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. Hi Sally, I was excited when I saw your baking challenge and decided to enter this competition. This is my first international baking competition. On making your Savoury Herbs and Cheese Scones, I was bowled over by the results. I couldn’t believe that I had baked these babies in my own tiny kitchen and a modest oven. The Master scone recipe is truly a MASTER of all recipes for Scones. The ease with which your recipe flows is amazing and the end baked goodie is delicious. Now I am super excited for this competition. Keep up the awesomeness. Love from India.

  2. I made the blueberry scones, and THEY WERE AWESOME – definitely a keeper recipe! I used dark brown sugar, and absolutely loved what it added in terms of depth of flavor. I topped it with a thick layer of vanilla glaze. Would love to try a cream cheese glaze & lemon curd another time! Such a delicious recipe, thank you Sally!! 😀

    Can’t wait to try other variations, including savory! I also appreciated the freezing instructions & plan to play around with this as well in the future.

  3. This was my first time making scones and they turned out great! I made your funfetti chip ones and they were delicious. Thank you for another great baking challenge!

  4. I just made these blueberry scones. I added some lemon zest and juice to make them more tart. They were delicious! My family was drewling as they came out of the oven . I really loved these and can’t wait to make them again.

  5. Made blueberry scones. My husband especially liked them and even my picky toddler who usually won’t eat food with fruit mixed in liked them. That is praise indeed. My spread a little more than I would have liked, but I blame that on the higher fat content of EU butter. Next time I will refrigerate them longer before popping in the oven to see if that helps. Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. This recipe turned out perfectly. My scones were a bit spongy and that is probably due to making them in 94*F room temp but they were delicious! Tangy, lemon drizzle and some caster sugar for crunch!

  7. I’ve made four batches of these scones–three batches of bacon-cheddar-chive and one batch of chocolate chip–and they were all gobbled up. The bacon-cheddar-chive scones have been a crowd favorite each time I made them, and I’m including myself in that crowd! (I squirrel away a couple to keep for myself.) I made them the day before, kept them in the fridge overnight, and baked them right before I needed to serve them so they were warm. They aren’t dry at all–they are flaky and delicious and I will definitely make them anytime I need to bring a breakfast food somewhere!

  8. Thanks Sally! I made 3 of the variations (Funfetti, Cranberry Orange, Lemon Blueberry) and they were SO GOOD!

  9. After making three varieties of Sally’s scones I’ve finally made the permanent switch from my former favorite scone recipe. The texture is what really did it for me — extremely tender inside, crusty outside, only enhanced by coarse sugar and/or glaze. I actually got the best results when I had to freeze a batch of unbaked wedges to stick in the oven (completely frozen) later.

  10. This scone recipe is amazing! It is everything Sally says it is in her description. I made cinnamon raisin by adding 1 1/2 t of cinnamon and 1/2 C golden raisins. I used heavy cream in mine. I am so happy to have found a go-to scone recipe.

  11. I made 3 batches (blueberry, chocolate chip, and ham-cheddar-chive) for Mother’s Day weekend and shared them with family. They were so fun and easy to make and tasted delicious!! My favorite flavor was the savory ham-cheddar-chive. Thank’s for a great recipe, Sally!

  12. I used this recipe to make cranberry orange scones (using frozen cranberries and orange zest). They were delicious! I probably should have baked them longer. I baked them (mini option–I came out with 16 scones) for 25 minutes but they were still a little “blonde” when I took them out. The softer texture didn’t bother me personally and I wouldn’t blame the recipe for that! Would definitely make scones again using this recipe!

  13. These were so quick, easy, and delicious that i just ate two of them hot from the oven. They baked up light and flaky, yet rich with flavor and not too sweet. I made them with dried cherries, chocolate chips, and sliced almonds. The next batch will be white chocolate and dried cranberries. I look forward to baking many more and playing with various flavors and add-ins.

  14. I made blueberry scones and chocolate chip scones. I used regular sized chocolate chips and added some white chocolate chips too…..delicious.

  15. I’ll admit, I was a little intimidated by this monthly challenge. I’ve never made scones, and have tasted terribly dry scones. I’ve always steered clear because I thought a good scone would be too hard to master. Sally’s master scone recipe makes baking scones easy! I made lemon blueberry scones for the May challenge and had to hold one back from my friends to get a photo. They were fluffy, and crumbly. With the glaze, they required nothing additional.

  16. Last minute finish, but these were excellent. I made the savory option using leftover ham and some cheese. I swapped out the white sugar for brown sugar since I had used a brown sugar glaze on the ham and then I added a little bit of cayenne and garlic powder to the dry ingredients. I can’t wait to try other variations, because I loved these.

  17. Loved this challenge theme! I made two batches last weekend – one savoury (cheddar & chive) and one sweet (raspberry white chocolate) & compared them with two of the same flavoured batches of my usual recipe, which doesn’t call for any egg. These were lovely & it was a fun ‘challenge’ to test out the different recipes – especially knowing that you likely went thought a similar process to create this staple scone recipe. Definitely looking forward to making these again & trying other flavour combinations.

  18. Easy recipe to make! I held my 11 month old while making these with my 6 and 3 year old. We made Cinnamon Raisin scones as that is our favorite combo in this fam. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks for such a great master recipe.

  19. These were perfect. 🙂 loved making these with my sister and eating them with her and my boyfriend this weekend.

  20. This was my first time making (and believe it or not EATING) scones. I did the lemon blueberry recipe last night. Not only was the recipe easy to follow, but my house smelled heavenly! Scones were a great texture with the perfect amount of lemony zing to balance out the blueberry goodness. Looking forward to June’s challenge!

  21. I have tried to make scones before but they were terrible – they were so dry and hard and I threw them out! When I saw this recipe I decided to try it. I was intrigued with using frozen butter. I made the cinnamon apple scones without the caramel drizzle. The recipe was easy to follow – the hardest part was shredding the frozen butter – and the dough mixed up very nicely. They smelled wonderful while they were baking. The scone did not spread and was perfectly browned. The interior was soft and the edges were crispy but not hard. However, I was a little disappointed when I tasted one. It was not very moist and slightly dry although the interior was soft. I followed the recipe exactly so I don’t know what went wrong. Any suggestions? I will make this recipe again using cranberries.

    1. Hi Fran! I’m so glad that you tried the apple cinnamon scones! I wonder if the scones were over-baked and that’s why they tasted dry. If not, try adding a little extra heavy cream to your next batch.

  22. So delicious,I made fresh strawberry scones with lemon zest and lemon juice in the glaze. Could not have been better. Will make them again!!

  23. First time I ever made scones. Thanks to all the tips they came out mouth watering perfect! I use frozen blueberries. They are now a repeated family treat!

  24. Sally, these Scones were delicious! The blueberries, together with the cinnamon, were great. They were incredibly moist, even after several days. A great recipe, thanks!

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