A Taste of the American South: Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage GravyPC: Stasia Wimmer Boschetti, AmericanCountryLiving.com

The Story Behind Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

When it comes to the quintessential Southern breakfast, few dishes are as beloved and iconic as buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy. This hearty, comforting meal has graced the tables of homes, diners, and cafes across the Southern United States for generations. But how did this humble yet satisfying dish come to be? Let’s take a quick journey through the history and evolution of buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, exploring their origins and cultural significance.

The Origins of Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits have a rich history in the American South with roots that date back to the early European settlers. Biscuits, as we know them today, were heavily influenced by British baking traditions. Early American biscuits were quite different from the fluffy, flaky versions we enjoy today; they were more akin to hardtack, a type of dry, dense bread that could be stored for long periods.

PC: Stasia Wimmer Boschetti, AmericanCountryLiving.com

The transformation of these biscuits into the tender, buttery treats we love began in the 19th century. This change was largely due to the availability of new leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder. These ingredients allowed biscuits to rise and become lighter and fluffier. Additionally, the widespread use of buttermilk, a byproduct of butter churning, added a unique tang and tenderness to the dough. The result was the buttermilk biscuit: a delicious, versatile bread that quickly became a staple in Southern kitchens.

Sausage Gravy – Rooted In Necessity and Frugality

Sausage gravy, like buttermilk biscuits, has humble beginnings rooted in necessity and frugality. This rich, creamy gravy made from pan-fried pork sausage and milk was a way for rural families to make the most of available ingredients. Sausage gravy is believed to have originated in the Appalachian region, where pork was plentiful, and every part of the animal was utilized to its fullest potential.

PC: Stasia Wimmer Boschetti, AmericanCountryLiving.com

The technique of making a roux with sausage drippings and flour to thicken the gravy likely came from French cooking influences. This method ensured that no part of the flavorful sausage fat went to waste. The addition of milk created a creamy texture that perfectly complemented the spicy, savory sausage. Over time, this dish became a beloved breakfast item, particularly in the Southern United States.

Cultural Significance and Evolution

Buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy are more than just a meal; they are a reflection of Southern hospitality and culinary ingenuity. This dish embodies the spirit of making something delicious and satisfying from simple, accessible ingredients. It has been passed down through generations, with each family adding their own touch to the recipe.

In the modern era, this classic breakfast has seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks to the farm-to-table movement and a renewed appreciation for traditional, homemade foods. Chefs and home cooks alike have embraced the rustic charm of buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, often adding contemporary twists to the recipe while preserving its core essence.

PC: Stasia Wimmer Boschetti, AmericanCountryLiving.com

A Staple of Southern Cuisine

The popularity of buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy extends beyond the South. Its comforting flavors and hearty nature have made it a favorite in diners and breakfast cafes across the country. This dish has even found its way onto the menus of upscale restaurants, where chefs experiment with gourmet versions using artisanal sausages and heirloom flours.

Despite its widespread appeal, the heart of this dish remains in Southern kitchens, where it continues to be a beloved breakfast staple. The process of making buttermilk biscuits from scratch and simmering sausage gravy on the stove is a ritual that connects cooks to their culinary heritage. It’s a way of honoring the past while creating something delicious for the present.

The Perfect Pairing

There’s something magical about the combination of warm, flaky biscuits and rich, savory sausage gravy. The contrast of textures – the crisp, golden exterior of the biscuit against the creamy, peppery gravy – creates a well-matched balance that is truly satisfying. Each bite is a reminder of the simple pleasures of home-cooked food and the timeless appeal of classic Southern cuisine.

The Joy of Good – Honest Food

In every bite of buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, there’s a story of resilience, resourcefulness, and culinary evolution. This dish, with its roots in the necessity of rural life and its rise to a beloved comfort food, embodies the very essence of Southern cooking. It’s a testament to how simple ingredients can come together to create something extraordinary. Whether enjoyed at a family breakfast table or in a bustling diner, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy continue to bring people together, celebrating the rich tapestry of Southern heritage and the enduring joy of good, honest food.

Country Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy Recipes

Now that we’ve explored the history and significance of buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, it’s time to bring this classic American dish into your own kitchen. Here are my tried-and-true recipes for making the perfect buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

  • Author: Stasia Wimmer Boschetti
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-8 servings 1x


This classic Southern dish is perfect for breakfast or brunch, offering a hearty and comforting start to your day. Enjoy the rustic elegance of homemade buttermilk biscuits paired with rich, savory sausage gravy.



For the Biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) frozen butter, sliced or shredded
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for topping biscuits)


For the Gravy

  • 1 pound pork breakfast sausage
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (I prefer Wondra flour for gravy)
  • 2 to 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


For the Biscuits

  • Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt until well combined.
  • Add Butter: Add the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Incorporate Buttermilk: Pour in the cold buttermilk and gently stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix; the dough should be slightly sticky.
  • Shape Biscuits: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Fold the dough in thirds (preferred method), pat it out again, and repeat this process 2-3 times to create layers.
  • Cut Biscuits: With a floured biscuit cutter or glass, cut out biscuits from the dough. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gather any remaining dough and repeat until all dough is used. When cutting, press down and wiggle the dough out of the cutter if needed, but do not twist. Brush the tops with melted butter.
  • Bake: Bake in the preheated 425°F (220°C) oven for about 12-13 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown on top. Alternatively, you can turn on the broiler for about 30 seconds to 1 minute at the end to brown the tops. Watch them carefully.
  • Serve: Allow the biscuits to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Enjoy them warm with your homemade sausage gravy.


For the Gravy

  • Cook Sausage: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned and crumbled. Use a spatula to break the sausage into small pieces as it cooks.
  • Add Butter: Once the sausage is cooked through, add the unsalted butter to the skillet and stir until melted.
  • Incorporate Flour: Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and stir to combine. Continue to cook for about 1-2 minutes, allowing the flour to absorb the fat and form a roux.
  • Add Milk: Gradually pour in the whole milk, starting with 2 cups. Stir constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Season: Add the black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Thicken Gravy: Continue to simmer the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens to your desired consistency. If the gravy is too thick, add more milk, a little at a time, until you reach the desired thickness.
  • Serve: Spoon the sausage gravy over warm buttermilk biscuits and enjoy!