My mother never made any kind of biscuits except what we called “cathead” biscuits and she made them almost every day.  I have seen her make biscuits twice in one day because every kid in the neighborhood loved her biscuits.  We never had chips, cokes or junk food in our house back then.  We did have lots of sweet tea, fresh milk right from the cow and plenty of biscuits slathered with real butter and homemade blackberry jam.  Honey from my Daddy’s bee hives was always on the breakfast table to go along with our biscuits.  The neighborhood kids called my mother, “Parker”.  We would hear a knock at the front door and one of our little friends would be there.  The first thing they always asked was, “Does Parker have any cold biscuits and jam?”  A cold “cathead” biscuit with blackberry jam was a real treat when I was growing up.

I am sure there are lots of different ways to make these biscuits but the recipe below is the way my Mama always made hers.  I watched her many times when she got out the big, old crock and added flour, buttermilk, and lard.  She always mixed them up with her hands and pinched off the biscuits.  Mama never rolled them out and she put them in a round pan.  Somehow, her biscuits always came out uniform without using a biscuit cutter.  She greased the pan with bacon grease, too.  The biscuits were always touching in the pan to make them rise up higher instead of spreading out and being thin.  Memories of Mama in her “house dress” and apron always flood my mind whenever I make these biscuits. Oh, how I would love to have one of her cold biscuits with blackberry jam!

2 cups self-rising flour
1 to 2 tablespoons shortening at room temperature, (Mama used lard and about the size of a walnut)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt, Optional
Work the shortening into the flour until it’s like coarse crumbs. (I use a spoon to do this).  Add the buttermilk and stir until makes a ball in the bowl.  You can either pinch off the dough or cut it with a biscuit cutter. I use a tin can because I like to make these biscuits good size like my mama’s biscuits.  Grease or spray pan.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until brown on top.  This recipe only makes 8 biscuits if you make them like I do. These biscuits are wonderful with a big old piece of country ham on one. They got the name “cathead” because they are supposed to be as big as a cat’s head!   Enjoy!
Note:  You can also make them using all-purpose flour but you will need to add 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. You can brush melted butter on the tops once cooked or even before cooking if you like.
If you like this recipe, you might also like my recipe for Sour Cream Biscuits.
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  1. betty martoglio says:

    Thank you for this recipe, this is how my mother made them,they were the best,now where did I put that tomato gravy recipe 🙂

  2. I grew up in southeast Tn and it was my “Granny” (whose maiden name was Parker by the way) who I remember making these biscuits. She also made them at least once a day and often more than once. Your description of watching your mother was pretty much spot on with my grandmother, right down to the “house dress” and apron. How I do miss that woman. My Mom does a fair job of re-job of re-creating Granny’s biscuits but I live too far away way to get those very often. My mother-in-law also made a fine biscuit but her health has declined to the point where she just can’t anymore. So, its about time I tried my hand.

    • The Southern Lady says:

      Such a great story of your grandmother, too, Tony. Thanks for sharing. It’s a small world really and what a coincidence her maiden name was Parker. Parker was my mother’s married name. I hope you enjoy these biscuits. Have a great week ahead.

  3. laura clark says:

    Thank you for sharing your recipe I’m sure going to try it and your mom sounds like a sweet lady thanks again for sharing

  4. The same “cathead” biscuit dough can be used to make the fluffiest dumplings for chicken and dumplings … they come out like little clouds. I once had a neighbor who swore he hated chicken and dumplings, cause the dumplings always came out dense and doughy. I made a pot full one day, and brought him some and he was hooked.
    My grandma was from South Carolina, and she was the one who introduced both the term “Cathead” biscuit and the love of them to me as a child.

    • mary lancaster says:

      Please tell me what I am doing wrong with my dumplings , they will always turn heavy and doughy I love the fluffy ones but I mess them up almost everytime

  5. Everything you wrote on this recipe, was my whole memory of my Mom, making our biscuits, right down to her house-dress…blackberry jam and butter..But after moving to Mi. From Tn. we had the store bought butter…Also, the recipe was exactly the one my Mom used, I had never heard them called “Cathead” but that will do…Oh yea, My mom also rolled them and pinched them off also…uses a round pan and placed them all together also..they were always just perfect and so soft. This makes me want to try making them again…lol Thanks you for the wonderful memories….

    • The Southern Lady says:

      Thank you Jani for being a part of the site and for letting me know about YOUR Mom. Hope you enjoy the recipe and happy to have you here.

  6. It’s funny but I googled “cathead” biscuits thinking I wouldn’t get any hits. Happy to see there are some real southern folk out there who know real southern food goodness. As most folk it was my grandma back in Miss that made these biscuits on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day. Made with “lard’ not shorting. I remember the pans she used must have been over 50 years old at least. I wish I had a dollar for every biscuit that had been baked in them. I have ate many biscuits (in restaurants and homemade) all over the country and have never had one that could come close to hers. She wasn’t only a good cook but a good sole. I miss her…

  7. have eaten them when I was a child –our housekeeper made them every day for our family.

  8. Always works excellent for me.

  9. Shirley Lindsey says:

    I know this sounds like sacrilege, but Hardee’s makes a pretty good Country Ham Biscuit, also some McDonald’s have them, but not all. That is, if you are unable to make the biscuits or find the ham, or if you happen to be traveling during the breakfast hours.

  10. I’d never made biscuits from scratch before I found your recipe. I tried some cut and some pinched and by far love the pinched ones better. This recipe worked great even though I had to make the buttermilk substitute(ie. w/ vinegar) keep sending the great recipes.

    • The Southern Lady says:

      Happy you enjoy the recipe and happy to have you on the site. Thank you for your comment.

    • VannieLou Marshall says:

      You ain’t lived till you have made southern biscuits from scratch! There are as many recipes as there are southern cooks but you very seldom find a bad; one…they just get gooder & gooder!

  11. I haven’t tried these biscuits yet, but had to let you know how very much I enjoy reading your growing up memories. They warm my heart and make me wish for that more simpler way of life. Your stories make me think of The Waltons! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Would I be able to add any whole wheat flour?

    • The Southern Lady says:

      You can try it Donna. I have never tried adding whole wheat flour to this recipe.

      • Linda from Jacksonville Fla says:

        I have. Tasty! However, the whole-wheat flour is heavier and requires more (half again? quarter again?) baking powder or your biscuits will be flat and dense. When I make bread with all whole-wheat flour I use almost half again as much yeast. Also, I keep my whole-wheat flour in the freezer, so I have to measure it out and let it warm up a while before I make the biscuits.

  13. My mom grew up on a farm in Florida with 8 brothers and sisters. They lived off the farm and ate what they grew, made butter, gathered eggs, and etc. On Saturday, they would ride the wagon pulled by the mule to “peddle” their buttermilk and eggs to buy sugar and other items that could not grown on the family farm. I love to hear my mama tell me stories growing up. They lived on 320 acres of land and helped out on the farm daily from dawn to dusk.

    Her Mom taught her how to make “cathead” biscuits. When I was growing up, Mama always made homemade biscuits at least once a day. My favorite meal for breakfast (and still is) is biscuits and tomato gravy. When I lived in San Francisco, CA for 8 years no one knew what cathead biscuits or grits were. I live in Alabama now and when I go to visit my Mom (3 hours away) at least once a month, she always makes her “cathead biscuits and tomato gravy for me.

    • The Southern Lady says:

      Great story Cheryl. Thank you for sharing. I grew up a lot like your Mom and have always been thankful for the lessons I learned on the farm and growing up. Happy to have you on the site.

    • Rusty I. Downs says:

      Cheryl, your story just brings “Happy Tears and Memories” to my eyes and mind about BOTH my Gramma’s. I was BLESSED with BOTH Gramma’s being fantastic cooks. One from the Kentucky German influence and Country Style Cookin and the other from the Pennsylvannia Dutch Amish Tradition. One Gramma “Pinched” her rolls and baked them on a cookie sheet. Made the best darn hamburger bun and her homemade black raspberry jam she made on it just made it the best treat! My other Gramma mixed and rolled and cut her biscuits out! Then she made the best sausage gravy that made the dogs even hang out in the kitchen and beg for a mess for themselves! Such Blessed Memories! Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to make these and I Will use Bacon Grease for the pan! That is the BEST SECRET Gramma ever gave me. To save them bacon drippin’s for so many wonderful recipes! Blessings and “Hail to the Cathead Biscuit!”

    • Mara Jane Fisk says:

      Cheryl, your Mom sounds like my grandmother. Her biscuits weren’t big and fluffy though. They were thin and more crispy. And, Southern white gravy made with meat drippings was our gravy of choice. Wasn’t it wonderful, tho, growing up in the South???

    • Joyce Gilpin says:

      What is Red Gravy or Tomato Gravy and where can I find your recipe?
      My mother died and I never did get her gravy recipe.

  14. Shirley Lindsey says:

    My grandmother or mother made biscuits every day of the year and sometimes two or more times a day. Mama would sift self rising flour into a big wooden tray, rake a hole in the middle, add the lard and buttermilk, then gently mix all together incorporating more flour until she got the texture she wanted. Never measured anything. She would then pinch off a bit of dough and roll them around between her palms. They were always smooth on the top, and I have never managed to get that part right. Sometimes we would put a hole in the biscuit with our finger and fill the hole up with cane syrup. Good memories, delicious biscuits.

  15. Jacquie Oldrieve says:

    I hope I didn’t leave this message already but when I refresh I don’t see my comment in the list. I want to ask what pinching off means? It might be a southern thing I’ve never heard of up here in the great white north

  16. Have you ever done a large batch and froze them? If so, any heating recommendations?

  17. Donna Huskey says:

    About like mine as well, but I do use vegetable shortening and a little more than you call for. I like my biscuits to be a little thinner with more “crisp” edges to them. Mother always did her withe her hands as well, but I do pat mine out and cut them with a glass dipped into flour. Hers were baked on a flat iron griddle and I put mine on a regular cookie sheet. Oh, so good.

    • My grandma taught me to make biscuits.. She would just use her hands to mix.. she took the flour and lard or shortening and made a open place in middle of flour and placed the egg shape shortening.. Then mixed together until it looks like coarse meal.. then pour the buttermilk in…spread flour on clean surface ..she then dusted top with flour so she could handle it,.. she took her hands and spread the circle dough out..not thin..she had a can she use to cut out biscuits.flour whatever you use to cut out..grease a pan.. place them right together and make a circle.. then fill in the center of that with the last cut ones.. buscuits should touch.. 375 oven for about 15 mins.. you don’t want then dark.. just a golden color…Yummy

  18. That’s how I’ve always made my biscuits, that’s the way my mom taught me….

  19. I am definitely going to try to make these for my Mother this Sunday. Here in Kansas City, MO area we have access to a company called Burgers Smoke House ham products, it’s close but not the real McCoy. My Grandmother made the biscuits you describe your Mother making. Wish me luck, usually my attempt at homemade biscuits are sold to the NHL, LOL

  20. Thank you for your precious memories! Such a pleasure to read. Thank you for the wonderful recipe too.

  21. I have access to real buttermilk, ie, left over from making butter. Can I use that or should I use cultured buttermilk from the store. Thanks! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  22. The Southern Lady says:

    All you have to do is click on the picture of the little printer at the bottom of the recipe, remove the photo and any text you don’t want and print the recipe. I don’t see how it could be any easier than that?????

  23. I have been watching those biscuits being made for 3 generations! Nobody can seem to get their fill of them! I have tried all my life to roll that cathead from my hand to the pan! They look real good and tops are so pretty! But they are just as hard as any rock you can throw! I can spoon drop them or cut them out and they are yummy! But the texture is not the same as the hand to the pan method! My mom is always making these biscuits (40 biscuits) to send home so that my grown family can eat have 10 for their family! We LOVE Nanny’s biscuits with some good Blackstrap sorghum and butter! It is good to know that there are many old fashion biscuit makers out there!

  24. My Mama made biscuits every single day as we grew up and made them this same way; and pinched them off; never rolled or cut. We had our own cow, milk, buttermilk, butter, cream and it all made for the best biscuits ever. We lived in the country and the little girl who lived on the next farm would come to see us in the afternoons; her father was from Holland and she’d bring my Mama some beautiful tulips and then sit down and have biscuits with butter. What a cute memory. She was known to be quite the cook in the community! Those were the days! Miss her so much!

  25. Laura Gatrel says:

    I make My biscuits similar to these. I only mix the flour an milk. Grease a iron skillet with hog lard then pinch out the biscuits, put in skillet an brush tops with melted lard. These can sit out all day an want get had.

  26. I just saw this recipe and wanted to try it but I don’t have any shortening right now I just have veg. oil. Can veg oil be substituted in any way?

  27. My mom always called her biscuits “catheads” but I never knew where the term came from. Brings back warm memories.

  28. Best, easiest and quickest biscuits EVER….. BEST RECIPE PAGE ON THE NET

  29. I am from Brooklyn, NY but was raised as a young girl in Orange, Texas. My family is from Louisiana and breakfast was not complete without some good ole’ biscuits. We ate them with Stein’s syrup and bacon. Listening to country music at the same time. I remember my grandmother’s house dress and boy did a miss her. Good times…blessed to have had them!!

  30. This is how I’ve always made biscuits too. As a young wife I decided to make perfect biscuits, I rolled & cut the biscuits out, making them just right, my husband came to the table & ask what happened to the biscuits, I answered I made them pretty, He said well I like them ole cathead biscuits you make, They’re big enough a man knows he’s had something to eat, pretty don’t feed the bulldog! That was over 40 years ago & anytime I see pretty little biscuits, I always think of him.

  31. Mary McFarlin says:

    My Papa made “cathead” biscuits in a big wooden bowl. I always thought he named them cathead!!! He would make these with squirrel gravy. Not real squirrels though– he would say he saw one in the tree and made the gravy. I loved these cold with ham and a little mustard. Amazing how similiar peoples lives and memories are.

  32. No it doesn’t taste like country ham I had when I was a kid (growing up in Ky). I can’t find any in Ohio that is good neither!

  33. Where do you find ‘old county ham’ anymore? My husband has been trying for years (he’s 80 now) and he says the ham today doesn’t taste like ‘ old sugar cured country ham’. anymore. We’re from KY and have looked down there as well.

    • The Southern Lady says:

      I know what your husband is talking about Joyce. We used to cure our own hams and they were much better than the country ham today. There are several country ham places in Kentucky and they sell country ham in the groceries here but it’s not like the country ham we used to cure either.

    • Teresa Roberts says:

      Check out Benton’s in Madisonville, TN. Fantastic country ham and bacon.

  34. I AM gonna try these …they look so good !!!

  35. Since we no longer have easy access to lard or real buttermilk, which is what your mother used back then, would these taste a lot different today, with shortening and cultured (fake) buttermilk? I’d love to go back in time and try the ones Parker made!

    • They are very similar, Jenny, but not exactly the same. Although, I don’t think anything ever tastes like what our mothers made.

      • I don’t know about the lard, but I always make my own version of buttermilk with whole milk and a couple teaspoons or a tbs of lemon juice. Let it sit for 10 min. or so. And no, nothing tastes the same, but we can come close.

  36. These biscuits were great ! I made a cookie sheet full ( about 20 in all ) and they wrre gone before noon time .

  37. I will try these very soon ,I’ve never been good at making biscuits my mom made really good ones. But I don’t have her here anymore to make me biscuits.

  38. I must make these biscuits! I like the idea that rolling is not necessary 🙂

  39. Judy Eldds says:

    I still make bisciuts to this day for my adult kids and grandchildren!!!

  40. Linda Elandt says:

    Just made these to go w/Asparagus soup. Had another one with Cherry Rhubarb jam. Just perfect.

  41. There is nothing better than a homemade biscuit!! Those look unbelievable and really take me back to my childhood. I’m from Texas and that’s pretty much how we make homemade biscuits too. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  42. sharron ridenhour says:

    My grandmother and my mother use to make biscuits like these. Such good biscuits and such good memories, as they are both gone now.

  43. all most jest like my momas we had them every day whin i was a little one now i make them my salf

  44. What a lovely memory, thanks for sharing, it brought tears to my eyes. Missing my mom and dad this Memorial Day weekend. Thankfully, the happy memories do so much to soften the missing of them. And, the biscuits, oh my, am such a biscuit lover, will have to make some catheads real soon.

  45. love to make them to been making them forever seems like. just like my mom taught me to toke awhilee to be perfect at it but good eating.

  46. been making “catheads” sense I was 9 years old …mom gave me the little lard bucket lid and I would practice with her …never measured anything back then …my hand was so little instead of having three fingers of lard I had to have a hand full (that was the measuring cup for your lard …. you duddled a little hole out for your lard and milk …then you squished it between your fingers to get it right ..then you rolled it in dry flour (always self rising) then penched off little pieces and rolled it just a little to shape it before it was in greased pan…boy did I think I was something with my own little apron on mom had mad

  47. just like my grandma’s my aunts and my mama’s biscuits – everyday at every meal!

  48. This is the way I learned to make biscuits. My Grandma always made them this way. You can make the dough a little bit wetter and drop them into well greased muffin tins, too. They don’t look as good but they taste the same.

  49. this sounds very similar to my momma’s recipe…she made her’s in a wooden bowl..the biscuit bowl…you sisfted your flour into the bowl and then balled you fist and “rolled”it to make a small bowl in the flour then add your buttermilk, salt and melted shortnening and begin to stir and incorporate the flour into the wet mixture until it just holds together…then turn it out on a floured boaed, fold just enough flour in to hod together, roll out and cut , have your pan ready with melted shortening or oil in bottom enough to turn each biscuit as you pplace in pan, with sides touching, so they will rise up nice and tall..then bake in a hot 400-450 degree oven until light and nicely browned on top…serve with whatever and enjoy!!!!! Oh, the memories….my daddy taught me as well….they both made wonderful biscuits!!!!!!!

  50. Those look amazing. And your house growing up sounds like one tasty place.

  51. thebetterbaker11 says:

    Oh what a sweet sweet stroll down memory lane with you Judy. These biscuits look awesome…sounds like real candy to me. =)

  52. Sandy W. says:

    My grandmother always made these (actually her best “dish”!!) altho both her daughters could cook like a house afire. The reason they are called “cathead” biscuits is because they are big as–wait for it–cat heads! (At least that’s what we thought.) Only in the South would we name something like this (think ‘hushpuppies’).

  53. I can’t say that I have had this kind of biscuit before, but they sure look mighty good. I love my mama’s biscuits, I don’t think they are far off from yours. I think there is something about watching your mom making biscuits that is one of the true joys in life. I look forward to giving this ago, and while strawberry jam was always on our table we just might have to have a “cathead” version this time around.

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