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Food & Recipes

Best-Ever Southern Biscuits and Gravy Recipe: Chef’s Butter Trick Makes ‘Em Extra Flaky

Plus, how to prep them ahead so it's even easier to serve up a delicious breakfast

We truly believe that comfort on a plate comes in the form of biscuits and gravy. This dish combines the best of both worlds — buttery biscuits and peppery sausage gravy — into a hearty favorite. While you can likely find this dish at your go-to breakfast spot, it’s worth making at home. A few chef’s tips is all it takes to prepare this dish without hassle, whether for a normal weekend brunch or special occasion like Mother’s Day. Here’s how to make your best-ever Southern biscuits and gravy!

The basics of biscuits and gravy 

This meal consists of biscuits that are smothered in a white gravy called sawmill gravy. This creamy and meaty topping nicely contrasts the flaky and biscuits. Since the dish contains butter, flour, pork sausage and milk, it’s a rich breakfast option to kick off your morning.

How this dish became a Southern staple

The origins of biscuits and gravy date back centuries in the Southern region. “According to many food writers and culinary historians, biscuits and gravy originated right here in the Southern Appalachia in the late 1800s,” Elvira Grant, owner of Elvira’s Cafe in East Tennessee, writes.  “During the lumber industry era, biscuits with ‘sawmill gravy’ were considered a cheap and high-calorie fuel for workers who had to lift and carry lumber all day long.” The dish’s popularity only grew over time, now being served at diners and restaurants across the US. 

3 tips for mouthwatering biscuits and gravy

Mississippi-based restaurateur Robert St. John knows a lot about this dish. Each week, his restaurant The Midtowner bakes a whopping 1,500 biscuits, which they’ve coined “catheads” since they’re as big as a cat’s head. Although the restaurant offers a variety of options for topping the biscuits, sausage gravy remains a customer favorite. Below, he shares his tips for whipping up a biscuits and gravy dish that’s packed with savory goodness.

1. Use high-quality dairy for the best flavor.

For maximum flavor in both elements of the dish, don’t skimp on the dairy. Using full-fat milk provides the final meal with added lusciousness. Additionally, high-quality butter gives your biscuits a rich flavor and golden hue. (We love Vital Farms’ butter as the cream comes from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows for an intense taste and color.)

2. Freeze and grate the butter for flaky biscuits. 

A common mistake when making the biscuits is overworking the butter, causing it to melt and not create flaky layers. To avoid this, freeze the butter and grate it into the flour using a box grater. This ensures the butter stays cold and provides the perfect distribution of fat for flaky layers. (Read our grated butter biscuits story to learn more about this trick.)

3. Prep this dish ahead for easy serving.

One of the perks of this dish is how well the gravy and biscuits preps in advance. You can shape the biscuits and freeze them on a parchment-lined sheet tray until you’re ready to bake. Similarly, the gravy can be cooked, cooled and stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. To reheat, place your desired amount into a saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s fully warmed. The heated gravy is then fine to pour over the freshly baked biscuits and devour!

How to make biscuits and gravy

This recipe below combines St. John’s tried-and-true method for Mississippi biscuits with Jimmy Dean’s version of creamy sausage gravy. Enjoy it as is, or topped with a large egg cooked to your liking. It’s a dish that’s guaranteed to wow your breakfast crowd!

Southern Biscuits and Gravy

Southern biscuits and gravy served separately as part of a breakfast spread
Courtesy of Jimmy Dean


Buttermilk biscuits:

  • 2½ cups self-rising flour, cold
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen and shredded
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold

Sausage gravy:

  • One (1 lb.) package ground breakfast sausage
  • Vegetable oil (optional) 
  • 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour 
  • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper 
  • 3 cups milk 


  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  2. For biscuits: Combine flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Incorporate butter into mixture until shreds are distributed throughout. Add buttermilk and stir gently until combined without overmixing.
  3. Transfer dough to floured surface. Gently pat dough to rectangle about ½-inch thick. Fold the short ends of rectangle into middle; repeat process 4 times. Cut out around 8 biscuits using 2- to 2½-inch cutter and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Biscuits should almost be touching each other. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. For sausage gravy: Cook sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain, reserving drippings; place sausage in bowl. If necessary, add enough oil to reserved drippings to measure 1 Tbs. Return drippings to skillet.
  5. Add flour and pepper to skillet; stir with wire whisk until well blended. Cook over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Add sausage; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
  6. Spoon gravy over biscuits and enjoy warm.

Read on for more fantastic breakfast recipes!

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Bacon Pancakes Combine Two Breakfast Faves in One Tasty Bite — Easy 30-Minute Recipe

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