Granny Vaughn's Tennessee Biscuits

When you come across an heirloom recipe for buttermilk biscuits, stop what you're doing, don an apron, roll up your sleeves and promptly gather your ingredients.  I recently had the pleasure of getting such a recipe from my friend, Kenn, whose late grandmother (lovingly known to all as Granny Vaughn)  made these biscuits year after year for all to enjoy.  I'm a big fan of tender, fluffy homemade biscuits made from a good recipe because they are far better than anything bought from the store.  For those of us who love the steps of making the dough, patting & cutting the biscuits, this particular recipe from Granny Vaughn is going to garner lots of praise from everyone.

The basic ingredients of butter, flour and buttermilk in the right proportions make such heavenly biscuits, but having a quick and light hand when preparing this recipe is also a must.  I was told by Kenn that the dough could be finicky at times, so I paid attention.  Granny Vaughn more than likely prepared her biscuits without the aid of a food processor, simply using two knives or a pastry blender to cut in the butter.  This time-honored method works and I use it from time to time whenever I want to get back to the basics and 'feel a dough'.  Having said that, with many of us owning a food processor at home, it's a good idea to use it for half of the recipe.  I'll show you what I mean.

A delicious biscuit.

I don't think we should dilly-dally any further, because you're going to want to make biscuits right away.  They are perfect to have for breakfast with scrambled eggs and bacon or ham, but they're also good with some jam for afternoon tea.  Don't forget them if you're cooking a true Southern supper or if you want the best shortcakes with summer fruit.  Pure heaven!

Incidentally, Kenn made these recently for a wedding that Martha Stewart was attending and she gave them high praise when she tasted one.  If that isn't a stamp of approval, I don't know what is!

The Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups {355 g.} unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon {1.25 ml.} baking soda
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons {22.5 ml.} baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons {85 g.} unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 tablespoons {28 g.} lard, cold --unsalted butter can be substituted
  • 1 cup {240 ml.} buttermilk, cold
  • melted butter for brushing baked biscuits

Yield: approximately nine 2 3/4” biscuits

Note: for best texture, cut the butter and lard (if using) into small pieces before proceeding with the recipe.  Keep it in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to make the dough.  It has to be cold.

Preheat the oven to 450° F (232°C)

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the unbleached all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Pulse a few times to combine thoroughly.
  2. Add the butter and lard (if using--I used all butter for my biscuits).  Pulse until the butter breaks down into small pieces and resembles coarse meal.

  3. Remove the mixture from the food processor and place it in a medium-sized bowl.  Make a well in the center of it and pour in all of the buttermilk.  With a large fork, begin to gather in the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.  You can also use your hands for this.
  4. Work quickly, but don’t overwork the dough.  It will be wet and rather sticky.
  5. Gently pat the dough onto a lightly floured surface so that it’s approximately 1” in thickness.  Using a biscuit cutter (I used a 2 3/4” round), cut out as many rounds as possible, and as close to each other so that you minimize scraps.  When cutting biscuits, cut each straight down and don't twist the cutter.  You don't want to compact the sides or they may not rise properly.
  6. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet close together, with sides touching.  Scraps can be gathered and patted again to cut.
  7. Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes.
  8. When they come out of the oven, brush melted butter over each one.  Serve hot!  

 Afternoon tea with a buttered biscuit and the best-tasting cherry jam.

I don't often treat myself to this type of accompaniment to tea, but when I do, it is surely a delight.

Warm from the oven, the butter and jam just melts down the sides of the biscuit.  Get them while they're hot!

This is perhaps my favorite way to have a biscuit.  A small pat of butter and some local honey is all I need to enjoy one.  It doesn't get any better than this for me.

 Here's a closeup.  Delicious!

However you enjoy your biscuits, do make this recipe because I know you're going to love it.  Kenn said to me that if Granny Vaughn could see this now and realize that people were making her famous biscuits, she'd be very happy.  Kenn, I think she knows!

From generation to generation.  Thank you so much for the recipe!



  1. David - I'm at work and just had to check your blog. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of my Granny with your readers. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Your biscuits look just like the ones I remember all those years ago. Thank you, my new friend!

  2. Kenn, I'm SO happy that you like the way the biscuits came out! To think that they look just like the ones your Gran made is wonderful!!!

    Happy tears my friend, happy tears! :)

    You're very welcome and THANK YOU for sharing this with us!

  3. I have been asking Kenn for this recipe and he has been holding back - I am so pleased that you have it and now I have it! Off to make these - I cannot wait to try them.

  4. You have to make them Pru, because they're so good! Don't forget to have some jam and butter waiting as soon as they come out of the oven.


  5. These look great, I am sure that your friends granny would love to know that lots more people will be able to make her biscuits thanks to you sharing this.

  6. Exactly, Amy! My hope is that as many people as possible try these biscuits.

    I hope you're one of them. Have fun baking them!

  7. We love our biscuits here; with a pot of homemade soup, a hearty stew, for breakfast, lunch, or supper! I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thanks, David...and especially to Kenn and Grandma Vaughn!

  8. I have never been able to make good biscuits. I will certainly be trying these. Thanks for sharing. In fact, I am so bad at making biscuits, my husband prefers canned. Pretty sad, I know!

  9. Nancy, biscuits with a stew or a pot of soup sounds wonderful!!

    I hope you make these soon!


  10. Mecky,

    Believe in yourself and don't worry about making perfect biscuits. Just give them a try and you'll be fine.

    I have a feeling your husband will be convinced!


  11. You inspire me every day to try something new and today, it's Biscuits!! I must confess, as much as I bake cookies and cakes... I've yet to ever make a pie crust or biscuits from scratch - However, NOW I WILL!

    Thank you and thanks to Kenn for sharing a bit of his Granny with all of us. It's through his memories and her recipes that she lives on forever!


  12. Janet,

    You MUST try Granny Vaughn's biscuits because they are tender, delicious and very savory! I think you should enjoy them with a great supper or with some tea.

    You're going to love them!


  13. I can only hope these will be as good as my Aunt Dot’s, who made the best biscuit in Nashville.

  14. I can only hope these will be as good as my Aunt Dot’s, who made the best biscuit in Nashville.


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