How to make perfectly light and flaky scones packed with dried cranberries and orange zest. Jump to the Cranberry Scones Recipe or read on to see our tips for making them.
– This Recipe is Sponsored by Gold Medal Flour –
To make them, you’ll need flour, baking soda, butter, cream, honey (or sugar), orange zest and dried fruit. We throw in lots of dried cranberries for these cranberry sones, but you could replace them with raisins, dried cherries, apricots, chocolate chips or a combination of two or three. Fresh fruit like berries also work.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: These Fresh Blackberry Scones are just as easy and call for fresh whole blackberries and sour cream, making them extra delicious.
Four Tips for the Best Scones
I grew up with my mother making scones often. She received the “scones bug” from her mother and I can only imagine it goes further back from there. Memories of Mom making scones doesn’t include measuring cups or spoons. It was a pile of flour here and a splash of cream there. No measurements, just touch and feel. They came out perfectly. Every time.
As much as I love my mother’s scones, we like to be a little more precise in our kitchen. We measure everything and follow a few simple steps to make sure we’re consistently making the best scones we can. Here are our best tips for making scones.
Use the Right Flour
Scones should be light and flaky, not heavy and flat. We stick to all-purpose flour in our kitchen – it’s pretty much our go-to flour. For this recipe, we prefer to use soft, low protein all-purpose flour.
Protein levels vary by flour brand. Protein content can affect the tenderness of baked goods. Because of this, we use Gold Medal all-purpose flour, which has less protein than other flour brands (Pillsbury is also a good choice, here).
Other flour brands will still taste great and work, but some do have slightly higher protein levels. Sticking with the lower-protein flour gives you an edge and helps to make perfectly tender scones.
Keep Everything Cold
It’s essential to use cold ingredients when making scones. The butter should be chilled and hard and the cream should be used straight from the refrigerator.
Once you’ve mixed your dry ingredients together you will need to “cut” in cold butter. We use a pastry blender to do this (shown in the photo). If you work quickly and have cool hands you can use them instead. Another option is to use a food processor.
There should be little bits of cold butter scattered around the flour. The moment the cold butter pieces bake, they create little pockets of steam and cause the dough to rise – this is similar to what happens when you bake pie crust. It’s the butter that makes these cranberry scones so tender, light and delicious.
Don’t Over Mix
The less time you can spend working the dough, the better. After cutting in the butter to the flour and adding cream, a crumbly dough will form. All you need to do is transfer it to a lightly floured work surface and gently bring it together into a ball. You should only need to knead 3 to 5 times.
We just use our fingers to lightly pat and push the dough together then flatten it into a disc. From there, we cut the disc into eight triangles. (You could also use a biscuit cutter).
Stay Away from the Edges
As you cut your scones, you might notice a few edges are ragged. There is no need to pat them down or fix them — the flaky edges will puff up in the oven, helping the scones rise and become light.
If you’re using a cutter to cut out your scones, try not to twist and turn the cutter — that will flatten the edges too much and can prevent the scones from rising as much as they could have.
Scones don’t need to look perfect. Mom’s always looked homemade when she made them. Although, she would never make triangle-shaped scones like us. Hers would be round. Always round.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to make our spiced pumpkin scones inspired by Starbucks. Jump to the Pumpkin Scones Recipe.
The Best Way to Store Scones
Scones are best eaten fresh. With that said, there are ways to keep them fresh longer than a day.
- Your best bet to keeping leftover scones fresh is to freeze them. Once the baked scones have cooled completely, arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze until hard. Once frozen, throw them into a resealable bag or storage container. When you’re ready to eat them, reheat the scones in a 350 degree oven until warm. It shouldn’t take long.
- You can also freeze unbaked scone dough. Chill the unbaked scones in the freezer until firm, and then transfer them to resealable plastic bags. You can keep these up to three weeks in the freezer. When you’re ready, fire up the oven and bake straight from frozen.
Disclosure: We’re sharing this in partnership with Gold Medal Flour. This recipe was part of an ongoing relationship with Gold Medal. We have also shared these Easy Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe.
Recipe updated, originally posted December 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
How to Make Cranberry Scones
Packed with dried cranberries and orange zest, this scones recipe is perfect for entertaining and weekends. When making these remember this: use a soft, low protein all-purpose flour, use the coldest butter and cream possible, and don’t over mix.
You Will Need
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream, plus more for tops of scones
3 tablespoons honey or sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 cup (100 grams) dried cranberries
1 tablespoon coarse sugar, for tops of scones
- Make Dough
1Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicon baking mat.
2Whisk together flour, baking powder, and the salt in a medium bowl. Combine cream, honey, and orange zest in a measuring jug. Stir until the honey is completely incorporated into the cream.
3Use a pastry blender to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal with a few small crumbles of butter the size of peas. (Or use a food processor). Stir in cranberries. Pour in the cream mixture and use a rubber spatula to mix until a crumbly dough forms.
4Transfer the dough and all dry, floury bits to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times until it just comes together. Form into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 triangles, or use a biscuit cutter.
- Bake Scones
1Place scones onto the baking sheet, brush with extra cream and lightly sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake until light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- To Store: Scones are best eaten fresh. If you do have leftovers, your best bet to keeping them fresh is to freeze them. Freeze baked and cooled scones until hard then transfer to resealable plastic bags. Keep up to three weeks. To reheat, bake in a 350 degree F oven until warmed. It shouldn’t take long.
- You can also freeze unbaked scone dough. Chill cut scones in the freezer until firm, and then transfer to resealable plastic bags. Keep up to three weeks. Bake in a 425 degree F oven straight from the freezer. (They may take a few extra minutes).
- Recipe inspired and adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste
I have been making them the same way for a long time and all other Internet recipes are the same as well (or very similar) but the results are good but not as crumbly as let’s say in Starbucks version. Wondering what the difference is…
I just made these. I used buttermilk, too and honey. They turned out just fine. They rose nicely and are crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. Easy recipe. I didnt have an orange for grated peel so next time I will be sure to use it. I suppose one could add chopped pecans, as well.I also iced them. Delicious and thank you!
Not having cream in the house I took a tip from one of the comments and mixed some good local whole milk with organic whole milk yogurt.Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly with excellent results. The best scones I ever made.
You have made our day 🙂
I have been looking for recipes that used dried cranberries so I don’t eat them straight up all the time! This recipe was my first time making scones. I think I made a couple mistakes which made them turn out more fluffy with the texture of a biscuit and not as dense as they should be. I live outside the city so a trip to the store takes time and planning. Often I use substitutes which work well, but I think my using half and half instead of heavy cream was a mistake! The dough was not as thick as it should have been and very sticky. So to compensate, I added more flour and had to mix the dough too much to work in the flour. So the scones turned out very fluffy, but still delicious! So to fellow readers out there, this recipe deserves the proper ingredients and steps taken so they turn out just right. I’m looking forward to making them again and will post an update. Thank you for this recipe!
I used non-fat Greek yogurt in place of the heavy cream. I just needed a little milk for more moisture, in order to keep the dough together. They came out fabulous!
Krista – how much more milk did you have to add? I’d like to avoid using heavy cream, too. Glad you were successful!
These scones are beautiful I really love cranberries. I can’t believe how soft and fluffy they are.
Has anyone had luck with frozen unbaked scones as explained in the recipe? I tried it but they didn’t rise as well as when baked fresh. Have I done something wrong?
I just made these, but I veganized them. Used vegan butter and coconut cream and used lime zest as that’s all I had. They were absolutely delicious and I will definitely make the recipe again!
These are absolutely out of this world. By miles, the best scone recipe. Fluffy, light, on the inside and firm on the outside.
Flakey and flavorful. Just the recipe I was looking for. Great baking advice which I followed to the letter. Keeping this recipe as my ‘go to’ for future scone baking.
Simply fabulous very flavorful and moist. Will definitely be a regular with these. Can you used fresh fruit in these?
Yes, you can use fresh fruit.
I will be making these often! They were delicious. I discovered we were out of cream so I used buttermilk instead. I used turpinado sugar for the sugar and soaked the craisins. It was the perfect amount of sweetener. My family and I loved them and it was my first time making scones. Thank you for sharing a great recipe!
These look delicious! Unfortunately, I have a dairy allergy and couldn’t eat these as is – do you know of any good substitutes for the cream and butter? I’ve never ventured into scones, but would love to give them a go. Thanks in advance!
Hi Deanna, You might be able to replace the butter with coconut oil and the cream with a coconut or almond milk. We have not tried these ourselves, though.
You can definitely use coconut oil or vegan butter, and I like to use coconut milk from the can (not lite) in place of heavy cream because it’s got a good amount of fat. Scones need fats to help make them the right texture/flavor, and I’ve found that substitution with these ingredients for vegan purposes has worked really well.
I was able to veganize (or eliminate the dairy): I added to a measuring cup 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, and fill the rest of the cup with soy milk. Mix well and let it sit for about 5 min. The mixture will be curdled and thick and ready to use. I would have used non-dairy yogurt, but I didn’t have any at home. I love how easy these scones were to throw together. Delicious and great texture (even with my substitution!)
Can I use whole milk instead of heavy cream?
Hi Sandra, Whole milk can work in this recipe, but for the best scones, we recommend sticking with the cream
I want to use fresh cranberries. Is that an ok substitute or do I need to do something different?? Thanks!
Fresh cranberries will work well in these.