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Old Fashioned Southern Biscuits (Ready in Just 20 Minutes!)

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I thought I made good biscuits, until I tried a viral Facebook biscuit recipe from southern grandma Brenda Gantt that blew my mind! These light, fluffy, and easy buttermilk biscuits come together so quickly, you’ll wonder why you ever messed around with cutting cold butter into flour.

Beautiful, fluffy biscuits in a cast-iron pan.
So fluffy!

The buttermilk biscuit recipe that blew my mind

I make good biscuits. Very good biscuits. And some of what I know about biscuits can be applied to this authentic southern recipe. But the basic method and ingredients are unlike any biscuit recipe I’d ever made!

A few weeks ago I watched this biscuit how-to video by an absolutely charming southern grandma named Brenda Gantt, and it flipped many things I knew about making biscuits on its head.

She doesn’t use a mixing bowl

I mean, first of all, she mixes the dough for her biscuits in the bowl she keeps her flour in. I have had endless conversations in the past couple of weeks about how that works, and why she doesn’t have bugs in her flour, or flour that’s gone bad.

But if you watch the video closely, it really does appear that every bit of buttermilk and shortening is picked up by the end, leaving nothing but pristine flour. Plus, you don’t have a bowl to wash!

And even if a little bit of something did get left in the bowl, I bet she uses that flour up pretty quickly. She mentions in the video that she has two different kinds of flour: White Lily self-rising, and regular White Lily. I have, at last count, fifteen different kinds. If I left bits of anything in my flour, by the time I got around to using it again it would be rancid.

She does everything by feel, no measurements

That’s, like, the exact opposite of how I bake. With cooking I get a little more free-wheeling, but with baking I like to be precise!

She doesn’t use butter

I’d never made biscuits without butter before (except for one batch of cream biscuits that I didn’t like very much). I’ve done a lot of experimenting with cookies and pie crusts using butter vs. Crisco, but I always thought that biscuits needed all butter. Boy, was I wrong.

Crisco definitely gives you a different taste than butter (I need to try these with butter-flavor Crisco), but it also gives you a much lighter, fluffier biscuit!

She mashes everything together

There’s no cutting in of fat and flour, and then adding the liquid and tossing gently. Nope, she just mashes the Crisco together with the buttermilk, gradually mixing in the flour. So much easier than using a pastry blender and cold, hard butter!

She puts her biscuits close together, in a cast iron griddle

Brenda bakes her biscuits on a cast iron griddle, not a baking sheet, and she puts them right next to each other. I always space mine out, because I thought the insides might not cook all the way.

Well, not only do they cook with Brenda’s method, you also get soft, fluffy sides on most of the biscuits.

She bakes at a really high temp

As Brenda says, “They wouldn’ta put 500 degrees on there if they hadn’t wanted you to use it now, right? The quicker it cooks, the tenderer your biscuits are.” And here I thought I’d been cooking mine too high at 450!

My attempt at Brenda’s easy biscuit recipe

A Twitter post, with a picture of biscuits in a cast-iron pan, that says "Today I made the best, fluffiest biscuits I've ever made in my life, using a method and ingredients totally different from how I usually make them. NEVER question a southern grandma when it comes to biscuits."
Never question a southern grandma about biscuits

Where to find White Lily flour

Of course I had to try it! But there was one major problem: I didn’t have any White Lily flour.

Now, Brenda doesn’t make a big deal about using White Lily self-rising flour at all. Where she lives it’s probably everywhere. But I’ve never ever seen it in a store in the northeast. And southern bakers go on and on about how it’s just the best flour out there. 

A friend suggested that 2/3 all-purpose flour mixed with 1/3 cake flour gives you a pretty good substitute for White Lily, and I will probably try that at some point and do some comparisons. But I needed White Lily Self Rising, so if I substituted I would also have to approximate self-rising flour. I really just wanted to try this with the real thing.

(Incidentally, don’t let people tell you that you can make your own self-rising flour, and that it will be exactly the same. Yes, you can add baking powder and salt to regular flour, and it will be similar, but real self-rising flour is made with a different kind of wheat, and the flour ends up being lighter and softer than all-purpose flour. It might not make a difference with some recipes, but with others it will.)

Years ago I’d looked for White Lily on Amazon, and couldn’t even find it there. So, I gave up my search. But now White Lily Flour is so much easier to get!

I had to use a mixing bowl

Flour, buttermilk, and Crisco shortening in a bowl.
Just three ingredients: self-rising flour, buttermilk, and Crisco

I couldn’t make myself mix the dough in my big container of White Lily flour. I just couldn’t!! But now that I have a lot more of that precious flour on hand, I might try it at some point. I have to work up the courage.

It’s not just the potential contamination of the flour that scares me, it’s the thought of not measuring anything!!

Everything else went just like she said. I didn’t have a cast iron griddle, but I did have part of a cast iron Dutch oven, which had fairly low sides, so I used that.

Cut biscuit dough in a cast-iron pan.
Ready to bake!

I’ve since ordered an inexpensive cast iron griddle, because I really do think that the lower side will make even better biscuits. I’ll let you know. [I’ve been using it for a while now, and it’s awesome!! If you make one-and-a-half times the recipe below, it’s the perfect amount for that pan.]

I had to figure out the measurements

Remember, Brenda does everything by feel. The reason that works especially well for this recipe is that she’s allowing the dough to pick up just as much flour as it needs, and leaving the rest in the bowl. Since I was too chicken to mix my dough in the bowl, I needed some measurements to start with. So, I used the ones on the back of the White Lily bag. 

Sticky, shaggy biscuit dough on a floured counter.
Biscuit dough ready to pat out

After lots more batches I determined that I needed a bit more flour than the bag said, but not much. I just don’t like working with dough that’s super sticky. It was sticking to my biscuit cutters.

Brenda’s dough is ready to go out of the bowl—she just pats it down and starts cutting. But since I’m not doing her flour bowl method (yet!), I knead it a few times after I take it out of the bowl, to get a little more flour in there.

The best homemade biscuits I’ve ever made

Homemade biscuits in a cast-iron pan, with a spherical, ugly biscuit in the middle.
My first batch of Southern Biscuits!

That first batch was amazing!! I ate one hot out of the oven, and then went back for a second. I ate them plain. They didn’t need a thing.

They were light, they were fluffy, and the bottoms were perfect!!

The golden bottom of a homemade biscuit.
The cast iron helps you get a golden biscuit bottom

(Have I mentioned that I’m on Weight Watchers? That first batch was six points per biscuit and worth every one!!)

The only little quibble I had was that I thought they needed some salt. I like things salty.

I thought that maybe brushing some salted butter on top would take care of it, but I also really wanted to add a bit to the dough itself. And, I wanted to try it out in one of the higher-sided cast iron pans I had, the eight-inch pans, because I thought that people would be more likely to have those than a griddle. 

So, I got to work.

Last Sunday I made five batches of biscuits, and then a couple more on Monday and Tuesday to make sure that all of the changes I’d made added up to something that could be reproduced time after time.

A Twitter post that says: "94 degrees? Perfect day to test biscuit recipes, with the oven on 500 all afternoon."
I always seem to do this

What my biscuit experiments found

A little more salt works great

For my second batch I added half a teaspoon of salt. Self-rising flour already has some salt, but I wasn’t sure how much. If you google recipes for self-rising flour, they’re pretty much split between adding 1/4 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour. Since I was starting with two cups of flour, I decided to add 1/2 teaspoon of regular table salt. 

I think that was the perfect amount…for me. Like I said, I like food really salty. And when I bit into that batch, I could definitely taste the salt! But I know they would be too salty for normal people, so I dialed it back in subsequent batches. Combined with a brush of melted salted butter, they’re perfect.

A high-sided cast iron pan does not work as well

Biscuits in a cast-iron pan with tops that look too dark.
Still good, but definitely overcooked on top

For the third batch, I baked them in my eight-inch cast iron pan. My other two batches had baked perfectly in the lower-sided pan in twelve minutes, but after twelve minutes in the higher pan, the sides of the biscuits looked a little doughy. I baked them for another two minutes, and the sides looked right, but the tops were too brown. They also didn’t rise as high as the first two batches.

I think the high sides of the pan protect the biscuits a bit too much, while allowing the tops to cook too fast.

So, I tried another batch, number four, and I made these biscuits shorter (I’d done the previous ones about an inch high, and I made these a little less than 3/4-inch). The tops didn’t get too dark like the batch before, but they also didn’t rise as much as the first and second (taking into account the shorter starting height).

These were by no means bad biscuits, but they weren’t the light, fluffy biscuits I’d made before.

The bottom of a cast iron pan works a little better

Cut biscuit dough on the bottom of a cast-iron pan.
Experimenting with the bottom of a cast-iron pan

For batch number five, I got the genius idea of flipping the eight-inch pan over. I figured the bottoms would still be protected, but the sides would get the heat they needed. And I think I was pretty much right.

The only problem was, the biscuits leaned outwards a bit. I think the little bit of support the biscuits get on a low-sided pan as they start to rise is enough to help them rise up straight, while not blocking them from the heat too much.

Lopsided biscuits on the back of a cast-iron pan.
When baked on a pan without sides, the biscuits are lopsided

But if you don’t have a low-sided pan, I think the upside-down pan is your best bet. Just be aware that a bit of Crisco might drip off of your pan and into your oven.

I want to try this again with the bottom of a larger pan, just because you can’t fit many biscuits on an eight-inch pan. Perhaps with a larger pan and more rings of biscuits, the inner biscuits wouldn’t lean, and you’d get some straight biscuits? Making the biscuits shorter would also probably help. If I try this I’ll update the post.

Should you brush on butter before or after baking?

I didn’t do a separate batch for this test, I just brushed some butter on half of one batch before they went into the oven, and then brushed the other half when they came out.

There was no difference in taste, but there was a difference in how they looked. The biscuit on the left went into the oven with no butter and was brushed afterwards, while the one on the right had butter brushed on before baking. I think the butter-less one looks much better. It has a smoother top. And they both tasted great, so go with what looks better and brush the butter on after baking!

Two homemade biscuits, one with a smoother top and one with a rougher top.
Left biscuit had butter brushed on after baking, right biscuit had butter brushed on before baking

Of course, if you just want more butter flavor, and don’t care as much about how they look, you can brush some on both before and after baking. 

Don’t forget to make a biscuit for your dog!

I don’t have a dog, but I did what Brenda said anyway and made a big biscuit out of the scraps, because I love using this mini cast iron pan!

A large, ugly biscuit in a tiny cast-iron pan.
I don’t have a dog, so I get this big one!

Some additional tips for making southern biscuits:

Preheat your oven higher than you need

This isn’t just for biscuits. I do this for all baked goods. I preheat my oven 25-degrees higher than the recipe calls for, because the oven is going to lose some heat when you open it to put the food in. As soon as I close the oven door with the food inside, I reduce the temperature to what it’s supposed to be.

Always weigh ingredients

An Oxo kitchen scale with a bowl on it.
Weighing ingredients solves so many baking problems!

I don’t know how people bake without a food scale, I truly don’t. Not only is it faster and more accurate, but you’ll have fewer measuring cups and spoons to wash at the end. Plus, have you ever tried to measure something like Crisco in a measuring cup?

I highly recommend getting an Oxo scale. I own two and love them both.

I’ve put volume measurements in the recipe in case you don’t have a scale, but trust me on this one. Get a scale and up your baking game.

Keep your Crisco cold

I don’t care what Crisco recommends about keeping their shortening in your pantry. I keep mine in the fridge, so that it’s ready for baking. Who wants to wait for it to harden up? 

Even though you’re smushing the Crisco into the buttermilk, it still helps to have everything cold. By the time you’re patting out the dough for the second time and it’s warmed up a bit, you’ll see the difference.

Don’t pat the dough out too many times

A round biscuit cutter, cutting some homemade biscuit dough.
Always cut straight down – no twisting!

Try not to pat out your scraps of dough too many times. I can usually use most of the dough the first time I pat it out, and then fill the pan with the dough from the second time I pat it out. After that, you’re going to have a tougher biscuit. As Brenda says, “The longer you work ’em, the tougher they get.”

You can reduce your scraps by cutting out your circles of dough as close to the edges as possible, and as close to each other as possible.

Get eye-level with your dough

If you’re just looking at your biscuit dough from above, you might not know how high it really is, because the sides (where you’re putting a ruler, if you measure like I do) will almost always be a bit lower than the middle.

This dough looked like it was 3/4-inch high, until I got down to its level. 

Measuring the height of biscuit dough from above.
Looks good from this angle!

Sure, the very edges were 3/4-inch high, but most of the dough was an inch.

A large ruler measuring the height of the biscuit dough at one inch.
Measuring the dough at eye level

How high you make your biscuits is up to you, but measuring them helps you to be consistent once you find a height you like. That way, you’ll know that for your pan, at a certain height, you’ll get a certain number of biscuits.

Looking at Brenda’s finished biscuits I think I was making mine a lot higher than she was. Mine were all between 3/4-inch and 1-inch. I’m going to try a shorter batch when I get my new pan, maybe closer to 1/2-inch. She was definitely getting a lot more biscuits than I was, but in addition to being shorter I think she was using a smaller cutter than I was (at least for my big biscuits).

I love this particular ruler for baking, because it’s extra wide and tall (although I wish it had centimeter markings). Really any ruler will do, though, as long as you can put the edge down flat on your counter or cutting board, and the flat part starts at zero.

Smaller biscuits mean fewer scraps

The smaller you make the biscuits, the fewer scraps you’ll have left over, and the closer you’ll be able to get the biscuits to each other in the pan. I prefer to make the biscuits bigger if I’m going to use them for breakfast sandwiches, but smaller if they’ll just be eaten with some butter and jam, like Brenda was. And hers looked pretty small.

And you don’t have to stick with one size for an entire batch! You can make some narrower and some wider, as long as they’re all the same height. I have this set of biscuit cutters, and I usually use the biggest one and the next-biggest one.

More tests are coming

Homemade biscuits stacked on a platter.
A platter of homemade biscuits

I’m not done testing. (I’m never done testing!) I want to try making these on a baking sheet, and then with non-White Lily flour. I want to try making my own biscuit recipe in a cast iron pan at 500 degrees, and then with White Lily flour, to see what changes.

This recipe works, but I still don’t understand if one part of it is more important than the other parts, or if you need to do all the parts of it in order to be successful. I will try to answer those questions for you! 

But for now, just know that following these instructions, with these ingredients, you will make amazing biscuits.

Yield: 8 large biscuits

Easy Southern Biscuits Recipe

Easy Southern Biscuits Recipe

These light, fluffy, buttermilk biscuits come together so quickly, you'll never cut butter into flour again!

Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes



  1. Preheat the oven to 525°F with a rack in the middle position
  2. Spread some Crisco on the bottom of a 9-10" cast iron griddle
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the self-rising flour with the salt, then make a well in the middle
  4. Pour the buttermilk into the well, then add the Crisco shortening
  5. Squeeze the Crisco and buttermilk together with one hand, trying to get rid of all the lumps of Crisco, gradually bringing more of the flour into the mixture as you go, until all of the flour is incorporated (the dough will be sticky)
  6. Wash and dry your hands
  7. Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface, and rub some on your hands too
  8. Grab the dough out of the bowl and gently knead it a few times, adding a small amount of flour if it's still very sticky (a little sticky is good)
  9. Pat gently until about 1-inch thick and cut out with a biscuit cutter, flouring the cutter after each cut and rubbing off any stuck dough
  10. Place each piece of dough in the prepared cast iron griddle, starting at the outside edge and then filling in the middle, placing the biscuits so that they're touching
  11. Once you've cut all you can out of the dough, gently knead what's left a few more times, and pat it out again, cutting the rest; try to only do this twice
  12. If you have dough left over, you can save it for something else, or make one big biscuit and bake it on a separate pan
  13. Put the pan in the oven on the center rack and immediately reduce the heat to 500°F
  14. Bake for 12 minutes, or until tops are golden and the sides look dry
  15. Brush the tops with melted butter and serve hot


If you don't have a cast iron griddle or some other cast iron pan with low sides, turn a cast iron pan over and use the bottom as your baking surface.

A 2-3/4-inch biscuit cutter will get you a good-size biscuit.

You can make shorter biscuits, too! I've patted the dough anywhere from 1/2-inch to 1-inch and it all worked well. I like them thinner for breakfast sandwiches, but taller for eating plain.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 92Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 6mgSodium 314mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 2g

Nutritional information is an estimate only.

Did you make this recipe? I'd love to see it!

Please leave a comment, a great star rating, or share what you made on Instagram, tagging @amyoztan. It really helps me out!


Saturday 2nd of July 2022

Thank you so much for this article! My aunt made biscuits in her flour container using White Lilly flour and they were amazing. I’ve tried to make biscuits like hers without a lot of success. The main difference in my aunt’s was that she patted them out in her left hand and used the top of the fingers of her right pat them out and then arranged them in a cast iron skillet with sides touching. I can’t wait to try this!

Sue Ella Robinson

Wednesday 29th of December 2021

I was so glad to find your recipe. I have wanted to make Brendas’s but no room for a bowl to keep the flour in. I made yours today and they were wonderful. I now need to order the Lodge griddle. How did yours do when you got your griddle? Didn’t see an update.

Amy Oztan

Thursday 30th of December 2021

Oh man, I never posted an update!! Thank you for the reminder. But the pan is GREAT. It's perfect for these biscuits. It's bigger than what I was using, so I've found that making 1.5 times the recipe is perfect.


Sunday 3rd of October 2021

I use White Lily Self Rising flour to make my biscuits like Brenda Gantt. They turn out great. For those of you that can't find White Lily, you can order it on line at That is what I do because I can't get it in the stores in Arizona.


Saturday 2nd of October 2021

I have no time to try this yet...but I am going to! I actually just watched her video today and loved it. I did a search on bisquits in a bowl with flour, (something like that) and yours popped up. Thanks!


Thursday 29th of July 2021

I just tried this recipe, after buying the White Lily flour and a cast iron griddle on amazon. I should tell you I live at about 5280 altitude. Yes, that's the mile-high city (Denver). My dough was too dry. I followed the directions scrupulously. The dough wasn't close to sticky; it would barely hold together. The biscuits looked and tasted pretty good, but were a little crumbly. Of course, this sounds like I need more Crisco. I used butter-flavored Crisco. Any thoughts on making the finished product more moist?


Saturday 4th of June 2022

@Valerie, Add more buttermilk


Saturday 31st of July 2021

I believe u did not add enough buttermilk and/or Crisco. I baked mine at 8500 Altitude and they baked beautifully. I didn’t have a cast iron skillets, I used a pizza pan lined with aluminum foil. Worked very well, light brown on outside and flakey inside.

Amy Oztan

Friday 30th of July 2021

I'm so sorry to hear that they didn't turn out well! I have to admit that I have very little experience with high-altitude baking, so if any of my readers are experienced in this I hope they'll chime in. From what I do know, the high altitude causes your flour to be much drier, so I'm tempted to make my first suggestion to decrease the flour by about a tablespoon per cup, which is the normal standard change for high-altitude recipes. BUT, I think in this case, since your dough was SO different from mine, you might be the perfect candidate for making the recipe like Brenda does in her video, because the Crisco and buttermilk pick up the amount of flour they need to, without measuring. If you don't want to try that, I would reduce the flour by more, maybe even by 2 or 3 tablespoons per cup, because for this recipe it would be easier to add more flour than more Crisco. Try to keep track of how much you add back in, so that you don't have to guess next time. And I hate to mention it, but flour is THE most miss-measured ingredient out there, so if you're not weighing the flour, please just make sure you're sifting it and then spooning it into the measuring cup (not using the cup to scoop the flour), since otherwise you'll end up with too much flour.

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