Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk + butter + extra butter = one delicious biscuit.

These are a snap to make and truly delicious – cripsy, golden on the outside and moist & fluffy on the inside.   The recipe is based on the James Beard cream biscuits, but since I did not have any cream in the house, I used buttermilk and added back some fat with melted butter in the dough. So easy, so good.  The one change I would make is to omit the sugar; I found the sweetness a little off-kilter. (Tai, a.k.a. “Mr. Sweettooth” says: “But then they would just taste like flour.”  Hello, did I mention the butter?).

They are perfectly delicious on their own, but of course, wouldn’t suffer with a slather of jam, a spread of chutney with some sharp cheddar, or dipped in honey (says Mr. Sweettooth).  They are best eaten hot, though, so bake up as many as you want now, then freeze the rest to bake later.  Or, eat the entire batch while the biscuits are still hot enough to burn your fingers and give your face a steam bath.  Either way.

Adapted from Cream Biscuits by James Beard in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 13th ed., by Marion Cunningham. Original recipe can also be found here on Smitten Kitchen.


Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits


  • 9 oz (2 cups) whole white wheat flour (Wild Hive all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (400 degrees F convection).
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar (if using).  Add 3 tbsp melted butter to the flour mixture along with 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Mix together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.  Add more buttermilk (or more flour) to form a soft, slightly sticky, but not shaggy, dough. 
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured worksurface and knead for 3 or 4 turns. Roll dough out to about 1/2-inch thick.  Cut biscuits with a 2 and 1/2-inch round cutter (or roll into a rectangle and slice into squares with a sharp knife), re-rolling scraps until all dough is used.  Place biscuits 2 inches apart on a parchment- or Silpat-covered baking sheet.  Douse the top and sides of each biscuit with the remaining melted butter (either by brushing with a pastry brush or dipping upside-down into the butter).
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes (10 – 12 minutes convection) or until the biscuits have puffed up and the edges begin to brown.  Serve hot.

Yields about 12 biscuits (I rolled mine a little thin, about 3/8-inch, and yielded 20 biscuits).


  1. The original recipe calls for cream (1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) instead of buttermilk, with no melted butter in the dough. 
  2. The original recipe calls for 2 cups all-purpose flour, which would likely absorb more liquid than the whole wheat.
  3. The addition of dried or fresh herbs, black or red pepper, dried ground mustard or curry powder are a few ideas to jazz up the biscuits, for those days when the ordinary fabulous biscuit is just not extraordinary enough.


Best eaten fresh.  Uncooked, cut biscuits can be individually flash frozen and stored for up to 3 months.  Cook directly from frozen, allowing an extra 3 – 5 minutes of baking time.


Year round.


  1. wastedhours

    Yummy! Mr Sweettooth is one lucky guy! And I just happen to have buttermilk in the freezer…hmmm… But I don’t have unsalted butter. Do you suppose leaving out the one tsp of salt is sufficient or will they still come out too salty?

  2. local kitchen

    The amount of salt in salted butter varies, which is why I always use unsalted and add back in salt to my taste. I’ve heard that the amount ranges between 1/4 and 3/4 tsp per stick; so I think you would be fine with salted butter, and maybe adding 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt.

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