Today I’m sharing everything you need to know to make this Foolproof Scones Recipe. A flaky, crisp exterior exposes a tender, buttery soft interior that melts away in your mouth. These traditional scones are heavenly for breakfast or afternoon tea!
The delightful English scone has graced the plates for afternoon tea in kitchens for years. Humble in appearance yet beautiful in its simplicity, the scone is a prerequisite of any high tea. If you love an afternoon snack, you'll enjoy my Cherry Almond Scones, Chocolate Hazelnut Granola Bars, or Lemon Poppy Seed Madeleines.
When making scones in the past, have you experienced the dough being too sticky, the scones don’t rise, or they're lopsided, or even worse, dry? Yep, so have I. So, I've spent time developing this incredible recipe to share.
This recipe for big fluffy scones is the real deal. So stick around and let's delve into the ins and outs of this foolproof scones recipe so that you too can create a batch to rival Mary Berry's scones!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses pantry ingredients. Flour, butter, egg, and milk make up the core ingredients of these scones, and you're most likely going to have them in your kitchen.
- Quick to make. The scones come together in ten minutes or under, and with a short bake time, you could enjoy a beautiful scone in under half an hour.
- Perfect for afternoon tea. Served alongside a cup of tea, these make the perfect afternoon snack.
🇺🇸🇬🇧 American Scones VS British Scones!
Having been in this food space for a couple of years now, I’ve come to understand the differences between American scones as opposed to scones made here in Britain.
In the States I've noticed the popular scone shape is a triangular wedge shape. The dough is shaped into round discs and cut into segments.
Often the scone dough itself is sweeter with more sugar added and filled with all sorts of fruit, nuts, or chocolate. Once baked the scones are decorated with a drizzle or glaze over the top of each scone and eaten as is.
In Britain, we cut the scones into rounds with a plain or fluted-edged cookie cutter. They're either left plain or filled with dried fruit as standard.
The tops are brushed in egg wash, milk, or cream to provide a golden finish and once baked they're served split in half, with clotted cream and jam or butter. The scone dough itself isn’t overly sweet due to the toppings added during serving.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
In this easy, foolproof scone recipe, let's delve into the ingredients needed to make beautiful flaky, soft scones.
- Self-raising flour - Part of the success of making scones lies in the height that they rise. Using self-raising flour will greatly improve your chances as it has a raising agent already mixed through. (Check out my FAQs below if you can only get plain flour.)
- Salt & baking powder - Salt adds depth to the flavour, and the extra baking powder helps create a little more lift.
- Caster sugar - Add sweetness; feel free to use granulated sugar if that is all you have.
- Whole Milk - I prefer full-fat milk due to the higher fat content, which adds more richness to the dough. Double cream (heavy) cream, yogurt or buttermilk can be used as a substitute. You might need a teaspoon or two more cream as its consistency is thicker than milk.
- Large Egg - The egg helps bind the ingredients together and increases the richness and flavour.
- Unsalted butter - Has to be cold to create flaky layers within the scone.
Scones topped with clotted cream or whipped cream and jam are utterly delightful. Having said that, they're brilliant when other ingredients are added, creating different flavour variations.
Here are some ideas of what you can mix through your dough before baking:
- Citrus: Grate orange or lemon zest into the dough. Make a simple glaze of powdered icing sugar with a little citrus juice to drizzle on top of the scone for extra flavour. My Cranberry Orange Scones are Christmas favourites!
- Chocolate: Add in milk, dark or white chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I have a Chocolate Chip Scones Recipe that's delicious!).
- Dried fruit: Any dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots are a wonderful addition. Check out my fabulous Sultana Scones.
- Berries: Frozen or fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries can add the perfect fruity kick. Be aware that the cooking time might increase as the fruit adds moisture to the dough.
- Savoury: Add cheese, herbs or even crispy bacon pieces for the perfect accompaniment to your meal. Ali at Give Me Some Oven has some delicious-looking Cheddar Scones.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Now we understand the ingredients that are used in this plain scone recipe, let's jump into how actually to make these amazing scones.
STEP 1. Sift together dry ingredients. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Into a large mixing bowl, sift in your dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in the sugar and stir together (Image 1).
STEP 2. Whisk wet ingredients together. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Once whisked, set aside one tablespoon of the egg mixture- this will be your egg wash to be used later on (Image 2).
TIP: Keeping everything cold is imperative to successfully make scones.
If your kitchen is warm, then measure out your ingredients and refrigerate them all for half an hour (mixing bowl included) before you crack on with the method. If you have warm hands, run them under cold water to reduce their temperature, then pat dry before handling the butter.
STEP 4. Combine wet with the dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry mix and pour the whisked egg and milk mixture into the center (Image 5). Use a fork to stir until the mixture starts coming together to form a dough. It will still be very shaggy at this point and feel quite sticky (Image 6).
If necessary, use your floured hands to lightly bring it all together, incorporating the dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl.
TIP: If there are dry crumbs at the bottom of the bowl or it looks too dry, then add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, and mix in with the fork or hands.
STEP 5. Bring the dough together and roll it out. Tip the scone mix onto a lightly floured surface, and using your hands, bring it together and gently flatten it out.
We'll use a folding technique to create flaky layers, incorporate air into the dough, and minimize kneading. I use a bench scraper to help me out. Fold the dough in half and turn (Image 7), then fold it in half again (Image 8). Using your hands, shape and press the dough into a round disc or gently roll with a rolling pin until the dough is roughly 3 cm (1 inch) thick.
STEP 6. Cut out scone rounds. Dip a 6 cm (2 ¼-inch) cookie cutter in flour and stamp out 4 or 5 rounds (Image 9). Ensure you don’t twist the cutter when pressing down.
TIP: Dipping the cookie cutter in flour will help prevent the dough from sticking to the cookie cutter.
STEP 7. Cut scones from the remaining dough. Gather any scraps and push them together with your hands until another disc is formed. Cut out as many rounds as you can with this leftover dough. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray to just touch each other (Image 10).
STEP 8. Refrigerate, egg wash, and bake. Refrigerate the tray for 30 minutes to rest the dough. Preheat oven to 200C (425F).
Using the egg wash you set aside earlier, brush the tops of the scones. Take care not to let any drip down the sides of the scones, as this can inhibit their rise (Image 11). Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and well risen (Image 12).
TIP: If you forgot to set aside some egg wash, don't worry - brush the tops with milk. (The scones may not bake up as golden brown, though)
🥣 How To Serve
Serve scones with cream and jam (how I like it) or jam then cream. The debate rages on in the UK as to which goes first! I say go for it; however, your preference lies - let's be honest- they taste exactly the same!
To change things up, scones are delightful when served with other types of condiments such as lemon curd, blackberry jam, and even a pear & ginger compote.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Use cold ingredients and cold hands. The aim is to keep the butter as cold as possible when making the dough so that it melts when it hits the high heat, not before, and creates that uber-flakey interior we're after.
- Don't overwork the dough. By using my folding technique, you minimize the amount that you work the dough. It adds air and creates flaky layers. This prevents the activation of gluten and in turn, tough scones when baked.
- For the best rise. Use a round cookie cutter and stamp it down without twisting the cookie cutter. Also, egg wash just the tops, with no drips down the side.
- Refrigerate the dough before baking. This allows the flour to hydrate, the gluten to relax, the butter to re-chill and harden, and the baking powder to get to work. All this helps in creating tall, soft, flaky scones
📋 Recipe FAQs & Troubleshooting
A couple of possibilities here. Your baking powder might be out of date. Just have a quick look. If you don’t use it often, it's easy to keep out-of-date powder, and this will affect the rise. Also, you may have overworked the dough, inhibiting the rise. Keep the handling to a minimum.
Same reasons as above. Add enough moisture to the dough, so it feels slightly wet and sticky when you turn it out. Too little moisture will lead to dry, dense scones.
This an age-old question and one that can cause controversy. Some say scones shouldn’t have eggs, some say they should (like me). I believe scones benefit from the egg as it binds the ingredients, adds flavour and also acts as a leavener and aids in the rise, leading to increased fluffiness.
Yes absolutely. When you bring the dough together into a disc on the countertop, instead of stamping out rounds, simply cut the disc into wedges. You won’t have the problem of wasting any scraps! Place the wedges on a baking tray and bake as per my Foolproof Scone Recipe. My Glazed Chocolate Chip Scone recipe and Cherry Almond Scones are made this way.
If you don't have self-raising flour, then sub with plain flour and extra baking powder. For this recipe, add 3.5 teaspoons of baking powder to 375g/3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour and stir together. Continue as per the recipe instructions and the other ingredients, including the stated baking powder.
My pro tips cover what I believe to be foolproof techniques to make incredible scones. In short, though, refrigerate your ingredients, mix with cold hands, don't overwork the dough, and refrigerate the dough before baking.
❓ How to Make Small Batch Scones?
I get it, sometimes you don’t want 8-10 scones in one trot. Luckily, this recipe can be halved easily. For the egg, use a medium-sized and whisk it, remove a tablespoon, and discard it. I wouldn’t bother cutting this small batch with a cookie cutter.
Follow the method in the recipe card below. Instead of cutting out rounds, work the dough into a round disc with your hands, then cut it into four quarters with a sharp knife. Place the round on a baking tray, refrigerate, brush with egg wash, and bake as normal. See the images below.
Small Batch Scone Recipe Makes 4 large scones (Or 6 small ones.)
150g (1 ¼ cup) self-raising flour
15g (1 tbsp) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
45g (3 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, chopped
45ml (3 tbsp) whole milk
1 medium egg, room temperature
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Scones are best served fresh and slightly warm. To store them, wrap them in plastic wrap or place them in a ziplock bag to prevent them from drying out and retaining their moisture. Leave at room temperature. They should last 1 to 2 days.
To freeze: Once baked scones are cooled, wrap them immediately in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in the oven or microwave.
😋 More Snack Recipes
If you tried this Foolproof Scones Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Foolproof Scone Recipe
- 375 g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 12 g caster sugar
- 180 ml whole milk, cold
- 1 large egg, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 90 g unsalted butter, chopped, cold
- Sift dry ingredients together. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Into a large mixing bowl, sift in your dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the sugar and stir together.
- Whisk wet ingredients together. Whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Once whisked, set aside one tablespoon of the egg mixture- this will be your egg wash to be used later on.
- Add butter to flour. Add in the chopped butter and using your fingertips, toss the pieces until they are separated and coated with flour. Using your fingertips, rub the flour and butter together until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. (Alternatively, use a pastry cutter) Some pieces of butter can be left larger, until they are the size of peas.
- Combine wet with the dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry mix and pour the whisked egg and milk mixture into the centre. Use a fork to stir until the mixture just starts to come together to form a dough. It will still be very shaggy at this point and feel quite sticky. If necessary, use your hands to lightly bring it all together incorporating the dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl.
- Bring the dough together and roll it out. Tip the scone mix onto a lightly floured surface and using your hands, bring it together and gently flatten it out. We're going to use a folding technique to create flaky layers and incorporate air into the dough and minimize kneading. I use a bench scraper to help me out. Fold the dough in half and turn, then fold it in half again. Using your hands, shape and press the dough into a round disc or gently roll with a rolling pin until the dough is roughly 3 cm (1 inch) thick.
- Cut out scone rounds. Dip a 6 cm (2 1⁄4-inch) cookie cutter in flour and stamp out 4 or 5 rounds. Make sure that you don’t twist the cutter when pressing down as this can make the scones wonky when they bake. (They still taste the same so don't fret if you do twist it a bit.)
- Cut scones from the remaining dough and bake. Gather any scraps and push them together with your hands until another disc is formed. Cut out as many rounds as you can with this leftover dough. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray so they're just touching each other.
- Refrigerate, egg wash, and bake. Refrigerate the tray for 30 minutes to rest the dough. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) whilst the scones are in the fridge.Using the egg wash that you set aside earlier, brush the tops of the scones. Take care not to let any drip down the sides of the scones as this can inhibit their rise. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and well risen. Serve scones warm with cream and jam. Best eaten the day they are made.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
190g (1 ½ cup) self-raising flour
15g granulated sugar (1 tbsp)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
45g cold unsalted butter, chopped (3 tbsp)
45ml whole milk (3 tbsp)
1 medium egg, room temperature- whisk and remove and discard 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg. Follow the method written for a standard-sized batch. Instead of cutting out rounds, work the dough into a round disc with your hands, then cut it into four quarters with a sharp knife. Place the round on a baking tray, refrigerate, brush with egg wash, and bake as normal.
This post was originally published in April 2021 but has been updated.
Really? I wish my phone photos would be half as good! If I don't have self-rising flour could all-purpose work? Should I add more baking powder? Thanks
Thanks Angelica. I added the two images with strawberry jam on the scone after and those two were with my DSLR! As for subbing self-raising flour- I have added a note on this in the NOTES section of the recipe. Basically 300g plain flour + 3 teaspoon baking powder = 300g SR Flour
Hope this helps.
can you add currants or similar fruit to this recipe if so how much.
Hi Maureen, Thanks for checking out my recipe for Plain Scones. Yes, absolutely you can add dried fruit. I would start and half a cup and if you feel you would like more then you can go from there.
Great recipe! Easy to follow instructions and they turned out great - super flaky and tender/moist scones that even tasted nice two days later (I revived them by warming them on defrost in the microwave).
Thank you SO much Lauren for your great feedback on my plain scone recipe. Aren't they just the best (my fav served with cream and jam!!) xx
Great recipe, my family loved them (especially my grandmas)!!
Hello I can't find the oven temperature! Sorry if I'm being dense!
It's right there in point 7 of the recipe card. 200C/425F. Let me know if you have any other questions,
Beautiful! Iam excited with the result.
I've never baked scones before. They were soft, moist enough and flaky. My guest love them. Definitely I will do them again...maybe the weekend coming 😊
Hi Mel- thanks so much for your message- it makes me so happy to hear that you loved my plain scone recipe and to hear that it is indeed foolproof 🙂
Hi. When refrigerating, can you leave them longer than 30 mins? Before baking. Cant wait tontry this recipe ❤️
Yes, you can leave them longer- just make sure to cover them up to save them from drying out. Alternatively - place them on a lined baking tray and freeze them- once frozen pop them into a freezer-safe container. Bake straight from frozen adding a couple of minutes to the bake time.
Heyy, if I freeze the dough, should I still egg wash them before baking it?
Hi Soniya, Yes, when they are on the baking tray ready to pop in the oven, then eggwash the tops. If you don't have egg wash to hand then you can brush the tops with buttermilk, double (heavy) cream or sour cream.
Is the baking temp 200 with or without a fan oven?
In the UK oven temps are shown as 220(fan) / 200
I've got the dry ingredients mixed and ready to go and will let you know how they turn out!
Hi Chris it's 200C without and 180C with fan. Every oven runs hot slightly differently so just make sure to check in on them 5 mins before the bake time is up. Enjoy
I've a small B&B / guesthouse and I give my guests a Cornish Cream Tea when they arrive and they certainly love these So much better than the bought ones.
My first time ever making scones and thought foolproof was what I needed lol. I made the small batch recipe. They came out really well, lovely rise and soft, the tops caught a bit but I will learn from that. Your instructions were great really clear and the folding method meant a light touch. Thank you, I now want to try with cherries as they are my favourite scone ever.
Thank you so much for your feedback regarding my scone recipe. This is brilliant. I love the small batch quantity. Enough for two days worth or to have a couple of people over. Cherry scones are a huge hit at home too. Have you seen my CHerry Almond Scones on here? You can halve that recipe if you want to turn it small batch. Emma
Your instructions on the blog were super easy to follow and the scones were absolutely delicious. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find self- raising flour in German supermarkets, so I just used a bit more baking power. It still turned out great. I just love scones and this is now my new favorite recipe. I will definitly try out more of your recipes. They all look super yummy.
Have a very merry Chrismas!
Thank you so much for giving this fab review - so happy this will become a regular favourite of yours in the kitchen. Well done on substituting the self-raising flour. For future ref, I have a little substitution guide with exact quantities in the FAQ section of the post and in the notes on the recipe card. This will take the guesswork out for you. Thanks,
This scone recipe is easy to follow, great tips and out of all the various ones I used over the years, the best one! Made beautiful light and tender scones! The recipe is a keeper and will be my go to one from now on! Thank you!
Hi Diane, Thanks so much for your feedback. It thrills me to hear that my tips helped you and that it'll be your go to plain scone recipe. Enjoy!
After many tries that never worked out I found your recipe and it was great. Soft, flaky, lovely scones!
Here in Italy it’s difficult to find self raising flour but the tip about plain flour and baking powder worked a treat.
Thank you for a beautifully explained and easy to follow recipe.
Hi Elizabeth- Wow what a review- thank you SO much for taking the time to let me know your thoughts on my Foolproof Scone Recipe. So glad the in-post process shots and explanations helped you x
Just came across your scone recipe yesterday and tried them today this is the best recipe i have come across i have tried a lot of scone recipes and these came out great nice and soft i never thought to put them in the fridge before you bake them this is the recipe i will use from now on thanks for sharing
Wow wow wow Kaz - what an awesome outcome making my foolproof scones. SO glad that you loved them. Emma
My second attempt baking Emmas scones last night was a clear winner. Emma does make it easy giving all her helpful written easy to understand little hints on paper to follow as I print out her recipes. This is one of the reasons I enjoy her recipes. My scones rose and were the most beautiful colour bringing them out of the oven. I have 6 frozen in a zip lock bag as she suggested can be done for the weekend. But the fresh from the oven ones tasted like heaven. Light tasty with that touch of crunch from the egg wash lid. Emma thank you for giving us this great scone recipe. I look forward to sharing your scones with family and friends in the future. Ohh did I mention our home smelt like a french patisserie while the scones were baking........Merci Emma
Hi Barbie- What a wonderful review- thank you so much for messaging that. I'm so happy you loved it- now you have a base recipe that you can incorporate different ingredients to create your own favourite. xx
I made a batch adding frozen blueberries and substituting heavy cream instead of milk (we were out of milk) I used the instructions above to make my own self rising flour and they came out perfectly.
Thank you for a detailed explanation of your recipe. Now I need to decide on which of your other treats to try...madeleines perhaps!
Thank you so much for the excellent feedback. The blueberries would be a gorgeous addition. So glad the instructions helped you out. 🙂
Can the scones be cooked in the airfryer?
Hi Sue, I'm afraid that I don't own nor have ever cooked in an air fryer. Sorry, but `i can't give any advice on this. Maybe a quick google might come up with answers. Emma
Hi! Thank you for this awesome recipe! First time making scones and they turned out perfect! Following your blog all the way from Sudan and excited to try more of your recipes!
Hi Doha!! Wow- it continually blows my mind where this lil' blog reaches in the world. I'm so happy that loved the scones recipe. Happy baking!
This is hands down the best scone recipe! I’ve tried so many without success. The instructions were precise and the recipe was perfect. I made small batch, added 1/4 cup dried apricots and some orange zest. When out of the oven, I glazed with mixture of 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2T orange juice and dash of vanilla. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!
That's amazing feedback Maya- thank you so much! You'r adding sound amazing! x
Too much salt. Self rising flour in the US has salt in it so adjustments need to be made.
Hi Charlie, So does self raising flour here in the UK. To be fair, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt split over 8 large scones is not really 'too' much. Simply omit it if you prefer! I believe it has it's place in the recipe to season and help with the flavour. It's personal preference though!
When do I add the dried fruit or chocolate chips?
Thank you! Can’t wait to try these
Hi Kathy, After you have mixed the wet ingredients into the dough, add the dried fruit or chopped chocolate 🙂
I hope you love the recipe. x