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

Welcome to the May Baking Challenge! We’re focusing on an easier recipe this month, but an important recipe nonetheless. 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

Join Sally's Baking Challenge

Make my scones recipe below, including any of the flavors listed above and scone recipes on my website.

If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate May Baking Challenge:

After you make the scones or alternate recipe, share your photos throughout the month using #sallysbakingchallenge on your public Instagram or Twitter account. (Instagram messages are hard to track, so email instead!) Or upload a photo to my Facebook page or Facebook group or email it to me. By sharing your photo, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below!

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

219 Comments

  1. Sally, I just made scones with my daughter earlier this week! We used (loosely based) my husbands grandmother’s recipe, which needed a bit of tweaking but wound up so amazing! More of an english scone because they are from Eastern coast of Canada.

  2. I love making scones and I am very excited to try your recipe. I have also used the trick of grating frozen butter into the dry mixture. One thing I do, so I don’t have to cut the butter in, is after grating a bit I mix it with a fork into the flour. I do this until all the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients. Each piece of butter is covered with the dry ingredients and I don’t have to take the extra step of cutting it in. This blog/site has been my go to for baking since I found it! I love it!

  3. I knew I wanted to participate in the May challenge as soon as I saw it was scones.
    The recipe was simple and easy to follow. I decided to opt for chocolate chip scones and added a dash of almond extract. The scones were perfect aside from getting distracted by dinner and they got a little dark. They are delicious. Will definitely be baking another variety again.

  4. Just made your caramel apple scones earlier today. They are so good and it was much easier than I thought it would be, especially with your tutorial post and video. Thank you for all your amazing recipes, I will definitely be baking more variety of scones soon!

  5. I made these fir your baking challenge and used fresh strawberries. Oh my Lanta they are amazing! Full disclosure I made a batch of 8 last night and proceeded to eat 4 of them! Then, my kids, who don’t normally like fruit in their baked goods tried them and begged me to make more! I had to take 2 to a friend of mine, so there went the 8. I made 16 mini scones today and my son tried to eat one before I could even take a picture, lol! Great recipe! I’m making savory scones next!

    1. I’m so happy they were a hit! Thanks for participating in this month’s challenge and for your kind review!!

  6. Sally, I have always loved your scone recipes…I’ve made your Glazed Lemon Blueberry Scones so many times I’ve lost count. Today, for May’s Baking Challenge, I made your master scone recipe and added ham, cheddar, green onions, parsley, fresh minced garlic and lots of cracked pepper. Oh my word…savory scones are theeee best! Hands down my most favorite now. Thank you for a fabulous recipe that I can customize. I will be making these again and again!!

  7. The raspberry buttermilk scones came out excellent. The directions were easy to follow, and the video tutorial was very helpful. The taste was delicious. The scones were light and flavorful. I used a round biscuit cutter, as my husband’s English heritage prefers a traditional shaped scone. I was careful to not twist upon lifting the cutter and so as not to impact the butter’s job in rising. My only complaint was that they did not last but 14 minutes. I need to make another batch. This is my 8th Sally recipe. Each one has come out excellent. I am impressed. Thank you Sally!

  8. Today I made scones. Three kinds. Your recipes. The chocolate chip. The lemon blueberry. And the orange cranberry. All excellent. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the blueberry, but loved them all and so did the hubby. Will be making more. My neighbors are very happy right now.

  9. Hi Sally! I make your recipes regularly with my son. I seem to be the only one in the comments so far with this problem, but my scones were perfectly baked, inside beautiful and flaky, but the very bottoms were burnt! I used the lowest amount of time, on the highest rack in my oven, with silicone mats. Any suggestions? I seem to have this problem with biscuits or anything very buttery in my oven. We have a thermometer in there and the temp is correct.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Valerie, If this is happening with different recipes maybe take a look at the cookie sheets/pans that you are using. Dark metal sheets typically over-bake bottoms and thin flimsy cookie sheets = burnt bottoms. In the past few years, I’ve tested many brands and my favorite is easily USA Pan half sheet baking pan.

  10. Thanks for this recipe. It made me try making scones and it has made me realize American scones are way better than English ones! As an American transplant in the UK I’ve tried them in coffee ships etc over here and they are sooo dry…. These on the other hand are delicious. Thx for this monthly challenge!

  11. First time completing a challenge! I think it went pretty well… I had fun grating the butter… opted for the lemon blueberry scones for a girls weekend, can’t wait for my friends to try them

    1. I’m so happy you participated in this month’s challenge, Tamra!! Hope your friends enjoyed the scones 🙂

  12. Wow! I didn’t even know what I’ve been missing! This was my first time making scones and they were so delicious! I added blueberries and vanilla icing! I’m already planning my next scones bake!

  13. Hi Sally
    I made pecan scones and served with fresh strawberries. They were delicious! Thanks so much! Mine browned quite a lot in the oven but the inside was light and flakey. Next time I will shorten the baking time and see how it turns out. I especially like your ideas on freezing the scone dough in wedges so I can bake later.
    Another great recipe!

  14. Delicious!!!! The savory ham and cheese (subbed my garden chives for the scallions) were a hit. Recipe worked great, and the texture was lovely. What a special lunch.

  15. Who doesn’t love scones! I love the grated butter trick. Makes them so much easier to make. I made them this morning with cranberry and walnut mix ins and topped with sparkling sugar.

  16. I made the lemon blueberry scones with my 6 year old son. We used frozen blueberries, which turned our scones a little purple, but they were delicious! Everyone gave them two thumbs up, even my 5 year old son who usually doesn’t like “bread” type treats. Thanks for another great recipe!

  17. I have made Sally’s scones recipe many times already and decided for the traditional bluberry scones with the lemon glaze (don’t leave it out, it is such a nice companion!) for the May challenge. I like to use her recipe as it always yields perfect scones, buttery, soft, and simply delicious. Thank you!

  18. Just made these cherry chocolate and added 1 tsp of almond extract used buttermilk. Omg beyond delish. The dough was quite wet, I’m assuming bc of the chopped up frozen cherries so I did drop scones. Another awesome recipe

  19. Okay so no joke I’ve been talking about these scones for hours now. I’m obsessed! Hands down the lemon blueberry variation was the best scone I’ve ever had. My husband is at the gym and I’m texting him to come home and get them while they are warm…(and then I’ll hit the gym!) thank you sally, this has been my favorite challenge this year!

    1. That’s hilarious!! The lemon blueberry variety is definitely my favorite too. (One of them at least!)

  20. I’m going to make this recipe later this weekend! For savory scones, do you have any decorating ideas? The sweet ones look so good with the frosting on top, and I’m always looking for ways to jazz up my baked goods.

      1. Hi Naomi! Dried herbs will definitely work, but decrease the amount since they’re more potent. Sprinkle the scones with a little cheese before baking or halfway through baking, then with some herbs when they come out of the oven. Let me know how they turn out!

  21. Hi Sally! I can’t wait to try out this recipe!
    When I make scones I usually use cold butter and freeze them before they are baked. Would if make a difference if I use frozen butter when I assemble the scones if I will be freezing them from frozen?
    Thanks!

  22. I made the strawberry lemon poppyseed variety , so tasty, the strawberries sort of burst with flavour. The tip to grate frozen butter is genius, guaranteed to give small bits of butter for flakiest results

  23. Made scones for the first time. Made the lemon blueberry version. Made it into 2 disks and got 16 smaller scones. Came out amazing. Thanks for another great recipe!!

  24. My husband and I made the chocolate chip scone recipe this weekend, and they turned out SO WELL! We followed the recipe to a tee and had so much fun baking these. Can’t wait to try out some of the other varieties 🙂

  25. The blueberry scones turned out amazing. I was a little worried because my dough seemed more crumbly than sticky when forming the disk and cutting the scones but they came out delicious!

  26. SO easy and SO good! Literally prepped, made, and eaten all under 1.5 hours. I made mine blueberry with a brown butter glaze!

  27. My husband hasn’t liked a scone he’s ever tasted and he is now wanting every flavor and variety. Thanks for the successful recipe! Made two different batches. Bakes sooo much better if it’s really cold before popping in oven. I popped the second batch in the freezer for a few and they were beautiful.

  28. I added frozen blueberries, and they were DELICIOUS! This recipe was so easy, I will definitely make them again and try new flavors.

  29. Made the blueberry and was really pleased on how well they turned out. I did notice that the second day they were soft—no crunchy top crust. Was wondering if that was the moisture from the blueberries or just typical on the second day. Gives me a reason to eat 2 or 3 the first day!

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