Is buttermilk better than regular milk in biscuits?

Once you’ve made a buttery, flaky, fluffy biscuit at home, you can’t go back to frozen or premade! That’s a fact! Some of our best Saturday morning breakfasts at home involve homemade biscuits with globs of melted butter or thick, creamy sausage gravy… my favorite! But, when you’re making these delicious biscuits, is it better to use milk or buttermilk in biscuits?

We’ll share our thoughts on which is better and why. Plus, I have an awesome biscuit recipe that you won’t want to be without for your next morning brunch!

Biscuit making 101, milk or buttermilk for biscuits?

I’ve made many a biscuit in my day and sometimes they turned out great, sometimes just so-so. It’s all in the technique and the ingredients.


Organic flour is best. It just cooks better, tastes better, feels softer. I always try to use organic flour when I’m baking. Try organic flour for yourself and see if you can tell the difference, too. Let us know in the comments!


High-quality butter is also super important. The bargain stuff from the big box store just won’t cut it in a biscuit recipe because biscuits are mostly butter! That’s where they get their taste from so you have to use the good stuff. Again, choosing Irish butter and organic butter is going to make this recipe better.

buttermilk, yes!

If you want that authentic southern biscuit feel and taste, it has got to be buttermilk! Buttermilk allows your biscuits to have a soft, fluffy, layer-y texture and a buttery, kind of mildly tangy background taste. Without the buttermilk, the biscuit is dry, powdery, and tasteless in my opinion.

milk, no!

I have to admit that milk gives biscuits a more dense texture. Milk doesn’t have that tang either, so the taste is off when you use just milk, even if you’re using whole milk. Milk can also make your dough gluey, which is gross! Your biscuits will not fluff up enough if you’re using milk.

homemade buttermilk

Want to make buttermilk if you’re in a pinch and don’t have any on hand, but are craving biscuits? No worries! Just add a little white vinegar or lemon juice to your whole milk and it can act like buttermilk in your recipe. It gives it that background acidity and makes the milk have that buttermilk thickness. It’s not exactly like buttermilk, but it’ll do!


Pro-Tip: When making biscuits, it is vital that when you push the dough down on the counter, you fold it in half over itself and then flatten it out again to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Do this multiple times… folding it over itself and then flattening again. It seems pointless, but it is essential to getting those characteristic layers that make biscuits lighter and fluffier. Trust me!

Cutting your biscuits properly is actually a really important step to get those layers. Biscuit cutters are sharp and cut straight down. This helps those layers not get dull around the edges or blend together. Any good biscuit was cut with a great biscuit cutter. I couldn’t live without my set. Check out the biscuit cutter I used for these delicious biscuits here.

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1. What is the Best Liquid for Biscuits?

  • Milk: Offers richness & a tender texture.
  • Buttermilk: Adds tang & reacts with baking powder/soda for fluffier biscuits.
  • Water: For lighter biscuits, though less flavorful.
  • Cream: For decadent, rich, and heavy biscuits.

2. What is the Secret to a Good Biscuit?

  • Cold Ingredients: Keep butter/milk/buttermilk cold for flakier layers.
  • Minimal Handling: Overworking the dough toughens biscuits.
  • Proper Flour: Soft wheat flour (like pastry flour) for lighter biscuits.
  • Oven Temperature: High heat (around 425°F/220°C) for the perfect rise.

3. What Makes Biscuits Taste Better?

  • Quality Butter: Unsalted, high-fat for flavor and flakiness.
  • Seasonings: A pinch of salt, sugar, or even herbs can elevate the taste.
  • Layering Technique: Folding the dough creates more layers and flakiness.
  • Fresh Baking Powder: Ensures proper rise and texture.

4. What Happens If You Use Milk Instead of Buttermilk in Biscuits?

  • Texture Change: Milk makes a softer, less tangy biscuit.
  • Rising Difference: Buttermilk’s acidity reacts with baking soda for a higher rise.
  • Flavor Alteration: Milk is milder; buttermilk adds a distinct tang.

5. Why Use Buttermilk Instead of Milk?

  • Acidity: Reacts with leavening agents for better rise and texture.
  • Flavor Profile: Adds a rich, tangy taste.
  • Moisture Balance: Buttermilk’s thickness adds moisture without making the dough wet.
  • Tenderness: Acid in buttermilk tenderizes the gluten, making biscuits softer.

To compare milk versus buttermilk, check out this chart:

PropertyMilk in BiscuitsButtermilk in Biscuits
FlavorMilder, creamyTangy, rich
TextureSofter, less flakyFlakier, tender
RiseStandard riseHigher rise (with baking soda)
MoistureBalanced moistureSlightly more moist
TendernessTender, but less so than buttermilkMore tender due to acidity
Nutritional ContentStandard nutritional valueSlightly lower in fat, higher in acidity
Overall UseGood for a neutral, classic biscuitPreferred for a flavorful, layered biscuit

So, are you ready to try these tips out for yourself? Tell us how your biscuits turned out in the comments and share this post with anyone who loves a good biscuit!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

Course: BreakfastCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold


  • Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C).
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the cold, cubed butter. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to blend the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the cold buttermilk.
  • Gently stir until the dough comes together. It should be sticky.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and gently fold it over itself 4-5 times.
  • Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick round.
  • Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut out biscuits. Press straight down without twisting (twisting seals the edges, preventing a good rise).
  • Place the biscuits on a baking sheet, either touching for soft sides or apart for crisp sides.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  • Remove from the oven and, if you like, brush the tops with melted butter.


  • Keeping the butter and buttermilk cold is crucial. It ensures those beautiful, flaky layers.
  • Don’t overwork the dough; handle it as little as possible for the best texture.
  • These are amazing with butter, honey, sausage gravy, or as an egg, bacon, and cheese biscuit breakfast sandwich.