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

973 Comments

  1. I was so excited to make some. I exactly halved the recipe since I am not a baker and was scared to ruin. And then my batter got all sticky. I followed the exact recipe. Chilled it. Used frozen butter. Grated it. Everything.
    Someone tell me where I went wrong 🙁

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nawal, for next time, feel free to add more flour (a small amount at a time) to help the dough come together and become less sticky. That will help the dough become more workable and stay together so you can form the scones.

      1. This looks so fun and I can’t wait to try it out but I have to ask; the buttermilk used here is this the combination of milk and vinegar left to set or simply a flavor?
        Thanks a lot for your help

    2. The batter is quite sticky you just have to work it as little as possible and shape once out of the fridge, they turn out delicious once baked

    3. Add a little more flour until you can handle the dough. Keep putting it in the freezer to help keep it very cold. Use frozen berries. Mine had a similar issue as yours and this solved it. Turned out perfect on the first try!

      1. Nancy Pridham says:

        Best recipe ever!
        I recently made bacon and sundries tomato with grated Gran Padano on top!
        Yum

    4. Wow, the best, best scone recipe ever! Thank you! I’ll never eat another plain scone either. And I ended up cutting mine down to 16 scones as these babies were huge! I had so much fun with this recipe. A helper would have been nice, but who’s up early mornings! I made two batches, following the recipe as suggested and kept from adding all the milk/egg mixture. As I initially mixed with my hands, I then added more flour little at a time; my eggs must have been larger than called for. This was tricky but seems to be the secret, and once mixed I immediately placed in the Freezer. Because I wanted to make flavoured scones, I took out the dough from the freezer in small batches and added the extras. 1) slivered almonds and orange grated peel, 2) cut up small apple pieces dusted with cinnamon, 3) mixed raisins dusted with flour, 4) blueberries dusted with flour and 5)chocolate chips. The best part was that I loaded the extras. I had to dust flour as I added the extras and this kept the dough workable but not dry. I followed the recipe, and put the small batches back in the freezer each time. This kept the batter firm and workable and I believe it’s the trick to this delicious recipe. I did the same before placing them on the pan. Again Thank you!

      1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Christina, These all sound great! So glad you enjoyed them.

  2. Well they’re baking and I think this needs a little more flour ( 1/4 cup) based on what I’m seeing in my oven!

  3. These are delicious! The one thing I did differently was sub in a mixture of whole milk and plain Greek yogurt for the buttermilk/cream, since I didn’t have either on hand. This is a substitution I make pretty often and it works really well. This recipe was no exception. Every recipe that I’ve tried from this site has been the best in its category, so now when I’m making baked goods this is the first place that l look. I’ve made Angel food cake, red velvet cake, pound cake, Chicago pizza, lemon curd, and now scones from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I love them all. I think we’ll do soft pretzels and some cheese dip for football this weekend. Thanks so much for the great recipes!

    1. Thanks for this tip. I have to watch my sodium, and buttermilk is filled with salt!

  4. Sally these are definitely the best scones I’ve made, the recipe and tips are perfection! I used the drop method and got such a nice rise, a little crunchy on outside ,moist and delicious!

  5. Loretta Darden says:

    Mine came out soft on the inside and a little crunch on the outside. I live in the country. I took them to the corner store and they cobbles them up. I would love to try it with pumpkin. Could you give me advice on how to do that?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Loretta, We are so happy these were enjoyed! Here is our pumpkin scone recipe.

  6. Hi there!
    I was wondering if these could be adapted to whole wheat flour? Maybe by adding another quarter cup of buttermilk or so? Any other way I could make these diabetic-friendly?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meg, whole wheat flour will dry out the scones. We suggest you begin by replacing half the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour to see how that goes.

  7. These sound awesome! I’m planning to serve warm the day of a tea party. Question: should I bake them the day before and then warm them in the oven- or could I make the dough the day before- store them in the fridge overnight before baking- and then bake fresh the day of? Would that work?

    Also- do you think you could freeze this dough, and take out and bake one or two at a time, since my family won’t eat a giant batch?

    I was wondering in the heavy cream/butter milk factor would make the consistency after freezing off, since those things tend to separate when frozen.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda! Absolutely – see blog post above for freezing instructions (“How to Freeze Scones”). Enjoy!

  8. Christi Allen says:

    I love your recipes. Every time I look up a recipe online & see there is one for you I will pick that one first. You explain things very well, plus you will at times leave enough room in the recipe for me to add “add in”, to make it more mine. So love that. Please keep up the good work!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Christi 🙂

  9. The tip about the frozen butter has been the trick to perfect scones. Thank you Sally! Using the box grater for the frozen butter is hard work, so this morning I tried using my food processor with the grater blade. I thought it might make a mess of the butter, but it worked like a charm!

  10. I’m excited to find your recipe. My beloved bakery that made the best scones, was unable to survive the pandemic, and I guess I’m on my own. Question: if the salt is just for flavor, can it be eliminated entirely, or is it necessary for leavening?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Faith, the scones will lack balance and flavor without the salt – we highly recommend leaving it in if at all possible. Hope you love them!

    2. Hi Faith, salt will also activate baking powder so the scones can lift.

  11. Ok I’m doing them for my work I follow certain recipe for 320 flour , 100 butter
    , 180 buttermilk the toast the shape and everything comes out perfect except for the texture from inside it’s like the cake not the biscuit can I know what I’m doing wrong

  12. Dorothy Anderson says:

    I hesitated to make scones as the majority of recipes I can across listed sour cream in the ingredients. Not having any on hand I postponed making them. But I was intrigued by this recipe because it uses heavy cream, which I keep on hand for coffee. I buy only Kroger because it is the thickest and therefore heaviest cream 8 have found. I am delighted with the finished product! I did increase the sugar to 3/4 cup and only had salted butter available, which was not frozen but solid from refrigeration. And after reading many reviews I opted for the blender method as I’m old and get tired easily, and I’m quite happy with the results. My first try at scones many years ago yielded a heavy, dry, and dense product, so the flakey lightness and moistness of the scones obtains by this recipe are quite a treat! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dorothy, We are so glad you tried and loved these!

  13. This is my first time making scones ever! They are simply delicious. I feel like a pastry chef already! Merci beaucoup!

  14. I just made these delicious scones but the bottoms started to brown after 10 minutes. I had to take them out after 15 minutes because the bottoms were starting to burn. I cut the bottoms off and enjoyed them anyway! I was baking at a higher altitude 4000 ft. What adjustments could I make to prevent this from happening again?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alison, it’s possible it was your cookie sheets. Dark metal sheets typically over-bake bottoms and thin flimsy cookie sheets = burnt bottoms. You can also try moving your pan to a different position in your oven – away from the heat source, or turning your oven down a bit. Hopefully this helps for next time — thanks so much for giving these scones a try!

  15. I made this recipe and used frozen triple berries and then did a white chocolate drizzle. They were perfect!!! Great recipe I didn’t change a thing. I used heavy cream.

  16. I made these today and my family loved them. My mother said it was the best pastry she’s had in a while. I followed the recipe exactly the way sallybakingaddiction did, and they were perfect. Hoping you can provide a recipe or link for gingerbread scones with eggnog icing. I found one, but would like your recipe. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi A! We’re so thrilled to hear that this scones recipe was a hit for you. We don’t have a gingerbread scone recipe at this time but let us know if you find one you love!

  17. Great recipe, easy to follow. This was my first attempt with scones, and I am really pleased. They are light and fluffy and not overly sweet. After reviewing lots of recipes, I am delighted I chose this one. I made the fresh blueberry version, took them to work today, and have already had requests to share the recipe. Thanks, Sally, so glad I found your webpage. I’ll be back 🙂

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so glad you loved them, Cindy!

  18. Hi, I make a lot of your recipes. Love them all!
    Im just wondering why some scone recipes use eggs while others don’t. I’ve read pros and cons on both so not sure what the purpose of the egg is? Just curious.

  19. Love this! Cant wait to make them again tommorow for breakfast have been adding rasberries in them and chocolate chips. Keep up the good work Sally!

  20. Easy instructions for a non-baker and tasty. My only issue was that the ratio of wet to dry ingredients seems off? I followed the recipe exactly. I live at sea level in a humid environment. It made shaping the scones very challenging. Any suggestions?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claudia, Was your dough sticky or dry? This should be a very sticky dough. If you decide to try these again and your dough is too sticky to work with, try coating your hands with flour and do the best you can to shape them. Since we are chilling the dough before we bake them you can try forming your circle the best you can, refrigerate it and then re-shaping if needed before cutting. The colder the dough the less sticky / wet it should be. Hope this is helpful!

  21. Hi! I’m not sure if I’m just not seeing this in the instructions, but – if I divided my scones into 16 instead of 8, how long do I bake them?

    Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Robin, follow the shaping/baking instructions in this sprinkle scones recipe for mini scones. Enjoy!

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