

self-rising flour – this is typically a soft wheat flour that has leavening agents added to it. If you use this flour, you no longer need to add the baking powder or salt. (Protein content around 9-10%)

pastry flour – is a combination of all-purpose and cake flour with protein content between the two (8-9%). You will rarely find this flour outside of a professional pastry kitchen.

gluten-free flour – there are now many products you can find to replace wheat flour for those who have celiac disease or are intolerant to gluten or wheat. I’ve used these g-f products from Cup4Cup and Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour with great success in pastries, but haven’t had as good results in bread recipes. These flours obviously have no gluten forming proteins and generally use xanthan, guar gum or psyllium to create the structure in the dough.

Check out my free Craftsy video on making flaky biscuits:

How to Make Flaky & Tender Homemade Biscuits

Here’s my step-by-step process for making flaky, tender homemade buttermilk biscuits. You can find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Cutting the butter into the dry ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry dough blender and cutter or by using your hands. If you use your hands, just be sure not to over work the butter or you may make it soft. If this happens, refrigerate the flour/butter mixture until the butter solidifies again. You should have very small pea sized pieces of butter still in tact.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Adding buttermilk into the dry ingredients

Add the buttermilk and stir together. The dough will look a bit shaggy, but should no longer have dry powdery flour and it shouldn’t be too wet either. If you need a few more drops of liquid, add it sparingly, you don’t want the dough to be too soft.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Folding the dough using a pastry scraper

Pour the shaggy dough onto the work surface and fold the dough over on itself a few times using a pastry scraper. This will form a more cohesive dough, but won’t melt the butter.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Rolling out the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface

Lightly flour the surface and roll the dough out to 1/4-inch rectangle. Try to keep it as clean a rectangle as possible, but don’t worry if the edges are a bit scruffy.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Folding the dough in thirds with a pastry scraper

Now fold the dough into thirds using your pastry scraper.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Folding the dough in thirds with a pastry scraper

And again, so it is like a letter.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Cutting the dough with a biscuit cutter

Now use a biscuit cutter to cut out the dough.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter

Gently press together any scraps and use them to make more biscuits. Be careful not to over work these scraps or they will end up tough.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Place biscuits on a lined baking sheet

Place the biscuits on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Biscuits on a lined baking sheet

Make sure they have enough space to expand slightly in the oven. They will grow up more than out, so they can be placed fairly close.

Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes or until they are golden brown on top.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Baked flaky biscuits on a lined baking sheet
How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Baked flaky biscuits on a lined baking sheet

Your biscuits should have great rise and be super flaky.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Baked flaky biscuits on a lined baking sheet

Serve your flaky biscuits with jam or with sausage and gravy. Enjoy.

How to Make Flaky Biscuits | Baked flaky biscuits on a lined baking sheet with jam

If you love biscuits as much as I do, you may be interested in these other tasty recipes:

Irish Scones with Kumquat Marmalade
Blueberry Cobbler
Berry Cobbler with Cheddar Biscuits

Quick-Fold Biscuits from Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network

I learned this folding method from Justin Sutherland from Handsome Hog in St. Paul. Want to watch us make biscuits together? Check out Season 1, episode 2 of Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network!

Ingredients

3 cups (390g) self-rising flour
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, chilled
1 1/2 (360g) – 1 3/4 cups (420g) full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek-style. Some yogurt is wetter than others, that’s why this is a range)
Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a food processor, blend together the self-rising flour and 4 tablespoons of the butter until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add another 4 tablespoons of butter and quickly pulse about 10 times until the butter pieces are about the size of large peas.
  3. Add 3/4 cup of the yogurt and pulse 3 times to combine. Add another 3/4 cup of yogurt and pulse just until the dough starts to come together, 5 or 6 more times, adding the remaining 1/4 cup as needed.
  4. Turn the rough dough out onto the counter and use a dough scraper to fold the dough over itself until a uniform dough forms, maybe 6 times.
  5. Dust the counter with all-purpose flour and place the dough on top of the flour. Dust the top of the dough with more flour, then use the dough scraper to divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
  6. Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the biscuits in the pan and then turn them over, so the butter side is up.
  7. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Three Stacked Tender and Flaky Homemade Biscuits with Jam

Tender & Flaky Homemade Biscuits

This biscuits recipe uses the perfect combination of all-purpose and cake flour, buttermilk and cold butter to produce tender, flaky biscuits every time.
5 from 7 votes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Breakfast

Equipment

  • Pastry Scraper
  • Biscuit Cutter
  • Large Bowl
  • Pastry Dough Blender

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (215 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (80 g) cake flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • scant 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry dough blender and cutter or by using your hands. If you use your hands, just be sure not to over work the butter or you may make it soft. If this happens, refrigerate the flour/butter mixture until the butter solidifies again. You should have very small pea sized pieces of butter still in tact.
  • Add the buttermilk and stir together. The dough will look a bit shaggy, but should no longer have dry powdery flour and it shouldn't be too wet either. If you need a few more drops of liquid, add it sparingly, you don't want the dough to be too soft.
  • Pour the shaggy dough onto the work surface and fold the dough over on itself a few times using a pastry scraper. This will form a more cohesive dough, but won't melt the butter.
  • Lightly flour the surface and roll the dough out to 1/4-inch rectangle. Try to keep it as clean a rectangle as possible, but don't worry if the edges are a bit scruffy.
  • Now fold the dough into thirds using your pastry scraper. And again, so it is like a letter.
  • Now use a biscuit cutter to cut out the dough.
  • Gently press together any scraps and use them to make more biscuits. Be careful not to over work these scraps or they will end up tough. 
  • Place the biscuits on the sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure they have enough space to expand slightly in the oven. They will grow up more than out, so they can be placed fairly close.
  • Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes or until they are golden brown on top.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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26 thoughts to “Tender & Flaky Homemade Biscuits”

  1. 5 stars
    I made these two days in a row. First, for a Southern Living themed dinner party and they were so good, I made them the next morning for our family. Delish! I brushed melted butter on them before baking and again after they came out of the oven. They were a huge hit! Perfect texture and just the right amount of crisp on the bottom. Zoe you are my new go to for all things baking. Thank you!

    1. Hi Wendy! We are so thrilled you enjoy this recipe. Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  2. 5 stars
    This morning was the second time I made these biscuits.
    Today’s bake had about a tablespoon of lemon zest added.
    I also used half all purpose flour and half pasta/pizza flour.
    Tasty, light, flaky and just the right amount of ‘tooth’.
    Thanks Zoe for the layering tip…it makes the flakes!!
    Margaret

  3. I was just wondering if you could update the recipe for the quick fold biscuits to reflect what she does on her show, which was 4 Tb butter and then another 4 Tb if that is correct?

    By the way…I love all Zoe’s recipes and the show! When is another season coming out? Soon, I hope!

    1. Hi Kathie! The quick-fold recipe from the show is listed just above the recipe card on this post. I hope this helps! So glad to hear you’re loving the show. No news of a new season, but we’ll keep you posted if we hear anything new. Cheers!

  4. 5 stars
    I was curious if the salt called for in the recipe is for Diamond Kosher salt or regular old table salt? Thanks!

    1. Thank you for asking! It is kosher salt. I’ve updated the recipe to make it more clear. Happy baking!

  5. I am a lot of things, but baker isn’t on the list. Everything is step by step for me. The biscuits you made after baking with Justin? Quick Fold Biscuits called for one cup of butter. I saw one stick go in the processor but not the other. Help? these are the biscuits made with yogurt, an idea I love. Thanks Zoe

  6. 5 stars
    Dear Zoe,

    Since i saw your first episode on the Magnolia Network I was anxiously waiting for more episodes! You are my favorite program on the network! I have been very ill since last November and haven’t been able to cook but I am so excited and cannot wait to try your recipes; they all sound so wonderful.

    You are such a delightful person! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    Take care and thanks again!

  7. Love your new show on Magnolia Network! This recipe and method is different than what is shown on the Biscuit Bake episode though and their link is to this page. Will you be amending this recipe or posting an alternate version to match the show?

    1. Hi Colleen,

      Thanks so much for asking. We have added the version from the show in the blog post. Happy baking!

  8. Made these with unbleached AP flour (what I had in the pantry) and the cake flour. Turned out great. I have made biscuits with White Lily self rising flour, but I have to special order it and I am too lazy. These are equally good, flaky and tender… just more rustic than using WL. Also I always grate a frozen stick of butter (tip from Southern Living), lightly tossing it in the flour along the way so it’s distributed evenly. The last biscuits cut from reforming the dough scraps always rise higher and are flakier than the first ones, but are just as tender…I always eat those first. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Instead of cutting your butter in, grate it first so all you have to do is basically toss the flour and butter together. I will also reserve a little butter back so that when I do the folding I add the butter in at that time to create the flaky layers. If making cinnamon and raisin biscuits, I will add the cinnamon, sugar, raisins in at the folding.

    1. This is brilliant Maryann,

      Thank you for the tip, I’ve read about it, but don’t do it, now I will.

      Cheers, Zoë

  10. Do you find any truth in cutting straight down without twisting the biscuit cutter so that you don’t prevent them from rising?

    1. Hi Anna,

      Yes, I try not to twist of squish the dough, but it is unavoidable, no matter your technique. You can lift the edges with your fingers to help the layers a bit.

      Thanks, Zoë

  11. the combination of you being a baker extraordinaire, reading what you typed above, and some of my dna belonging to the deep south, hints that you will not laugh at me like my friends when i tell you how crushed i was a decade ago to hear that white lily was no longer farming in their heirloom fields. but… even with this slight difference in flavor profile, i still found no other that could take down white lily. so, yes… i am one of those mad freaks that orders her flour in the mail to feed my fix. when i run out due to excessive biscuit eating or mess up and forget to order in a timely manner because of too much netflix activity messing up my flow, i always calm myself down by saying, “no big deal. you will survive without biscuits. stop being an idiot. life goes on.”. zoe, you have now given me a way to never lie to myself again!!! i am all over this formula to get close to that which white lily offers up in one scoop… i will be making these ap/cake flour lovelies tomorrow!!! thank you x100000

    1. 5 stars
      The best ever!!! I’m unsure of the number the recipe made, but mine made 8 and they were out of this world delicious!! Love your show and recipes. Thank you for sharing you info, skills and joy in the kitchen.

  12. Just thinking about making biscuits for fresh strawberries. Perhaps I’ll try these. Thanks for the email

        1. Hi Linda, you can substitute the yogurt with sour cream, buttermilk or creme fraiche. Enjoy!

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