Southern Buttermilk Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy is a southern favorite handed down for generations with roots from the Great Depression.
This biscuit post has been a long time coming. Week after week, as I’ve decided on new blog entries I would always consider the beloved southern-style biscuit. I dismissed it often because it seemed too daunting a task. Why? As a born-and-raised southerner, how could I possibly put into words something so deeply woven into the fabric of my life? How could I tell you what my Grandmother’s biscuits tasted like without also telling you about childhood summers on the farm, bottle feeding baby calves, gathering the daily eggs from nesting hens…
… falling and breaking said eggs and never once being chided for it; having tears wiped away and then being fed buttermilk biscuits with homemade apple butter.
I can’t help but get a little misty-eyed, and simultaneously feel silly for having such emotion for the humble biscuit. Clearly, it’s more to me than just flour, fat and buttermilk. It’s the memory of happy times and a grandmother’s love. As silly as I may feel, I know I’m not alone. The countless blog-writers dedicated to the celebration, sharing and heritage of their own foods is perhaps the strongest testament to that.
I’m so happy to be able to share my regional food with you. Just as I indulge my inner Parisian with financiers and the like, (but mostly by slaughtering their language) I hope you’ll indulge your inner southerner with one of these down-home favorites.
Another food that is a big part of southern heritage is chocolate gravy. It is a depression-era recipe that was most commonly eaten on big flaky biscuits for breakfast or dessert. Although it stems from meager beginnings, it is absolutely indulgent! My Aunt Grace would make this often and I’d always get excited to see it on her breakfast table. Chocolate for breakfast is a kid’s dream come true, and I must admit, I still find it quite exciting!
As a rule, White Lily self-rising flour is always used to make perfect southern style biscuits. The low protein and gluten content makes for a softer, fluffier biscuit. My grandmother used it, as does my mother, aunts, and cousins. If it is not available in your area you can order it online. If you’d like a good biscuit recipe that does not require White Lily self-rising flour I’d suggest you try this recipe courtesy of Alton Brown. I’ve made it twice before and it is very good – however, I urge you to read the footnote from his grandmother Ma Mae at the end of the recipe.
Working the dough… but not too much.
Biscuit making is really simple, and the only way you can mess it up is to fuss over it too much. First, cut the butter and shortening into the flour with a pastry blender (Mother and I use this doo-dad) until pea-sized crumbs have formed. Make a well in the center, pour in the buttermilk and mix with a fork until just combined.
Turn the sticky dough out onto a floured surface and fold (or knead) together about 5 or 6 times. Pat out dough with floured hands to about 1″ thickness. This is where my grandmother would abandon the biscuit cutter and start pinching off perfectly-sized little pieces of dough. Since I can’t get anywhere near her uniform and perfectly-patted pieces, I always opt for an old favorite…
…an old tin can with a sharp edge. I think it once held mandarin oranges. I’ve been using it for years – high tech stuff, people!
I’m including another little goodie in this post; a recipe for cinnamon-honey compound butter. It is another favorite way to add sweetness to biscuits and it’s super easy to make!
The following video uses bacon fat in place of butter, which brings a whole new smoky, savory note to the table. Again, I recommend using White Lily self-rising flour, but if you only have all-purpose on hand, see the recipe notes for adding baking powder and salt to the recipe.
- 2 cups White Lily self rising flour
- 2 tbsp cold shortening
- 6 tbsp cold butter cut into pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. melted butter
- 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon-Honey Compound Butter
- 2 sticks 1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Put flour into a large mixing bowl. Fluff it gently and very briefly with a whisk. Add cold shortening and butter and cut into the flour with a pastry blender until pea-sized crumbs form. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Mix with a fork until the liquid and dry ingredients are just combined (if your dough is too stiff, add 1-2 more tbsp. buttermilk). Turn the sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 5 or 6 times and pat dough out flat with well floured hands to 1" thickness.
- Before you cut the dough into rounds, be sure that your cutter has a sharp edge. This helps them to rise accordion-style with a distinctive flat top that will brown evenly. Also, press the cutter strait down into the dough without twisting. Twisting the cutter can make the biscuit misshapen and hinder rising and it bakes.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the biscuit tops with the 2 tbsp melted butter. Serve warm with chocolate gravy or compound butter
- In a medium sauce pan whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour in the milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Heat over medium-high until the mixture bubbles. Turn heat down to medium and stir until mixture has thickened to a gravy consistency. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool slightly then transfer to a gravy boat. Serve warm over buttermilk biscuits.
Cinnamon-Honey Compound Butter
- In a medium bowl, whip all ingredients together on low speed with a hand-held mixer. Pour mixture onto a length of parchment paper and roll into a log. Wrap butter and parchment in plastic wrap and let set for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Serve on warm biscuits or yeast rolls.
How could I let this post end without an appearance from Biscuit the pug? Below he is pictured with his likeness in portraiture (I call it Biscuit, with biscuit) by a friend (thanks VerySmallAnna).
I just discovered these yesterday and have to say that I will be trying this asap. I had never heard of such a thing. This looks unreal!
I LOVE chocolate gravy. It was something that my great grandmother would make on special occasions for her 12 children. Now as an adult, my great aunts still make this twice a year at Summer & Christmas family reunions. I tell people that I can't wait to see the family and eat chocolate gravy and they stare at me in horror. When I was younger I could only eat it like a pudding. Now it is all over my plate. Biscuits, eggs, bacon, apples, they are all touched by the chocolate gravy as is my heart when I remember it's… Read more »
I too am from the South so I have a lot of great memories that include biscuits. It is impossible to bite into one and not have all of those memories come back to me. However, I have never had chocolate gravy! How could I have missed that?! I will definitely be trying that.. Maybe when my all Southern family comes to the Windy City next week! Thanks for doing this post!
GASP!! I have been looking everywhere for my grandmother's chocolate gravy recipe!!! I really don't think she wrote it down and I've been annoying my mother with the whole matter!! This post warms my southern heart!!!! I can't wait to make this for my Yankee husband!!
Girl, you are after my own heart.
I am not originally FROM the south, but I've lived here in rural Arkansas for 15 years. And we love our biscuits!!
Sausage gravy, chocolate gravy, butter and jelly…I am not picky about what goes on them.
Chocolate gravy, though, is one of my favorites. You did such a beautiful job with your photographs and your writing is very touching.
You really are the bomb. 🙂
Oh.My.Goodness. Wow! I'm in LOVE with this idea! Holy Moly! (PS…I like it.)
Amazing. Combining our insane love of biscuits and chocolate!! This recipe is getting made this weekend…!
Holy WOW! These look amazing. Thanks so much for sharing these recipes and your "sweet" story.
Okay, Heather, I've printed them all out and now I just need to order the flour:) I hope I can come close to yours! I've never had this treat before and I'm sort of afraid to try; it could be dangerous!
Love the memories of your grandmother and her love-filled biscuits:) I can only hope my grandchildren have these same type of memories of me someday.
BTW, your winning gift cert. is on the way!
How could I have lived this long without ever hearing of chocolate gravy?? Oh my gosh, this looks amazing! And the butter? Yum!
Your texture looks wonderfully flakey – and must be super with the chocolate!
I don't thikn that I have EVER heard of chocolate gravy! It sounds delish.
Your biscuits are beautiful! Mine always turn out so flat.
In all my years I have never even heard of such a wonderful delight! It must be the Southern version of the French tradition of eating chocolat for breakfast. How purely delightful! Cute logo and so appropriate for your little Biscuit. I really enjoyed reading this post, you express yourself so well, it was beautiful! xo ~Lili
What a fun post to read, lots of detail and very interesting. Thanks for sharing, I especially love the butter.
Now THAT is type of gravy I can endorse!!! It looks wonderful, so do your biscuits. And your logo is awesome!!! I bet it looks great on a t-shirt!
We always considered it a special treat when Mom made Chocolate Gravy. Happy memories!!! Best one….one day she was making breakfast and packing lunches at the same time and accidentally put the cocoa in the biscuits!! Thanks for sharing
Heather these look amazing. Sometimes simple things are the best. I've never had chocolate gravy, Isaac is going to love me for trying this one out – warm thoughts 🙂
AHHH… I'm up way to early due to a bout of insomnia, and the only thing I want to do is channel my inner southerner and head into the kitchen to whip up a batch of biscuits. What a wonderful childhood you must have had!
These biscuits and chocolate gravy, I would like to have so of these right now, for my breakfast:)
Heather-bug: I am so proud of you! Thank you for the chocolate gravy post. I showed your blog to Aunt Gracie and told her she's famous now. She loved the picture of Mammaw, too. Keep bring our wonderful southern family traditions to the world. Love you. — Jeanne
Biscuits are the best! Yours turned out beyond fabulous..I need to get a biscuit cutter for sure!
Oh how lucky you and I were to be able to sit at Little Mammaw's table and have biscuits her tiny hands patted out.
P.S. I still can't touch… much less cook raw chicken because of you chasing me around the farm with a chicken leg pulling the tendons to make it's feet move! mammaw grabbed that poor bird swung it around till the neck was broke and then chopped her feet! I forgive you 🙂
Heather, I feel like we've crossed over into the Pioneer Woman's (calf testicle) territory with that one!
Awfully sorry I warped you!
I've had this recipe for years…a popular dish in Arkansas…where I grew up! Makes my mouth water to see your pics! Memories….♥
We would have chocolate gravy EVERY Sunday before church. yum!! Grandma would make the biscuits flat and a bit (just a bit) hard… instead of pouring over the biscuit papaw would pour a bit at a time into a plate and drag the firm biscuit through it. I was always too messy so I had to have mine in a bowl and ate it with a spoon.
Was uber excited to see the post!!
Chocolate Gravy? Now we are talking my language. This is such a good idea. What will you think of next? Your photos are FANTABULOUS!
These look amazing!! I cant wait to try out the recipe when I get home for Thanksgiving break!!!
Great pics Heather. These are probably better known as scones over here in the southern hemisphere – but I've never tried them with chocolate gravy! Yum!
I love homemade biscuits, but never added gravy to them. What a wonderful breakfast 🙂 I love any excuse to sneak chocolate into breakfast…thanks for this one!
Chocolate gravy? Girl you are-a-speakin my language!
must. make. now.
how do you think it would be on pot roast 😉 ?
Yum, enough said.
I always loved southern biscuits with a sweet added – like honey, jam, or apple butter. Chocolate? I'm surprised I never thought of that. Looks great!
You are totally after my heart with the chocolate gravy and biscuits. You could make a fortune with these.
Heather, you have so much greatness in this post. First of all thanks for sharing those sweet memories with us. It is amazing when we can reflect on our loved ones with such clarity & joy.
Great biscuit making tips & that gravy is a fab idea.
Yes, kids do love chocolate for breakfast (then again who doesn't!!)
Today mine had some homemade whipped cream over their bowls of cereal. They were in heaven! xo
& the tees & pug pup-so cute too!
Chocolate gravy?? Wow!! I'm a biscuit fanatic, but being from the North, we don't ever have ours with gravy… Might have to start though!
absolutely brilliant! This looks beyond amazing. You have a fabulous blog and I am now a follower.
it's a good thing i'm sitting down, because my knees would've failed me otherwise. this post and these goods are perfection. you make me even more proud to be a southern gal. 🙂
Gud va gott! 🙂
Hi! I've just come across your blog a few days ago (being an avid food blog reader myself) and all your recipes look amazing. I've just added about 5 recipes from your blog to my must-try list. might i suggest you add in a recipe index somewhere on your site?
I've yet to try my hand at making biscuits. My poor babies have to eat the ones you get from a can and bake. Maybe if I top them with honey butter to those they won't be so bad?! 🙂
Oh my, those biscuits look great!
OMG I would eat all of the gravy in one sitting.
Another winner – this is such a brilliant and tasty idea!
My mother used to make biscuits and chocolate gravy on speical occasions when I was growing up! I tried to make them last year for my boyfriend on Christmas eve for breakfast. The biscuits were good (a recipe I alway use) but the gravy wasn't nearly as good as mom made it! Perhaps this year I'll give your a try 🙂
Thanks for reminding me of my sweet childhood!
I have that same chopper/pastry blender. I bought it at the county fair and it is one my handiest kitchen implements. I never thought of using it for making biscuits or pie crust – DUH!
Will have to try that with a batch of biscuits and chocolate gravy 🙂
Made these this morning… LOVED it. Thanks for the great recipe! My husband is from the south (I'm from the north) and he's been begging me to make this because his mom used to make it. Glad I found a good go-to recipe:)
I live in Britain, so when you said 'gravy', this was slightly strange and reminiscent of Sunday roast. Good thing it didn't taste like it when I made it!
Your photos are amazing by the way!
California girl born and raised, however, my grandma, also Californian born and raised, always made biscuits and gravy for us whenever we spent the night at her house. And mom sometimes made it as a treat for us kids.
It might be a southern thing, but someone brought it out west a long time ago. And it is so good.
Oh! My grandmother always made this for me — but we ate it with buttered toast — when I spent weeks with her in the summer. Thank you for the recipe! She certainly never used one, and I've thought of it often with no clear idea how to reproduce it.