These light, flaky and easy-to-make classic buttermilk scones are perfect with jam, lemon curd or just eaten plain with butter.
(Love scones? Try these Quick & Easy Lemon Buttermilk Scones for something a little lemony!)
These classic buttermilk scones are a reader favourite. And for good reason! They are quick and easy to make (no special equipment required), delicious (plain or with your favourite jam) and the perfect base for all your scone experiments.
Afternoon Tea Amateurs
I’ve been on a Scone Mission since that one summer we spent at Gravenhurst where we had afternoon tea for the first time. But I’m getting ahead of my story.
There’s this dainty little tea shop by the docks. The outside was painted a pretty blue and it had a very nice view of the lake.
We were hesitant to go in though because it was the middle of summer (who wants to drink tea when it’s 40C/104F out?) and what do you wear to afternoon tea anyway?
We imagined the Queen having afternoon tea but what about us her lowly subjects? We were full-on tourist mode too – shirt, shorts, Birkenstocks.
We went in nonetheless (we were hungry, hunger makes you do things) with no expectations and hoping that they won’t be snooty to us afternoon tea amateurs.
The Scone Mission begins
We were instant fans the moment we stepped in (the A/C was full blast, to start). The staff was warm and friendly, the place bright and smelled of freshly baked bread, and the food delightful.
The scones I especially loved so the moment we got back home my mission started. I’ve tried many different recipes and while they were all okay, this one is the best.
Quick and Easy Classic Buttermilk Scones
First of all, these classic buttermilk scones are so easy to make. You don’t even need an electric mixer. In fact, it’s better if you mix everything by hand so you avoid over-mixing the dough.
To cut the butter into the dough I just use my trusty pastry cutter and blender. If you don’t have one, just use two forks or knives. See here for more tips.
Second, they’re quick to bake – 12-15 minutes in the oven and you’re done. They’re ready for you faster than you can say buttermilk!
Speaking of buttermilk – they’re a great way to use up that extra buttermilk sitting in the fridge (and there’s always extra buttermilk sitting in the fridge).
Last but not least, these scones are light and flaky fresh from the oven. They are so good!
We eat them plain, with butter, with our favourite jam, with my homemade lemon curd or my rhubarb compote. And making this fills your kitchen with that lovely freshly baked bread smell that’s hard to beat.
Related: 22 Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Buttermilk
The Secret to Extra Flaky Scones
I have made these scones so many times I’ve lost count and have stuck to my original recipe ever since. Except for one tiny, but magic, change.
Instead of cold and cubed butter, I started using frozen grated butter.
What you do is freeze the butter at least half an hour before. Then grate it (I use a boxed cheese grater). Put the grated butter back in the freezer while you prep everything else.
This tiny change results to flakier scones and while grating the butter is admittedly a little extra work, perfectly flaky scones are worth it (I recommend these kind of gloves, saved my hand from the grater so many times!).
How to Freeze Scones
Another wonderful thing about this recipe is that the scones freeze beautifully.
This batch makes 16 small scones (about the size of a standard dinner roll) so whatever we don’t finish, we freeze (just put in a Ziploc bag and straight into the freezer). No need to thaw when you want to have one either.
Just pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and it’s done. It’s going to be more cakey than flaky at this point but still good.
They stay fresh for about two weeks frozen. Can’t be sure if they’re good longer than that because at this point we’ve already eaten every last one!
Related: Banana Buttermilk Pancakes with Candied Walnuts
How to Make Perfect Buttermilk Scones
And just when you think you couldn’t love these scones more – these classic buttermilk scones are also a great base for your other favourite ingredients so you can make a perfect batch of scones just just the way you like them. All you need to do is add ½ to ¾ cup of mix-ins to the dough before you knead it.
So far I’ve added dried cranberries, dried blueberries and chocolate chips.
Just make sure to adjust the sugar content – I usually put a little less sugar when I make these variations so they don’t end up being too sweet.
So go ahead. Make your own scones and have afternoon tea at home anytime. Doesn’t even have to be in the afternoon. Doesn’t even have to involve tea. Just eat the scones whenever and however way you like. No judgements.
Mother’s Day is slowly creeping up on us too and this is an awesome addition to your brunch (or, yes, afternoon tea) spread.
Classic Buttermilk Scones
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup unsalted butter frozen and grated (see post)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease baking pan (I use 1 large cookie sheet, you may need to use 2 depending on how big your pan is) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, ⅓ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon baking soda.
- Add the ¾ cup butter and cut with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture looks coarse (you should see pieces of butter/flour “balls” about the size of chickpeas).
- Make a well in the middle and add 1 cup buttermilk. Mix until just combined. Don’t over mix. Now is the time to add chocolate chips or other goodies, if using.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and divide into 2 equal parts. Lightly knead each into ¾ inch thick, 6-inch diameter rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges and place on your prepared baking pans. Space them out evenly, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Each oven is different and they brown pretty quickly so watch the oven (don’t leave!).
- Take out of the oven and serve warm.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
Did you make these classic buttermilk scones? Tell me about it in the comments section below. I’d love to hear all about it.
Dear Jolina, this recipe looks fabulous and I am going to try it tomorrow. I’d like to add fresh cranberries. Do you recommend any adjustments to the recipe?
Hi Linda, I don’t change the recipe when I add dried cranberries or any mix-ins. Haven’t tried fresh cranberries but it should be okay too. Enjoy!
Thank you for your timely reply! Will let you know how they come out 🙂
Thank you for your timely reply! I added 1 1/4 cup frozen cranberries when I mixed in the buttermilk. Needed an additional 3/4 C buttermilk before the dough felt moist enough. Cooked a good 20 min longer, but, they came out light and tasty. I will add more sugar next time and maybe even sprinkle turbinado sugar on top prior to baking to give me that ‘breakfast sweet’ dimension. Thank you for the great recipe!
That’s great Linda! And thanks for sharing your tips 🙂
Other than making a few high altitude adjustments that I do for all my baked products, I made this exactly as directed and added currants for my first try. Delicious!
That’s great Sharon! Glad you liked them 🙂
I love these scones. I have been trying different recipes and these scones are the best. Easy to make but dry at first so I added 1/2 cup more of buttermilk and perfect. They look beautiful and taste great. Thank you
Glad you like them Nancy!
Thank you for this recipe and I am so ready to try it!
Felicia - Seaside, CA
I too have been looking for a basic scone recipe and this one works so well. I (along with so many others) had buttermilk to use up and it was just a bit more than a cup. I did have to add the extra bit because my dough was just too dry. I left them plain because our advent calendar was a variety of jams and these are perfect.
Hi Felicia, happy to hear you liked them! (PS: I’m a little jealous of your jam advent calendar lol)
Just made a batch. Minor alteration: I added an additional 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, and 1/3 cup raw sugar. Divine!
This recipe is a keeper! I made 2 batches (blueberry and chocolate chunk) because I had just over 2 cups of buttermilk to use up. So light and fluffy, just the right amount of sweet. I did have to bake them a little longer but they were worth the wait!
That’s great to hear Tina! I love adding all kinds of mix-ins too, this is the perfect batter for it 🙂
My husband made these this morning and they were delicious! So light and fluffy. This recipe is a keeper!
That’s awesome Maria! Enjoy!
Hello! Thank you for the delicious recipe! I just found your website and look forward to perusing it! My scones turned out pretty well but I do have trouble getting the dough to come together with a light touch. Do you have suggestions? Could it be that I need to add a bit more liquid? My batch tasted good but perhaps not as flaky as I expected.
Hi Kristen, when that happens to me I add buttermilk a little bit a time, but not too much. Glad you enjoyed them!
These scones are divine! Great tip on grating the butter. I actually just grated butter right out of the fridge and it worked just as well. Delightfully crispy outside and fluffy/flaky inside. I love classic scones without a lot of extras so these were perfect!
That’s awesome Renee! Grated butter is really a game changer 🙂
Just made these added espresso chips omg so amazing love them this will be a staple in my house!
Espresso chips sound amazing! Glad you liked them!
Oh my gosh…these are fantastic! I made these this morning …had buttermilk to use up.
I’ve found my go to scone recipe from now on! Thank you for sharing your recipe!
Happy to hear that Susie! Enjoy!
I make pies 9″ (meat and fruit) and was wondering if this recipe could be used to make them, as it sounds like the pies might come out rich and flaky.
Hi Stanley, do you mean as crust? I haven’t tried so I can’t say for sure.
Yes as pie crust. Just wondering if it will hold together when rolled thin. Might try it and let you know.
I’ve tried many scone recipes and this is my favorite. Just the right texture, but I like mine just a little sweeter. Will adding more sugar change the finished product (other than sweetness of course)?
Hi CindyW, I haven’t really altered the basic recipe since it’s such a hit every time but I think a little extra sugar won’t hurt. Maybe you can sprinkle some on top before baking as well. Enjoy!
Oh my goodness! These are the best, and I mean best, scones ever. I’m English and these came out so much better than my recipe. I followed the recipe exactly except I used the King Arthur scones baking stone pan, so they were somewhat larger and baked perfectly for 25 minutes since they were bigger. You have got to try these if you are looking for a PERFECT scone. Thank you for the recipe!
Thanks for the lovely words Linda! Glad you enjoyed them 🙂
Linda, This is really exciting as I haven’t made a really good scone since I left England. I’m assuming the flour is different and my recipes don’t work with it. Looking forward to finding out!
I added fresh peach and Craisins. Hot out of the oven, I added a squeeze of honey and a little butter to mine. My husband added a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Oh yummmm! Peach sounds delicious and ice cream too!
For the butter, do you start with 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks)? Or do you end up with up with 3/4 cup grated butter? Thank you!
Hi Kara, I start with 3/4 cup butter. Great question!
I have a question before I bake. I’d like to sprinkle everything bagel seasoning on top hegira baking do you suggest I brush the tops with additional buttermilk?
Thank you can’t wait to bake
Hi Robyn, everything bagel is a great idea! I don’t usually brush the tops with buttermilk when I add mix-ins but you certainly can if you like.
Wow! These were so quick and easy! I made lemon curd yesterday and needed something to eat with it… will definitely make these again. Thanks for the recipe!
That’s my favourite pairing too 🙂 Glad you liked it, Jane!
That sounds so good! May I ask how you make lemon curd? Haven’t been able to find any since pandemic . I would dearly appreciate you sharing. Thank you so very much!!
Hi Jolene, here’s the lemon curd recipe – https://theunlikelybaker.com/quick-and-easy-homemade-lemon-curd/ Enjoy!
Great recipe. They took a little longer to cook for me, more like 25 minutes, but definitely worth it. I didn’t freeze the butter because I hadn’t planned ahead, but they still came out flaky and delicious. Added about 1/3 cup chopped pecans. I made them for the camping trip we’re heading out on tomorrow morning, but I think I may need to hide them if we want them to make it that long! Thanks for the great recipe.
Glad you like them Kelly! I love the addition of pecans. Enjoy your trip!