Filed Under: Breakfast | Brunch | How To

How to Make Perfect Scones

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
November 18th, 2021
4.9 from 166 votes
4.9 from 166 votes

How to Make Perfect Scones better than your favorite coffee shop in just 35 minutes! Easy recipe with make-ahead instructions and tons of baking tips below.

Yield: 16 scones

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: The plain scones themselves are ultra buttery with a hint of sweet tanginess. There are so many flavors you can add directly to the dough, or accompany these with jam or flavored butter.
Texture: Extremely tender, flaky, and light. Every bite is heaven!
Ease: Super easy. They take less than 40 minutes from start to finish, plus you can make them ahead of time (specific instructions below)!
Pros: This is the perfect recipe to have in your back pocket for any special breakfast or brunch.
Cons: None! Maybe besides the fact that these are super rich 😉
Would I make this again? Absolutely, this is a go-to recipe!

I never used to understand the obsession and appeal of scones. Not until I took a bite of a truly great one, that is.

Many scones are bland and dense. Why would I want to waste an indulgence on that?!

It wasn’t until I perfected my own recipe that I realized how delightful scones can be. They’re somehow sturdier and heartier than biscuits, but without being overly dry or crumbly.

What I love most about them (besides all. the. BUTTER.) is that they belong on pretty much any breakfast or brunch table.

You can dress them up by adding nuts, citrus zest, or chocolate chips. Or simply serve them plain alongside some local jam or homemade flavored butter.

Any way you serve these, they’re bound to be perfect if you follow my tips below!

How to Make Scones

Get Flaky Scones with COLD Butter

The top tip for flaky scones is that the butter must be COLD from start to when the dough enters the oven. The cold butter melts upon entering the heat of the oven and the water content in butter evaporates in steam. As the steam escapes, it bursts up and creates that beautiful tall, flaky texture. I like to cube then freeze my butter before using it. I also always prefer to use unsalted butter for baking. You can find out why here: Salted vs. Unsalted Butter.

Why is buttermilk used for scones?

This is absolutely the preferred liquid for scones. It will result in tender, taller scones because of how its acidity reacts with the baking powder and tenderizes the dough overall. It also adds a lovely tang to create more depth of flavor.

I would highly advise using real buttermilk instead of a substitute. If you aren’t able to use buttermilk, you can also use heavy cream. You can learn more about buttermilk here.

How to make scone dough:

Whatever you do, do not overmix the dough or allow it to get too warm. Doing so will result in flatter, tougher, and less flaky scones. My absolute favorite tool for making biscuits or scone dough quickly and easily by hand (so I don’t have to lug out my food processor) is this OXO bladed pastry blender. LOVE.

Use a marble pastry board to help keep the dough cool. If at any point you notice the butter become greasy and melty, pop the dough into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before proceeding.

You can also pop the tray of shaped unbaked scones in the fridge or freezer while the oven preheats to ensure the butter remains nice and cold.

How to Make Tall, Flaky Scones BONUS tip:

We’re stealing a trick from croissant baking that I use in my Best Ever Pie Crust recipe! A little bit of lamination gets the scones to shoot up sky high with tons of flaky layers. Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated than it actually is. And if this seems like way too much work, just skip this step. You’ll still have tasty scones!

Here’s how to laminate your scone dough:

  1. Turn the craggly mass of scone dough out onto your work surface.
  2. Shape it into a rectangle.
  3. Fold the rectangle in half like a piece of paper.
  4. Flatten it out into a rectangle again.
  5. Now fold it in half once more, but going the opposite direction. This will also help you to gently ‘knead’ the dough so it comes together into a more cohesive disk without overmixing it. Overmixing leads to rubbery and tough scones.

Try to shape half your scone dough using this trick and half without to compare the difference. You’ll be surprised!

I actually demonstrated this during a live Zoom class exclusively for HTH Members earlier this year. Take a look at Benjamin’s laminated vs. un-laminated scone:

How to Make Scones Ahead of Time:

The shaped unbaked scones can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Bake from the fridge as the recipe directs.

How to Freeze Scones:

Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. If baking from frozen, add about 2 minutes to the baking time.

Scone Flavor Variations:

Feel free to get creative with your scone flavorings! Listed below are some ideas with specific ingredient additions. But you can add in about 3/4 cup of dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc., to the dough. If using fruit, dried fruit or frozen berries work best!

  • Cranberry-Orange
  • Pumpkin
  • Blueberry: Use a spatula to gently fold in 1 1/2 cups blueberries to the scone dough as a final step before shaping. Take care not to break the blueberries or their color will bleed. If using frozen blueberries, keep frozen and don’t thaw before using.
  • Lemon Poppy Seed: Add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds + 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest to the dough.
  • Cinnamon Sugar: Mix 3 tablespoons granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and sprinkle on the egg-coated unbaked scones.

How to Make A Glaze for Scones:

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water, milk, or citrus juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or other extract
  • Citrus zest, to taste, if desired

Directions: Whisk all glaze ingredients together until thick but still pourable. Spread over cooled scones and let stand until set.

More scone recipes you’ll love:

4.9 from 166 votes

How to make
Classic Scones

Yield: 16 scones
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
How to Make Perfect Scones better than your favorite coffee shop in just 35 minutes! Easy recipe with make-ahead instructions and tons of baking tips below.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (381 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Coarse sugar

Directions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400°F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Add the butter and cut with a pastry cutter or a fork until the butter is the size of large peas.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, 1 egg, and vanilla extract.

  5. Make a well in the middle and add the liquid mixture. Mix until just combined. Don't over mix. If adding in dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or other flavorings, do so now.

  6. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. *Optional Step: See Recipe Notes for lamination instructions.

  7. Divide into 2 equal parts. Lightly knead each into 3/4-inch thick, 6-diameter rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges and place on your prepared baking pans. Space them out about 2 inches apart.

MAKE AHEAD

  1. At this point the unbaked scones can be refrigerated overnight, or sealed and frozen for up to 1 month. If baking from frozen, add about 2 minutes to the baking time.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush over the scones. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar.

  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. The scones are best served warm, or within a few hours of baking.

Recipe Notes

OPTIONAL STEPHere's how to laminate your scone dough:
Turn the craggly mass of scone dough out onto your work surface. Shape it into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half like a piece of paper. Flatten it out into a rectangle again. Now fold it in half once more, but going in the opposite direction. This will also help you to gently 'knead' the dough so it comes together into a more cohesive disk without overmixing it. Continue with step 7 above.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make scones, scones

January 2020 Baking Challenge

This recipe was the January 2020 selection for our monthly baking challenge! Every month you can join the challenge by baking the recipe and snapping a photo for a chance to win prizes! Full challenge details here. Check out everyone’s scones:

This recipe was originally published in May 2017 and was recently updated in 2021 with new photos and more baking tips! Photos by Joanie Simon.

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Marlene — October 7, 2021 at 2:10 am

    Could you make the dough Friday evening and bake them Saturday afternoon?

    • #
      Emily — October 7, 2021 at 9:26 am

      Yup! We talk about how to do that in the recipe’s directions as well as the pink tip box above the recipe 🙂 Keeping them in the fridge for a bit longer than if you baked them in the morning is completely fine 🙂 Enjoy your scones!

  2. #
    Aura — August 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Hello Tessa,
    Thanks a lot for this recipe. Having read most of the delighted comments I am now really looking forward to having a go ☺️
    however (and sorry in advance for the question ) could you please advise me about the quantity in grams or milliliters for the cup of buttermilk… I am French and live in England therefore I can’t measure in us cups … Thanks in advance

    • #
      Emily — August 18, 2021 at 9:56 am

      Hi Aura! While we’re huge advocates of using a digital scale when baking, we actually don’t normally weigh liquid ingredients (milk, water, or creams) because there’s no air inside those ingredients-we tend to use a liquid measuring cup instead; however, a quick search on Google brought up that 1 cup of buttermilk is about 242 grams. If you come across any other recipes that use volume measurements instead of weight, you might be interested in using our free Ingredient Measuring Guide. Just as a note, don’t use the measurement for regular milk from the guide for buttermilk as buttermilk is heavier than regular milk 🙂 Hope that helps!

  3. #
    Tricia — June 6, 2021 at 7:53 am

    These scones totally changed my mind about scones! They were absolutely delicious and Tessa’s tips – as always – make all the difference. Thank you for all the fantastic guidance, Tessa!

    • #
      Tessa — June 7, 2021 at 1:57 pm

      So happy you enjoyed your scones, Tricia!

  4. #
    Carol — March 30, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    Dear Tessa, thanks for the recipe. I made these and they turned out lovely. I used lavender and cardamom as the flavorings and served them with butter, cream, jam and a cup of tea. Delicious! Definitely one to keep in the pocket.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Thanks again

    Carol

    • #
      Tessa — March 31, 2021 at 10:10 am

      Your flavor of scones sounds absolutely heavenly! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe 🙂

  5. #
    Shannon — March 12, 2021 at 8:43 am

    I never comment, but these were fantastic. Easy to make and delicious. My husband who doesn’t even like scones loved these. Wonderful recipe thank you!

    • #
      Tessa — March 12, 2021 at 10:30 am

      I’m so glad to hear that, Shannon!

  6. #
    Mike — March 6, 2021 at 5:02 am

    I added in a half teaspoon of lemon myrtle and served with honey from Kytheria (thyme flower honey). Amazing

    • #
      Tessa — March 8, 2021 at 1:39 pm

      Sounds yummy!

  7. #
    Queenbee — February 22, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    These scones were lovely and flaky. I added dried cherries to mine and they were so good. I live in Canada and I believe the flour here is different than that available in The USA. The dough was slightly wet so I had to drop them on the baking sheet instead of lightly kneading them as per the instructions. Nevertheless, the results were just as good, so I’m giving it five stars.

    N.B. 1.5 sticks of butter is equivalent to 3/4 cup of butter.

    • #
      Tessa — February 23, 2021 at 11:09 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed these scones!

  8. #
    Kristina — February 18, 2021 at 8:41 am

    This recipe is flawed. The ingredient amounts listed in cups vs weight aren’t the same… 3 cups of flour is 450g not 381g. 1/3c granulated sugar is 100g, not 60g. I’m not sure which measurement is the correct one, using weight did not seem to be correct. Anyways…I will be using another recipe next time

  9. #
    Anne Fitzgerald Ryan — February 6, 2021 at 3:33 am

    Why do my scones not taste nice coming out of freezer?

  10. #
    Gabrielle — January 25, 2021 at 10:58 am

    These scones are seriously perfect. I have made this recipe more times than I can count and every time people always RAVE about them!

    • #
      Tessa — January 25, 2021 at 2:18 pm

      So happy to hear this!

  11. #
    Barbara — January 3, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    These are amazing. Nice flavor. Rose nicely. Tender. Good even cold. Beats the stuff out of any other scone I have ever eaten

  12. #
    Noreen Morris — October 7, 2020 at 7:20 am

    The best scones ever. I make them at least once a week and take them into work. They are a big hit with everyone

  13. #
    Emily — September 29, 2020 at 10:03 am

    I have made these scones so much and are always so happy with them! My mom begs me to make these for her!
    Thanks Tessa

  14. #
    Kathy Posey — September 26, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Loved this recipe! Quick and easy. Just now made it and eating them as I type. I did cut them a bit larger, cutting only four from each round. The outside is crunchy, and the inside fluffy. Just delicious! Not a traditional scone, but wonderful nonetheless.

  15. #
    Lisa — September 6, 2020 at 6:04 am

    I make this recipe at least once a month! So wonderful. I add strawberries or blueberries or they are delicious as is. I highly recommend this recipe!!

  16. #
    Liliana — August 4, 2020 at 7:04 am

    Looks great! Cant wait to try it!!

    Tessa, how would you add sourdough starter to this recipe?

    Also, could you please address the chewiness in a scone? I once had a scone in Denmark that was flaky, chewy and just scumptious.

    Thank you

  17. #
    Martha Knox — July 24, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    No questions. Will be using your recipe and tips next time I make scones, which will be soon.
    Love your page, got right to tips and directions, didn’t have to click several times to get to the tips or recipes. THANK YOU. Will post a pic when I make my next batch of your cinnamon scones.

  18. #
    Caytea — July 18, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    These were so yummy! I don’t care for most scones because they are dry and hard. These were nothing like that, which was great. I just tried them with the suggested sugar on top (delicious and light!), but I’m excited to try the other variations. Extra bonus – the recipe was so easy! My mom was always intimidated to make pastries, so I was nervous to try these, but it was no problem. 🙂

  19. #
    Esther — July 1, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Hi Tessa, thank you for the recipe. I tried to make the scones today but my batter is wet!
    I’m not sure where I went wrong, all my ingredients are measured using scale, well except for the egg. I did use a buttermilk alternate though – 1 cup of milk + 1 tbsp apple cider.
    I couldn’t knead the dough at all, so I just portioned them and baked in a muffin tray. They turned out moist and fluffy, so taste wise was still great.

  20. #
    Emily and Claire — June 15, 2020 at 10:03 am

    We made these this afternoon and they were so amazing! We put blueberries in them. We are ten year olds and love to bake so will definitely be making them again!!! Do we store them in the fridge or just out in a container?

  21. #
    Emily and Claire — June 15, 2020 at 10:02 am

    We made these and they were so amazing! We put blueberries in them. We are ten year olds and love to bake so will definitely be making them again!!!

  22. #
    Emily and Claire — June 15, 2020 at 9:59 am

    These were so good! We are ten years old and love to bake. We put in blueberries and they looked and tasted so good! We are using them for our sisters “tea party”.
    Thank you for creating a great recipe!!! We will definitely make it again!!
    Emily and Claire

  23. #
    Emily and Claire — June 15, 2020 at 9:58 am

    These were so good! We are ten years old and love to bake. We put in blueberries and they looked and tasted so good! We are using them for our sisters “tea party”.
    Thank you for creating a great recipe!!!
    Emily and Claire

  24. #
    Prisa — May 20, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Can we use buttermilk powder instead of liquid?

  25. #
    Tatum — April 28, 2020 at 10:45 am

    This was really delicious!! I’ve made a few versions and this is by far the best!

  26. #
    Gloria — April 16, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Since it is my first time to try baking, I have struggle a bit on the wet batter as I used my hand to mix the butter and I have made a mistake in the DIY buttermilk (instead of adding 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 scant cup whole milk, I added to “1 WHOLE CUP”of whole milk). Then I freeze the dough and bake the next day, miracle happened! It tasted really good and I have a great motivation to try out more Tessa’s recipe.

    Now I will definitely make ahead and store some in the freezer, then I would no longer buy any scone outside.
    I just sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top before I bake and taste great!

  27. #
    Gloria — April 16, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Since it is my first time to try baking, I have struggle a bit on the wet batter as I used my hand to mix the butter and I have made a mistake in the DIY buttermilk (instead of adding 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 scant cup whole milk, I added to “1 WHOLE CUP”of whole milk). Then I freeze the dough and bake the next day, miracle happened! It tasted really good and I have a great motivation to try out more Tessa’s recipe.

    Now I will definitely make ahead and store some in the freezer, then I would no longer buy any scone outside.

  28. #
    Francois chretien — April 10, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    The best ever….. I double the recipe and freeze them to prevent getting fat much faster…… LoL

  29. #
    Emily Leishman — April 9, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    I made mine into peppermint and I loved the crunch and sweetness of the crushed candy canes! They also looked so pretty, even though I made them into rectangle!

  30. #
    Jonsie — April 8, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    First time making scones and these turned out perfect. I hardly mixed them and made sure not to handle the dough too much. Super flaky . Awesome

  31. #
    Christine Paquin — March 22, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    I have made this recipe several times and perfect scones every time. I get rave reviews from my friends whenever I serve them!!

  32. #
    Karen — February 25, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    First time that I’ve made scones that turned out delicious. I added the lemon zest and poppy seeds that were recommended and I made the dough rounds about 1.5-2 inches thick so that they looked like bakery scones. I baked them about 15 minutes and glazed them afterwards and wow. A big hit with everyone!

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