Scones with jam and whipped cream, here a substitute for clotted cream as commonly eaten in a cream tea
TypeQuick bread
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Main ingredientsWheat, barley, or oatmeal

A scone (/ˈskɒn/ SKON or /ˈskn/ SKOHN) is a traditional British baked good, popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is usually made of either wheat flour or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent, and baked on sheet pans. A scone is often slightly sweetened and occasionally glazed with egg wash.[1] The scone is a basic component of the cream tea. It differs from teacakes and other types of sweets that are made with yeast. Scones were chosen as the Republic of Ireland representative for Café Europe during the Austrian presidency of the European Union in 2006, while the United Kingdom chose shortbread.


A fresh batch of homemade buttermilk scones

The pronunciation of the word within the English-speaking world varies, with some pronouncing it /skɒn/ (rhymes with "gone"),[2] and others /skn/ (rhymes with "tone").[3] The dominant pronunciation differs by area. Pronunciation rhyming with "tone" is strongest in the English Midlands and Republic of Ireland, though it seems to have less prominent patches in Cornwall and Essex. The pronunciation rhyming with "gone" is strongest in Northern England and Scotland, although this also seems to be the favoured pronunciation in Southern England, the Home Counties, and East Anglia.[4][5] Natives of the Republic of Ireland and the United States mainly use the /skn/ pronunciation.[6] British dictionaries usually show the /skɒn/ form as the preferred pronunciation, while recognising the /skoʊn/ form.[2]

The difference in pronunciation is alluded to in a poem:

I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone;
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.[7][8]

The Oxford English Dictionary reports that the first mention of the word was in 1513.


The origin of the word scone is obscure and may derive from several sources. That is, the classic Scottish scone, the Dutch schoonbrood (very similar to the drop scone), and possibly other similarly named quick breads may have made their way onto the British tea table, where their similar names merged into one.

Thus, scone may derive from the Middle Dutch schoonbrood (fine white bread), from schoon (pure, clean) and brood (bread),[9][10] or it may also derive from the Scots Gaelic term sgonn, meaning a shapeless mass or large mouthful. The Middle Low German term schöne, meaning fine bread, may also have played a role in the origination of this word.

On the other hand, Sheila MacNiven Cameron derives the word from the town of Scone (/skn/ ) (Scots: Scone, Scottish Gaelic: Sgàin) in Scotland, the ancient capital where Scottish monarchs were crowned, and on whose Stone of Scone the monarchs of the United Kingdom are still crowned today.[11]


When baking powder became available to the masses, scones began to be the oven-baked, well-leavened items we know today.[12] Modern scones are widely available in British bakeries, grocery stores, and supermarkets. A 2005 market report estimated the UK scone market to be worth £64m, showing a 9% increase over the previous five years. The increase is partly due to an increasing consumer preference for impulse and convenience foods.[13]

Scones sold commercially are usually round, although some brands are hexagonal, as this shape may be tessellated for space efficiency. When prepared at home, they may take various shapes, including triangles, rounds and squares.[14] Baking scones at home is often closely tied to heritage baking. They tend to be made using family recipes rather than recipe books, since it is often a family member who holds the "best" and most-treasured recipe.[15]

In 2023, a West London woman completed a decade-long project to sample a scone at every National Trust location (244 sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland).[16]


Clockwise from bottom: hot buttered tattie scones next to a cheese scone, shiny and flat treacle scones, and a milk scone above a fruit scone

British scones are often lightly sweetened, but may also be savoury. They frequently include raisins, currants, cheese or dates. In Scotland and Ulster, savoury varieties of scone include soda scones, also known as soda farls, sour dough scones known as soor dook scones made with sour milk, and potato scones, normally known as tattie scones, which resemble small, thin savoury pancakes made with potato flour. Potato scones are most commonly served fried in a full Scottish breakfast or an Ulster fry.

An Irish scone with sultanas

The griddle scone (or "girdle scone" in Scots) is a variety of scone that is cooked on a griddle on the stove top rather than baked in the oven. This usage is also common in New Zealand, where scones of all varieties form an important part of traditional colonial New Zealand cuisine.

Scone with cream and strawberries

Other common varieties include the dropped scone, or drop scone, like a pancake, after the method of dropping the batter onto the griddle or frying pan to cook it, and the lemonade scone, which is made with clear lemonade and cream instead of butter and milk. The fruit scone or fruited scone contains currants, sultanas, peel and glacé cherries mixed into the dough. To achieve lightness and flakiness, scones may be made with cream instead of milk.

In some countries one may also encounter savoury varieties of scone that may contain or be topped with combinations of cheese, onion, bacon, etc.

Scones can be presented with various toppings and condiments, typically butter, jam and cream. Strawberries are also sometimes used.

Regional variations


Pumpkin scones, made by adding mashed cooked pumpkin to the dough mixture, had increased exposure during the period when Florence Bjelke-Petersen was in the public eye.[17][18] Date scones, which contain chopped dried dates, can also be found in Australia. Another old style of cooking scones, generally in the colder months, is to deep-fry or deep pan-fry them in dripping or oil; prepared this way, they are called "puftaloons".


In Hungary, a pastry very similar to the British version exists under the name "pogácsa". The name has been adopted by several neighbouring nations' languages. Pogácsa is almost always savoury and served with varied seasonings and toppings, like dill and cheese.


Norwegian scones may contain raisins and orange and lemon bits. Instead of using butter, like most scone recipes, Norwegian scones use cultured milk instead.

New Zealand

Scones make up a part of kiwiana, and are among the most popular recipes in the Edmonds Cookery Book, New Zealand's best-selling cook book.[19] The Edmonds recipe is unsweetened, using only flour, baking powder, salt, butter and milk.[20] Other ingredients such as cheese, sultanas and dates can be added.[21]

Cheese scones are a popular snack sold in cafes or tea shops, where they are commonly served toasted with butter.[22]

South Africa

Scones are commonly served with clotted cream and jam; grated cheddar cheese is another popular accompaniment.

South America

Scones are quite popular in Argentina as well as Uruguay. They were brought there by Irish, English and Scottish immigrants and by Welsh immigrants in Patagonia (Britons are the third largest foreign community in Argentina).[23] They are usually accompanied by tea, coffee or mate.

United States

American scones

American scones are sweet, heavy, dry and crumbly, similar to British rock cakes. They are usually triangular, and often contain fruit such as blueberries or sultanas, or such flavorings as pumpkin, cinnamon or chocolate chips. They may also be topped with icing. They are often eaten as they are (not topped with butter, jam or cream), along with coffee or tea, and often appear in US coffee houses. American biscuits are more similar to traditional British scones, but are usually savory and served with savory meals.

In Idaho and Utah, the bread products locally called "scones" are similar to Native American frybread or New Orleans beignets and are made from a sweet yeast dough, with buttermilk and baking powder or soda added, and they are fried rather than baked. They are customarily served with butter and either honey or maple syrup.[24]


In Zimbabwe scones are popular and often eaten for breakfast with English tea, jam and clotted cream. Originally brought to the country during its period of British colonial rule, the scone is sometimes seen as symbolic of the country's historic link to the UK that has become Zimbabweanified.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Hollywood, Paul. "Paul Hollywood's scones". BBC. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b Wells, J. C. "Pronunciation Preferences in British English: a new survey Archived 21 October 2020 at the Wayback Machine". University College London, 1998
  3. ^ Boult, Adam (2 November 2016). "Survey reveals 'correct' way to pronounce scone". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022 – via
  4. ^ McKie, Robin (22 April 2017). "Do you pronounce 'scone' to rhyme with 'cone' or 'gone'? It depends where you're from". The Observer. Archived from the original on 7 August 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2018 – via
  5. ^ "Cambridge app maps decline in regional diversity of English dialects". University of Cambridge. 26 May 2016. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  6. ^ Jacobs, F. "[1] Archived 9 November 2020 at the Wayback Machine" 2016
  7. ^ "Cracked Quatrains". Punch. 144. Punch Publications Ltd: 253. 1913. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  8. ^ Drifte, Collette; Jubb, Mike (2002). A Poetry Teacher's Toolkit: Rhymes, Rhythms, and Rattles. London: David Fulton Publishers. p. 106. ISBN 1-85346-819-3.
  9. ^ Douglas, Sheila. "The Scots Language and Its European Roots" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 August 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  10. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001). "Scone". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  11. ^ Weiner and Albright. Simply Scones. St. Martin's Press, 1988, p. 3.
  12. ^ Smith, Delia (27 March 2007). Delia's Complete Cookery Course. London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-36249-4.
  13. ^ "Back-bite free scone mix launched in UK". 28 June 2005. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  14. ^ "The History of Scones". Food History. The Kitchen Project. 1 March 2001. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
  15. ^ Goldman, Marcy (2007). A Passion for Baking. Birmingham, Alabama: Oxmoor House, Inc. pp. 85. ISBN 978-0-8487-3179-3.
  16. ^ "Woman completes 10-year National Trust scone-eating project". BBC News. 2 March 2023. Archived from the original on 10 April 2023. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  17. ^ "Australian Biography: Flo Bjelke - Petersen". National Film and Sound Archive. Archived from the original on 18 February 2022. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  18. ^ McInerney, Sarah (5 May 2011). "How to bake the perfect scone". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  19. ^ "The Edmonds Cookery Book: How NZ's much-loved book has drastically evolved". Stuff. 1 August 2019. Archived from the original on 11 April 2021. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Best Scones Ever - Edmonds". Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  21. ^ Lyons, Sue (2002). Edmonds for young cooks : beyond the basics. Deborah Hinde. Auckland, N.Z.: Hodder Moa Beckett. ISBN 1-86958-908-4. OCLC 156024173. Archived from the original on 7 June 2024. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  22. ^ "On the hunt for the best scones in town". Stuff. 30 April 2013. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Qué comian". Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  24. ^ Sokolov, Raymond (June 1985). "Everyman's muffins; Includes recipes". Natural History. 94: 82. as found here
  25. ^ "WATCH | Across Zimbabwe, British scones are the taste of home". News24. Archived from the original on 7 June 2024. Retrieved 5 March 2023.