Today I’ll walk you through how to make lemon scones with sweet lemon glaze.
My easy scone recipe will have you baking homemade scones to rival coffee shop versions, using just a handful of simple ingredients.
This tender scone dough has plenty of zesty lemon flavor. Adding a simple lemon glaze using fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar takes the scones up a notch to be truly dessert-worthy.
If you’ve never baked lemon scones before you’re in for a treat. If you’ve had trouble making scones in the past, follow my tips for the softest scones with perfect golden brown tops.
I’ll also give you my favorite twists on the original recipe. You can easily turn out lemon blueberry scones, lemon poppyseed scones or orange scones with minor variations.
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What you’ll need to make homemade lemon scones
There aren’t a lot of ingredients here; scones are a pretty easy recipe to whip up with pantry staples.
For the dry ingredients you’ll need flour, sugar and butter. And for the wet ingredients you just need buttermilk. Whole milk with a little lemon juice added is a fine substitute, see the recipe notes.
You’ll also need a whole lemon; we’re going to use fresh lemon zest in the scone dough and the juice will get mixed with powdered sugar for the glaze.
The best flour mixture for scones
If you look up ten recipes for how to make lemon scones, you’ll get just as many opinions on the type of flour to use.
In the name of fluffy scones with golden brown tops, I’ve tried a lot of different flour combinations. And I’m thrilled to report that keeping the flour mixture simple makes the best scones! Regular supermarket self raising flour (self rising if you’re in the USA) is all you need.
Some of you won’t be able to easily get self raising flour like I can in Australia, but if not, you can use all-purpose flour to make lemon scones. You’ll have to add a little baking powder to get a similar result, but it’s very close.
If you’re enjoying this recipe, you should also try my lemon ricotta cake; lemon cream cheese pound cake! Or boost your lemon scones and try my super easy steamed lemon curd recipe. Serve the curd alongside your scones for extra lemony goodness.
Cold butter for the best lemon scones
If you’re new to scone dough, the top tip for how to make lemon scones (or any scones!) is to use cold butter. The butter gets rubbed through the flour before wet ingredients are added, and if it’s too soft you won’t get nubbly, coarse crumbs through your dough. Those flecks or crumbs of butter are the key to scones which are flaky and soft, with a crumbly texture.
Some people will say fridge cold is critical, but I prefer the butter to sit for 15 minutes out of the fridge before I use it. That brings it to a cool room temperature, which is cold enough to make those coarse crumbs but soft enough for your fingers to rub it into the flour.
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How to make lemon scones – step by step
Now we’ve talked about what you need for your scones, let’s bake.
Scones are one of those things that once you’ve mixed up the dough, you need to get them into the oven as fast as possible. The rising of the scone dough starts as soon as you mix the wet and dry ingredients together. You have to maximize that rising in the oven, not on your counter. Have your oven preheated and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready to go. Get your ingredients out and have them at hand.
Put the flour in a large bowl, and grate the lemon zest over the top (keep the lemon, you’ll need the juice for the glaze later). I prefer to put the zest in now instead of with the liquid, because when you rub the butter through the flour, the oils from the lemon get rubbed through at the same time. You get more ‘bang for your buck’ from the lemon, and that’s a great thing.
Tip the butter into the flour and use your fingers to squash and rub it through. What you’re looking for is coarse crumbs, with little bits of butter ranging from peppercorn to pea-sized. As soon as you get to that stage, stop.
Tip in the sugar and give it a toss through (I do this with my hands as they’re already dirty from rubbing the butter in), then make a well in the center of the mixture.
Add the cold buttermilk, using a butter knife to drag the flour into the liquid and gently mix it in. Don’t overmix the dough. It should be shaggy and lumpy, so stop mixing when the flour is mostly mixed through.
Tip the lemon scone dough onto a floured surface and use your hands to lightly bring it together. Again, no overmixing! As soon as you don’t see any big pockets of flour, you’re done. Pat the dough into a square shape an inch and a half (3½ cm) tall.
Use a sharp knife dipped in flour to cut the dough into four squares, then cut each square in half to make 8 triangles.
Place the cut scones, close together, on the lined baking sheet. Bake until they’re puffed, craggy-looking and the tops of the scones are golden brown, about 15 minutes in a regular oven or 12 minutes in a steam oven.
When you take the lemon scones out of the oven, cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow them to cool until they’re barely warm. Mix up the glaze while you wait.
To make the sweet lemon glaze, mix powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to make it the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle the glaze over the scones and serve.
Variations on lemon scones
Lemon Blueberry Scones
To make blueberry lemon scones instead of plain lemon, add a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to the scone dough just after tipping in the buttermilk. Mix extra carefully so you don’t turn the dough purple, especially if you’re using frozen berries.
Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
Fresh lemon flavor and crunchy, earthy little poppy seeds are a match made in heaven! Add 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds to the scone dough when you add the sugar. Sprinkle the glazed lemon poppy seed scones with extra poppy seeds if desired.
I love fresh lemons and oranges together, so I leave the lemon zest in the recipe but add the zest of an orange as well. When you make the glaze, use half lemon juice and half orange juice (I find all orange juice makes the glaze too sweet, it needs the sourness of the lemon).
Now you know how to make lemon scones (and lots of other easy scone recipes based on the lemon ones!). I can’t wait for you to give them a try; share in the comments below if you do, and if you test out one of the lemon scone variations.
Happy baking, see you here again soon.
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Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze
- 1 3/4 cups self-raising flour or all-purpose flour plus 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder; plus extra for dusting the counter
- 1 lemon
- 4 Tbsp butter cold, cubed
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup buttermilk plus extra for mixing, if needed (if no buttermilk, sub with regular whole milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice)
- 1 cup powdered sugar icing sugar
For combi steam oven
- Preheat oven to 410°F/210°C, 50% humidity. If you can't vary the steam settings in your oven, don't worry! Just set to combi steam/convection steam at the correct temperature and the oven will take care of the rest. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
For regular oven
- Preheat oven to 430°F/220°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place flour in a large bowl. Zest the lemon directly over the top of the bowl (I use a microplane grater for extra fine zest). Keep the lemon, you'll use the juice later for the glaze.1 3/4 cups self-raising flour, 1 lemon
- Add the butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into flour and zest until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Tip in the sugar and toss this through with your fingers.4 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- Make a well in the flour mixture, then add buttermilk into the well. Using a flat-bladed knife, stir until the dough almost comes together but is a little lumpy and uneven.3/4 cup buttermilk
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together gently. Don't knead or overmix it, it just needs to be a single mass – a bit shaggy is fine. Pat the dough into a square about an inch and a half (3 1/2 cm) high.
- Using a sharp knife dusted with flour between each cut, cut the dough into 8 triangles. Place scones, almost touching, onto the prepared pan.
Combi steam baking
- Bake until light golden, puffed and craggy looking, about 12 minutes.
Regular oven baking
- Bake until light golden and puffed; the scones will sound a little hollow if you tap the tops.
Cool and glaze
- Leave the hot scones on the baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel to keep the moisture in as they cool.
- Make the glaze. Juice the lemon, then mix the powdered sugar in a bowl with enough lemon juice to make the consistency of heavy cream.1 cup powdered sugar, 1 lemon
- When the scones are barely warm, use a spoon to drizzle the glaze generously over the tops. Serve fresh; they're best eaten the day they're baked.
- Lemon Blueberry Scones: To make blueberry lemon scones instead of plain lemon, add a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to the scone dough just after tipping in the buttermilk. Mix extra carefully so you don’t turn the dough purple, especially if you’re using frozen berries.
- Lemon Poppy Seed Scones: Fresh lemon flavor and crunchy, earthy little poppy seeds are a match made in heaven! Add 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds to the scone dough when you add the sugar. Sprinkle the glazed lemon poppy seed scones with extra poppy seeds if desired.
- Orange Scones: I love fresh lemons and oranges together, so I leave the lemon zest in the recipe but add the zest of an orange as well. When you make the glaze, use half lemon juice and half orange juice (I find all orange juice makes the glaze too sweet, it needs the sourness of the lemon).