Best Drop Buttermilk Biscuits

I am a sucker for a biscuit recipe. I’ll try them all out, even though I’ve worked out a consistently successful master recipe for quick biscuits and discovered the best buttermilk biscuit recipe, courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated. Now, Cook’s Illustrated has passed on the recipe for best drop buttermilk biscuits in the November issue, and of course, I had to try them.

The main difference between the drop biscuits and the just plain best buttermilk biscuits is that the drop biscuits are significantly easier to make. There is no messing about with the food processor or trying to shape the dough into balls. This recipe relies on mixing melted and cooled butter with the buttermilk, so that the butter forms into clumps, producing the same effect as pulsing or cutting cold butter into a regular biscuit dough. The resulting dough can then be dropped onto the baking pan, rather than shaped or cut, shaving some time off what was already a fairly quick recipe. Just beware of making your “drops” too big, as I did, or you’ll wind up with fewer biscuits that require longer baking time, although they will still be good.

The other big difference is that this is the only biscuit recipe I have tried that requires 1 full stick of butter (plus 2 tablespoons for brushing on top). My other recipes only call for 4 tablespoons. With that much butter, of course they are going to be good! They are just not going to be that good for you. You’ve been warned: Even though these biscuits are easier to make, they should probably be consumed in moderation.

Here’s the verdict: They are delicious. Big, flaky, moist — these are everything biscuits should be. My husband declared them “the best biscuits he’s ever had at home.” Enjoy.

Best Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Yields: 12 biscuits, if you’re careful about apportioning out the dough
Time to make: ~25 minutes

You need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 stick + 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • parchment paper
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Melt the 1 stick butter and let cool about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter and the buttermilk, and stir until clumps form.
  5. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until just incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Using a ¼ cup dry measure, scoop out and drop 12 balls of dough onto the baking sheet (this is easier if you spray the measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray).
  8. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 14 minutes.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack.
  10. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter and brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter before serving.

Notes: This recipe is from the November-December 2007 issue of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.

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19 thoughts on “Best Drop Buttermilk Biscuits

  1. [...] slowly caramelized onions. A simple green salad is always a welcome addition at a dinner party, and buttermilk drop biscuits can round out a brunch or buffet table. Roasted sweet potato soup is both hearty and seasonal, [...]

  2. stephanie 8 October 2010 at 10:03 am

    These biscuits are great, flaky, crunchy and easy to make. Thank you for sharing this recipe my kids loved them.

  3. [...] Buttermilk drop biscuits [...]

  4. Kristi 7 April 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I halved it and they turned out flat as pancake, but delicious just the same. I think the height/shape issue was because I was in a hurry and microwaved the butter, as I know that makes cookies go flat. Do you usually melt your butter on the stove? I think I am going to retry with a full batch and no microwave this weekend. I never let a baking fail go unchallenged…

  5. Shannon 8 April 2011 at 8:28 am

    Yes, I don’t have a microwave, so I always melt butter on the stove.

  6. drop biscuit recipes 15 May 2011 at 3:52 pm

    [...] Best Drop Buttermilk Biscuits | Simply Cooking Dec 7, 2007 … Now, Cook's Illustrated has passed on the recipe for best drop buttermilk biscuits in the November … [...]

  7. Stefanie 24 June 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Hello Stephanie,

    I also microwaved the butter and the biscuits rose properly and were very fluffy. Perhaps your baking soda was no longer active.
    This is a wonderfully easy and ‘clean’ recipe.
    I also added some grated old cheddar.
    Delicious. Thank you Shannon.

  8. Tiana C. 23 September 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I followed this recipe exactly, with the exception of adding a tablespoon (or so) more buttermilk. The biscuits turned out perfectly, and everyone loved them! These are indeed the best buttermilk drop biscuits, ever. :) Thank you for passing on this recipe, Shannon.

  9. Katie 3 March 2012 at 4:05 am

    Going to try these tonight and will report back with my findings *rubs hands together*. I don’t have a dough roller or any other such tools so this looks right up my alley.

  10. Adica 8 April 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Great recipe! I used 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1 c. whole wheat, and they turned out very tasty. I admit that I was a bit skeptical about stirring the melted butter into the buttermilk until lumps formed, but it worked perfectly. Thanks for posting!

  11. commy 25 May 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I tried this recipe! IT’S ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! I can’t wait to get enough of it. As a matter of fact, I am going back to the kitchen to make some more right now!!!

  12. Gretchen 7 June 2012 at 2:05 pm

    By far the best biscuits I have ever made!!! Fantastic recipe, crunchy exterior, beautiful texture inside, and it also adapted beautifully to gluten-free, with an all purpose flour blend and diluted greek yogurt for the buttermilk (that’s what I had on hand). I will use this recipe from now on, and made mine slightly larger for sandwiches. Thank you so much for the great post!!!

  13. Deborah 11 September 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I can’t believe that I never commented before! I’ve been using your recipe for a few years now, adapting on occasion. For “rolled” biscuits I just add a little extra flour. Today, I used half butter and half coconut oil. I’ve used ghee instead of butter, since store butter these days has so much water in it–used a bit less than the full measure, worked great. This is an excellent, adaptable recipe for yummy biscuits!

  14. Fred 23 December 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I have a couple of comments.
    First, butter does not have “more” water in it than in olden days, unless one is referring to home made butter where the butterfat content in the milk can vary all over the place. For decades there are standards that dairy products must meet.
    Secondly, when I added the buttermilk and stirred forever, no clumps formed. Anyone know how this would happen ?
    Thanks!

  15. Shoesie 1 January 2013 at 1:50 pm

    My biscuits were great but I did lower the temperature as 475 seemed too high to me.

    Fred, maybe your butter hadn’t cooled enough. My impression is that the buttermilk cools the milk fats back into solids causing the clumping.

  16. linn 10 January 2013 at 2:52 am

    Thanks Shannon, this was fast and easy to make, the cooled butter and buttermilk clumpy thing worked out great. I halved the recipe and they turned out tall, flakey and delicious, topped with butter and jam, perfect for cold winter nights!

  17. ASG 7 June 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I made these with white whole wheat flour and replaced the sugar with honey. They were delicious! Definitely my go-to biscuit now!

  18. Buff 1 September 2013 at 9:36 am

    Outstanding Biscuit recipe that I have been using for over a year now! Of note – I tried it today with powdered buttermilk instead of the real stuff. Knowing that the buttermilk/melted butter reaction was critical, I mixed up liquid buttermilk from the powder instead of mixing the powder into my other dry ingredients (the way the package tells you to). 2 problems – the buttermilk/melted butter didn’t clump at all, and it was WAY too much liquid when added to the dry stuff. The biscuits ended up tasting about right, but they didn’t rise up enough. I might work just fine if I cut back on the liquid, or mixed it in dry and just added water to get the right consistancy – not sure. But I will probably just go back to using real buttermilk.

  19. Susie K 25 September 2013 at 2:02 am

    Make sure the buttermilk is right out of the fridge and that the melted butter has cooled so that lumps of butter form. Great recipe!

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