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Foolproof English Scones

Everyone needs a recipe for foolproof English scones. Whip up a batch of these big, fluffy scones in 20 minutes when family or friends drop in. Enjoy them with jam and cream—a perfect treat for morning or afternoon tea!

Close-up of a scone with a wire basket of scones in the background.
Table of contents

The key to achieving a great fluffy texture in plain scones is to not over-mix the dough. By grating the cold butter you’ll also ensure that it is evenly distributed throughout the dough without handling it too much. A quick and foolproof recipe that works every single time. The taste and texture are similar to American biscuits.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • 6 staple ingredients only.
  • Sugar and egg-free recipe.
  • Perfect scones in 20 minutes.
  • Big, fluffy scones are a versatile crowd-pleaser and a must-have when hosting a high tea.

Ingredients

  • Butter – Unsalted butter works best for this recipe but you can use salted butter if needed. Make sure the butter is cold so you can easily grate it. I use the second finest side of my box grater.
  • FlourAll-purpose flour or plain flour is all you need for this recipe. Make sure you sift it.
  • Baking powder – Yes, 5 teaspoons sounds like a lot but you that much if you’re after big, fluffy scones.
  • Vanilla extract – You can substitute it with vanilla essence or with fresh vanilla beans scraped from one pod.
  • Salt – The salt adds flavor to the scones and is required. Sea salt works best but you can also use table salt.
  • Milk – I prefer full-fat milk but lower fat options can be used as well.

Tips on how to make fluffy scones

  • Don’t over-mix the dough or the scones will be tough and chewy.
  • Make sure the butter is cold to be able to grate it. On hot days you can pop it into the freezer for 5 minutes before grating to prevent it from softening too quickly.
  • Place the scones side by side when baking which helps them rise up instead of out.
  • The scones need a short time in a hot oven. Ensure the oven is up to temperatures before baking them.

Flavor variations

Add the ingredients below to create other delicious scone variations:

  • Cheese scones: Add 1/2 cup grated edam or cheddar cheese to the dough. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if needed.
  • Date scones: Add 1/2 cup of chopped dates to the dough.
  • Earl Grey scones: Simply warm the milk and steep 2 teabags of Earl Grey in the milk for 3 minutes. Let the infused milk cool down to prevent it from melting the butter in the dough. Once fully cooled use it as per the recipe below.
  • Lemon scones: Add 1 tsp of lemon zest to the dough and glaze the tops of the scones with a simple lemon icing made with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter, and 1 cup powdered sugar.

How to serve an English style scone

Traditional scones are served alongside a cup of cream tea. Earl grey or English breakfast are popular choices.

In terms of toppings, it’s hard to beat the classic jam and clotted or whipped cream combination. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which comes first. Just make sure you’ll add a generous amount of whipped heavy cream.

Rich mascarpone cream, lemon curd, and fresh fruit are other delicious topping ideas.

For more delicious recipes, make sure to check out my coffee & walnut loaf cake, honey loaf cake, and earl grey lavender cake as well.

FAQ

How do you store scones?

Scones last 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Simply reheat them in a microwave or oven before serving. You can also freeze them in a freezer-proof container for up to 3 months.

Can I freeze scones?

Yes, you can store baked scones in the freezer for up to 3 months. Simply defrost them at room temperature and reheat them lightly in the oven or toaster. You can even freeze unbaked scones.

A wire basket with five foolproof scones.

Foolproof English Scones

Caro Jensen
Everyone needs a quick, foolproof scone recipe. Whip up these big, fluffy plain scones in 20 minutes for impromptu gatherings. Enjoy with jam and cream—a perfect treat for morning or afternoon tea!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Cake
Cuisine British
Servings 8 large scones
Calories 265 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter cold
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup milk cold

Glaze

  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 420F/220C.
  • In a large bowl, add sifted flour followed by baking powder and salt. Combine the flour mixture.
    3 cups all-purpose flour, 5 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp salt
  • Grate the cold butter into the dry ingredients and mix everything with your hands making sure the butter is distributed evenly.
    1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • Add the wet ingredients including the vanilla extract and cold milk. Loosely bring the dough together with a spoon. Don't over-mix it. You're after a very rough dough, not a smooth one.
    1 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Add the scone dough onto a lightly floured surface and form a 1-inch thick circle or square with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut the scones into round shapes with a cookie cutter or scone cutter (approx. 4-inch diameter). Alternatively, you can shape them into squares or triangles with a pastry cutter or sharp knife.
  • Place them onto a parchment paper lined baking tray side by side as you want them to rise up instead of spreading out. Brush the top of the scones with milk (or use an egg wash) and bake the scones in the oven for 13 minutes or until you can spot a golden-brown crust.
    1 tbsp milk

Notes

Check out the cream-colored bon in the article for more tips on how to make these big, fluffy scones.

Nutrition

Calories: 265kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 6gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 319mgPotassium: 114mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 302IUCalcium: 205mgIron: 2mg
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