Scones

Here's your basic "start here" scone recipe. While this simple vanilla scone is delicious as is, it's also the perfect vehicle for your favorite add-ins; we happen to love dried cranberries and walnuts. Though chocolate chips are tempting, too!

Our guarantee: These tender scones will have a dark-gold outer crust, and a light-gold, moist inner crumb. They'll taste mildly of butter and vanilla.

Prep
10 mins
Bake
18 to 23 mins
Total
58 mins
Yield
12 scones
Scones

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

  2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

  3. Stir in the fruit, chips, and/or nuts, if you're using them.

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or other flavor, and half and half or milk.

  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don't have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

  7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Round each half into a 5" circle (if you haven't incorporated any add-ins); or a 6" circle (if you've added fruit, nuts, etc.). The circles should be about 3/4" thick.

  8. Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

  9. Using a knife or bench knife that you've run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

  10. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2" space between them, at their outer edges.

  11. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Chilling the scones relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones more tender and allows them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which will make the scones a bit flakier. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the upper third.

  12. Bake the scones in the upper part of your oven for 18 to 23 minutes, or until they're a light golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn't look wet or unbaked.

  13. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. They're delicious as is, but add butter and/or jam, if you like.

  14. When the scones are completely cool, wrap them in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. To reheat room-temperature scones, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to make this gluten-free? For great results, substitute King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the all-purpose flour in this recipe, no further ingredient changes necessary. Be sure to bake thoroughly; gluten-free baked goods often need a bit more time in the oven.

  • To make free-form (a.k.a. drop scones) rather than wedge-shaped scones, increase the half and half or milk to 3/4 cup. Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, dollop the scone dough in 1/3-cupfuls onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the scones in a preheated 375°F oven for about 30 minutes.
  • Savory scone variations: Starting with the recipe above, omit the vanilla and reduce the sugar to 2 tablespoons. Then try the following variations:
    Cacio e Pepe Scones: Add 1 1/2 cups grated pecorino cheese (Parmesan works well, too) and 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper. Before baking, brush the scones with milk and grate a little more cheese on top. Sprinkle with more pepper.
    Cheddar, Basil, and Sun-Dried Tomato Scones: Add 1 cup grated cheddar, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 tablespoons dried basil), and 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) to the dough.
  • Want to make scones well ahead of time? Simple. After the unbaked scones' 30 minutes in the freezer (or whenever they're frozen solid), place them in a zip-top plastic bag. Return to the freezer, and store for up to a month. Bake as directed (without thawing), adding a couple of extra minutes if needed.
  • Looking for a different kind of add-in? Try Jammy Bits, sweet, soft little morsels of fruit purée.
  • Interested in learning more about ancient grains — and how to use them? See our complete guide to baking with ancient grains.
  • Want to make savory scones? Reduce the sugar to 2 tablespoons and omit the vanilla. Add 1 to 2 cups of savory add-ins, like cheese, fresh or dried herbs, crumbled bacon, etc., right after you've worked in the butter, and before adding the liquid.
  • Scones are best served warm. They're delicious as is, but add butter and/or jam, if you like. To reheat room-temperature scones, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Why the range in milk? Flour is like a sponge; it absorbs liquid during humid weather, and dries out in dry weather. In summer or when it's hot and humid, use the lesser amount of milk or half and half in this recipe; during winter, or when it's very dry, use the greater amount. Either way, start with the smaller amount, and drizzle it in till the dough is the correct consistency.
  • Sweet scone variations
    White Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan Scones: Add 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup pecans (toasted if desired) to the dry ingredients.
    Chocolate Chunk Scones: Add 1 cup chocolate chunks (milk, dark, or a mixture) to the dry ingredients. For a little extra crunch, add 1/2 cup cacao nibs.
    Double Chocolate Chunk Scones: Substitute 1/4 cup cocoa powder for 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour; add 1 cup chocolate chunks and 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder to the dry ingredients.
    Toasted Coconut Lime Scones: Add 3/4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut and 1 tablespoon lime zest (grated lime rind) to the dry ingredients. For extra coconut flavor, use coconut milk in place of the dairy called for in the recipe.
    Roasted Strawberry and Pistachio Scones: Toss 2 cups sliced or quartered strawberries with 1 tablespoon sugar. Spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 425°F for about 20 minutes, or until jammy-looking. Let the berries cool before stirring them into the dry ingredients with 1/2 cup chopped pistachios.
    Lemon Blueberry Scones: Add 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen) and 1 tablespoon lemon zest to the dry ingredients.
    Triple Cinnamon Scones: Add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1 cup cinnamon chips to the dry ingredients.
  • From amaranth to teff and more, ancient grains offer a world of baking possibilities. Want to learn how to incorporate these special grains into some of your favorite recipes for muffins, scones, pancakes, and bread? See our Baking With Ancient Grains Guide.