How to Make 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 incredible!

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

I’ve made a lot of scones over the years. Enough to say I’ve mastered the technique for 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 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 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.

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

    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.

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Learn how to make soft scones with these simple tips and tricks. Use this basic soft scone recipe as a base for all sorts of add-ins!

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11 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.