Treat yourself like royalty.
This official royal English scones recipe, enjoyed by the Queen of England herself, is (as you would expect) delicious. Here is the official Buckingham Palace scone recipe, adapted for home kitchens. Buttery, just sweet enough, and the perfect companion to your cup of afternoon tea or coronation watching.
The Queen’s Own English Scones Recipe
The only thing better than a good cup of tea is a good cup of tea paired with a perfect scone. And if you are going to bake scones, why not bake the very best? In case you are not invited to royal tea at the palace this week, you now have this very official, very royal, best English scones recipe.
English food does not exactly enjoy a positive reputation. But there is an exception to every rule, and Buckingham Palace’s English scones are it. These are British scones, which are different from an American scone. Traditional British scones use less butter, and have a round shape.
The Story of the Best English Scones Recipe
In May 2020, perhaps because we all needed a bright spring boost to our Covid lockdowns, the Palace released the recipe for the official English tea scones enjoyed by the royal family and its guests. They even did an instagram video about it. According to the palace:
Every year at Garden Parties across The Royal Residences, over 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cakes are consumed! The Royal Pastry Chefs are happy to share their recipe for fruit scones, which traditionally would be served at Buckingham Palace every summer.
How to Make the Royal English Scones Recipe
The Buckingham Palace royal scones recipe is surprisingly basic. To make this classic buttermilk English tea scone, you will need basic baking ingredients you likely already have on hand, and simple equipment. Round cutters are the only “specialized” tool you will need, easily purchased online or at any good kitchen shop.
Scone Recipe Ingredients:
The recipe makes simple buttermilk scone with butter and leavening, folded with sultanas. “Sultanas” are British for golden raisins, FYI.
These best scones are just as good without raisins, in case fruit scones are not to your taste. You could also divide the recipe into both types. (And feel free to substitute the sultanas for blueberries or chocolate chips, though that is less traditional.)
To make these scones, you will need the following ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Large eggs
- Sultanas or golden raisins (optional)
Here are the main steps to making Queen Elizabeth’s favorite scone recipe:
Mix the dry ingredients — the flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt — with the cold, cubed butter and sugar in a large bowl. Work the butter into the dough a bit, as you would pie dough, with your fingers or a pastry cutter.
Separately, whisk two large eggs and the buttermilk together in a small mixing bowl. Stir the liquids into the buttery crumb flour mixture. Add the raisins, if using, and mix until evenly distributed. Knead by hand just until smooth.
Flatten the scone batter dough to a 1” thickness and cover. Leave to rest for 30 to 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
Turn the scone dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Cut to the desired shape using a round biscuit cutter. I prefer a 2-inch cutter, which is the standard width for tea scones.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover and rest the scones for another 20 minutes in the fridge. Egg wash the top of the scones.
Bake the English scones at 400°F on a prepared baking sheet lightly greased or lined with parchment paper for around 12 to 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Transfer the baked scones to a wire rack to cool. A wire rack allows air to circulate on the bottom of the scones, so they do not get soggy from steam.
Serve your English tea scones very fresh, warm or at room temperature, with jam and clotted cream. I prefer strawberry jam, but other flavors will be just fine.
Baking Tips for Making the Queen’s English Scone Recipe
There are good scones, and there are great scones. A scone fit for royalty (and thus, us) should be:
- Tender, not tough or bready
- Moist, not dry or crumbly
- Not too sweet, and
- Hold together well and not fall apart when you spread jam and clotted cream on top
What’s the secret to making good scones?
To check all these boxes, you need a good recipe (check!) and the right technique. Here are the secrets to making good scones — what to do, and what not to do, technique-wise.
- DO NOT overmix the scone dough. Kneading the dough too much will make it tough and bready because it develops gluten. As soon as the scone dough looks smooth, stop.
- DO check your bake. The scone bottoms will look light golden brown and feel hollow when tapped. Because of their small size, scones overbake and become dry easily, so be sure to get it right.
- If using the golden raisins, soak them in warm water for at least 20 minutes, then drain before adding to the dough. This prevents them from absorbing moisture from the scone dough.
- The prep time is not much. The total time adds up, though, because it is imperative to rest the dough to relax the gluten. This will keep the baked scones nice and tender.
Notes on Adapting the Royal English Tea Scones Recipe
The original recipe, as written, was very vague on some small points, and definitely presumes a certain level of baking experience. So I have added a bit more detail, and converted this English scone recipe to American-friendly volume measurements from metric.
But other than adding a smidge more buttermilk because the original recipe seemed a little dry, the recipe and technique is exactly the same, and you’ll be able to enjoy a lovely cream tea.
Additionally, I am fairly certain that the original recipe was written for a convection oven, which would be normal in a professional kitchen. The temperature, as written, was way too low for a standard oven for the amount of time listed. So I have adjusted the temperature and time for a conventional oven, not convection.
Most importantly, enjoy your royal best English scones with, what else? A lovely hot cuppa English tea. Afternoon tea never felt so special.
You will also love these British-inspired recipes:
- Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
- Strawberry Shortcakes
- Apple Scones With Sage and Gruyère
- Full English Breakfast (A Full English)
English Scones (Official Buckingham Palace Recipe)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (500g)
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder (28g)
- Pinch of salt
- 7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (94g)
- 1/2 cup sugar (86g)
- 3 eggs, divided
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, less 1 tablespoon (175ml)
- 2/3 cup sultanas or golden raisins, optional (100g)
- If using, soak the raisins or sultanas in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain before adding to the recipe.PRO TIP: Why soak the raisins? Two reasons. One, it softens the dried fruit, which tastes better in the finished recipe than a hard, tough little raisin. Secondly, it helps keep the scone dough moist. Raisins (sultanas) naturally want to rehydrate. By letting them soften I water, the hard raisins pull moisture from water, not the English scone dough.
- Mix the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, pinch of salt), butter and sugar together in a large bowl until crumbly. Work the butter into the dough a bit, as you would pie dough.
- In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk two eggs and the buttermilk together. Stir the liquid into the crumb mixture. Add the raisins, if using, and mix until evenly distributed. Continue to gently knead the dough by hand just until smooth. PRO TIP: Do not overmix or knead the scones, as this could make the scones a bit tough and bready, instead of tender.
- Remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean countertop lightly dusted with flour. Lightly dust the top of the scones with flour. Flatten the dough to a 1” thickness and cover. Leave to rest for 30 to 45 minutes in the refrigerator. Resting the dough allows the gluten to relax. This helps achieve a tender, flaky scone. PRO TIP: You could simply use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough. But I suggest a rolling pin for a more even result. Roll from the center out, and rotate the dough as you go to prevent sticking.
- Remove the scone dough from the refrigerator and cut to the desired shape using a round biscuit cutter. (Note: I used standard 2-inch and 2 1/4-inch round cutters. The original recipe did not specify, but this is standard. If you use a 2-inch cutter, I suggest making the height a little shorter.)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Cover and rest the scones for another 20 minutes in the fridge. Whisk the third egg and gently egg wash the top of the scones with a pastry brush.PRO TIP: If you do not have a pastry brush, just use your fingers.
- Bake on baking sheets for around 12 to 15 minutes, give or take depending on your cutter size, or until light golden brown. Leave at least 1 1/2" of space between each scone. Cool on a wire rack before serving warm or at room temperature with jam and clotted cream.PRO TIP: These will bake best if you bake them one sheet at a time, or at least rotate the baking sheets top to bottom, front to back halfway. If you have a convection setting on your oven, adjust the temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes.