Master Scones Recipe

Using my perfected master scone recipe, build your own scones with a variety of add-ins like chocolate chips, berries, or cheese and herbs. These better-than-the-bakery treats are flaky, flavorful, and moist with crisp crumbly edges. There’s a lot of helpful information and step-by-step photos, but feel free to jump right to the recipe!

Mixed berry scones and chocolate chip scones

Scones are sweet or savory, perfect with coffee and tea, welcome at baby showers, bridal showers, brunch, snack time, bake sales, Mother’s Day, and wherever muffins or coffee are appropriate. (All the time!)

But depending on the recipe and technique, scones can be dry and sandpaper-y with flavor comparable to cardboard. They can also over-spread and taste pretty boring. However, boring isn’t in our scone vocabulary!! My basic scone recipe promises uniquely crisp and buttery scones with crumbly corners and a soft, flaky interior.

I have several scone recipes that begin with the same basic formula. Let’s review the fundamentals so you can learn how to make the best scones. Sit back because there’s a lot to cover in this post!

Scones

What are Scones?

Depending where you live, the term “scone” differs. English scones are more similar to American biscuits and they’re often topped with butter, jam, or clotted cream. American scones are different, but different isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Today’s scones are sweeter, heavier, and aren’t usually topped with butter because there’s so much butter IN them. Sweetness aside, there’s still room for vanilla icing or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top. By the way, here’s my favorite recipe for traditional scones.

Scones are leavened with baking powder, so making them is generally quick. Blueberry scones are my favorite variety, but that quickly switches to pumpkin scones in the fall months! (Here are all my scone recipes.)

No matter which flavor you choose, these scones are:

  • Moist & soft inside
  • Crumbly on the edges
  • Buttery & flaky
  • Not sandpapery 🙂

Video Tutorial: Scones

Let’s start with a video tutorial.

stack of blueberry scones with vanilla icing

Only 7 Ingredients in this Basic Scone Recipe

You only need 7-9 ingredients for my master scone recipe.

  1. Flour: 2 cups of all-purpose flour is my standard amount, but set extra aside for the work surface and your hands.
  2. Sugar: I stick with around 1/2 cup of sugar for this scone dough. Feel free to slightly decrease, but keep in mind that the scone flavor and texture will slightly change. Reduce to about 2 Tablespoons for savory flavors. Brown sugar works too. However, if using brown sugar, whisk it into the wet ingredients to get out all the lumps. For example, see my caramel apple scones.
  3. Baking Powder: Adds lift.
  4. Salt: Adds flavor.
  5. Butter: Besides flour, butter is the main ingredient in scones. It’s responsible for flakiness, flavor, crisp edges, and rise.
  6. Heavy Cream or Buttermilk: For the best tasting pastries, stick with a thick liquid such as heavy cream or buttermilk. I usually use heavy cream, but if you want a slightly tangy flavor, use buttermilk. Thinner liquids change the flavor and appearance. You’ll be headed down a one way street to dry, bland, and flat scones.
  7. Egg: Adds flavor, lift, and structure.
  8. Optional: Vanilla extract adds necessary flavor to sweet scones, but skip it if you’re making savory scones. Depending on the flavor, cinnamon is another go-to ingredient.

And don’t forget about the add-ins! Scroll down to see all my favorite scone flavors.

Blueberry scone with vanilla icing on a white plate

How to Make Scones from Scratch

So now that you understand which ingredients are best, let’s MAKE SCONES!

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together. Use a big mixing bowl because you want lots of room for the mixing process.
  2. Cut in the grated frozen butter. You can use a pastry cutter, 2 forks, or your hands. A food processor works too, but it often overworks the scone dough. To avoid overly dense scones, work the dough as little as possible. Messy and crumbly is a good thing!
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients together.
  4. Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Mix together, then pour out onto the counter.
  5. Form into a disc and cut into wedges. Wedges are easiest, but you can make 10-12 drop scones like I do with my banana scone recipe.
  6. Brush with heavy cream or buttermilk. For a golden brown, extra crisp and crumbly exterior, brush with liquid before baking. And for extra crunch, a sprinkle of coarse sugar is always ideal!
  7. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Keep scone dough as cold as possible. To avoid over-spreading, I recommend chilling the shaped scones for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator before baking. In fact, you can even refrigerate overnight for a quick breakfast in the morning!
  8. Bake until golden brown. Scones bake in a relatively hot oven for only 20-25 minutes.

Frozen butter shreds

Cold Ingredients & Frozen Grated Butter

Keeping scone dough as cold as possible prevents over-spreading. When scones over-spread in the oven, they lose the flaky, moist, and deliciously crumbly texture. In other words, they’re ruined. But the easiest way to avoid disaster is to use cold ingredients like cold heavy cream, egg, and butter.

But frozen grated butter is the real key to success.

Like with pie crust, work the cold butter into the dry ingredients to create crumbs. The butter/flour crumbs melt as the scones bake, releasing steam and creating air pockets. These pockets create 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. Remember, you don’t want to over-work scone dough.

2 images of dry ingredients for scones in a bowl and wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup

2 images of blueberry scone dough in a glass bowl and dough formed into a circle

2 images of blueberry scone dough cut into wedges and brushing heavy cream onto scones before baking

3 Tricks for Perfect Scones

If you take away anything from this post, let these be it!

  1. Heavy Cream or Buttermilk: Avoid thinner milks which yield a flatter, less flavorful scone. Canned coconut milk makes a wonderful nondairy option!
  2. Frozen Grated Butter: See above!
  3. Refrigerate Before Baking: Remember, cold dough is a successful dough. To avoid over-spreading, I recommend chilling the shaped scones for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator before baking.

How to prevent flat scones: See #2 and #3. 🙂

Blueberry scone wedges on baking sheet before baking

How to Freeze Scones

I used to be totally against freezing scone dough. You see, the baking powder is initially activated once wet and if you hold off on baking, the scones won’t rise as much in the oven. However, the decrease in rise is so slight that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. In fact, you can even shape this scone dough into wedges and refrigerate overnight before baking.

  1. 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. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the bake time in the recipe below. Or thaw overnight, then bake as directed.
  2. Freeze After Baking: Freeze the baked and cooled scones before topping with icing or confectioners’ sugar. I usually freeze in a freezer-friendly bag or container. 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.

variety of scones forming a circle shape

15+ Scone Flavors

Using the master recipe below as a starting point, toss in your favorite add-ins like white chocolate chips, toasted pecans, sweetened or unsweetened coconut, dried cranberries, peanut butter chips, etc. If it’s a particularly wet add-in like chopped peaches, blot them with a paper towel before adding to the dough. Top with lemon curd or any of the suggested toppings below. Above all, have fun finding your favorite flavor!

Blueberry scone with a bite taken from it

Print
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Mixed berry scones and chocolate chip scones

How to Make Perfect Scones

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 large or 16 small scones
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Use this basic scone dough for any sweet scone variety. See blog post for a couple savory scone options. Feel free to increase the vanilla extract and/or add other flavor extracts such as lemon extract or coconut extract. Read through the recipe before beginning. You can skip the chilling for 15 minutes prior to baking, but I highly recommend it to prevent the scones from over-spreading.


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. 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. See video above for a closer look at the texture. Place in the refrigerator or freezer as you mix the wet ingredients together.
  2. Whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream, the egg, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the flour mixture, add the add-ins, then mix together until everything appears moistened.
  3. To make triangle scones: Pour onto the counter 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 heavy cream. Press into an 8-inch disc and, with a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut into 8 wedges. For smaller scones, press dough into two 5-inch discs and cut each into 8 wedges. To make 10-12 drop scones: Keep mixing dough in the bowl until it comes together. Drop scones, about 1/4 cup of dough each, 3 inches apart on a lined baking sheet.
  4. Brush scones with remaining heavy cream and for extra crunch, sprinkle with coarse sugar. (You can do this before or after refrigerating in the next step.)
  5. Place scones on a plate or lined baking sheet (if your fridge has space!) and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
  7. 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).
  8. Bake for 18-26 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top. Larger scones take closer to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before topping with optional toppings listed in the ingredients.
  9. Leftover scones keep well at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Special Tools: Glass Mixing Bowls, Box Grater, Pastry Cutter, Baking Sheet, Silpat Baking Mat, Pastry Brush
  2. Freezing Instructions & Scone Flavors: See blog post above.
  3. If adding fruit, use fresh or frozen. If frozen, do not thaw. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.
  4. Overnight Instructions: Prepare scones through step 4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Continue with the recipe the following day.
  5. Over-spreading: Start with 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 its triangle shape (or whatever shape) using a rubber spatula.

Keywords: scones

Scones on white plates

906 Comments

  1. Made raspberry chocolate chip scones and they were suuuuuper yum. I had trouble getting the mixture to stick together but a few more tablespoons of liquid than the recipe called for did the trick. Mine turned out more dense than flaky but maybe that’s due to the extra liquid I had to add? It was ok by me — still totally delicious!

  2. If you’re looking for a great scone recipe, stop here. I’ve been making scones for over 40 years, with pretty good results. Most recipes are pretty much the same, including using COLD butter. I ran across this recipe a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued with the idea of keeping ALL ingredients cold/frozen as you go (quite a trick here in So. AZ!) & refrigerating prior to baking so decided to give it a try. Result was best scones I’ve ever made. My husband agrees. Just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke, I made another batch yesterday. Just as good as before! I added a mixture of blueberries and raspberries. Only change I needed in both bakes was a bit (maybe 2-3 TBSPs?) of extra cream in the batter. Try it!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you for reporting back with this positive feedback, Joan! We’re thrilled this scone recipe was a success for you.

  3. Lisa McRae-Price says:

    Hi Sally, I’m going to try to your basic recipe today for date scones – do you have a recommendation of what quantity of pitted dates to use and accompanying spices, then after baking drizzle? Thanks very much!
    Lisa

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, No matter what add-ins you try, we recommend about 1 1/4 cups. This should work for dates too!

  4. Glenn Longacre says:

    This is the first and only scone recipe I’ve tried and they’ve been wonderful every time. I’ve tried raisin, blueberry, and cherry. We make them for our neighbors in our building, and my Irish father in law. They get rave reviews. Looking forward to making more this weekend.

  5. I followed the recipe exactly, and mine were rather flat – more spread than rise. Any ideas why? The flavor was excellent but I’m looking for a taller scone.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shari, flat scones are usually a result of warm butter in the dough. Make sure to keep it very cold before baking! Thanks so much for giving these scones a try.

  6. OMG this my first time to make scones and they shot to the top as a favorite! The recipe was easy to follow and they turned out perfect! They did not spread while baking and rose nicely… I had some left over whipping cream and used it in the recipe and it worked great… I can’t get the recipe to print and will keep trying. I don’t want to lose it!

  7. I have 2 Doodles says:

    1st-time Blueberry scone maker and WOW what a success these were! Thank you

  8. Have made the blueberry lemon scones and the chocolate chip scones. Both were amazing. I had never made scones before prior to making the blueberry ones, and they were a hit! My husband is trying to lose weight right now and he told me I’m not allowed to make them until he’s done losing! Thank you for such an easy, delicious recipe!

  9. I’ve always liked scones and for years used a recipe from a Nova Scotia cook book. I used Sally’s basic recipe and added raisins. The results were excellent and had all I could do to eat just one as they came out of the oven. Next time I will alternate with other add-ins.

  10. Not sure why, but these spread a lot for me. I’ve made scones before with different recipes, and this has never happened. I followed all the steps! Help?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michal, Did you use heavy cream (thinner liquids can change your results)? Make sure all of your ingredients are very cold. You can even place your bowl of flour in the refrigerator if needed. 15 minutes is the minimum we recommend chilling the dough but you can chill it longer – up to overnight. Expect some spread, but if the scones are over-spreading as they bake, remove from the oven and press back into its triangle shape (or whatever shape) using a rubber spatula. Thanks so much for giving these a try!

  11. Hello,

    I’ve always enjoyed making these scones, but I’ve recently needed to change my diet and remove gluten. Can you advise on which flour will yield the most similar results?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tracy, we haven’t tested a gluten-free version of the scones, but many readers have reported success using 1:1 swaps with gluten-free flours like Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup. If you give anything a try, we’d love to know how it turns out for you.

  12. These were great–nice an moist. I mixed in a 1/2 of bits of dark chocolate.

    A question, though, that maybe someone can answer: I also like scones that are a bit dry and firm. I love the chocolate chip scones from our local Whole Foods–they’re not super sweet, they are not moist. They are perfect with coffee or tea.

    Any idea how to get THAT texture out of this recipe?

    ps: I really appreciate your “jump to recipe” button! A nice touch that many cooking/baking sites omit to compel us to scroll through. Kind of you.

  13. FABULOUS!!
    First try wild huckleberry scone success.
    Thank you

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