The Best Classic English Buttermilk Scones Recipe

Once upon a time, in a cozy tree-lined street in a small upstate village, I lived next door to Shirley, a delightful English woman with a darling accent and the best scones recipe.

My mother and Shirley were close friends. To my mom’s delight, Shirley happily shared her classic English style scones recipe with her. I spent my early childhood years savoring those perfect scones, that were warm and fluffy with a hint of sweetness. They were the fluffiest scones I had ever had. 

Years later, I discovered that my mother had passed on Shirley’s recipe to me. The recipe had been tucked away in a box just waiting to be discovered. I knew I would have to try my hand at making them. I was a little nervous, but I couldn’t wait to recreate those delicious scones from my childhood.

buttermilk scones on plate on table with melted butter on them
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How to Make Authentic English Buttermilk Scones

The key to making authentic English buttermilk scones is to use high-quality ingredients and to handle the dough gently. The dough should be cold and slightly sticky, and it should not be overworked. Otherwise, the scones will be tough.

Let’s get started on making Autentick English Buttermilk Scones.

Is Buttermilk or Cream Better for Scones?

Whether buttermilk or cream is better for scones depends on your personal preference. Both ingredients produce delicious scones, but they have different effects on the texture and flavor.

Buttermilk produces scones with a more tender and flaky crumb. It also adds a slightly tangy flavor that complements the other ingredients in scones. Buttermilk also contains baking soda, which helps the scones to rise.

Cream produces scones with a richer and more buttery flavor. It also makes the scones more dense and moist. Cream does not contain baking soda, so it is important to use baking powder in recipes that call for cream.

Here are a few reasons why I believe buttermilk is a key ingredient in scones:

  • Tenders the crumb: Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which helps to break down the gluten strands in the flour, resulting in a more tender and flaky scone.
  • Adds richness and flavor: Buttermilk has a slightly tangy flavor that complements the other ingredients in scones, such as cold butter, sugar, and eggs.
  • Promotes rising: Buttermilk contains baking soda, which reacts with the acid in buttermilk to produce carbon dioxide gas. This gas causes the scones to rise and become light and fluffy.

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using.

metal measure cup in glass bowl of flour for scone recipe

How to make scones with buttermilk?

Ingredients you will need:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • cream of tartar
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • sour cream or buttermilk

Equipment You Will Need:

  • Small BowL
  • Baking Tray
  • Pastry Cutter
  • An Electric skillet or Cast Iron Pan
overhead of flour in glass bowl with buttermilk ready to be added

Authentic English Buttermilk Scones Recipe

Step by Step Instructions for making buttermilk scones. It couldn’t be easier with this simple recipe.

Dry Ingredients: Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl

  • Start by preheating the electric skillet to 300 to 350°F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, sift together 3 cups of all-purpose flour 
  • Next, add 1/2 cup sugar
  • Combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Add 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, blend with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs.
glass mixing bowl with a cup of buttermilk in center of flour that is in the bowl

Add the wet ingredients: buttermilk or sour cream slowly to the flour mixture

  • Next, slowly pour in 1 cup of buttermilk in the center of the flour mixture while stirring until everything is just moistened.
  • With a wooden spoon turn gently until the dough is sticky yet forms a smooth ball
  • When your buttermilk scone dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a circle about 7”.
  • Scoop approx 3 tablespoons of dough onto a floured board, covering both sides with flour
  • Place on the prepared baking sheet and score into 8 wedges with a knife for easier cutting later but do not separate them quite yet!
  • Brush the top of the dough with buttermilk then sprinkle lightly with sugar or sea salt.
  • Bake in a preheated skillet for 25 minutes or until golden brown 
  • Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving the warm
  • With just some basic pantry staples you can whip up this perfect scone recipe in no time!
wet ingredients being mixed im glass bowl for english scones

Once I gathered the ingredients and followed the easy recipe carefully. As the scones baked in the oven, the familiar aroma filled my kitchen. When they were finally done, I took a bite and was transported back in time.

The British scones were perfect. They were fluffy and light, with a hint of sweetness and a warm, buttery flavor. I closed my eyes and savored the taste of the warm scones remembering the happy days I spent growing up on that little street.

While I still think I can improve on the shape of my scones, the taste far surpassed my expectations. I’m so grateful to my mother and Shirley for sharing this traditional scones recipe with me. It’s a reminder of the simple joys of childhood and the power of how food brings people together.

floured cutting board with round dough ready to be cut into small scones

Basic Buttermilk Scones Recipe

buttermilk scones on plate on table with melted butter on them

The Best Classic English Buttermilk Scones Recipe

Learn how to make authentic English buttermilk scones with this easy recipe. These scones are fluffy, with a slight sweetness, and delicious!
Years ago when we lived on a cozy tree-lined street in a small upstate village we lived next door to Shirley. Shirley was born in England, had a darling accent, and held the most delicious scone recipe which she happily shared with my mother!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people


  • elecrtric skille or cast iron pan


  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 pint Sour cream or Buttermilk


  • Mix all dry ingredients in mixing bowl
  • Add buttermilk or sour cream slowly, turning gently until dough is sticky yet formed
  • Scoup approx 3 tablespoons of dough onto floured board, covering both sides with flour
  • Set electric frying pan to 300- -350 turning gently as sides get golden
Keyword buttermilk scones, scones

Perfect treat to have with tea

If ever there was a combination that went together, it’s afternoon tea and fluffy scones. Are you not sure what tea or honey to pair together?

I’ve written several posts on tea and honey you may enjoy!

Best tasting Tea for Beginners

Sourwood honey health benefits: Taste and Nutrition

Not a hot tea fan? My How to make cold brew tea step by step guide is perfect for you.

9 White tea benefits to improve your health is another option for you.

My favorite tea is called Field of Dreams from Saratoga Tea and Honey Co. The blend of flavors goes perfectly. If you’re considering a Spring event, birthday party, ladies’ brunch or just to have in the morning, I highly recommend both, the tea and scones!

Top tips:

  • Use cold ingredients. This will help to create a flaky texture.
  • Use buttermilk. Buttermilk is essential for authentic English scones, as it gives them a slightly tangy flavor and a tender crumb.
  • Don’t overmix the dough. Overmixing will make the scones tough.
  • Be careful not to overbake the scones. The tops of the scones should be golden brown, but not dry.
  • Serve the scones warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to make authentic English buttermilk scones that are just as delicious as the ones you’ve had in England.

The Food Network’s Buttermilk Scone recipe calls for using butter. You can find the recipe here!.

Looking for a whole blog dedicated to scones? Kelly from The Scone Blog has you covered.

Harry and Davids’s Orange Scones with Maple and Pecan are a must-try. I’ll be baking these soon.

Shoppable links below:

Once you taste this great recipe, you’ll know why these flaky scones take me back to my childhood when all that mattered was having a homemade treat offered by my loving mom.

What’s your favorite type of scone? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Here are a few other recipes you may enjoy!

How to Make the Best Spinach Quiche Without Crust Recipe

Easy Cappuccino Dessert to Make with Coffee

Quick Minestrone Soup Recipe You Can Make in 30 Minutes

buttermilk scones on plate on table with melted butter on them

What’s your favorite type of scone? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

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Behind the Adventures

Hi, I’m Susan: A little bit about me

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Hen and Horse Design is my canvas of creativity. My journey from ballet to design has been a graceful evolution.

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