No, your scone is NOT supposed to be a sad dry heap of useless carbs! The best scones are crispy on the edges and tender in the middle. They are buttery, flaky, perfectly moist pieces of breakfast perfection that are surprisingly easy to make with a few tips. Don’t let the sad coffeehouse selections fool you into thinking you don’t like scones. You just haven’t tried this recipe yet! Originally posted February 13, 2012.

scone with glaze on top on parchment paper with jam nearby.
Table of Contents
  1. What is a scone?
  2. Scone ingredients
  3. How to make Scones
  4. Tips for making this Scone Recipe
  5. Mix-In ideas for this recipe for Scones
  6. Savory Scones recipe tip
  7. What is the difference between a scone and a biscuit?
  8. How to store this Scones Recipe
  9. Do scones freeze well?
  10. Can this scone recipe be made ahead of time?
  11. What to put on a scone:
  12. More recipes you are going to love!
  13. Best Recipe for Scones (Sweet or Savory) Recipe

My best friend Sarah just texted me: “It’s 7:15am and both my dishwasher and washing machine are running, so I’m loving life right now. I’m just sitting on the couch listening to them and feeling so productive!”

You know how most people want quiet appliances? Like, the kind where you can’t even tell if the dishwasher is running? Not Sarah. She’s always talking about how when everything is running at once she feels like someone else is doing all the work for her. Like a regular old Rosey the Robot, from Jetsons. The future, guys: we have arrived.

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glazed scones on a baking sheet with fresh fruit nearby and a jelly spoon between them.

Also, I just want to add a note that there has been literally no day of my life where both the washing machine and dishwasher were running by 7:15am. Most days I’m barely crawling out of bed by then. Things have not changed since we were roommates in college and she would have to shove my piling laundry back on my side of the room with a broom handle. Sarah and I: the odd couple indeed!

a circle of scones with glaze drizzled over some, butter and jam nearby.

Sarah and her family are in the middle of a transcontinental move right now. They are heading back to the states after a 3 year stint in Japan with the military. I can’t even tell you how excited I am to be back in the same time zone as my best friend! Even after 3 years, I still call her half the time and then hang up frantically when I realize it’s 4am in Japan.

sliced scone with butter and jam.

How is everyone holding up lately? I can’t believe July is over. Only one more month before school starts…except it’s not starting. Cue the tears.

Or how about we just bake away all our sorrows?? Scones for the win! If you are not feeling excited about the prospect of a freshly baked scone yet, it’s because you’ve never had a decent one. Curse you and your dried out baked goods, Starbucks! Ruining the reputation of classic British baked goods the world over!

I decided to make scones a few weeks ago when my friend Kim promised my 9-year-old daughter that she would throw an Anne of Green Gables watching party if Charlotte finished the book. Well she finished the book and all 72 sequels after that, so an Anne party we had! (We even dyed our hair green. Just kidding.) What food could be more early-century Canadian than scones??

glazed scone on parchment paper with blueberries nearby.

What is a scone?

A scone is similar to a biscuit. It is a flaky dough made by cutting cold butter into flour, and uses baking powder to rise. They can be sweet or savory. English scones are a little bit different (they are made with softened butter rather than cold butter, changing the texture.) Usually they are shaped with round biscuit cutters instead of the triangle shape popular here in the US. Do I have any British readers who can tell us more about scones from the homeland? Teach me!!

A warm homemade scone spread with butter and jam is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but I didn’t always think so. Mostly because my mom never made scones growing up, so my only experience with them came from coffee shops. An already-bad scone that has been sitting in a glass display for 8 hours? I need a glass of milk just thinking about it.

inside of a glazed scone showing flaky layers.

The first time I had a truly amazing scone was when Eric and I went to High Tea at this fancy hotel in Victoria one time. They had the cucumber sandwiches and 3 tiered serving platter and everything. The scones were SO GOOD. Perfectly moist and tender on the inside, delightfully crispy on the edges, and full of buttery flavor. And topped with clotted cream and freshly made jam! Heaven!

glazed scone sprinkled with sugar.

Scone ingredients

Here’s a quick list of what you’ll need to make these scones. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more details!

  • all purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • kosher salt
  • baking powder
  • butter
  • egg
  • vanilla extract
  • heavy whipping cream
  • sour cream
  • cream cheese (optional)
  • powdered sugar (for the glaze)
  • milk (for the glaze)

How to make Scones

It’s true that scones are really easy to put together, but there are a few really important tips to follow if you want to avoid sad dry scones, or scones that end up cakey instead of flaky.

First put together all your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

Then use a pastry cutter (or a cheese grater!) to cut the cold, cold butter into the flour.

grating frozen butter to make scones.
mixing together wet and dry ingredients to make scones.
shaping dough to make a round circle.
unbaked scones with different mix ins, cut into triangles on baking sheets with parchment.

Next pour in the wet ingredients: egg, vanilla, cream, sour cream. Stir it together into a shaggy dough and then switch to using your hands, making sure to coat them with flour first. Use your hands to fold the dough on top of itself in layers until it comes together. Try to use as few strokes as possible.

Fold in mix-ins if you like (it’s not necessary), and pat into a circle.

This is a master scone dough recipe and you can add any type of mix-ins that you like. I made a few different versions: cream cheese, blueberry, and plain.

how to chop cream cheese for mixing into the best scones.
mixing cubes of cream cheese into scone dough.

Here in California we don’t have clotted cream at the grocery store (I think they have it in Canada??), and it’s kind of a long process to make your own (I will post a recipe someday!) So my quick fix is adding chunks of cream cheese coated in sugar to my scones. It’s so good! You could even try doing half cream cheese, half blueberry scones. That would be delicious.

slicing scones for baking showing a half-circle of dough.

Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice your circle in half, then each half into 3 triangles.

unbaked scones with flaky layers waiting to be baked on parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Look at how thick it is! Can you see the layers? You get that by not over working your dough.

Freeze for 30 minutes. This freezing step is really, really important. Super cold butter going into a screaming hot oven is what makes your scone tender and flaky instead of tough and dry.

If you don’t have room in your freezer for the whole baking sheet, just put them on a plate in the freezer and transfer back to a baking sheet after 30 minutes.

Tips for making this Scone Recipe

Butter melts very quickly in the oven, and the little pockets of butter in your scone are no exception. If they start out ice cold, they are going to take longer to melt. This gives your scone a chance to rise higher in the oven, creating little pockets of air where the cold butter used to be. This is how you get a flaky scone texture!

You want to have pea-size pieces of butter. Don’t over mix it! You can use a food processor for this step if you like. Or a cheese grater as shown above. You can even use frozen butter. The colder the butter, the better!

drizzling glaze onto a blueberry scones from a spoon.

Mix-In ideas for this recipe for Scones

The sky is the limit on what to fold into your scone recipe. You want to add about 3/4 to 1 cup of total mix-ins for this amount of dough. Here are some ideas for variations!

Sweet:

  • Berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries even) with a tablespoon of lemon zest
  • Chocolate chips and toasted pecans
  • Dried tart cherries with almond extract (top with sliced almonds)
  • Dried cranberries with orange or lemon zest
  • Grated marzipan, chocolate chips, and orange zest
  • Raspberry and white chocolate (frozen raspberries work great)
  • Apple and cinnamon
  • Dried apricots and coconut extract
  • Sugar coated cream cheese scones; see recipe

Savory: you will want to reduce the sugar to about 1/4 cup if you are doing savory scones.

  • Bacon and White Cheddar (like in this overnight recipe)
  • Parmesan cheese and rosemary
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil
  • Apple, cheddar, and crumbled bacon
  • Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta
  • Mini pepperoni and chopped chunks of mozzarella. Dip in marinara.

Savory Scones recipe tip

If you plan to make savory scones, use 1/4 cup sugar or less! But don’t take it all out. A little sugar in your savory baked goods is often the secret to success. Also the sugar provides structure when baking.

glazed scones on parchment paper with fresh raspberries and jam in the background.

(The brown crystallized sugar you see in this photo is from the sugar I coated my cream cheese chunks in. Normal scones won’t do that. But it sure is delicious. Who can say no to a bit of crystallized sugar??)

What is the difference between a scone and a biscuit?

Visually, the biggest difference between a scone and a biscuit is the shape. Biscuits are almost always cut into circles, and scones are often cut into triangles. Traditional British scones are more dense and crispy, using heavy cream rather than butter as the fat. This recipe is not dense, and is only crispy on the edges. The inside is light and flaky and tender. We are using butter, cream, and sour cream to make sure it’s super moist. Biscuits are usually savory and more buttery. Here is my favorite Flaky Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe! It’s so good.

glazed blueberry scone broken to show interior.

How to store this Scones Recipe

You can store these scones, covered, on the counter for 2-4 days. Day 1 is when they’ll still have crispy edges, after that they’ll start to get a little soggy. If you do the optional cream cheese mix-in, you’ll probably want to store them in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them, then heat one up in the microwave whenever you want a scone. No, it won’t have crispy edges, but it will still be totally delicious.

Do scones freeze well?

Yes! To store longer than a few days, wrap the baked scones so they are air-tight. Freeze up to 3 months. Rewarm in the microwave on a low setting and don’t overdo it. Don’t “cook” the scones in the microwave, just warm them. You can also slice in half and toast.

Can this scone recipe be made ahead of time?

Yes, I do this all the time!

To make the dough in advance, follow the recipe through cutting the dough into triangles. Put the triangles onto a pan or plate and freeze for 30 minutes. Then tightly seal the frozen sections of dough in a ziplock. You can have scones on any random day! Just take them out and pop them in the oven totally frozen. This is also a great recipe to make for overnight guests. Make the dough the night before, then toss them in the oven in the morning.

freshly baked blueberry scones on parchment paper.

What to put on a scone:

For sweet scones, the toppings are where it’s at. Try these:

More recipes you are going to love!

Craving a sweet breakfast or an afternoon treat with your cup of tea? Here are some of my favorites.

The Best Chocolate Babka >> buttery brioche dough with tons of chocolate, yes please

Homemade Donuts >> time consuming and WORTH IT

Glazed Lemon Loaf >> just like Starbucks (except maybe even better)

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom >> do you love cardamom as much as I do? so good

Easy Banana Bake with Cream Cheese Frosting >> banana bread’s cooler, more sophisticated cousin

Tea Sandwiches from Bounded by Buns

English Muffins from The View From Great Island

Perfect Petit Fours from Rose Bakes

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Best Recipe for Scones (Sweet or Savory)

4.76 from 143 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6 large scones
No, your scone is NOT supposed to be a sad dry heap of useless carbs! The best scones are crispy on the edges and tender in the middle. They are buttery, flaky, perfectly moist pieces of breakfast perfection that are surprisingly easy to make with a few tips. Don’t let the sad coffeehouse selections fool you into thinking you don’t like scones. You just haven’t tried this recipe yet!

Ingredients

  • 2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons baking powder, yes really
  • 1/2 cup butter, (1 stick) COLD butter, frozen butter is great too
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream*
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • more cream, for brushing

Optional add in

  • 1 (8-oz) package COLD cream cheese, chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, for coating cream cheese

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons butter, very soft
  • 1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  • Dry ingredients: In a large bowl, combine 2 and 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar**, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons baking powder.
  • Wet ingredients: In another medium bowl, add 1 egg, 2 teaspoons vanilla (omit for savory scones), 1/3 cup cream and 1/3 cup sour cream. Whisk it together. Set aside.
  • Cut in butter: Now back to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the COLD or frozen butter. You can also grate the butter using a cheese grater and mix it in that way. Cut the butter in until it is incorporated and there are still pieces of butter about the size of a pea. Don’t overdo it! See photos.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to stir it together until it forms a shaggy dough.
  • Coat your hands with flour and finish kneading the dough in as few strokes as possible. (Overworking the dough makes for a tough scone.) Use your hands to fold the dough on top of itself, creating more and more layers until it has come together and all the flour is incorporated. You can add a tablespoon or two of ice cold water if you think it’s necessary. I try to get the dough to come together in 5-8 folds. Do your best and remember that you will get better with practice!
  • Mix-ins: At this point add in any mix ins you plan to use. (If you want to add cream cheese like you can see in the photos, chop an 8 ounce block of cream cheese into 1/2 inch chunks. Coat with 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl, making sure all the cream cheese is coated. Carefully fold into the dough.)
  • Prepare a work space with plenty of flour. I like to use a pastry cloth. Transfer the dough to the work place and use your hands to shape the dough into a 6 to 8 inch circle. I like really thick, tall scones. The thicker your circle of dough is, the taller your scones will be. If you added mix ins, your circle will be a bit larger.
  • Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the circle in half. Cut each half into 3 equal triangles.
  • Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Place the scones at least 3 inches apart from each other.
  • Freeze for 30 minutes.*** If you don’t have room in your freezer, you can put them in the fridge for 45 minutes. If you don’t have room to chill a whole baking sheet, place the scones on a plate and then transfer to the baking sheet when they are frozen/cold.
  • 15 minutes before the scones are done freezing, turn your oven on to 400 degrees F.
  • Place the cold scones on a baking sheet if you haven’t done so yet.
  • Brush the top of each scone with cream. This will make the scones get nice and brown. Top each scone with coarse sugar if you like, or a bit of salt if you are doing savory scones.
  • Bake: Put the scones in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Turn the heat down to 375 without opening the oven.**** Bake for another 8-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. DO NOT OVER BAKE. This is where the magic happens, so stay nearby. If you over bake your scones, they will be dry even if you did everything else right. If you are not sure, use a spatula to lift up one of the scones. If they are a nice golden brown on the bottom, they are done.
  • Remove from the oven and let set up on the pan for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make the glaze: in a small bowl, whisk or use an electric beater to cream 2 tablespoons of very soft butter. Add 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon milk. Whisk together and add more milk until you have a consistency you like. Drizzle over the tops of the scones and let harden (it usually takes 20-30 minutes.)
  • Top your scones with butter and jam! They are great reheated in the microwave.
  • Store scones covered on the counter for 2-4 days. They are best eaten on day 1 so that you can get those crispy edges. After storing for a while it’s hard to avoid a bit of sogginess. (Starbucks solves this problem but leaving them out in the air, but then eventually the center gets dried out. So, pick your poison. Or just eat all 6 scones single handedly on day 1. No judgment here.)

Video

Notes

*Heavy cream is usually sold in cartons by the milk. It is sometimes called whipping cream. The different names refer to different fat content levels. (Any type of cream will do for these scones. You can even use whole milk). Heavy cream is not coffee creamer. It is the thick, rich part of milk that rises to the top when you milk a cow. I get questions about this all the time! I think we all need to visit a farm ;) 
**If you plan to make savory scones, use 1/4 cup sugar or less! But don’t take it all out. A little sugar in your savory baked goods is often the secret to success. Also the sugar provides structure when baking. 
***At this point, you can transfer your shaped unbaked scones to a ziplock and freeze for up to 3 months. Pop them out of the freezer and put them in the oven frozen solid. They may take a couple more minutes to bake, but not much longer. Try it! You will love yourself when you can have a freshly baked scone in 25 minutes flat on a random Tuesday!
****About the baking time: I like to put muffins and scones (and other baked goods that use baking powder) in the oven at a high temperature for the first half of baking, then lower the temperature. The high temperature at the beginning activates the baking powder and makes the scones rise really high, but then you have to lower the temperature so they don’t burn on the edges. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1scone | Calories: 802kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 928mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 59g | Vitamin A: 1418IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 258mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Eastern European
Calories: 802
Keyword: best, Breakfast, scones, snack
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. Hi ‘Food Charlaton” another fantastic recipe chalked down. Just made a a batch of these scrumptious scones and they are delightfully tender and moist. The best yet I’ve ever made. I doubled your ingredients and made twice the amount. I substituted plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream…works the same for me. They were fluffy and beautifully golden and had a delightful crunch.
    Your recipes are a delight and looking forward to trying more of them. Thank you once again.

  2. “Here in California we don’t have clotted cream at the grocery store.”

    In California the following stores sell clotted cream: Whole Foods, Sprouts, Ralphs, Vons, Aldi, King’s Food Markets, Cost Plus, Lisa’s Tea Treasures, The Mollie Stones,
    Woodlands Market, more. There are many European groceries that carry clotted cream and Afternoon Tea Houses that might be happy to sell you a jar if you call ahead.

  3. 5 stars
    Best scone recipe ever! If I were to make them chocolate, you think 1/3 cup cocoa would be overboard or just enough?

    1. Ooh Danielle I haven’t tried that! What a fun idea! I think 1/3 cup is a good place to start. However much you add, make sure you take away the same amount of flour. So if you add 1/3 cup flour, use 1/3 cup less flour than the recipe calls for. That way you won’t have dried out scones from too high ratio of dry ingredients. Enjoy! tell me how it goes!

      1. 5 stars
        They turned out perfect!! I used 1/3 cup cocoa powder and it was just the right amount. They were moist, soft and delicious. I added milk chocolate and semi sweet chocolate chips and drizzled vanilla glaze over top. I have been experimenting so many flavors of this dough. It is so good. Thank you.

  4. 5 stars
    My first time making scones but these are easy the best scones I have ever had!
    I used the cream cheese, 1 cup of fresh blueberries along with the suggested 1 tbs of lemon zest.
    I look forward to making these again as well as experimenting with other mix ins !

    1. That’s amazing to hear Lauren! So happy to hear about your scone success. If you try more combinations come back and tell us about them, we love hearing your ideas! And thank you for leaving a comment and review. It means so much :-)

  5. 5 stars
    I made these for a brunch with friends and they were delicious. Soft scones with good structure. I added cream cheese for the mix in per the recipe’s suggestion but will definitely make again trying other mix ins! So, so good!

  6. 1 star
    Way way wayyyyyyy too much baking soda, bleh! I made these for the family today and we all agreed out of all the scone recipes I’ve made, this one was the worst. I would use ANY other recipe than this.

    1. 5 stars
      maybe because the recipe calls for baking powder — not baking soda. I have made these with various mix-ins around a dozen times and they are always fantastic.

    2. Maybe try again with baking powder not baking soda. I’ve made these a dozen times and they really are the best I have found.

  7. 5 stars
    Great Scone recipe and it will be my go-to from now on. I add in a cinnamon mix instead of the cream cheese, but the next time, I’m going to try it with cream cheese and blueberries! Thanks for sharing a recipe that works.

  8. While I have not yet made this recipe, I have been making scones for 45 or so years. Almost all of the recipes I have used, including those from Scottish cookbooks (the origin of scones) call for heavy cream, many with cream and butter, but rarely without cream. Unless using buttermilk for the liquid. This recipe looks very much like most scone recipes I have seen and used except for the change in temperature while baking, which sounds like a good idea to me for achieving best results.

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