Learn how to make and serve classic English scones. This traditional recipe is adapted from the Buckingham Palace recipe and is perfect for afternoon tea. 

An authentic English scone topped with clotted cream and jam and strawberry slices. More classic scones can be seen on a plate in the background.

While in England last week, one of my goals was to find the best classic English scones. I tried one at Fortnum and Mason, as well as a couple at The Goring afternoon tea. In addition, I purchased afternoon tea cookbooks from Buckingham Palace and F&M. After testing those recipes at home, I’ve found the best English scone recipe. 

A small cookbook with pink spine and a photo of scones with clotted cream, jam, and tea on a table outside. The text on the book reads "Royal Teas. Seasonal recipes from Buckingham Palace."

Buckingham Palace cookbook

Unlike most American scones, authentic British scones are small and plain or with currants. Scones are an English staple and are always part of afternoon tea. Though they are a special treat, scones are simple to make using just a few everyday ingredients. For a drop scone, try my favorite Blueberry Oat Scones

Two tiers of plain English scones at Fortnum & Mason in London. The signs on the tiers read "Baby Classic Scone £1.00" and "Plain Scone £1.65" on the bottom.

Plain Scones at Fortnum & Mason in London


The ingredients for English scones in bowls on a marble countertop: flour, milk, one egg, sugar, diced butter, and baking soda.

  • Flour: All-purpose flour works well here. 
  •  Baking powder: This is the leavening ingredient that creates nice tall scones. 
  •  Sugar: Superfine sugar is best but we use organic cane sugar. 
  •  Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter for this recipe. If using salted, omit the pinch of salt. Keep your butter cold. 
  •  Egg: You’ll need two eggs. One for the scones and one yolk for a wash. Many scone recipes don’t use eggs, and they turn about almost identical to this recipe. You can also substitute heavy cream or milk for the egg wash. 
  • Milk: You can use whole milk or buttermilk for this recipe. The Buckingham Palace original recipe uses buttermilk but we usually use regular milk. Many recipes use heavy cream instead. Milk is the liquid that binds this recipe together, and you’ll need to use your judgment about just how much you need to form the perfect dough.  


Before getting started making your English scones, take a moment to be sure you have everything you need. You may need to invest in a cutter if you don’t have one. Smooth and scalloped are both fine. Links to suggested items are at the bottom of the recipe card below. 

  • Rolling Pin 
  • Round cutter (5-6 centimeters/2.5″ is ideal) 
  • Parchment paper 
  • Baking sheet
  • Pastry brush 

How to Make Scones

Diced butter is rubbed into a flour mixture to make English scones.

Classic English scones come together in just a few steps. 

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients. The most precise way to measure ingredients for baking is using a kitchen scale. If you don’t have a scale, imperial measurements are listed and have been tested. Thoroughly combine the dry ingredients by sifting or whisking together. 

Step 2: Crumble in the butter. Your fingers work well to combine the butter and the dry ingredients. Alternatively, you can use a food processor to pulse these ingredients and make the scone dough from start to finish. 

Step 3: Add the liquid ingredients. The egg and milk bind all of the other ingredients together. A bit like making pie crust, add milk just until the dough comes together, and don’t overwork it. 

Step 4: Cut out and bake your scones. 

How to Serve English Scones

A white plate filled with 5 freshly baked authentic British scones. Smaller bowls filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam, as well as a plate of strawberries and a tea cup are also on the counter.

While American scones are quite sweet and often loaded with other ingredients, English scones are plain and rely on a couple of important accouterments. Namely, these scones require English clotted cream, aka Devonshire cream, and jam. Homemade jam is best, but good quality store-bought strawberry or raspberry jam is fine too. 

What is Clotted Cream? A jar of English clotted cream on a marble countertop. The label reads "Devon Cream Company"

Clotted cream is a traditional British dairy product with a rich and creamy texture. It is made by heating high-fat cow’s milk in a shallow pan or pot and then allowing it to cool slowly. As it cools, the cream rises to the surface and forms “clots” or thick, dense cream. Clotted cream has a velvety texture and a rich, buttery flavor. It is often enjoyed as a topping for scones, along with jam, as part of a traditional English cream tea. 

Jam or Cream First? 

This is a controversial question. According to Fortnum & Mason, Devon says cream first while Cornwall says jam first.        British scones topped with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a marble counter with an English teacup in the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions about Making Scones

Can scones be made vegan?

Yes, scones can be made vegan by substituting dairy butter and milk with plant-based alternatives such as vegan butter and almond milk. Omitting the egg is also an option, as many traditional scone recipes, such as those from Fortnum and Mason, do not include eggs in the dough. However, if omitting the egg, increase the amount of milk to maintain the dough’s moisture. For this recipe, the milk will need to be increased to 90ml.

Can scones be made gluten-free?

Yes, scones can be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free baking mix. We recommend using a cup-for-cup gluten-free baking mix as a substitute for regular flour. However, please note that we have not tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, so results may vary.

How should scones be stored and how long do they last?

Scones are best enjoyed freshly baked on the day they are made. However, if you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to a month. To reheat frozen scones, simply thaw them at room temperature or warm them in a low oven until heated through.

What else should I serve with English scones? 

I recommend keeping with English tradition and serving scones with tea, clotted cream, and jam, which would be considered a “cream tea.” For an afternoon tea, I recommend including finger sandwiches and/or a light quiche. 

Yield: about 5

English Scones

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

This authentic English scone recipe is adapted from the Buckingham Palace cookbook. It's a simple plain scone that is meant to be served with clotted cream and jam. It's ideal for afternoon or cream tea.

A traditional English scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a small white plate. Three more plain British scones can be seen on a plate in the background.


  • 250g (1⅞ cups*) all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 45g (¼ cup) sugar
  • 50g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 pasture-raised egg
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) milk or buttermilk, more if needed
  • 1 egg yolk for egg wash
  • strawberry jam, for serving
  • clotted cream, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. (220° C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  2. Sift or whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. A mixing bowl filled with dry scone ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar) on a marble counter next to an egg and milk.
  3. Add the chilled diced butter and use your fingers to rub into the flour mixture until it resembles a crumble topping. Diced butter is rubbed crumbled with dry scone ingredients between fingers.
  4. Add the milk and egg to the dry ingredients and gently stir with a spoon until the mixture just comes together into a slightly sticky dough. Very slowly add more milk if there are still dry bits, or add a small amount of flour if the dough is wet. An egg is poured out of a small bowl into a large bowl with dry scone ingredients and milk.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on top. Roll the dough about ¾ inch thick. Dip a 5cm/2" round cutter into flour and cut out as many scones as possible. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. A scalloped round cutter cuts scones out of dough.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Brush only the tops of the scones with the egg wash. A blue silicon pastry brush brushed the tops of scone dough with egg wash.
  7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool for at least 5 minutes. A plate filled with 5 traditional English scones next to bowls of clotted cream and jam.
  8. To serve, cut scones in half and top with clotted cream and jam.


*1⅞ is the same as 1¾ plus 2 tablespoons.

Variations: Feel free to scrape in some seeds from a vanilla bean, add lemon zest, or some currants.

Scones are best the day they are baked but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two, or refrigerated for up to one week. They can also be frozen for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature, uncovered.

A 5-6cm round cutter works best for traditional English scones.

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Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 scone
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175