Buttermilk Cranberry Scones Recipe

I’m sitting here on this beautiful Sunday morning eating the best scone I’ve ever made in my life.  Days like this are bittersweet.  On one hand, there’s almost nothing better than a lazy Sunday morning spent baking and lounging in my pajamas.  But what’s the fun in eating such a wonderful treat, when there’s no one to share it with?

So, as as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m heading out to deliver a few scones to my friend Caron who lives nearby.  And my sister, who is coming over this afternoon, will get the rest.  My husband will be home in a few days, but scones are always best eaten on the day they are made.  I’ll just have to make a new batch for him next Sunday!

Scones are simple to make, especially if you already know how to make biscuits from scratch.  The key is to keep the ingredients cold and work quickly.  Read completely through the recipe before starting and make sure you have all your ingredients and tools ready and nearby.  And make sure you start preheating the oven as soon as you start thinking about making these.

Buttermilk Cranberry Scones

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped fine
finely grated zest from one small lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
heavy cream (optional, for brushing tops of scones)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  Add butter chunks and toss lightly with flour; place bowl in fridge.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, and lemon zest; place bowl in fridge.
4. Get organized:  measure out and chop the cranberries; set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat; set aside. Lightly dust a counter top with flour.  Pour a little bit of heavy cream in a bowl and have a pastry brush handy.
5. Remove bowls of flour and buttermilk from fridge.  Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender or rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and stir to combine.
6. Add buttermilk mixture all at once to flour mixture and stir until the mixture clumps together. Dump mixture out onto floured counter top and, with floured hands, gather into a ball and knead once or twice to combine everything.  Pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 8 slices, like a pie, or cut with biscuit or cookie cutters into whatever shape you prefer.  Put scones on lined baking sheet and brush lightly with heavy cream (optional).
7. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove to cooling rack.
8. Enjoy with someone you love!

Recipe notes: Since I make these only on rare occasions, I buy and use the best quality unsalted butter I can find.  Brushing the scones with heavy cream is optional, but will add a nice shine to the tops.  I think these scones are perfect the way they are, but if you want to get fancy, you can drizzle a lemon glaze over the top.  Lemon Glaze: Combine about 1/2 cup powdered sugar with a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and whisk to combine. Adjust sugar/juice amounts to get the consistency you prefer.  Drizzle glaze over cooled scones.

For those of you who have never made scones or biscuits from scratch before, you can read a more detailed account of the process, with photos, at How to Make the Best Buttermilk Biscuits from Scratch.  Although the recipe is not identical, the process is the same.  Scones are simply a lightly sweetened biscuit.

If you like this recipe, you might also like to try my Apricot Cream Scones.

For those of you just tuning in this month, I’m happy to say that I’m participating in the National Blog Posting Month challenge. For this year’s edition of NaBloPoMo, I’ve pledged to post a new recipe every single day for the month of November. If you don’t want to miss a recipe, sign up to receive my recipes by e-mail. You’ll only receive an e-mail when I write a new blog post, and your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose. Interested? Sign up now!

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59 Comments
  1. cranberry

    These look so cute!

    9:14 pm  Nov 18th, 2008
  2. toontz

    I did myself a favor and printed out the recipe this time! :) Can’t wait to try these out…I just love scones of all flavors.

    Felt bad about all your computer troubles, hopefully you have your quota in now, and the universe will be kind to you for awhile.

    8:37 am  Nov 19th, 2008
  3. Sandy

    I am learning to count calorie. How many in this recipe? Thanks, S Riley

    1:04 pm  Nov 19th, 2008
  4. Sandy

    Sorry- I meant to say:”How many CARBS in your recipe?” Thanks again.

    1:05 pm  Nov 19th, 2008
  5. Laura

    Hmm, I’ve got to try this recipe! I think I might try to make it with fresh cranberries, though, since I have a bunch and I’d like to use them soon!

    9:33 am  Nov 21st, 2008
  6. lisa from dandysugar

    How Sweet! ! I love cranberry. Looks so delicious and festive. I totally agree with you on the butter. Can’t wait to give it a try!

    7:54 pm  Nov 25th, 2008
  7. Heather

    Oh, my god! These are so good! Great recipe, turned out with bakery or coffee shoppe quality. I used frozen cranberries and orange peel. It began as a very “wet” dough, with thawing cranberries used instead of dried, but turned out amazing. Thank you!

    3:05 pm  Dec 20th, 2008
  8. Laura

    Made this recipe and the scones were perfect! My husband inhaled the first batch, so I made them again the following week. Was my first attempt at making scones and couldn’t have been easier. Thanks so much. It’s a new household favorite.

    9:45 am  Jan 14th, 2009
  9. jen

    I ‘ve made your biscuits and they turned out wonderfully. Can I use the White Lily flour with a scone recipe? Would it alter the other ingedients? (Heather I was thinking orange with this would be yummy- I’m happy to find out that it is!)

    10:41 pm  Jan 19th, 2009
  10. Nicole

    Jen: White Lily flour should be perfect for these scones, too! You shouldn’t need to change anything at all as long as you’re using regular flour, not the self-rising white lily. Orange zest is soooooo good in these!

    10:52 pm  Jan 19th, 2009
  11. Blueberry Scones Jamie’s Recipes

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    8:53 am  Feb 7th, 2009
  12. Valentine’s Day Breakfast Idea: Heart-Shaped Egg in a Nest — Pinch My Salt

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    9:47 pm  Mar 1st, 2009
  13. Buttermilk Cranberry Scones and a Winner | Adventures in the Kitchen

    […] when I was in need of a recipe for a birthday celebration for my friend Liz, the next morning.  Pinch My Salt had this recipe on her site.  These are moist and full of flavor.  The lemon is a great pairing […]

    7:06 am  Apr 28th, 2009
  14. Cranberry Buttermilk Scones « In Good Taste

    […] my own. In the past year, I’ve made a few different versions, like pumpkin, blueberry and now cranberry, from a recipe that I found on one of my favorite food blogs, Pinch My […]

    4:00 am  May 7th, 2009
  15. Cecil Tanz

    Buttermilk Cranberry Scones – the picture look delicious and tempting. I have always wanted to bake scones but not successful. I will try your recipe but meanwhile can you advise what is the grams equivalent for 1/2 cup of cold butter? I am loss whenever it comes to measuring of butter by cup! Please help. Thanks 25.5.2009

    9:52 pm  May 24th, 2009
  16. Nicole

    Cecil: I just looked up the conversion and it looks like 1/2 cup of butter equals about 115 grams. Hope you enjoy the scones, this is one of my favorite recipes! :-)

    9:56 pm  May 24th, 2009
  17. Ways to Use Up Buttermilk « From My Table…to Yours

    […] 1/2 cup: Buttermilk Cranberry Scones […]

    5:00 am  May 27th, 2009
  18. Cecil Tanz

    Hi Nicole, I have tried baking the scones last night and it tastes soft and delicious even the next morning and this is the best I have tried baking so far. Now I can discard all my recipes on scones and frame your recipe for future use. Many thanks for sharing this recipe with us. Have a nice weekend :) By the way can you tell me the definition of “All Purpose Flour” ? I noticed alots of US recipe uses this flour and wonder if this is the same as plain flour (in local term, Singapore)? I managed to bought a packet of “All Purpose Flour – by Betty Crockery/USA” here. Thanks.

    9:16 pm  May 28th, 2009
  19. Pastry Daily | Your daily dose of flaky, buttery goodness.

    […] been making scones for a long time, and I think I’m pretty good at it. But then I saw this buttermilk cranberry scone recipe, and I was all like “Wazzup, supa lovah?” Not really. Maybe. Yes, that’s […]

    10:41 pm  May 29th, 2009
  20. Rachel

    Yesterday was the day of my high school graduation and after I head off to Europe for the summer, I’ll be out of the house and out of the kitchen for a good while, so I decided that I needed to bake on my ‘last day’. & Boy am I glad I came across this recipe! It came out absolutely delicious! I’m so happy my last baking project was a good one!

    1:34 pm  Jun 12th, 2009
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  22. Marcy

    These scones are perfect! Exactly like the best scones I’ve ever had at a local coffee shop (that has recently closed – bummer). I made 3 batches today – they’re so good. Thank you for this recipe – marvelously delicious!!!

    3:10 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  23. Sona

    I am eating the fresh apricot scone per your recipe as I am writing this comment.
    Great recipe! Thanks.

    I also used white lilly flour!
    Thanks!

    9:18 am  Oct 10th, 2009
  24. Tina

    I just baked double the recipe of these scones..And Oh My, are they good!!! I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfect. The only thing I added was pecans. They are so flaky and crispy on the outside but perfect inside. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us. I couldnt be happier. Next on the list are the Buttermilk Biscuits.

    Thank you

    1:23 pm  Nov 3rd, 2009
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  26. Aparna

    God! your recipies are awesome. Cant resist having those yummy cookies and donuts..Good work. All the best!

    4:00 am  Dec 30th, 2009
  27. Sheila

    I just made these this morning and they are delicious! Great recipe…

    2:10 pm  Jan 3rd, 2010
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    7:26 am  Jan 22nd, 2010
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    7:48 am  Jan 22nd, 2010
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    9:45 am  Jan 22nd, 2010
  31. Schmancy

    These turned out fantastic& are going into my recipe VAULT :) What a wonderful recipe, thank you. Think I will have to make another batch tomorrow.
    I am going to post this recipe on my site along with your link.

    12:59 pm  Feb 15th, 2010
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    12:51 pm  Mar 6th, 2010
  33. Riva

    I just made these. It was so easy, and the recipe was just what I was looking for. The scones are light, flaky, and delicious! The hint of lemon made it really delightful, especially to my hubby and kids who love lemon baked goods. I totally recommend it! This will be perfect for a tea party I am planning. Thanks so much!

    10:10 pm  Mar 6th, 2010
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  37. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

    This was a delicious introduction to scones for me! I’m so glad I picked this recipe to start with — what if I’d picked a less amazing one and missed out on all the scone fun? Thanks :)

    11:04 am  Jul 19th, 2010
  38. Daniela

    I tried these and the dough was really wet, so I spooned them onto the baking sheet. I’ve never made homemade scones or biscuits, so I wasn’t sure of the consistency. They came out tasting great, so I guess the dough was ok :) Can’t wait to try out the next recipie!

    10:33 am  Oct 16th, 2010
  39. ????

    ??? ????????!!!? ??????? ?? ?? ?????? ???????,????? ??????)?? ???? ??????? ?????? ???????)

    2:09 am  Oct 28th, 2010
  40. Vika

    They are gorgeous! I made them in your recipe, very tasty) to thank my Russian friends)

    2:11 am  Oct 28th, 2010
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  44. Marissa

    I love scones, but usually head over to the local cafe to fulfill my craving. This time I opted to bake them myself. Pinch my Salt is my favorite food blog so I figured I would give the recipe and technique I found here a go… Well in short these are fantastic (I am mid bite as I type). I used orange instead of lemon and followed the recipe to a T; I also used the article the hints about baking biscuits, which was very helpful. My cranberry orange scones are lights and delicious! Thank you!

    12:54 pm  Dec 22nd, 2010
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  48. Wadad

    Made it 3 times so far,, I have to say,,, delicious!!!!
    Thank you!!!!

    1:01 pm  Jun 2nd, 2011
  49. Yasmin

    If I want to make them plain, which ingredient can I add instead?

    10:49 pm  Sep 20th, 2011
  50. Kelli

    OMG – these truly are a beyond delicious! I have a recipe I thought was good that use whipping cream in the base instead of buttermilk. These have the X-factor -they’re out of this world delcious. Re-reading the recipe here I see an error I made. Was supposed to use 2 tsp lemon zest & I put in 2 tsp lemon extract. They still taste fabulous. I did add about 1 C. Fresh Cranberries – purposely {tossed in a little powdered sugar} + 1/2 C. Chopped Pecans as well. Love nuts n’ cranberries & they’re in season. Never been that great at rolling so just used a cookie scoop & placed them in heaping scoops on the parchment lined cookie sheets. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this awesome recipe – makes a world of difference. The glaze gives them a POP of flavor & sets them apart – yummmmm! My husband loves them too & grabbed a few for his co-workers this a.m.

    12:30 pm  Nov 8th, 2011
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  52. Mary Lou

    Positively the best scones ever – plus they freeze perfectly. I made a batch, froze them, and took one to work each day for morning breakfast. Wonderful antidote to a long commute. Thank you!

    8:11 am  Jan 22nd, 2012
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