Buttermilk rusks seem to be the “original” version in South Africa, and there are bazillions of recipes. I’ve included a few on this page. If you can’t find self-raising flour check out the tip under the “Alternatives” heading.

Dee’s buttermilk rusks

Dee and I met when I was doing a gap year after high school. I stayed with her family for a while and we had a blast. Dee then came and visited me and I remember we went to the Spur for a mushroom burger and both got sick! Anyway, I’m sure Dee’s recipe won’t make anyone sick. It was her grannie’s.

1kg self raising flour
250g butter
200ml sugar
320ml buttermilk
10ml baking powder
2 eggs
5ml salt
25ml oil.

Sift dry ingredients together.
Rub in butter.
Add eggs and oil. Mix well.
Make a well in the centre of the dough and add the buttermilk.
Knead well.

Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter and pack tightly into a baking dish about 2 inches deep or press dough evenly into a baking sheet.

Bake 180 for 45mins.

Use any of the cutting methods for rusks. If you rolled them into balls before baking you’ll break those up by hand instead of cutting them.  Dry out in a low oven after cutting.

Esther’s buttermilk rusks

This recipe comes from The Complete South African Cook Book.

Esther and I were at high school together. After school she married her penpal and moved to the US. They recently celebrated their 30th anniversary!

1 kg self-rising flour
2 eggs
200ml (4/5 cup) sugar
190g butter, melted
500ml buttermilk
5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
10 ml salt

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat the eggs, sugar and buttermilk together.
Cut this mixture into the dry ingredients with a knife.
Knead the dough lightly, gradually adding the butter while kneading. This will take about 7 minutes.

Roll dough into balls. Place balls of the dough next to each other in bread tins. The balls should reach to about 2/3 the height of the tin.
Place in the oven immediately and bake at 180 deg C (350 F) for 30 minutes.

Turn out onto a cooling rack and break into individual rusks.
Lower the heat of the oven to 100 deg C (200 deg F) or less and dry the rusks in the oven. Turn them every 30 mins.

  1. Wei
    June 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I wonder which one of them taste like buttermilk rusks from woolworth? Trying to find a rusk recipe that taste like the woolworth one ever since my friend gave us some. Yummmmm…

    • June 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Hi there. I agree, Woolworths rusks are absolutely delicious and that’s what got me starting this blog other first place. I’m not familiar with their buttermilk Rusks as I usually go for the bran or muesli Rusks. The rusk recipe that is most similar to those is the Nuts and Seeds recipe in this blog.

  2. Suzanne Mooney
    July 5, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Hi there, I tried a slight variation on the Buttermilk rusks today; I used the standard recipe, and I used real buttermilk, which was quite old, so nice and thick. I added: muesli, salted sunflower seeds, dried apricots and dried walnuts. The seeds, nuts & apricots I chopped coarsely in a food processor. I used oat bran because that’s what I had.

    Baked for 45 mins at C 180. Then followed ‘Sharon’s method” to unmould, and cut.

    THEN, I dried them in a 100C oven for about 4 hrs. For the last 45 mins or so, I took the baking paper off the baking sheets, and put the paper & rusks directly on the baking shelf, so that air circulates very well around the biscuits. I find that this last step makes all the difference.

    They are really good. and I plan to make this again. Cheers

    • July 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Great idea to chop up the fruit and nuts in the processor. Now why didn’t I think of that? :)

      A 4 hr drying time is amazing! And it makes so much sense to dry them on the paper on the rack for better air circulation. Thanks for sharing. I plan to add your process to the page content itself as others might like to try, so thanks for sharing it.

  3. Dave Coetzer
    January 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    These are very interesting recipes, however with Esther’s version you mention 200ml (4/5 cup)??? of what?

    • January 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Good question! I’m terribly sorry. Going through the recipe instructions and comparing the ingredients to the other buttermilk recipes that are there, I think the omission was sugar! Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  4. March 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Thank for all the lovely rusk recipes and i will get experimenting. For a kg of flour what size tin to you require. Is it best to roll them into balls (again what size) or bake them in the tins and cut them. I am running a small catering business in the Cape and i would like to get into making rusks. Is there a more economical way of drying your rusks out without using an oven as it must be very costly having it on for all those hours. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks

    • March 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Nicky, thanks for contacting RuskRecipes. To answer your questions: I don’t roll the duo into balls. I find that pressing the dough into a large baking sheet (not an industrial sized one but one of those that you can buy at Clicks or shops like that).

      Re drying in the oven….someone else who commented on a recipe on my blog said she used her dehydrator to dry the rusks but she didn’t say how long it took. I believe that a low oven uses relatively little electricity. It is a long time though. Because I press the dough into a baking sheet my rusks are thinner than those where the dough is rolled into balls, so they dry quicker. Some people who have commented on the blog say theirs dry in 4 hours. It all depends on the oven, I suppose.

  5. March 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks so much! I will now try and source a good rusk tin and get creating. What is the correct temperature to dry your rusks out at?

    • March 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      The lowest my oven goes is 170 C. Other people who have commented on this blog have said they manage to dry their rusks at 100. Good luck!

  6. floriana
    May 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    can i use cake flour as well.

  7. sam
    June 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Any ideas for a wheat free rusk???

    • June 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Hi Sam. I feel for you. A lot of people can’t do wheat and rusks use a whole kilo of it! I have no idea what the following recipes are like but they turned up in a quick Google search:

      This one uses rice flour and gluten free flour (didn’t know that existed)
      This one pretty much also uses rice flour and gluten free white flour and this page actually has positive comments of people who’ve tried them. Like I say, I’ve never tried so let us know what they’re like if you try either of these recipes.

  8. jolanda
    August 11, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Hi you can buy gluten free flour at dischem or any health shop :-)

    September 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Hello, I’m Barbara from Mauritius, and I’m a GREAT fan of Rusk. I’m doing them and sell them. I’ve tried a lot of recipe until I get The one. Sometimes I used white flour only with cranberries, or half brown & white flour. I have some questions please : is it essential to put oil ? ( I put more butter ). Is it better to use self raising flour? And now, the cutting… I pre-cut them ( before cooking ) with a wet knife, 2cms / 8 cms, it tooks me a long time! Then when its cooked its very easy to cut them, with a good bread Knife. I never tried to make balls, I think my dough is not dry enough, too sticky. Can you put balls on top of the other one? I would like to make a metalspecialist to do a special rusk-cutter, but I’m sure this kind of stuff exists in S.A? I’m sorry for my english, I speak french. Anyway, home we are rusk lovers, even if it tooks time, they are so good! Thanks to answer me. Barbara

    • September 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Thanks for contacting us. It’s nice to connect with another rusk fan :) If you look at the various recipes available most of them use butter. Personally I’ve never used the recipe with oil. Because in Canada where I live you can’t buy self raising flour I use flour with baking powder, but when I lived in South Africa I used self raising flour. Both work.

      It’s interesting that you pre-cut them before you bake them. I will try that! Thanks for the idea. If you decide to try the balls, put flour on your hands so you can handle the dough, roll them into balls and put them NEXT TO each other tightly – don’t put them on top of each other.

      There is a guy named Jan Brits who makes metal rusk cutters and you can check out his website here. I’ve never tried using them but if you look at the conversations on the cutting rusks page you will find someone who has and you can ask her about her experience.

      Good luck.

  10. Barbara
    September 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Hi, thanks to answer me. In fact, doing rusk is easy, its the cutting which is more delicate. By cutting them before the cooking ( with a very thin and wet knife ), there no crumbling at all, just a little little bit ( and I have about 80 rusks for 1kg of flour ). I went on Ian’s site, its interesting to have this rusk cutter, but I’m far from S.A, I don’t know if they can send them. Do you think the way I melt them is important? 1st the sugar and the butter, 2nd the eggs, 3rd the buttermilk and 4th the flour/oats/all bran etc.. Are you using an electric whisk?
    I usually let the rusk dry all over night ( from 10 o’clock until 6h30 the morning ) on 70º C.
    Have you ever tried to dry for 4 or 6 hours? Thanks and have a nice evening. Barbara

    • September 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      No, I don’t use an electrick whisk as the mixture comes together easily by hand.
      Yes, I do dry my rusks out in about 6 hours at 170C
      If you contact the guy who makes the rusk cutter he will be able to tell you whether he can ship to your country or not.
      Happy dunking!

  11. Barbara
    September 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Hi, thanks to reply. I’ve tried another way of doing rusk, by melting the butter ( I did’nt knew it was possible ), I first used to make rusk like a cake… By melting the butter, no need an electric whisk, much more easier! I got a very nice recipe on : tinashappyplace.wordpress.com, her recipe called BEST RUSK RECIPE EVER. Please, could you look at it and let me know if it is the best/easier way to process ? I’m OK with the recipe, they are all more or less the same, but I’m not sure of the processing… Thank you very much and have a nice evening. Barbara

    • September 19, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      Hi Barbara, the process looks the same as the process in most of the recipes on ruskrecipes.com. I melt the butter on the stove not in the microwave but either way will work. I also beat the eggs before I add the buttermilk just because the eggs beat up easier (I do it by hand. If you’re using an electric mixer then beating them together is no problem). Hope this helps.

  12. Anne
    February 11, 2014 at 9:15 am


    I found recipe online, that only dries for 2.5 hours. Is this possible? And of so, what makes it different so that it doesn’t need to dry overnight or at least 6 hours? http://tandysinclair.com/granola-muesli-rusks-recipe/


    • February 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Hi Anne. In my experience, drying rusks out in 2.5 hours is just not possible. However, it might be if the dough is pressed really thin into the pan – more like a biscuit or cookie, but I’m guessing…I’ve not tried it like that.

  13. Rubyna
    August 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Hi I was able to dry out rusks in 2-3 hours.. just make sure:

    1. Temp is 160 or 170 degrees
    2. Remember to turn rusk half way through the time
    3. When considerably dried out but not completely.. SWITCH OFF OVEN AND LET RUSK REST INSIDE WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR for an hour or 2..

    • August 20, 2014 at 12:07 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience with other viewers. I dry my rusks at 170 and there’s no way they’re anywhere near dry after 3 hours….more like 5 in my experience. But clearly ovens heat and ventilate differently as it’s working for you. You’re lucky!

  14. Paula Segrest
    December 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    This recipe sounds a lot like the one I use from South Africa. I add 1/2 c of pecans, 1 c coconut, and 1/2 c raisins and or dried cranberries. OH YUM!! I love them. And I can’t resist eating a slice hot out of the oven before cooling, cutting into ‘dunk size’ pieces, and REbaking.

  1. November 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm

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