Like my basic sweet scones recipe, these ham & cheese scones are flaky and soft with crisp-crumbly edges. But instead of sugary extras, we’re loading them with savory and satisfying flavors including cheddar cheese, ham, garlic powder, black pepper, and fresh chives. Cutting cold butter into the dry ingredients promises a flaky, layered texture like homemade biscuits.
Finally, Some Savory Scones!
Berries, banana, and chocolate are flavors that, undoubtedly, taste delicious in scones. And I have recipes for each—meet my blueberry scones, banana nut scones, and chocolate scones. (Note that these are sweeter than traditional British scones!) Instead of staying put in the sweet scones category, I’m venturing into savory territory.
I have a dozen scone recipes published on my website, but none of them include salty, savory flavors. Today you’re meeting the first. (And maybe the best!)
You’ll start with my basic scones, reduce the sugar, add a little more liquid, skip the egg white and save it for brushing on the scones, and add savory flavors. Let’s call them flaky cheddar cheese pastries:
Why You’ll Love These Ham & Cheese Scones
- Perfect for breakfast, snack, or side dish—and an absolute must when selecting your menu of Easter brunch recipes
- Delicious alongside scrambled eggs or even pumpkin chili (a fall favorite!)
- Flaky, buttery, not dry
- A little softer than biscuits (use less flour and add an egg yolk)
- Cheesy and garlicky
- Crisp-crumbly edges right out of the oven
Key Ingredients You Need & Why
You need some pantry staples like all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, & pepper. Here are other ingredients you need and why they’re integral to the recipe:
- Sugar: It sounds odd to include sugar in a savory scone recipe, right? Well, without it, the scone’s flavor falls flat. 1 Tablespoon of sugar balances the strong savory flavors.
- Garlic Powder: Flavor.
- Cold Butter: Besides flour and cheese, cold butter is the main ingredient in these cheddar scones. It adds flakiness, flavor, crisp edges, and rise. The colder, the better.
- Cheddar Cheese: Use your favorite cheddar cheese. Basically, if you enjoy how it tastes, use it here. For best results, freshly grate it yourself like we do for cheddar biscuits instead of buying a bag of shredded cheddar.
- Chives: A few Tablespoons of fresh chopped chives adds flavor. Feel free to use another herb or chopped scallions instead.
- Buttermilk: The dough needs liquid and buttermilk is best. There’s no baking soda in this recipe, so you don’t have to worry about adding an acidic liquid. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use heavy cream. Avoid thinner liquids like milk or almond milk—your scones won’t be nearly as tasty.
- Egg: An egg is what sets these scones apart from biscuits. Biscuits are flaky and buttery, period. The ham and cheese scones are, too, but they’re richer, softer, and cakier.
- Ham: Chop cooked ham into little bite-size cubes and mix into the dough as your add-in. Use a ham steak, or you can chop some deli slices instead. (The kind you would use in these ham & cheese pockets.)
Success Tip: Grate the Butter & Cheese
Frozen grated butter is the key to scone success.
Like with pie crust, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients. The butter coats the flour. When the butter/flour crumbs melt as the scones bake, they release steam, which creates pockets of air. These pockets add a flaky center, while keeping the edges crumbly and crisp. Refrigerated butter might melt in the dough as you work with it, but frozen butter will hold out until the oven. And the finer the pieces of cold butter, the less the scones spread and the quicker the butter mixes into the dry ingredients. You don’t want to over-work scone dough.
I recommend grating the frozen butter with a box grater. And since you need a box grater for the butter, you might as well grate your cheddar cheese too. Just as I recommend freshly grated carrots for carrot cake, I recommend freshly grated cheese in scones. It will mix easier, melt easier, and taste better.
These Step Photos Will Help:
Mix the shredded cold butter and cheese into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or a food processor. This is pretty much the same way we mix biscuits dough & pie dough.
Whisk the cold buttermilk and 1 egg yolk together, and then pour into the dry ingredients. Lightly mix until the dough clumps together:
Pour the messy dough out onto a floured work surface and, using floured hands, bring the dough together into a ball. Flatten into an 8-inch disc and then cut into triangles (like a pizza):
Brush with an egg white & buttermilk mixture, and then sprinkle with sea salt before baking.
Another Success Tip: Chill the Shaped Scones
I recommend chilling the scones in the refrigerator for 15 minutes as you preheat the oven. By doing this, the cheese scones hold their shape better and rise taller (more flakes!).
Can I Leave Out the Ham? Use Another Cheese?
Yes and yes! Feel free to use another favorite cheese such as feta, gouda, or pepper jack, and you can skip the ham entirely, or replace with the same amount of cooked, chopped bacon or sausage.
Savory Ham & Cheese Scones
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 large scones
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These savory ham & cheese scones are packed with flavor and have a delightfully flaky, soft interior. You can freeze the scones before or after baking. You can also skip the ham or replace with cooked bacon or sausage. Review recipe Notes before beginning.
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled), plus more for hands and work surface
- 1 Tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 cup (about 100g or 3.5 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, frozen (see note)
- 2/3 cup (160ml) cold buttermilk, plus 1 Tablespoon for brushing
- 1 large egg, separated
- 3/4 cup (about 110g or 3 oz) finely chopped ham
- optional for topping: flaky sea salt
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Stir in the chives and shredded cheese.
- Grate the frozen butter using a box grater. Add it to the flour mixture and combine with a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers until the mixture comes together in pea-sized crumbs. Place in the refrigerator or freezer as you mix the wet ingredients together.
- Whisk 2/3 cup buttermilk and the egg yolk together. (Save egg white for step 5.) Pour over the flour/cheese mixture, add the ham, and then mix until the dough clumps together.
- To make triangle scones: Pour dough onto a lightly floured work surface and, with floured hands, work dough into a ball as best you can. Dough will be sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, add 1–2 more Tablespoons cold buttermilk. Press into an 8-inch disc and, with a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut into 8 wedges. See recipe Note for smaller scones. To make 10–12 drop scones: Keep mixing dough in the bowl until it comes together. Drop dough, about 1/4 cup of dough per scone, 3 inches apart on a lined baking sheet.
- Whisk 1 Tablespoon buttermilk with reserved egg white. Brush lightly onto scones and, if desired, sprinkle with flaky sea salt. (You can do this before or after refrigerating in the next step.)
- Place scones on a plate or lined baking sheet (if your refrigerator has space!) and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat(s). If making mini or drop scones, use 2 baking sheets. After refrigerating, arrange scones 2–3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet(s).
- Bake for 22–25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before serving.
- Leftover scones keep well at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Scones become softer by day 2.
- Freeze Before Baking: Freeze scone dough wedges on a plate or baking sheet for 1 hour. Once relatively frozen, you can layer them in a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the bake time. Or thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then bake as directed.
- Freeze After Baking: Freeze the baked and cooled scones for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave out on the counter for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Warm in the microwave for 30 seconds or on a baking sheet in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes.
- Overnight Instructions: Prepare scones through step 4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Continue with the recipe the following day.
- Butter: Use frozen butter if you have a box grater. If you don’t have a box grater (highly recommended for this recipe), cut very cold butter into very fine cubes and use that in step 2 instead.
- Can I leave out or substitute the chives? Yes. Replace with the same amount of another fresh herb such as parsley or use chopped scallion/green onion.
- Can I use another type of cheese? Yes. Feel free to use another favorite cheese such as feta, gouda, or pepper jack.
- Can I leave out the ham? Yes. Skip the ham for cheese scones or replace with the same amount of cooked, chopped bacon or sausage.
- Over-spreading: Start with very cold ingredients and very cold scone dough. Expect some spread, but if the scones are over-spreading as they bake, remove from the oven and press back into shape with a rubber spatula.
- Mini/Petite Cheese Scones: To make smaller scones, press dough into two 5-inch discs and cut each into 8 equal wedges. Make sure the ham is cut very small. Bake scones for 18–20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Keywords: ham & cheese scones
Reader Comments & Reviews
I made these yesterday! So delicious! Very easy to make! I left out the chives and made the mini scones! (Making the mini scones gives you enough to give to someone as well as have some for yourself!) Be careful when grating the frozen butter, as I cut the knuckle on my thumb! I wound up using a knife on the last bit of the butter.
These are so delicious! Received rave reviews from my people. Will certainly make again.
Going to make for Easter brunch. Do ugly think I can sub spinach for the ham?
Hi Mary Jo, using spinach instead of the ham should be fine here. You could simply add it fresh right into the dough, or if you cook it down beforehand, be sure to blot out as much of the moisture as possible before adding to the dough. Please do let us know how it goes!
Your site is the best! I have become a baker since retiring and a favourite love is making scones. I will definitely be trying this recipe but using Seitan sausage as we are “flexitarian”. I was also wondering if I could replace some or all of the milk with sour cream? Thanks for all the wonderful recipes!
Hi Phyllis, for best results we recommend sticking with buttermilk. You could substitute some of the buttermilk for Greek yogurt or sour cream, but we don’t recommend substituting out ALL the liquid. Some Greek yogurt/sour cream + regular milk would be OK, too. We haven’t tested exact measurements, though. Hope you enjoy the scones!
The absolute best scone I have ever eaten….I was a little worried when they first went in the oven because there was a fair amount of butter pooling around the scones but they ended up almost “frying” in the melted butter while cooking and the bottom became the best part. Thank you for another 5 star recipe!
Hi, these sound amazing and I would love to give them a try but my little one is allergic to dairy. I have found many good substitutes for dairy but cheese seems impossible. Do you have any cheese free scone recipes, or a suggestion for substituting the cheese in this one? Thank You.
Hi Angie, in our base scone recipe, we have ideas for many different flavored scones that don’t have cheese! Enjoy!
Fabulous savory scone recipe, thanks! It’s definitely worth the effort, especially if you freeze a few for later. Grating the butter is a fantastic solution but I chopped up the last bit for fear of catching my fingers. I used a mix of cheese and one was quite salty, so probably would avoid the flaked salt on top next time. Wonderful for lunch with a salad. 🙂
P.S., I Love your website. Just going through it makes me hungry! Can’t wait to try many of the recipes!
I look forward to baking these scrumptious scones, but I have a question: what is meant by the statement ” Press into an 8-inch disc ” What type of disc is referenced? Or is it meant to only shape the dough? Thanks.
Hi Linda, see the section titled “These Step-By-Step Photos Will Help” to see a photo example. You’ll want to pour the messy dough out onto a floured work surface and, using floured hands, bring the dough together into a ball. Flatten into an 8-inch disc and then cut into triangles (like a pizza). Hope this helps!
I love all of your scone recipes. I made this to go with my cheddar-carrot soup that I made for our fellowship group. Everyone loved them! The following week, a little boy told me that he really, really liked them, and hoped I’d make them again.
PERFECT scones!! I made these alongside a quick, light cauliflower soup and they were amazing!! Even all the kids loved it, which never happens. These will be made for company and given as gifts!
Enjoyed this recipe. Your tips are so helpful. Freezing the butter and chilling the scones while preheating the oven, did make them puff up nicely. Will be making again.
Was wondering if you could use the dry buttermilk powder in place of the liquid buttermilk?
Hi Karen, that should work just fine. Use the directions from the dry buttermilk to make the 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon needed for this recipe.
Second time baking these. They are wonderful! Was a great accompaniment to the soup on this rainy day. Can highly recommend these. I used Irish white cheddar and rosemary ham . Thank you Sally!
These are excellent! This was my first time making scones, and they turned out perfect. My guests all raved about them.