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!

soft scones stacked on one another

The best scones can be made at home

I’ve made a lot of scones over the years. Enough to say I’ve mastered the recipe for big fluffy scones. They are one of my favorite baked goods.

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

I’ve used this base for vanilla cardamom scones, chai pear scones, blueberry buttermilk scones, lemon cream cheese scones with strawberries, and so much more. It’s fantastic with dried cranberries.

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

Why this recipe works

  • Using buttermilk helps keep the scones ultra-tender.
  • Freezing the scones before baking will ensure the butter is cold which is what creates the airy pockets within the scones. 
  • Adding an egg will keep them make rich and soft.
  • You don’t need to use the full amount of liquid. Only add as much as needed for the dough to stick together.
Ingredients for soft scones

How to make scones

These American Scones take only about 20 minutes to bake and you can pretty much eat them straight from the oven.

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. 

If you want more of a traditional English scone, you can try my homemade biscuit recipe instead.

Make the dough – Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl then use a pastry blender to cut the cold butter into the dough. Combine buttermilk with egg and vanilla and mix a little at a time into the flour.

You won’t need all the liquid. Just add as much as you need to get the dough to stick together without being wet. 

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.

Process shots showing how to make soft scones.

Shape the dough –  Pat the dough into a 7-inch round circle. Cut the circle into 8 triangles. It’s easiest to do this by cutting the circle in half, then cut each half. Continue this until you have 8 sections.


Freeze the dough – For super a soft texture, it’s important to keep the dough cold. Use cold ingredients and handle the dough as little as possible with your hands. After shaping the scones, place them on a baking sheet and pop them into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.

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

Bake – Brush the tops with heavy cream or milk and sprinkle coarse sugar over them. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Let them cool then serve them with butter, jam, or clotted cream.


Recipe variations

  • Mix in ¾ to 1 cup of your favorite add-in. (fresh or frozen fruit, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc.)
  • Add 1 tablespoon of lemon or orange zest.
  • Use ½ cup orange juice and ½ milk in place of buttermilk.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite extract in addition to the vanilla.
Soft scone broken open with the insides visible

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 a 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 the dough and freeze it for later use?
Scone dough will freeze well! Make and shape the dough. 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 of 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.

Soft scones on a baking sheet.

Tips for perfect soft scones:

  • When kneading the dough, work quickly so the butter doesn’t melt from the warmth of your hands. It’s crucial that all the tiny bits of butter stay intact.
  • Add only as much liquid as it takes for the dough to come together. The dough shouldn’t be wet, but it should stick together when you squeeze it. 
  • They are best enjoyed the day they are made. Place the leftovers in an airtight container and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • You can freeze them for up to 3 months.

If you like this English Muffin recipe, try these other breakfast recipes:

  1. Peach Scones with Almond Glaze
  2. Carrot Cake Scones
  3. Sweet Potato Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze
  4. Pumpkin Scones
  5. Honey Citrus Sweet Potato Scones
soft scones stacked on one another

Soft Scones Recipe

Yield: 8 scones
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

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!

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups (358 g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup (240 ml) 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. 
  2. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Cut the circle in half, then cut each half into four triangle shaped wedges. You should have 8 triangles.
  6. Arrange the scones 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  7. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F. 
  8. 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.

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 ¾ 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 ½ cup orange juice and ½ milk in place of buttermilk.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite extract in addition to the vanilla.

Make ahead tip

  1. Unbaked scones can be refrigerated overnight. Or seal in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Add about 2 minutes to the baking time when baking from frozen.
  2. Baked scones will keep for up to 2 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. 
  3. Scones can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 544mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 7g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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133 Comments

  1. Can you substitute buttermilk with normal milk

  2. I always make my own buttermilk because it is so simple and not worth buying it in the store though available where I live. Two one cup of milk add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice! I don’t like using the vinegar although I’ve read that that is fine for making the better buttermilk! This particular scone recipe is very similar to the one I’ve been using over the last year and they come out excellent so I will try this recipe soon!

  3. What do you do with the leftover egg and buttermilk mixture because you can’t leave it in the fridge for too long

  4. Caramellei says:

    I’ve made many scones over the years, but this is far the best recipe yet. Made with fresh blueberries and it was delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Art Whelan says:

    Its hard to find buttermilk in our area so I have been using the milk/vinegar alternative when ever I make these scones. Recipe always comes out perfect for taste and texture, but I recently read that plain yogurt with a bit of milk or water mixed together to thin it, is a better alternative. I would love to try this but I dont want to ruin a recipe that is always great. Thoughts?

    1. I’ve actually never tried this method for buttermilk replacement so I can’t give any input on it.

    2. Leonore Ramathoka says:

      Please use plain yoghurt. It works

  6. Ann Marie Torrey says:

    I have difficulty using a pastry cutter due to arthritis. Can I use a food processor to get the same results?

    1. I’ve not made scones with a food processor but I imagine it would be fine to do as long as you don’t overwork the dough.

    2. Can you use a cheese grater with large holes It’s what I use as it easily breaks the butter down without too much handling. Use very cold or even frozen butter don’t futz too much with your hands in the dough or it will melt the butter. Just stir it up, pat it gently into a round and let rest in fridge. Preheat your oven and off you go. A food processor is a heavy rig and not great with delicate pastry unless you’re a pro. In a split second it can over work the dough and make lead sinkers out of your scones!

  7. Raquel Figueroa says:

    I always forget to leave a comment. I love this recipe so much. it’s my go-to. I always add something new to them. I always hated hard scones. These are amazing!

    1. I’m thrilled to hear you enjoy the scones. They are always a hit around here.

  8. What a lovely addition to my latest tea gathering! The scones were a hit and will definitely make this recipe again! I switched out the butter for a vegan brand and lactose free milk to make it non-dairy. No one notice and… I got so many compliments on how moist they were! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hi Jen! Can’t wait to try this recipe. It looks really tasty and looks very good.

  10. I loved your scone recipes. Thank you!