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!

Overhead picture of 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.

Blueberry scones with vanilla icing

Only 7 Ingredients in this Basic Scone Recipe

You only need 7-9 ingredients for my master scone recipe. Each ingredient serves a very important purpose and I bet you have most of them on hand right now!

  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

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.

Scones ingredients

Blueberry scone dough

Blueberry scone dough

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. 🙂

Unbaked blueberry scones on baking sheet

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.

Scones

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 interior

Print
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 plates

336 Comments

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE your scones!
    I have struggled to make English scones over many years – too soft, too crumbly, too hard, didn’t rise etc, even the “no fail” recipes! But Sally’s American scone recipe always works! Lemon blueberry are my favourite, but I’m going to experiment a bit with this one 🙂 . Its autumn here in Australia, and a little on the chilly side, so baking and eating scones is a perfect way to spend my time!

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback!! Definitely let me know what flavor variations you try 🙂

  2. Sally your scones are the best on this planet. I have made several of your scones recipes. They are so tender. Panera Bread should learn from YOU! I hope you and your family are doing well. Lots of love, iram

  3. They look SO GOOD Sally……definitely making them as soon as possible. I love that they’re all just really simple ingredients that I know I have in my pantry right now which means I don’t have to make any trips to the shop – even quite a few of the add-ins are staples, but would be so good. I would not have thought of most of them – thank you Sally!

    1. Thank you so much Gemma! And that’s one of the things I love about scones, too- almost all ingredients are pantry basics 🙂

  4. I love this challenge! I make your blueberry scones all the time, and my family raves about them! I’m going to try a different flavor for the challenge.

  5. Would never have thought scones could be made the night before, what a perfect way to get warm scones without doing the work in the morning. I have tried your triple chocolate scones, and they do taste like brownies. We are scone loving house. Blueberry lemon being the best, Now on to either the strawberry lemon poppy seed or a savory scone, maybe cheese with pepperoni!

    1. Cheese with pepperoni – YUM! 🙂 So happy you enjoy many of my scone recipes, thank you for your positive feedback!

  6. Hi Sally,
    I can confirm that your recipe for scones is THE BEST. Your lemon blueberry is the first scone recipe I ever made and I was hooked. Triple chocolate and pumpkin are also favorites at our house. So excited for this challenge! Can’t wait to send you my pictures.
    All the best,
    Vicki

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Vicki! Thrilled you love so many of my scone recipes 🙂 Can’t wait to see your photos!

  7. Hi Sally.
    These look delicious.
    I had my very first scone last year. My husband and I went to see a couple friends get married in Kensington Maryland. The day after we ate breakfast at our hotel and he had a scone and he asked if I wanted to try it I said okay . I thought the scone tasted good.
    Thank you for having this on your blog.
    I will be pinning this.

  8. Sally, your scones are to die for! I was intimidated to make them but your recipe is fool proof if followed. Lemon blueberry are my favorite but I have also made chocolate chip pecan and they were heavenly. I always say I feel like an English Granny when I make scones!

  9. Sooo, I guess you can’t use half and half. I have some leftover from a FABULOUS recipe (Lighthouse Inn Potatoes!) and would like to find a use for the half and half.

    1. Hi Carrie! Sometimes mine is too. Your butter might just be extra frozen and cold, which is a great thing! If it’s too dry to form into a disc, add an extra 1-2 Tbsp of heavy cream to the dough.

  10. I often measure, grate and freeze unsalted butter so I have it handy when needed.
    Can I measure and freeze together all the dry scone ingredients, so that I just need to add in the egg, cream and (any) fruit I have handy, when I’m ready to bake? This would certainly wow the guests at the cottage if I were able to pull as many freezer bags of ingredients as I required in the morning.

  11. Hi Sally! What a great challenge for May. I have only made scones once (your raspberry almond buttermilk ones) and they didn’t turn out how they were supposed to. So this will be a great reason to try scones again! I do have a question though.. is there a way you would recommend grating the frozen butter to avoid melting the end with your hands while grating?

    1. Hey Stephanie! For the butter– try to grate it quickly. If it begins melting, stop, place it back in the freezer for a minute or two, then go back to grating it. That’s really the best way to fix it! Let me know if you have any other questions during the process, too.

      1. I am excited to try some scone recipes with several of your variations this month! I am curious about the cherry chocolate chip scones using fresh or frozen cherries. Do you recommend sweet cherries or tart cherries?

      2. Sweet cherries for sure! But tart would be delicious too. I just always personally prefer to bake with dark sweet cherries. Let me know what you try!

  12. I have made scones before but they’ve always ended up dry and hard. I never chilled them, though. Thanks for the informative post! Can’t wait to make these!

  13. Mmmm! Those scones are mouthwatering! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try; scones are so delicious when made correctly! I often make regular scones (a King Arthur Flour recipe) and serve with jam and cream, but I love flavoured scones as well, especially lemon blueberry and raspberry white chocolate. The best flavoured/add-ins scone I ever had was a strawberry and passion fruit scone I got at a local bakery; it was amazing! I have no idea how they incorporated the passion fruit, or otherwise I would’ve tried to replicate it! It was really amazing though. In any case, I can see myself making scones in the very near future 🙂

    1. A strawberry passion fruit scone would be incredible! Can’t wait to see what you come up with this month 🙂 Happy baking!

  14. A favourite treat for my husband! Have made this recipe 3 times and each time he can’t wait for the next time I make it. Surprisingly easy! He said they’re the best scones he’s ever had and he’s a baking and bread tasting expert!

  15. I always make my Christmas scones as the family is tearing apart the presents under the tree. Cheddar & Bacon with a side of scrambled eggs.

    1. Just took my brown sugar peach scones out of the oven (inspired by Sally’s brown sugar peach crumble pie). They smell amazing! I can not wait to try them! Before this page I never would have thought of attempting scones for the sheer fact that I was intimidated but they were so easy! Thank you Sally for helping us all conquer our fears and bake things we never thought possible!

      1. Way to go! So happy you tried this recipe and your brown sugar peach scones sound delicious!!!

  16. So…how long do you freeze the butter before you grate it? 15-30 minutes if it’s already fridge temp? Do you stick it back in to cool after grating? I was all ready to make blueberry scones but temps shot up to 86 today in Virginia so I will wait til it’s a bit cooler before trying…

  17. So so good! Follow the recipe to the T and KEEP IT COLD. The texture of my scones turned out perfect and I really think the cold made the difference. I made coconut lime scones (1.5 c of shredded unsweetened coconut, zest of 3 limes, and 1/3 c of lime juice):)

  18. After finding your recipe for banana nut scones a few weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to make them. When you announced scones were the May challenge, I took it as a sign to make them. I finally had some downtime today and made them. So good!!

  19. I have a couple of questions – have you made any with orange zest/orange icing. How much orange juice should I use? I don’t want to get it too wet. The next question is – have you ever used sour cream in your scones. The recipe that I have always used prior to this has sour cream. Would that replace the butter milk or would you still need more liquid?

    1. Hi Amy! Use my lemon blueberry scones recipe, but replace the lemon zest in the scones and lemon juice in the icing with orange. You can leave out the blueberries if desired. I’ve yet to try sour cream as the liquid in this particular recipe. I imagine they’d be even more dense. Let me know what you think!

  20. I’ve never made scones I was always intimidated by them.
    I’m going to try this recipe,all the recipes I’ve tried of yours have turned out great!!!!!! Can I use frozen berries or is fresh better?
    Also can I add grated lemon to them?
    Thank you Sally. Love, love your recipes!!!!!!

  21. Can’t wait to try! Going on vacation with a big group, would this be okay to double or triple or would I make each batch individually?

    1. Hey Stephanie! For BEST results, I always recommend making separate batches. And I’m sure you want the best if you’re making them for a crowd!

      1. I am going savory. I used the instructions for sugar and added ingredients from the blog bit. I also used butter milk instead of heavy cream as I think it fit my flavor profile better. I used Gouda and rosemary as my add – ins .finished with the suggested sea salt sprinkle.
        They smelled great going into the fridge already. I can’t wait until they come out of the oven!

  22. Hi Sally,
    I’ve made your buttermilk scones but when I baked them, they tasted way too crunchy on the outside and almost underbaked inside. Plus, I had a pool of melted butter which leaked from the scones. Why is this happening? I am a little hesitant to make this recipe because I am worried it will be another failure. Do you have any tips? Thanks

    1. Hi Julie! Try lowering the oven temperature so the scones bake more evenly. The smaller the pieces of butter, the less likely you’ll have pools of melted butter around the baking scones. And make sure the small pieces of grated frozen butter are coated with lots of flour in the cutting/mixing process. I hope this helps!

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