How to Make 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!
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!
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: Fold the Dough
In order to create just a bit of an outer crust and a little bit of structure for the scones, create a few folds in the dough.
Press the dough out to about 1″ thick and then fold it in half. Turn the dough 90 degrees and then repeat this process for about 6 folds. Be gentle with the dough especially if you have mix-ins that will break.
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 7: 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
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.
- 2 cups (8.5 oz, 238 gr) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 98 gr) granulated sugar
- 1 TBSP baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1 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)
- Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
- 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.
- 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.
- Lightly whisk together the heavy cream, the egg, and any zests or extracts you may decide to use. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until the liquid is absorbed. The dough will be shaggy and crumbly at this point but it will come together on the counter.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. With floured hands, gently pat out the dough to about 1" thick. Fold the dough in half and then turn it 90 degrees. Pat out and fold again about 5 more times. Be very gentle with the dough here. (see the video for demonstration).
- Pat the dough out to an 8 or 9-inch circle (about 1 inch thick) and cut into 8 triangle-shaped pieces.
- 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.
- Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up before baking. This is technically optional, but your scones won't spread as much if you do this.
- Bake at 425F (220C) for 13-16 minutes until golden brown. If desired, sprinkle with extra turbinado sugar for more texture.
- 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.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0
138 Comments on “How to Make Scones”
This recipe didn’t work for me at all. Ended up being a gooey mess!
Hi Anna! So sorry to hear that. Scone dough is definitely a gooey and messy dough to work with. It is the nature of the beast. You just need to make sure you flour your surface and the top of the dough well. If you feel like giving it a go again, you might watch my scone video tutorial!
I’m struggling with the same thing. Have tried twice now and did everything it says and I still end up with just a gooey sticky mess. They still taste good and my bestie and husband loved them, but I would love to know what I’m doing wrong!
I use a cast iron scone pan when I make scones, and they come out perfect every time. I have triangle and round pans for scones. There are some nice pans out there for making scones.
Hi, I am a new subscriber I am soo glad I found you. my caregiver is just learning to cook and she doesn’t have a computer only a fancy phone which she uses as a computer. your recipes and the way they are written are just awesome, not soo much gabbing, when I want to cook, I want to cook. when I want to gab I’ll gab. especially for new cooks. BUT you are sooo beautiful I would still love to see you pull that hair to the side and show me your beautiful smile. I’ll bet it’s awesome just like your teaching. I love that you explain each section. God bless you. Grammie B
I did the recipe exactly and I’ve made scones before but this recipe produced such sticky wet dough that I couldn’t work with it at all. Not sure where I went wrong. Maybe my scale was off when I weighed my flour?! But I couldn’t even transfer them to the pan.
I used this recipe and my scones were perfect. The dough was a little sticky as I pressed it into a circle, but I lightly floured my hands, which allowed me to work with it. It is not supposed to be the consistency of yeast bread dough. Also, it is very important that the butter and liquid are cold and that the dough remain cold. If you have trouble keeping the butter cold, try freezing and grating it, incorporating a little at a time. I would suggest reading all of the hints and trying again, as it is a great recipe.
I loved this recipe, especially the advise to keep my ingredients cold and work the dough very little. I did get fantastic scones. Thanks for the suggestions on how to make a variety of scones. The only thing I did different, was to freeze and then grate the butter to make it easier to incorporate while remaining cold. I also used an electric mixer to incorporate the butter.
Thanks for the great article.
Thanks for the lovely recipe. I tried this recipe a few times with different fruits and every time they taste wonderful. May I know how much lemon juice should i add-in? As I noticed the dough gets quite watery after I added 2 tablespoons to the mixture. If i add in fruits that are liquidy, should I put in less cream?
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I have gone for years making mediocre scones, trying to find the perfect recipe. Nobody ever told me that my baking technique was in need of an overhaul, too. These turned out really well. I never thought that I could make scones like these!
This is my go to recipe for scones! Easy to make and delicious I love it! Thanks so much 🙂
I tried this recipe for the first time tonight and I’m so happy that the scones came out amazing and delicious! This was my first attempt at scones. Your instructions in both the video and in the written recipe were very concise, clear and helpful. I have a question – sorry if you mentioned this in the recipe and I just missed it – but would this recipe still work if you used 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour?
Hi Nancy! Glad to hear that you enjoyed the scones. I have not tried this recipe with 50% whole wheat flour. My gut instinct is that it would be much more dense and dry. If you do want to try it, I would increase the amount of liquid by about 2 TBSP to account for the flour being more absorbent.
Hi! I made scones for the first time last week using your lemon scone recipe and they were amazing. I am just recently developing my baking skills and your directions and video were perfect. I personally found success by sticking the bowl in the refrigerator for a couple minutes after mixing just to make sure it was still cold when I folded it, and doing that one more time after cutting the pieces before popping them in the oven.
I want to make these again and I have an abundance of dried cranberries. I was looking around your recipes and some of the comments but didn’t see if that would work. Could I use dried cranberries, and if so, what would be a good measurement? The Ocean Spray brand I have is pretty juicy even though they’re dried so I’m hoping that will help – they’re not hard and shriveled.
Hi Alicia! Yes, you can use dried cranberries. In fact, I have a cranberry orange scone recipe. It is this same base recipe with additions. I use fresh cranberries in the images, but I have made it with dried and it also works well! https://bakerbettie.com/cranberry-orange-scones/
Love your scones recipe. I am going to bake them this weekend. Thank you for sharing.
Hello! If you do want to add cinnamon to make Cinnamon scones. How much Cinnamon should I add? Should it be plain cinnamon or cinnamon sugar combination?
I would add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon to this recipe. And then before baking sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar to the tops for a nice crunch.
Thank you for the recipe!
Never tried making scones before but have always been a huge fan of blueberry scones so decided to give this one a go! Appreciate the easy instructions! They turned out perfectly 🙂
These are wonderful scones. Even my husband who is not a scone fan (too dry!) loved these blueberry scones. Amazing how the crumbly mass of dough comes together with your fold & turn method. Your
video was very helpful & answered any questions that might have come up. They were fun to make, &
I will definitely make them again. Thanks for a great recipe & method!
You’re very welcome!
how do you make a graham cracker crust that does not stick to a pie plate when you serve it?
What kind of pie plate are you using? I don’t have any issues with sticking in a glass or ceramic dish but you can always try buttering your dish before using it.
Wow! I made the lemon scones yesterday and they turned out perfectly. I can’t believe how quickly and how easily they are to make. I think these moist delicious scones are definitely tastier than any I’ve tried from bakeries.
Making my next batch tomorrow.
Awesome! Go glad you like them!
I love your recipes! I have celiac and I want to try the scone recipe with all purpose gluten free flour. I hope they come out as good as yours! Thank you for sharing!
Several people (here and on your YouTube channel) have asked how much lemon juice and zest to add, but I haven’t found the answer ANYWHERE. I love the combo of blueberries and lemon, but new to baking and don’t want to mess up the recipe by guessing. Hope you answer, love your vids!
What can i substitute for cream?
You can use milk or half and half but you will need to eyeball it as you might not need quite as much. I recommend using cream with this recipe for best results.
I was hoping to see how to turn these into cheese scones.
The sweet scones were delightful, but I wasn’t sure if they would be as good if I just added cheese to the recipe to make a cheese scone.
Any instructions for making cheese scones? ♀️♀️
You can make these savory by omitting the sugar and adding about 1 Cup of shredded cheese. You could also add a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and some chopped chives if you’d like!
I regularly make awesome variations of scones with your recipe. Thank you. I want to try savory ones for which you have suggested omitting sugar. Should I also increase the salt? If so by how much? I intend to add cheese snd chives.
I have a couple savory scone recipes on my site that you can check out!
Hi there. I love your biscuits recipe. Why does this recipe have so much less hydration?
I just made your recipe for blueberry scones. My batter was very dry and could have used the lemon juice and zest but it is not on your written recipe, although you mention it on your video. I baked it for 20 minutes per your recipe but they were almost burnt on the bottom. Your video said 15 minutes so I’ll change. I also do not see anywhere in your recipe the measurements for the lemon juice and zest. Since I’m new to baking scones, I think they would have tasted great with the lemon flavor.
Can the scone dough be made and refrigerated and baked the next day?
Absolutely! I would recommend cutting your scone shapes out of the dough and then freezing them on the sheet tray. Freezing them will help them to not spread as much while baking.
we do not eat eggs. Do you have any suggestions please.
You can use a commercial vegan egg replacer product.
Excellent way ..great recipe…can we sub heavy cream with milk or water…how much would I use?..please and thank you
Do not substitute with water. You can sub with milk however, your scones may be more biscuit like than scone like. You also may not need as much milk. Splash in a bit at a time until it comes together.
I made these blueberry scones first using frozen blueberries and then with fresh blueberries. There was no comparision between the two. The frozen blueberries had no flavor and turned the dough gray. The fresh blueberries had way more flavor, better color and better texture. One more thing: I like them with an entire stick of butter, of course, but my 16 YO son said there was too much butter (is that even possible?), I made them again reducing the butter to 6 Tbs and he liked that version better. Interestingly, that’s what the Joy of Cooking scone recipe indicates. Clearly, it’s a matter of taste.
My scones are coming out flat. They are not rising. What am I doing wrong?
I let them sit in the freezer for thirty minutes and they still are flat.
Hmm they shouldn’t be flat. Did you add the baking powder? Maybe try freezing next time for even longer. They can go straight in the oven from frozen.
Hi from Montreal, Canada!
I made these for the first time today. I followed your video exactly and the finished product was spectacular! I added zest of one lemon, along with 1 tsp of lemon juice. I will definitely make them again and others. Your instructions are very clear and easy to follow.
Hi! So glad you enjoyed them!
I had never baked a scone in my life so decided to attempt this recipe with a great deal of hesitation. Amazing- I baked some with blueberries and raspberries. All came out perfectly. I don’t know why some people had difficulty but it’s important to remember that the scone dough will be a bit messy pasty around the edges when you slice the batter but that’s OK. If need be ad a little more flour. The lemon touch is excellent. Try it!
Thanks so much for the nice review! Glad you loved them!
Very happy for your input, you have enlightened me