Learn how to make the best scones of your life! These scones have a dark-golden and crunchy outer crust. They are tender, moist and buttery on the inside. Plus you can easily adapt this recipe with your favorite add-ins.
There is a local farm bakery near my kids’ karate that makes the best scones. They are worth getting up early for on a Saturday. They have different flavors every weekend, so it’s always a nice surprise. When we do make it out to karate class on Saturdays, I make sure we get there early enough so I can swing by the bakery to grab myself a little treat to enjoy while the kids are in class. I’m always amazed by how crispy the outside of their scones are, yet the inside is incredibly moist and tender.
So I really wanted to duplicate that in a simple-to-follow recipe. And with the help of King Arthur Flour, I did.
Why this recipe is so great:
- Some people might think of scones as dry, hard, and bland bricks of pastries, but I guarantee you this recipe is not like that at all. It’s quite the opposite actually. With this recipe, you get a very buttery and moist scone with a soft and tender inner crumb. The exterior is crunchy and baked to a dark golden perfection.
- This recipe is easy to make and you can customize it any way you want. You can use this recipe to make sweet or savory scones. It works with any combination of your favorite mix-ins.
- Here are some reviews:
“Love this recipe! I can stop making blueberry lemon scones. I find I have to leave mine in the oven a bit longer, but they come out perfect! I top them with a bit of butter and honey. Oh my goodness! So tasty!” – Monica
“Best scones I ever made! I usually use heavy cream but feel the buttermilk made the difference. After I brushed them with buttermilk, I sprinkled the top with sanding sugar and then made a vanilla glaze…only because I can’t leave well enough alone! I used 2 cups of frozen blueberries as an add-in. Excellent recipe!” – Julie
How to make scones:
- You start by mixing together some flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then add in some cold butter.
- Using a pastry cutter, fork or two knives, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some larger pieces remaining.
- Toss in your add-ins.
- Whisk together some buttermilk, egg, and vanilla (if making sweet scones).
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix just until all is moistened.
- Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface.
- With floured hands, gently knead the dough into a ball. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. Rough and shaggy is actually better.
- Flatten into a 6″ circle and cut into 8 wedges.
- Transfer onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Brush the surface with buttermilk and bake in a 400F oven for 20 minutes.
- Use cold ingredients. Using cold butter, milk, and egg is essential for this recipe because you want the butter to remain solid while you work the dough. The small pieces of butter in the dough are what gives the scone its desirable texture. Cold butter creates steam as it melts in a hot oven. The steam from the melting butter expands between the layers of dough yielding a soft and fluffy interior, while the fat on the surface of the dough coats and creates a crispy outer shell.
- Be gentle and work quickly. When mixing your wet and dry ingredients together, gently mix until JUST combined and all appears to be moistened; that way you don’t create too much gluten. When kneading the dough into a ball, work quickly, so you don’t melt too much of the butter with your hands.
- Chill the dough. The key to this recipe is to let the scones chill in the fridge for 20 minutes while your oven preheats. This allows for the gluten in the flour to relax, which makes the scones more tender and enables them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which makes the scones flakier.
- Can scones be made in advance? Yes, you can prepare the dough the night before, cover and store in the fridge overnight, and bake fresh in the morning. Baked scones will last in the fridge for up to 5 days, so you can also bake them in advance, and just reheat when ready to serve. To reheat, place them on a baking sheet lightly tented with foil, and warm in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.
- Can you freeze scones? You can freeze them baked or unbaked. To freeze unbaked scones, place the wedges in the freezer until frozen solid, put them in a ziplock back, return to freezer and store for up to a month. When ready to bake, let thaw overnight in the fridge, and bake as instructed. To freeze them after baking, let cool completely, place in a ziplock bag, and freeze for up to a month. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge, and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds or on a baking sheet lightly tented with foil in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.
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This recipe will serve as your basic go-to scone recipe with instructions on how to adapt it for sweet or savory, and mix-in options. What you see in the photos are sweet scones with white chocolate chips, blueberries, and raspberries as mix-ins.
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How To Make Scones
These scones have a dark-golden and crunchy outer crust. They are tender, moist and buttery on the inside. Plus you can easily adapt this recipe with your favorite add-ins.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 8
- Category: breakfast, snack
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: American
- 2 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and kneading
- 2 tbsp (for savory) or 4 tbsp (for sweet) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp (for savory) or 1/2 tsp (for sweet) salt
- ½ cup (114g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- ⅔ cup (167ml) cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing top of scones
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla (for sweet only)
- 1–2 cups add-ins (I used 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 blueberries and 1/2 cup raspberries for this sweet scone version)
- In a large bowl, toss together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Work in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse meal with a few larger pieces remaining. Mix in any add-ins at this step if using.
- In a measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla (if making sweet scones).
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture. Gently stir with a rubber spatula until JUST combined and all appears to be moistened.
- Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. With floured hands, gently and quickly knead the dough into a ball. It doesn’t have to be smooth. Rough and shaggy is good. Then pat out into a 5″ circle if making plain scones, or 6″ circle if you have incorporated any add-ins.
- Cut into 8 wedges and place 2″ apart onto a parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Chill uncovered in the fridge for 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400F.
- Brush the tops of the scones with more buttermilk and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Scones are best enjoyed the day of. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, place on a baking sheet, lightly tent with foil, and warm for 10 minutes at 350F.
To make in advance: prepare the dough the night before (up to step 5), cover and store in the fridge, and bake as instructed the next day. Baked scones will last in the fridge for up to 5 days, so you can also bake them in advance, and just reheat when ready to serve. To reheat, place them on a baking sheet lightly tented with foil, and warm in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.
To freeze unbaked scones: place the wedges in the freezer until frozen solid, put them in a ziplock back, return to freezer and store for up to a month. When ready to bake, let thaw overnight in the fridge, and bake as instructed.
To freeze them after baking: let the scones cool completely, place them in a ziplock bag, and freeze for up to a month. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge, and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds or on a baking sheet lightly tented with foil in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.
Here are some suggested variations from King Arthur Flour.
Sweet scone variations:
White Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan Scones: Add 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup pecans.
Chocolate Chunk Scones: Add 1 – 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chunks (milk, semi-sweet, dark or mix).
Double Chocolate Chunk Scones: Substitute 1/4 cup cocoa powder for 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour; add 1 cup chocolate chunks and 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder.
Toasted Coconut Lime Scones: Add 3/4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut and 1 tablespoon lime zest. For extra coconut flavor, use coconut milk in place of the dairy called for in the recipe.
Roasted Strawberry and Pistachio Scones: Toss 2 cups sliced or quartered strawberries with 1 tablespoon sugar. Spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 425°F for about 20 minutes, or until jammy-looking. Let the berries cool before stirring them into the dry ingredients with 1/2 cup chopped pistachios.
Lemon Blueberry Scones: Add 2 cups blueberries and 1 tablespoon lemon zest.
Triple Cinnamon Scones: Add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (to the dry ingredients) and 1 cup cinnamon chips.
Savory scone variations:
Cheddar, Basil, and Sun-Dried Tomato Scones: Add 1 cup grated cheddar, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 tablespoons dried basil), and 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil).
Cheddar, Bacon, and Chives: Add 1 cup grated cheddar, 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon, 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives (or 2 tsp dried).
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