British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal
Cookies, Biscuits & Bars,  Sweets

How To Make Perfect British Scones (A Crash Course For Americans)

After 5 years and numerous failed attempts I have finally come up with a recipe for British Scones that Lyndon declared taste “Exactly like my Nana’s.” Below is my crash-course for Americans on How To Make Perfect British Scones.

British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal
British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal

How to make perfect British scones (and how they are different from American scones)

If you’re not familiar with British Scones let me give you a crash-course. They’re smaller than American scones; they’re less dense; you smear butter (or clotted cream, if you can find it) and jam onto them; and they’re far less sweet than their American counterparts. Actually, I think they have more in common with the American biscuit than they do the American scone. To be honest, I used a lot of the knowledge I learned from making British Scones in my No-Fear (All-Butter) Biscuit Recipe and they are without a doubt the easiest, most flavorful biscuits you can whip up on a Tuesday evening.

All the lackluster recipes for British Scones that I made

When I started in earnest to produce a British Scone like the ones Lyndon grew up with (and the ones I had eaten in Tea Rooms across the UK) I turned to BBC Good Foods, assuming that the recipe there would produce a great scone right off the bat.

I was wrong.

They were dense. They lacked flavor. They lacked spring.

So I made an American recipe for British Scones that I found from a VERY REPUTABLE high-profile recipe source.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the 1977 Disney movie “The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh,” but there is a scene where Pooh offers Tigger honey. Tigger takes a giant mouth-full, turns his head to the side, and says: “Tiggers do not like honey.”

Such was the reaction in my house when I served Lyndon a high-profile American’s take on British Scones.

British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal
British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal

Ingredients make all the difference when making British scones in America

Little by little, over the course of several years, I started to do a research. It turns out that some of our staples are quite different from those in the UK.

  • American All-Purpose flour, for example, has more protein than than UK Plain flour. And UK butter has a higher fat content than American butter (side note: Write your representatives — what are we doing wrong that our butter has less fat than butter that exists in Europe? This is a serious scandal that needs to be addressed!).
  • There is also the issue of UK Self-Raising flour vs US Self-Rising flour. The protein content of both is again a bit different, but on top of that US Self-Rising flour has salt added to it while UK Self-Raising flour does not. And every manufacturer uses a slightly different amount of leavening agent making it difficult to know how much (if any) extra baking soda to add.
  • There is also the issue of adding an egg to the batter or not. Virtually every recipe you pull from the UK is eggless but my mother-in-law, Pat, has always maintained that while egg might not be traditional it’s required for the lightest, fluffiest, scone. And after making scones with and without eggs I can tell you that the Tea Houses of London absolutely include egg in their doughs.
  • And then there’s the amount of sugar to use, and the rise that you want out of the scones… seriously, this was a 5-year project.

How to make British Scones:

So, I am very happy to share with you my crash-course in How To Make Perfect British Scones (in America). We’ll take down the protein content of our All-Purpose Flour by adding in some cornstarch. We’ll use European butter (Kerrygold, Finlandia, Pulgria, etc) as that will give us the extra fat that is going to make these scones go from good to great. We’ll fight our very nature and be reserved with our sugar. And we’ll pulverize our fruit in the food processor. This last step is not at all traditional but I can tell you from personal experience that when a Brit bites into a scone that is riddled with tiny chunks of fruit they stop caring if that’s how their grandmother made them because the added tiny bursts of flavor are just so very good.

British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal
British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal

Looking for other inspiration?

This is one of my top recipes and even without SEO-optimization (yes, that’s a thing) it does quite well on Google when people search for British Scones recipes. Pretty cool! Since you’re here, here’s a short list of the other top recipes on Jam & Bread.

Please consider tagging me on Instagram @jamandbreadofficial (I love seeing when other people make one of my recipes!) or leaving me a review below if you make my British Scones. As a young food blogger, these things really help me to grow.

I sincerely hope you love my recipe, that the addition of chopped fruit isn’t too offensive to any purist (it’s optional!), and that my scones becomes a staple of your routine. For even more recipe ideas you can follow me on Pinterest!

Enjoy 😀👍🏻!

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British Scones | Jam & Bread | Matthew Smedal

How To Make Perfect British Scones (A Crash Course For Americans)

  • Author: Matthew
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 scones 1x
  • Category: Breads
  • Cuisine: British


After 5 years and numerous failed attempts I have finally come up with a recipe for British Scones that Lyndon declared taste “Exactly like my Nana’s.” Below is my crash-course for Americans on How To Make Perfect British Scones.

Get your teakettle out, you’re going to want it ready. 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (285 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (14 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp baking powder
 (16 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
 (3 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (35 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted high-fat butter, cold, cut into pieces (84 grams)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
 (160 milliliters)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit such as currant, raisins, cranberries (see notes) (80g)


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (200°C + Fan)
  2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until it’s combined.
  3. Whisk the milk and the egg together in a measuring cup and remove two tablespoons of the mixture to a small bowl (you’ll use it later, so don’t chuck it out!).
  4. Add all the chunks of butter to the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles course sand. This will probably take you about 8 good pulses.
  5. Add the milk + egg mixture from the measuring cup and pulse until JUST BEFORE the dough comes together. It’s better to under mix here than over mix as you’ll keep mixing in just a minute. Right now, you want the dough to be barely cohesive.
  6. Add your fruit and pulse a few more times until a rough dough forms. You don’t want it to be completely smooth, just mixed enough so that it holds together. So you know, adding the fruit to the food processor will chop the fruit. That’s perfectly fine. You’ll get smaller pieces of fruit spread throughout your scones and those small bits of fruit are both DELICIOUS and LOVELY. 
  7. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a small circle, about one-inch thick. FYI: One-inch is pretty thick, so you won’t need to roll much. Use a 2″ round cutter and cut 9 scones out of the circle, pressing STRAIGHT DOWN through the dough. Don’t twist, don’t turn… straight down. Move these scones to a baking sheet that you have A) lined with parchment paper / silicon or B) greased. Gather your scraps and gently roll the dough out one more time. Stamp out 3 more scones. You should always get a total of 12 scones (let’s be honest sometimes you’ll do 8 + 4, sometimes you’ll do 9 + 3… you’re always going for a total of 12).
  8. Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg + milk mixture.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the tops are golden-brown, the bottoms are medium-brown, and the sides have completely set. Remove to a cooling rack.
  10. Serve immediately with tea, coffee, jam and clotted cream (or butter), or store in an airtight container. Scones are best the day they are made.


Dried fruits: Cranberries would be, of course, a heretical American addition. But they taste so good. 

Round cutters: You may need to flour your cutter before you stamp out the scones. If you don’t own a 2″ round cutter you can always use a small juice glass to stamp out your scones.

Clotted cream: This is particularly hard to find in America and when you do find it it’s often so pasteurized that it’s lost all of its unctuous, creamy, flavor. Unless you can source your clotted cream from a local dairy farmer who won’t ultra-pasteurize it (or unless you make it yourself) it’s safer to just stick with butter.


  • Starr Nelson

    I made these this afternoon and I am incredibly impressed! I added blueberries because my mom just bought them today and it sounded like she really wanted blueberries in her scones. As soon as the timer went off everyone came into the kitchen because the beautiful aroma was like a siren’s song. We couldn’t wait for them to cool off and had to dive in with the clotted cream we made overnight. I will for sure be making these again! Thank you for doing all the hard work! You are a real hero!

    • Matthew

      Starr, thank you so much for this wonderful feedback! You can’t see my face but I am smiling from ear to ear after reading what you wrote. You have truly made my day. 🙂 I am so glad that you and your family enjoyed my scones and I have to say, blueberries sound like a delicious addition. Thanks again! ~ Matthew.

  • LouBee

    THANK YOU for this, I can’t wait to try it – BUT as a Brit living in America, I can tell you that I’ve almost never, ever tasted, made or bought a scone in the UK that had chopped raisins/sultanas/currants in it. Yes, if you add mixed peel (I don’t and it’s much rarer) its chopped up but the sultanas etc are almost always added whole and it’s this which preserves the juiciness of the fruit.

    The most traditional “cream teas” that you can find in places like the Cotswolds, little villages or down south in Cornwall etc, are usually served without the added fruit and with lots of clotted cream, as you say and also a good dollop of very good quality strawberry preserves. The sultanas tend to take away from the clean flavour of the scones with the cream and jam, but they’re nice if you’re only buttering them.

    I’m excited to have ordered some clotted cream from the UK and so I’ve been looking for a good recipe, so I thank you so much for this and can’t wait to try the recipe (minus the fruit).

    • Matthew

      Hi LouBee — thank you so much for sharing your insights with me. We always run the risk of getting something terribly wrong when we are trying to duplicate a country’s beloved staple, don’t we? I do know chopped fruits are not at all customary but I can’t lie to you: I love them, and once I added them, well, they were in. Egregious addition runs in my blood; I am, after all, an American. 🙂 I promise you the recipe will bake up beautifully with or without fruits, and I hope my scones (without fruits!) will remind you in some small way of home. They were developed with all the love in the world for my husband who desperately misses London, and trips to Cornwall, and the debate over which goes onto the scone first: Jam or clotted cream. Wishing you and your family a very happy Holiday season ~ Matt

  • Karen

    Thank you for the years of work to make things easier for us in the U.S. I was curious which brand All Purpose Flour you used. Even among U.S. brands there are differences so I thought I’d ask.

    • Matthew

      You’re welcome! I always use King Arthur because they are so transparent with their protein percentages (11.7% in their all-purpose flour; which is admittedly high!). Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

  • Liz Rossi

    Hi! I heard that you can use a cheese grater to grate the frozen butter. Is this a good idea or will the chunks be too small?

    • Matthew

      You can absolutely do that but for this specific recipe you don’t need to.

      Thing is, Brits were making scones long before freezers were invented, and the scones were good without the extra step of freezing the butter, so there’s really no need for it in my British Scone recipe. If you’re really keen on taking the time go ahead and do it, but honestly the food processor is going to do an exceptional job of cutting the cold butter into the flour mixture. It’s so efficient the butter won’t have a time to warm up, which is a concern when you’re doing it by hand. To quote Julia Child: “You’d never achieve it if you had to do it all by hand… so it’s done in the food processor.”

    • Tanya

      Thank you so much for your five years of commitment to produce the perfect scone using American products! Do I have to add fruit, as I am looking forward to jam and clotted cream on them?

      • Matthew

        You do not need to add fruit! They will be delicious with or without it. And if you can find clotted cream in the States, please let me know where. 🙂

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