Filed under: Breads / Quick Breads
June 23, 2023

Sourdough Biscuits

Homemade sourdough buttermilk biscuits with crispy edges and an incredibly tender, fluffy center. Sourdough, fed or unfed adds wonderful flavor and texture.

5 from 8 votes
Yield: 5 large biscuits (or more)
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I’ll preface this post by telling you that Cynthia’s “Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits” are probably the best basic buttermilk biscuits I’ve ever made (and much of the internet agrees if the reviews are anything to go by!). If you are looking for a non-discard biscuit recipe, make hers. 

My discard biscuit recipe uses hers as a very rough template but as I sought to use up my ever-present sourdough starter & it’s discard, veered off quite a bit. This recipe has become my go-to because I’ve found that starter does two wonderful things to buttermilk biscuits: it gives them a slight, absolutely lovely sourdough flavor, and makes the biscuits even more tender in the interiors. The magic of it has got me making biscuits so much more often. 

Recipe Ingredients 

 

Flour: I love using a very light milled flour for biscuits, like White Lily (they are the poster child for southern biscuits after all!) because it makes the biscuits feather-light, but I’ve also successfully used KAB’s all purpose flour here. 

 

Buttermilk: What’s a biscuit without creamy tangy buttermilk? Homemade versions of buttermilk (lemon/vinegar mixed with milk) won’t lead to as tender of a biscuit and the increased acidity can throw off a recipe so I’d avoid it. Kefir can be a great buttermilk substitute but it’s a little thick for biscuits so I might water it down a bit before using. 

 

Leavening: We’re using a mix of baking powder and baking soda for this recipe, the combination helps the biscuits rise tall (and the acid in the buttermilk reacts nicely with the soda). 

 

Salt: Fine sea salt or fine kosher but if you are using table salt, halve the amount. I also love sprinkling some maldon salt flakes on top of these before they bake! 

 

Butter: preferably unsalted so you can control the salt level but (and don’t tell anyone else I’ve said this) salted is honestly just as good and sometimes better, especially in a recipe like this. If using salted  I would reduce the salt in the recipe to just a ¼ tsp. 

 

Butter temperature: This isn’t pie so the buttermilk doesn’t have to be super cold but it also should not be melty. A cool room temperature is best. You’re going to be working it with your fingers so it should be sturdy but malleable enough to be smushed between a thumb an index finger. 

 

Starter or Discard: I started making these with sourdough discard which works just perfectly but have found that they can also be made with fed starter with just as great results. If using unfed, it shouldn’t be more than 4 days old. 

How to make sourdough biscuits 

First, whisk dry ingredients together: flour, sugar, leavening and salt. 

 

Then, work in the butter: since the butter is not cold, the butter will be quite malleable and easy to work with. You’ll have the butter between your thumbs and fingers (mostly the index finger) and press it so that the butter coats the flour, gets turned into smaller bits (about black bean sized) and is scattered through all the dry ingredients. 

 

Add the wet: both the starter/discard and the buttermilk and then use a rubber spatula to stir it until you can’t see any ‘wet’ bits anymore. 

 

Fold and squeeze: to get the dough into a very rough ball you’ll use your hands to squeeze the dough together, pressing down into the bowl, and fold it over the bits that aren’t yet incorporated. Keep doing this until you’ve got all of the dough in a shaggy mound. 

Folding & Slicing Biscuits 

 

This is a sticky dough so have your flour nearby. Sprinkle some flour on the countertop, set the dough on it, then sprinkle the dough with flour. 

 

Now use your hands to press it down and shape it into a rectangle shape that’s about 1” thick. If it gets sticky, sprinkle some flour over it and keep working. 

 

Fold it over itself in half twice, this creates some nice height and layers in the biscuits. 

 

Then press down and again, shape it into a 1” thick rectangle. 

To slice you can use a biscuit cutter (don’t twist it, just punch down then lift) or a bench scraper or even a chef’s knife. 

 

I tend to slice mine into two halves to make four biscuits, then tidy up them up by slicing the rounded sides/edges and using all of the scraps to make one last biscuit (this one is usually misshapen, but perfectly delicious). 

 

Set them on a prepared cookie tray and in the freezer. This will allow the butter to firm up again, then it can melt in the oven and create even more layers. 

Bake the Sourdough Biscuits 

Right before baking you can give them a nice topping: brush some milk/heavy cream or even buttermilk over the biscuits and sprinkle on some granulated sugar or sea salt flakes. 

These can (and should!) be baked from frozen. They’ll take about 20 minutes in the oven, until they are golden all over. Before you take them out, peek at the center, that’ll be the last area they bake and you want to make sure it’s done before pulling them out. If they are over-browning (esp if you’ve done the topping) you can move them from any hotspots in the oven and lower the temperature to 350 until they are done. 

 

Why are there two ingredient lists? 

I wanted you to have the recipe in small and larger batches depending on what you need. I often like to make the bigger batch even when I don’t need them all, and leave the unbaked biscuits in the freezer, then I can pop ‘em in the oven whenever I want. They last a few weeks in the freezer!

 

Recipe for Sourdough Biscuits



Sourdough Biscuits

All butter, homemade buttermilk biscuits with an incredibly tender center. These biscuits are made with sourdough (fed or unfed) which adds wonderful flavor.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Yields: 5 large biscuits (or more)
5 from 8 votes

Ingredients

Double Batch (~10 medium sized or ~16 small biscuits)

  • 500 g all purpose flour preferably a low protein content flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 50 g or ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 226 or 2 sticks unsalted butter slightly softened (at cool room temperature)
  • 100 g sourdough discard unfed starter, no more than 6 days old
  • 300 g buttermilk

Small batch (~5 medium sized biscuits)

  • 250 g all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g sourdough discard
  • 150 g buttermilk

Method

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar).
  • Add the butter in slices and using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour by pressing it between your forefingers and thumbs (see video for reference). You can also use a pastry cutter for this; the idea is to get the butter into small-ish pieces (bean sized) and coat the flour with it.
  • Add the discard or starter and the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula until you can’t see any ‘wet’ bits. Use your hands to bring the dough together, folding it over itself and pressing it with your hands, until it comes together in a rough ball shape.
  • Line a greased cookie sheet with parchment paper (use a standard size for the full batch, a small size for the small batch).
  • Set the dough on a floured countertop and press it into a rectangle that’s about 12 x 10 inches. Fold it over itself in half, and then again (this creates layers). You can repeat this step once more, if you like.
  • Press the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1” thick. Use a bench scraper to slice it into squares that are about 3x3” (or use a round biscuit/cookie cutter). Place the biscuits on the prepared tray, leaving no more than an inch of space between them.
  • Set the tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes. If you want to keep them for longer storage, transfer to an airtight container (they’ll keep for a month in the freezer).
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F. Right before you bake the biscuits, brush them with milk, heavy cream or buttermilk. Add a sprinkle of granulated sugar or flaked sea salt if you like (work quickly if you are adding a topping, the frozen biscuits will freeze the milk soon after you brush them, so brush on the milk then do a topping, then move to the next biscuit).
  • Bake the biscuits for about 20 minutes, until the edges are deep golden and there’s no ‘wet’ looking parts in the center.

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Recipe Reviews




  1. I made the small batch tonight.
    ohmygosh how delicious they were, fluffy, on the inside and crispy on the outside.
    Thank you so much!????????

  2. 5 stars
    I think I forgot to give 5 stars on my other review! These biscuits were delicious. I made them for Easter and am making more for myself!

  3. Biscuits were never my bread of choice but these are incredible. I made them for Easter. They were so delicious that I’m about to make more for myself!

  4. 5 stars
    These are SO good. My biscuit game isn’t usually incredible, more on the mediocre side in fact. I had some sourdough discard though, and got the urge to use it instead of just pitching it like I normally do, so I printed out this recipe and went for it. Let me tell you, these are the most fantastic biscuits you might ever have! They are so tall and fluffy, with millions of delicious layers and a wonderfully tender inside. I brushed some egg on the top, followed by a sprinkle of sea salt, and they got the most delicious crispy top. I found the salt level to be perfect with the sea salt top, as I like things a little saltier, and it was especially good with a smear of butter and a generous drizzle of honey. 🙂 Lastly, that flavor! The discard just brought a deeper flavor to the biscuits that you wouldn’t otherwise have. I absolutely loved it, and everybody in my family was commenting on how flavorful these biscuits were. I’ll be making these pretty often from now on!

    • So I’ve noticed that sometimes the butter leaks out if the oven isn’t ready before they go in when they are frozen solid, I would do two things: thaw just a bit (not nearly enough to melt the butter, just about 5-10 mins at room temperature) and make sure the oven is fully preheated before they go in.

  5. 5 stars
    This are ridiculously good, both in texture or flavor. I’ve made these several times, all butter or half butter/half coconut oil, with buttermilk or kefir, all exceptional. The flaky salty crispy top and edges (particularly if cut into rectangles) are the best, and to quote a friend I served these to, “I’m worried I’ll never have a better biscuit in my life after this.” Thanks, Sam!

    • i didn’t for this recipe, my thinking is this: if you’re making sourdough you most likely have a scale (I can’t imagine making sourdough without one!) and since it’s more accurate anyway, there was no need for volume measurements (cups/spoons).