How to Make Soft Scones

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Every day is perfect for scones, and this tutorial will walk you through exactly how to make soft scones. These scones come out crisp on the outside and super soft and light in the middle. They are incredible!

A plain scone broken in half so the fluffy interior is visible.

Soft scones

I’ve made a lot of scones over the years. Enough to say I’ve mastered the technique for the perfect light, soft scones each and every time.

Once you have a master plain scones recipe, you can create many variations with that one recipe.

I’ve used this base for chai pear scones, blueberry buttermilk scones, lemon cream cheese scones with strawberries, and so much more.

So I thought why not give you this master scone recipe along with my best tips and tricks for incredible scones. Use it to create your own fun flavors!

Overhead view of ingredients for soft scones laid out on a brown background.

Sones take only about 20 minutes to bake and you can pretty much eat them straight from the oven. Melty butter or jam slathered over a hot scone is pure bliss.

This basic scone recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. You’ll notice that this recipe calls for one egg.

Sometimes I’ll use an egg and sometimes I won’t. I think the egg adds a little extra richness that is needed for a simple scone without much flavoring.

Soft scone dough mixed together in a large glass bowl with a white and black silicone spatula.

Don’t overwork the scone dough

This is probably the most important tip I can give you and it applies to all baking. Never mix more than needed.

Once you’ve combined the wet and dry ingredients, stir gently until the dry ingredients have become moistened. Don’t stir anymore beyond this point.

Instead, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently four or five times until it comes together.

Then shape it into a 7-inch round circle.

A disk of soft scone dough on a piece of brown parchment paper with a bench scraper next to it.

Keep the scone dough cold

For super soft scones, it’s important to keep the dough cold. Use cold ingredients and handle the dough as little as possible with your hands.

I’ve seen recipes call for freezing the butter and grating it into the flour instead of simply cutting cold butter in with a pastry blender. Honestly, this is way too much work and completely unnecessary.

After shaping the scones, place them on a baking sheet in and pop them into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.

This takes the same amount of time as freezing the butter beforehand but saves your arm and wrists from the strain of grating frozen butter.

Unbaked triangle shaped scones on a baking sheet.

The result will be the same! The butter that’s in the dough will harden in the freezer and melt inside the scones as they bake.

The steam from the melting butter creates air pockets which make the inside tender and light. So so good!

I prefer to brush the scones with a little milk or heavy cream just before baking. This helps give them a gorgeous golden color.

Add a sprinkle of coarse sugar and you have yourself the perfect soft scone to accompany your morning coffee.

I do hope you’ll give this quick and easy scones recipe a try soon!

Baked soft scones arranged on a baking sheet.

Common questions about soft scones

What’s the rule of thumb with adding fruit to the batter?

I generally stick to adding 1 cup of any mix-in. You can add a single ingredient or combination of fresh fruit, dry fruit, nuts, etc. Toss them in before you add the wet ingredients and then mix everything together. There’s no need to adjust any of the ingredient amounts.

Can the scones be made without sugar?

Yes, they certainly can. My recipe calls for sugar because I live in the US and this is how we make them. But other places like the UK don’t add sugar to their scones. So, it just depends on what you prefer.

Can I make scone dough and freeze it for a later use?

Scone dough will freeze well! Make the dough and shape scones. Place them on a baking sheet and freeze them for an hour. You can then transfer them to a freezer safe container or ziptop freezer bag. They’ll keep for up to 3 months. Bake them straight from the freezer but add a couple minutes to the bake time.

Can you use half & half in place of milk?

You can use half and half or any milk substitute in place of milk.

Tools needed

    

Mixing Bowl | Dough Blender | Silicone Spatula | Baking Sheet

How to Make Soft Scones
5 from 4 votes
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Soft Scones

Every day is perfect for scones, and this tutorial will walk you through exactly how to make soft scones. These scones come out crisp on the outside and super soft and light in the middle. They are the perfect base for all sorts of add-ins!

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yields 8 scones
Calories 371 kcal
Author Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Whisk the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla together and gradually add it to the flour mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together. You may not need all the buttermilk. Add a little at a time until the mixture is moist but not too wet. Do not over mix the dough or the scones will be tough.

  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough four or five times. Pat the dough into a 7 inch round circle. Cut the circle in half, then cut each half into four triangle shaped wedges. Arrange the scones 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F. Brush the tops of the scones with milk or cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve immediately.

Make ahead tip

  1. You can refrigerate the dough overnight then simply shape the scones and bake them the next day.

  2. Scones will keep for up to 2 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. 

  3. Scones can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Recipe Notes

The scones need to be cold when going into the oven. Placing the shaped dough into the freezer for 30 minutes ensures the scones will bake up light and fluffy.

Alternatively, you can place the scone dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Fun flavor options:

  • Mix in 3/4 to 1 cup of your favorite add-in. (fresh or frozen fruit, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon or orange zest.
  • Use 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 milk in place of buttermilk.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite extract in addition to the vanilla.

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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19 Comments

  • Kelly Lano

    What is the rule of thumb for adding fruit in – do I change the dry or wet ingredient amounts? What about pumpkin?

  • Anton

    Hmmm those look lovely but not much rise there. I agree freezing the butter and grating is a complete waste of time. By the time you’ve grated the butter it’s defrosted already as the little flakes of butter thaw almost instantly unless one is working inside an industrial freezer.

    The butter doesn’t have to be icy even, it’s easier to mix it into the crumble stage with the flower if its slightly room temp, and mix you must. Again by the time you’ve done rubbing the flour and butter those previously frozen flakes or the chilled butter is going to be room temp anyway.

    Getting the right consistency to your dough is really what it’s all about. Not overworked, not too moist, not too dry. It’s all in the feel. Texture and rise are the most important issues in a scone which have after all so little by way of ingredients.

  • Olivia

    What would the rule of thumb be for adding things to this mixture? Like chocolate chips or fruit? Can i use this as a base recipe for any kind of scone with any kind of dry mix ins?

    Thanks!

    • Jen Sobjack

      This recipe is perfect for all sorts of add-ins. I generally stick to 3/4 to 1 cup of add-ins and this works well for fresh, frozen, or dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, etc.

  • Liz

    I do believe this page recommended to freeze the SCONES when you have shaped them, for about a half an hour just before you put them in the oven! And hey this eliminates any mixing etc. issues!

  • DHTaylor

    Can these be made eliminating the sugar? I made these the other day and they were the best I’ve had since I was living in the UK. I have a friend who is diabetic so I wanted to make these without sugar-

  • Mary McAllister

    Is it normal to still have alot of flour in the bowl after you mix it up? I feel like the amount of milk isn’t enough.

    • Jen Sobjack

      It is normal to have a little flour left in the bowl. I usually knead it in at step 2. The scone dough is a lot like a dough for pie crust. It shouldn’t be wet but moist enough to hold together. However, if the climate where you are is very dry, you may need a little extra milk.

  • Ashley

    Hi Jen: If I needed to make these scones ahead of time (made one batch, and they were FABULOUS), could I make the dough and then freeze it until it was time to bake? If so, how long would they keep in the freezer. Thanks for your help!

    • Jen Sobjack

      You certainly can freeze the dough. Make the dough all the way through step 2 then transfer the frozen scones to a freezer bag. They’ll keep for up to 3 months. Bake them straight from the freezer but add a couple minutes to the bake time.

      • Ashley

        Thanks, Jen! I am making a batch for a royal wedding party, but won’t have time to make them the night before. This is super helpful. Cheers!