Tender and flaky, this buttermilk scones recipe makes the perfect addition to afternoon tea, a brunch spread, or a morning cup of coffee! Serve these scones plain, with clotted cream or fruit preserves, or mix in fresh fruit (blueberries are my favorite!) or a variety of other options for a sweet or savory scone you’ll want to enjoy again and again.

A black wire cooling rack covered in parchment paper with buttermilk scones on top with a small bowl with butter to the left of the cooling rack.

Welcome to the January Bake-Along!

Ahhh flaky, beautifully baked scones. Perfect for breakfast or dessert. Is there a more perfect concoction? I should think not. I fell in love with them the very first time I made chocolate chip scones, which was years before Brown Eyed Baker was given life. Since then, I have made my fair share of scones, from sweet potato scones and pumpkin scones to cinnamon sugar scones, oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip scones, and countless more in between.

In addition to being delicious, scones are also extremely versatile and unbelievably quick to pull together. One (or two, at the most) bowl, a little mixing, a knead or two, patting into place, cutting, and then into the oven they go. They are perfect for last-minute company when you only have a few moments to throw something together.

If you are new to making scones or just want to learn a little more about these perfect pastries, pull up a seat and grab a warm cup of coffee because I am sharing everything I have learned over the years about making these tempting treats!

A light grey plate with two buttermilk scones on a counter with a few fresh blueberries.

What are scones?

Tender, flaky buttermilk scones originated in the UK. Part biscuit and part muffin, these slightly sweet treats typically appear at tea time but also make an excellent breakfast or snack. One of the major hallmarks of a good English scone recipe is the ability to easily break them apart.

What is the secret to making good scones?

Trust me when I tell you there is nothing quite like a well-made scone. The secret to making light and flaky scones every time comes down to a few important things to note.

  • Use fresh baking powder. Buttermilk scones depend on a reaction between baking powder and buttermilk to get a beautiful rise. This means you might want to test your baking powder before using it to make sure it’s fresh. Simply stir together 1 cup of warm water with 2 teaspoons of baking powder- if it fizzes you are good to go!
  • Don’t over-work the dough. The longer you stir the dough together the more you activate the gluten in the flour. This results in a tough, less flaky scone.
  • Use cake flour. Cake flour contains less gluten than all-purpose flour which results in a lighter, flakier scone. I use a mixture of all-purpose and cake flour to get perfectly light scones every time.

How to make buttermilk scones

Made with pantry staple ingredients and in one bowl, these delectable scones can be prepped, baked, and on the table in less than 45 minutes. Here’s how you can make them:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub with your fingers, until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal.

Side by side images, on the left an hand using a pastry blender to cut butter into the flour mixture and on the right a coarse crumbly mixture in a mixing bowl after the butter has been cut in.

  • Whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  • Drizzle the buttermilk mixture over the flour mixture and stir lightly with a fork until dough comes together but a small amount of flour remains in the bowl.

Side by side photos on the left buttermilk is added to the glass bowl with a spatula and on the right the buttermilk has been mixed into the scones dough.

  • Turn out the dough onto a work surface and gently knead the dough once or twice just to incorporate the flour.
  • Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick round circle and cut into 12 wedges.
  • Transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Side by side photo on the left the buttermilk scones with blueberries are brushed with an egg wash topping and on the right the scones are being brushed with a pastry brush on a baking sheet.

  • Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 22 minutes.
  • Transfer scones to wire rack to cool.

Recipe notes and variations

What does buttermilk do in baking?

Buttermilk serves two main functions in baking, taste and tenderizing. The slightly acidic quality of buttermilk leaves a tang in recipes that call for it. The acid also acts as a tenderizer in baked goods giving them a softer finish.

Can you substitute heavy cream for buttermilk in scones?

If you do not have buttermilk readily on hand you can quickly substitute it with heavy cream. You will want to add some vinegar to the heavy cream to “curdle” the milk and give it the acidic quality of buttermilk. For 1 cup of heavy cream add 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Mix-in Ideas

  • Fruits: Add 1 cup of fresh fruit to the dough such as blueberries, cherries, or even chopped strawberries!
  • Savory mix-ins: You can make this flaky buttermilk scone recipe a savory scone by adding in chopped bacon, chive, or even caramelized onion and shredded cheese!

When should you add mix-ins to the dough?

If you are planning to add fresh fruit or savory mix-ins to the dough, add them after you cut the butter into the flour mixture. Simply stir 1 cup fresh fruit or other addition to the coarse flour mixture. Coat the mix-in with the flour mixture before adding the buttermilk mixture into the dough.

Side by side photos on the left blueberries are added to the mixing bowl and on the right the blueberries have been coated in the flour mixture.

Serve this with your scones!

Buttermilk scones truly pair well with everything from clotted cream to fresh fruit. Here are a few of my favorite things to serve with my fresh made scones:

Make ahead, store, and freeze buttermilk scones!

These slightly sweet scones are best served immediately but if you wish to make them in advance or have leftovers here’s the best way to handle them.

  • Make-ahead: Make the dough in advance, following all instructions until baking. Freeze the unbaked scone wedges for up to 1 month. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw 10-15 minutes before brushing with egg wash, sprinkling with sanding sugar, and baking at 375°F for roughly 22 minutes.
  • Store: Store uneaten scones in an air-tight container for 1-2 days. If you think it will be longer than 2 days before you finish your scones I highly recommend freezing them.
  • Freeze: To freeze leftover scones, store in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month. Thaw and reheat in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes.

Have leftover buttermilk? Here are more of my favorite buttermilk recipes:

Two baked buttermilk scones on a plate at the bottom right and four baked buttermilk scones in the top left on a cooling rack covered in parchment paper.

Join the BEB Bake-Along!

To tackle the buttermilk scones and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

  • Make the scones, either plain or with whatever mix-ins you’d like!
  • Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
  • Check-in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s scones and cheer each other on!
  • You can view all past bake-along recipes here.

Buttermilk Scones

If you’ve dreamed of making tender, buttery, flaky scones, this basic buttermilk scones recipe has everything you need to be successful each and every time. Enjoy plain scones with clotted cream or fruit preserves, or mix in fresh fruit, chocolate chips, or give them a savory spin!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A circle of fresh buttermilk scones with blueberries on a black cooling rack covered in parchment paper with a small bowl of fresh sliced butter on the left side of the circle.

Buttermilk Scones

These tender and fluffy buttermilk scones are the perfect companion for an afternoon cup of coffee!
4.59 (12 ratings)

Ingredients

  • cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (56 g) cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • teaspoons (2.5 teaspoons) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) salt
  • ½ cup (113 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) vanilla extract

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal.
  • Whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and the vanilla. Drizzle over flour mixture, and stir lightly with a fork until dough comes together but a small amount of flour remains in the bowl.
  • Turn out dough onto a work surface, and gently knead dough once or twice just to incorporate flour. Pat dough into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 22 minutes. Transfer scones to wire rack to cool.

Notes

  • Cake Flour: You can purchase cake flour in most grocery stores or online; if you can't get it, substitute ¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Buttermilk: This is the key to the scones' phenomenal texture. If you do not have buttermilk and can't get it, use this substitution: Place 1½ teaspoons lemon juice or white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough whole or 2% milk to bring the mixture to ½ cup. Stir it, then let it sit for 5 minutes before using.
  • Mix-ins: See the post above for mix-in ideas. Use 1 cup of fresh fruit or other mix-ins.
  • Make-ahead: Make the dough in advance, following all instructions until baking. Freeze the unbaked scone wedges for up to 1 month. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw 10-15 minutes before brushing with egg wash, sprinkling with sanding sugar, and baking at 375°F for roughly 22 minutes.
  • Store: Store uneaten scones in an air-tight container for 1-2 days. If you think it will be longer than 2 days before you finish your scones I highly recommend freezing them.
  • Freeze: To freeze leftover scones, store in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month. Thaw and reheat in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes.
  • Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Calories: 174kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 163mg, Potassium: 134mg, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 280IU, Vitamin C: 1.2mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 0.9mg

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Lauren Grant.