How to Make Scones

Learn how to make scones the easy way using this basic scone recipe that can be used for any flavor. With very simple ingredients, and a little technique, you can make your own bakery quality scones at home! 

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Blueberry Scones

Basic Scones Overview

Skill Level: Beginner | Techniques Used: The Biscuit Mixing Method

When I first started teaching myself how to bake, learning how to make scones was high on my priority list. And not just any scones, I wanted to learn how to make the best scones. Ones that are slightly crisp on the outside and puffy and tender on the inside, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Because, let’s face it, there are a lot of really bad scones out there. You know the ones! The ones that are really dry and crumbly and way too dense! The main problem with bad scones is not necessarily the recipe, it is with the technique. So let’s review the process of how to make scones the best way so that you can have bakery quality scones with your coffee at home!

Strawberry Cream Scones

What Are Scones? 

Scones are in a category of the baking world called quick breads. This means that scones (and other quick breads like biscuits) can be made and baked quickly because chemical leavening is used instead of yeast to make the bread rise.

Baking powder is what is used to leaven these scones and you may notice that this recipe has a lot of baking powder in it. This helps the scones be very fluffy.

Scones are very similar to an American biscuit and the two baked goods have very similar ingredients and techniques for making them. While there are varying kinds of scones around the world, the scones that are typically seen in American bakeries are slightly sweetened and typically have fruit or other add-ins mixed in. These Strawberry Cream Scones and Blueberry Scones are perfect examples of American style scones.

In Eurpoe, scones are typically kept plain and served with a rich and thick clotted cream and jam, like the scone pictured above.

Scones are made in a variety of shapes such as circular, square, rectangle, or triangle or even sometimes sort of free form like a drop biscuit might look.

How to Make Scones

The baking method used to make scones is called The Biscuit Mixing Method. This method not only works to make beautiful fluffy biscuits, it is also the method for making scones that are not tough and dry.

This is an easy base recipe for scones and will help you understand the technique of how to make scones so you can use it for a variety of variations. I used it here to make blueberry scones, but you truly could use it for any flavor you can think of. I listed some ideas below.

I will quickly review the basic steps in using The Biscuit Mixing Method here, but for more details about how and why this method works and all of the science behind it, check out this post

Step 1: Combine All The Dry Ingredients

In a large bowl (this will be the bowl your dough gets mixed in) whisk together all of your dry ingredients. The dry ingredients for scones are almost identical to the dry ingredients for biscuits with the addition of sugar and the subtraction of baking soda because we are not using buttermilk here.

Step 2: Cut Your Fat Into Your Dry Ingredients

Start with very cold fat and cut it into small pieces. Add the fat into the bowl and use a pastry cutter or fork to “cut” the fat into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal.

The process of cutting in fat serves to coat the flour so that it will not overdevelop gluten once liquid is added. This process also evenly distributes pieces of fat throughout the dough so that little pockets of steam will be created when it bakes, creating flakiness.

To learn more about this technique and the science of how it works in baking check out the article, What Does it Mean to “Cut in Fat?”

Step 3: Add Your Mix-Ins (if using)

This is the step where you would mix in things like dried fruit, berries, chocolate chips, nuts, etc if you are using them. This way the add-in will get distributed throughout the dough before the liquid is added. If you try to mix it in after adding the liquid it could result in overworking the dough and getting tough scones. I’ve had many of those. We don’t want that!

How to Make Scones, Basic Scone Recipe- Baker Bettie

Step 4: Mix In The Liquid Ingredients

The liquid to dry ingredient ratio here is slightly less than with my buttermilk biscuit recipe. Instead of using a cup of buttermilk we are going to use 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1 large egg. The total of this liquid will be about 3/4 cup. The reason the liquid is a bit less here is that we do want a bit of a sturdier, denser crumb than a biscuit.

I cannot stress this point enough: do not over-mix this dough! Just a few turns of the spoon to get everything absorbed and then stop! Those gluten strands are going to start developing as soon as the liquid is added. We aren’t making a crusty, chewy yeast bread here! Be very gentle!

Step 5: Lightly Knead the Dough

In order to create just a bit of an outer crust and a little bit of structure for the scones, knead the dough for a very brief time. I suggest kneading it gently about 4 times. This is a small difference between biscuits and scones. Really good biscuits are not kneaded at all and have an extremely delicate and flaky texture. But you want a little more cohesive structure to these.

To knead the dough: lay the dough out on a clean and lightly floured work surface. With a lightly floured hand, gently press in the center of the dough with the heel of your hand and then fold the dough over itself in half. Gently press down on the dough with the heel of our hand again and fold it in half going the other way. Repeat this 2 more times.

Step 6: Form the Dough

Now, using lightly floured hands, pat the dough out into about 1/2″ thick, without using a rolling pan. You can pat it into a circle and cut it into triangles or use a biscuit cutter to stamp out round pieces.

Step 6: Bake The Scones

Gently move the scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the scones with a bit of cream and, if desired, sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown. Eat warm with coffee or tea. Try not to eat the whole pan. It’s a challenge.

Tips and Tricks for How to Make Perfect Scones

  • Always make sure your fat and liquid ingredients are cold. You want a cold dough to hit the oven. The steam created from the evaporation of the water helps to create lighter scones.
  • Be very gentle with the dough and handle as little as possible. The heat from your hands will warm up the dough and working the dough too much will result in tough scones.
  • This recipe makes a sweet scone which is what we are used to in America. If you want a less sweet scone, cut down on the sugar in the recipe by half.
  • If using berries in these scones, use either fresh or frozen berries that are still completely frozen. You do not want to use thawed berries here.
  • Bake the scones on parchment paper or a silacone mat to avoid the bottoms from getting too dark.

Ideas for Flavoring Your Scones

  • ADD SPICES such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, allspice, and ginger into the dry ingredients when mixing.
  • ADD HERBS such as mint, basil, rosemary, and thyme into the dry ingredients when mixing.
  • ADD CITRUS ZESTS such as orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit into the liquid ingredients when whisking them together.
  • ADD EXTRACTS such as vanilla, lemon, almond, anise, and mint into the liquid ingredients when whisking them together.
  • ADD MIX-INS such as fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries), chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, pistachios) after cutting in the butter and before adding the liquid.
  • ADD A GLAZE OR FROSTING if you want more of a dessert scone. A simple powdered sugar glaze made with lemon or orange juice or a light cream cheese frosting can be added after baking and cooled slightly for a sweeter more dessert-like scone.

Once you learn how easy it is to make scones you will be making them frequently. They are quite addicting and so incredibly easy to throw together that you could theoretically have fresh scones every morning. Wouldn’t that be the life? Of course they are best served warm with a piping hot cup of black coffee.

Other Scone Recipes to Try

Basic Scones

This is a basic recipe for scones. I used it to make blueberry scones, however it can be used to make plain scones flavored as desired. If you prefer a scone that is not very sweet, cut down on the sugar to 1/3 or 1/4 cup. See the post notes for other ideas on how to flavor the scones.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (8.5 oz, 238 gr) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 98 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (use 1 1/2 tsp if using Diamond Kosher)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz, 112 gr) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) heavy cream, cold
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries or other mix-in (optional)
  • a few tablespoons of additional heavy cream for brushing the tops
  • turbinado sugar for sprinkling the tops (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (204C).
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and any other herbs or spices you may choose to add until well combined.
  3. Add the pieces of cold butter and cut into the dough using a pastry cutter or a fork until the texture or coarse meal. Toss your berries or other mixins if using throughout the mixture at this point.
  4. Lightly whisk together the heavy cream, the egg, and any zests or extracts you may decide to use. Stir just until combined. Do not over-mix.
  5. Lay the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead with a lightly floured hand about 4 times. Pat the dough out to an 8 or 9 inch circle (about 1 inch thick) and cut into 8 triangle shaped pieces.
  6. Gently transfer the scones onto a parchment paper or silicone baking mat lined baking sheet. Brush lightly with cream and sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake at 400F (204C) for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. If desired, sprinkle with extra turbinado sugar for more texture.
  8. Store leftovers completely cooled in an airtight container for up to 2 days. OR wrap cooled scones in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Refresh in the oven at 325F (162C) until warmed through.

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum’s Bakery Style Blueberry Scones

All images and text ©.


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36 comments on “How to Make Scones”

  1. Yum! I'm a total sucker for a good scone!
  2. I just LOVE how informative (and delicious AND entertaining-all at once!) your posts are!! <3
  3. Ooooo scones! I haven't had one in ages and I've never even attempted to bake one on my own, but your recipe looks easy to follow so I think I'll give it a shot!
  4. This is such a great tutorial. I love me a good scone!
  5. New gently used NordicWare Scone pan. Looking for other recipes that fit a scone pan such as biscuits, corn bread, cheese biscuits, pigs in a blanket. Thought the pan would do nicely for finger breads for cheese or ham or chicken salad sandwiches for a new twist.
  6. Hi, I just tried this recipe and I ended up getting a very wet and sticky batter that ended up spreading very thin while baking in the oven. I followed the recipe instructions and ingredients so I'm not sure what went wrong. Any ideas/suggestions? Thanks!
    • Hi Ashley! So sorry you had problems. I make these frequently and have never had that issue. The dough is fairly sticky, yes, but it should hold it's shape and not spread out too thin. Do you live at a high elevation?
  7. Hi, I really appreciate the detail and science in your instructions! I'd like to follow your scone recipe for a brunch I'm hosting, but I'm wondering how it would work to make ahead and freeze. Do you have first-hand experience with freezing and thawing to serve your homemade scones? Thanks much!
  8. This was my first time ever making scones I can't believe how good they taste. You made it simple and I followed your recipe and your advise not to overwork the dough and every step they are perfect. I added the turbinado on top and lemon extract taste so good with the blueberries I had frozen blue berries . Thanks now gonna make them with chocolate chips I will freeze them in my freezer bag once they cooled. I hope Buttercup my Yorkie we don't eat the blueberries ones up she can't have the chocolate ones I know. Was afraid to make them always wanted to make them glad I did.

    Rating: 5
  9. Want to try this for my first time ever making scones, but do I have to use heavy cream? I was hoping to be able to subst. 1% milk or evap. milk. Thank you.
    • Hi Laura, You definitely can substitute 1% or evaporated milk, but just understand that the scones won't have quite the same richness that they get from using heavy cream. The fat from the cream really gives it a lot of richness. If you are going to substitute, I would definitely use the evaporated milk over the 1%. It is going to be much thicker and creamier than the 1% milk.
  10. I made these today for my father. They are the best scones I have ever made! I found the information about cutting butter in very helpful. I actually grated the butter with a micro place and it worked well! I added raisins, used evaporated milk and added cinnamon. Wonderful. Thank you for the recipe!
  11. Hello! I've been using your scone recipe religiously on Sundays as our weekend treat. It is by far the best I've ever used! The last two weekends, though, they have not turned out like the others. The last couple batches are flat and the texture is not as it should be. I have not changed anything with the recipe or directions. Would you have any idea what would cause them not to rise like before? Thanks so much!
  12. Wow these look ierrstistible, will be giving these a go for sure. Simon
  13. One possibility - all the rise here comes from the baking powder, and I've been told that baking powder does die with age. It seems a bit abrupt, though - did the powder possibly get wet, or get overheated?
  14. Hi! I know this is an old post but wanting to make some scones for my hubs for Father's Day (in Aus) as he really misses US scones. If I want to freeze them to cook on the morning of - do I freeze before they're baked or after? I am a very novice baker - if you can't tell. Haha !
  15. I added white chocolate chips almonds and almond extract. OMG awesome! My sister, who is the real baker in the family said these were the best she's ever had. Thanks Bettie.

    Rating: 5
  16. I love this receive. To me a second is not cake. This is the one!

    Rating: 5
  17. Please forget my last post. I LOVE SCONES! This is the easiest receipe yet, and the most tastiest one. I made the dough without the vanilla and cinnamon. Split the dough in half. First batch added currants and a blend of roughly chopped almonds and walnuts. Second split added blueberries, peaches, vanilla and cinnamon. Before putting in oven sprinkle combo of carbino sugar and cinnamon. I hope I don't eat the batch before I share with others. Thank you bakerbettie.com for such an easy recipe to read and understand.
  18. Tried these and made with cherries and almond extract. Loved the recipe!! 

    Rating: 5
  19. I'm so very happy I've found you, Baker Bettie! Your posts are so informative and help me feel secure in trying to learn to bake. I'm very excited to make these scones! Thank you so much!!
  20. As a novice baker, I had very good results following your - to a "T" , instructions for making scones. Just wondering can I substitute cake flour for the all purpose flour. Of , use a portion of cake flour and all purpose flour together. If so, what is the ratio for each of the flours. I will attempt to make you fluffy biscuits next. Thank you for all of your helpful The information causes me to try other recepes that ypu post. Thank again. Peter C

    Rating: 5
    • Hi there! I have never tried this recipe with cake flour. I would imagine that the lower protein content could possibly make these a little too fragile and tender. They might not hold their shape and texture quite as well. But that is just a guess. If you do want to try it, you will need to substitute 1 cup plus 2 TBSP cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour you are substituting. Cake flour weighs less than all-purpose flour. So if you decide to make it with all cake flour then you would want to use 2 1/4 cups cake flour. If you do try it let me know how it goes!
  21. Hi! AJ from Florida! As I am blind and this is my first time attempting these, I found when trying to knead the dough, there were a lot of crums left over. Is this normal? Could it be I mixed too much? I love your website, and am so glad I found it! Made your chocolate chip cookies, and they were delicious! Thanks again. One more thing... Are you going to include other recipies, ie. soups, and other meals in your free culinary school? Thanks again for sharing your baking love with us!!! Much love! :)

    Rating: 4
    • Hi AJ! Thanks for reaching out. It is somewhat crumbly at first, but should come together after a couple of kneads. Make sure you aren't packing your flour into your measuring cup at all, just lightly spoon it in. If it still seems too crumbly, add a little bit more cream. To start, I will only be focusing on baking subjects for the baking school. It is possible, I will dive into savory down the road, but baking is truly my passion!
  22. Done so quickly before I could breathe. Tastes wonderful. I made it with orange flavored raisins orange extract and zest.  I will make it with cumin and ajwain seeds; sage and lemon; methi leaves and garlic. Soon. 

    Rating: 4
  23. Made these this morning for Royal wedding. Was delicious also had tea. Took them to my neighbors house and I will make these again and add berries. "Loved them"

    Rating: 5
  24. Made this for the royal wedding viewing party and they were delicious. Thank you for the step by step instructions!

    Rating: 5
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