Biscuits are a pillar of Southern cooking. They're used for breakfast, for sopping, for sandwiching, and for snacking. This basic recipe is simple, foolproof, and fast, which means there's no excuse to have biscuits on the table at any meal.

To customize, keep it simple. A couple tablespoons of sugar with the dry ingredients makes this suitable for dessert. A half cup of chopped chives, shape into thin batons, and you've got a nice snack for company. A half cup of grated cheddar and a little minced jalapeño makes a fantastic sidekick to a bowl of chili.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lard, butter, or shortening, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus extra for brushing
  • Salt and pepper for sprinkling
  1. Preheat an oven to 450°F. Cut the lard/butter/shortening into cubes. Let freeze for at least 5 minutes, up to 15. Grease a small baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and teaspoon salt. Whisk together to blend.
  3. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut in the fat until it's evenly distributed or the size of peas.
  4. Pour in the buttermilk and stir vigorously to form a smooth and sticky dough.
  5. Generously flour a work surface and turn the dough out. Flour the top of the dough. Pat out (no need to roll) to ½-inch for fluffier biscuits or ¼-inch for crispier biscuits. If you want to slice into rectangles (no waste, no re-rolling), pat out evenly and pinch corners.
  6. Either slice into rectangles or cut into shapes with a floured cutter. Place onto the greased baking sheet about an inch apart.
  7. Brush the tops liberally with buttermilk, then sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
  8. If you have time, refrigerate up to 30 minutes. Bake in the upper third or middle of an oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and cragged on top.
  9. Immediately remove to a cooling rack and let cool a few minutes before eating.