Sourdough Scones

Sourdough Scones have a special flavor and the perfect scone texture. A proper scone should neither be too biscuit-y nor too muffiny, but should fall somewhere between the two. A little sourdough discard is all you need to make the best scones ever.

a tray of sourdough scones

As I mentioned in my post for English Scones, my basic scone recipe is adapted from a recipe given to me by a British mum.  I used that recipe for 7 years when I worked in a British tea shop.

I made adjustments to the original recipe so it could work in a US kitchen with US ingredients and measurements. I can tell you I get great feedback from everyone who tastes these scones.

Now, I’ve made these scones even better by adding a little sourdough discard to the recipe.

If you don’t already have one, I can show you how to make a sourdough starter and how to feed a sourdough starter.

How to make Sourdough Scones

pouring sourdough starter into buttermilk to make sourdough scones
  1. Mix the sourdough discard into the buttermilk.
buttermilk and sourdough discard being poured into a bowl of flour
  1. Pour the buttermilk & discard into the flour base.
  2. Toss until almost combined
a shaggy mass of sourdough scone dough
  1. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
  2. Knead a couple of times to bring the dough together.
a tray of unbaked sourdough scones
  1. Brush the scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar before baking.
  2. Bake until the scones are golden brown.

Pastry Chef Tips for making Sourdough Scones

  • Use real buttermilk if you can. The tangy flavor and tenderizing acidity works perfectly with the sourdough discard to make these the best scones ever. Buttermilk substitutes will work, but the real thing gives the best flavor.
  • Mix the dough by hand. Mixing by hand ensures that you won’t over mix the dough and form too much gluten.
  • Pat the dough by hand instead of using a rolling pin. This also ensures that the dough won’t be over worked.
  • To work ahead, mix the recipe until the point where you add the buttermilk. Later you can mix the dough, roll, cut and bake.

Storage

Scones are best the day they are baked. Leftovers can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost and then warm in the oven to get the best texture. Do not refrigerate scones.

a sourdough scone on a plate

Since you’ve got your starter fed, peruse the entire list of My Best Sourdough Recipes. Have fun!

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

a sourdough scone with butter

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a sourdough scone on a plate
Print Recipe
4.51 from 294 reviews

Sourdough Scone Recipe

This classic buttermilk scone is given a little flavor boost with sourdough discard.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
18 scones
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Ingredients

  • 22 ½ oz unbleached all purpose flour ( 4 ½ cups, see note)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 oz granulated sugar (½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz unsalted butter (cold, cut into 1″ chunks)
  • 8 oz buttermilk (1 cup)
  • 8 oz sourdough discard (1 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • Demerara Sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Line two ½ sheet pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 22 ½ oz unbleached all purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 4 oz granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss in 6 oz unsalted butter chunks. Mix in the butter until the bits are the size of a pea.
  • Whisk together 8 oz buttermilk, 8 oz sourdough discard and 2 eggs. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just barely combined. Some loose flour may remain at the bottom of the bowl. DON'T OVER MIX.
  • Dump the dough onto a floured surface and finish kneading by hand just until all the loose flour is absorbed. Use your hands to pat the dough until it is ¾" thick. Use a 2½"-3" biscuit cutter to cut scones. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until all the dough is used.
  • Line the scones onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1" space between. Brush the tops of the scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with Demerara or granulated sugar.
  • Bake on the middle racks of the oven, flipping the trays after 10 minutes (see note). The scones are ready when they are golden brown and sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Total baking time 15-20 minutes.

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Notes

If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
If the bottoms of the scones are browning very fast you can slide another sheet pan under the pan half way through baking.
To make ahead you can bake and freeze the scones. Defrost and warm in the oven to serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1scone | Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 284IU | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

86 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tried these for the first time tonight, and measured by weight, not volume. They came out great. Really a little more like biscuits than scones, but that’s really splitting hairs. The only difference from the recipe was bake time, more like 19 minutes. I’ll definitely make them again after the next sourdough accumulation.

  2. 2 stars
    Far too much liquid or too little flour. Dough as prepared according to the recipe was so liquidy it was impossible to work with. One issue might be that the cup-to-gram equivalence for flour in the recipe is off. But even having adjusted for that, they were still too liquidy and took forever to bake.

    1. I make these scones all the time and the ratio is correct. The cup to gram equivalence is correct. If you have a scale and are weighing ingredients there is no reason to convert between cups and grams. The cup measurements are provided for many US bakers who don’t have a kitchen scale. For more information about how to measure baking ingredients visit this post.

  3. I have tried these and they are wonderful! I have done drop biscuits for decades because I don’t want to take the time to get everything just right and cut out. I’m more than willing to do the work for these beauties! Love the balance of not too sweet, light, flaky and tender. Yum!

  4. I have made this recipe many times over the last few years. It always comes out perfectly. I often add chocolate chips. I have made these vegan by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to hemp milk and using coconut oil instead of butter. They are equally delicious.

  5. I made this recipe using coconut milk (with white vinegar), dried cherries, fresh satsuma zest and chopped, toasted almonds. They turned out beautifully!

  6. I tried this recipe with my sourdough discard and made my own buttermilk with milk and lemon juice. Forgot to add the granulated sugar but still turned out superb, better than my traditional scone recipe! Thanks!

  7. I read that u mentioned for sourdough scone buttermilk can be replaced by discard but i still see recipe requires the use of buttermilk. I am quite confused as I normally do not have buttermilk at home

    1. What I say in the post is that I replace 1 cup of buttermilk with discard. I use 1 cup of discard in all my discard recipes since that’s how much I discard when I feed my starter. The original scone recipe has 2 cups of buttermilk so this recipe has 1 cup of discard and 1 cup of buttermilk. I’m not sure where the confusion comes in. But as a replacement for buttermilk you can use a cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice added.

    2. @Eileen Gray, I know it’s been awhile since these comments, but I wanted to say that I understood Angela’s confusion after I read the How to Make section. Maybe a rewording of that first point would make it clearer that this recipe already reflects the buttermilk/discard change-up. At first read, the point does seem like one still needs to replace the buttermilk with discard (b/c like me, others may not even know that a normal scone recipe calls for two cups of buttermilk and not one. 😉 Thanks!

      I’ll be making these today as I have a lot of discard to use up. I’m thinking of adding cinnamon and or chocolate chips. Looking forward to it!

    1. Yes, but depending on the type of berry they might leak juice and soften the dough. You might want to hold back a little of the buttermilk to make the dough a little drier if adding something like raspberries.

  8. I am extremely disappointed that I can not print from your recipes it will transfer to the first Google ad then stops the rest of the recipe.

    1. I have no trouble printing this recipe. Did you use the “jump to recipe” button? That will stop just before the top of the recipe card. Scroll down a little and you’ll see that in the header of the recipe card is a print button, which works perfectly for me.

  9. I tried this recipe and followed it to the “T”. They turned out to be excellent and the scones looked just like the pictures.

  10. Great recipe, lovely & fluffy. I just found there was too much baking powder & hate that feeling of it on my teeth so reduced to 1 & half tbsp & it’s perfect.

  11. Made these today at 6,700 feet with Canadian sprouted spelt flour and they turned out great. (I also added some dried Cranberries and some dried orange peel.) I’ve made a lot of scones, just not with sourdough discard, so this recipe is really appreciated! I always gently form my dough into rounds and cut into wedges, and this made two 9 inch rounds, or 12 large scones – perfect for one large baking sheet. Will make this again and agin!

  12. Made these today with half the recipe, skipped the eggs for my daughter but kept the baking powder amount the same. It was HEAVEN❤️ Thank you!

  13. I’ve made this recipe, several times. Turns out well, I’ve sometimes omitted the sugar and fruit and it turned out just as good.

  14. If you want to add in anything to the scone, when would you recommend doing this? I didn’t want to overwork the dough, but found it difficult to add in blueberries.

    1. Fresh blueberries add a lot of moisture and will change the dough quite a bit. If you want to add fresh blueberries I suggest adding them when you dump the dough out of the bowl and knead them in at that point. Use plenty of flour to knead at this point since the blueberries will loosen up the dough a bit.

  15. I love this recipe. Today I filled them with homemade raspberry jam and added lemon zest. They were amazing!

  16. Light and fluffy, added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Great recipie.

  17. On this recipe and the crumb cake, if you wanted to have an actual ferment, could you leave the dough in the fridge for 2 days?

    1. My concern is that after 2 days the baking powder might loose it’s oomph. Baking powder begins acting when it comes in contact with wet ingredients. So after 2 days you will loose some of it’s rising power. But, assuming your get more rise because of the yeast in the starter it might balance out. Another option would be to use active starter and leave the scones to rise for a couple of hours before baking. I haven’t tried either option, but if you do let us know how it works out.

  18. Thanks for the recipe. Very moist & fluffy, my family loves it. The only problem I face is the dough is soft & when bake it can’t hold the shape. 2nd time I put some dried cranberry. Will try again…

  19. Made these for the first time this morning, wow were they great!! The only modification I made was I halved the sugar, just so they wouldn’t be too sweet with strawberry jam. They’re delicious, my toddlers are devouring (and crumbing) all over the house! Wondering how I could modify this to make savoury scones too, maybe cheddar? Love a recipe to use up my sourdough discard. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Here’s a recipe for Cheddar Scones. To make this recipe for Sourdough Scones savory you could reduce the sugar down to about 1/4 cup or even 2 tablespoons. The sugar does help tenderize the scone so I would at least add 2 tablespoons or the scones might become chewy. Add little cubes of cheddar at the stage when you turn the dough out of the bowl for kneading.

  20. Delicious recipe. I always substitute buttermilk with regular milk and 2 TBSP of cider vinegar. I also put the butter and dry ingredients in my food processor and pulse- perfect pea size every time 😉

  21. Good morning. making your recipe for the umpteenth time, it has become a favorite. I precube the butter the night before, sizes are generally pea size and smaller. I did reduce the butter to 10 tbsp. Today I noticed your page recommends a dry buttermilk ad at the bottom, do you ever go that route?

    1. I have tested my recipes with dry buttermilk and it’s a great substitute for fresh buttermilk. Just reconstitute is according to the directions and do the recipe as written.

    2. @Eileen Gray, I don’t know if it makes a difference, but whenever I use dry buttermilk, instead of reconstituting it first, I sift it in with the other dry ingredients and just add the correct amount of water with the other liquids.

    3. @Eileen Gray, I use powdered buttermilk and I whisk the powder in with my dry ingredients and then just add the water in as if it was buttermilk. No reconstituting necessary.

  22. Is melted butter on the pans indicate something. i switched from cutting with knives to cubing the butter beforehand, a bit tedious but keeps the butter temp lower. I also pre coat the butter as I cube it,

    1. Are you saying that when you bake the scones you have butter leaking out onto the pan? If so, I would guess that perhaps you didn’t break down the butter enough. Work the butter into the flour until the bits are no larger than a pea.

  23. I am confused. Whipping cream is mentioned twice in the directions, but only a scant quantity in ingredient list.

    1. There aren’t any mentions of whipping cream at all. In fact, I never refer to it as “whipping” cream, but always “heavy” cream. Not sure if you were looking at a different recipe.

  24. I am confuse – want to make these, but in my experience 1 1/2 TBS butter would be 12 oz. not 6. What am I missing?

    1. It’s 1 1/2 sticks of butter. Here is the US, a stick of butter is 4 oz, so 1 1/2 sticks is 6 oz.

  25. Hi There, Can the sourdough discard be refrigerated prior to use or should I be taking it right out of the starter before feeding it when it’s still a little bubbly? I’ve got a container in the fridge that I’ve been adding to for a couple weeks. I need to find something to do with it.
    Thanks!

    1. Whenever you remove some of the starter to refresh and feed the main batch, that stuff you remove is the discard. You can do as the name implies and throw it away, or you can bake with it. If you’ve been saving it up in the fridge and it’s still alive, just not very lively, go ahead and use it. I wouldn’t use it if it smells unpleasantly strong or if the “hooch” (the liquid on top) is dark gray. If there are any streaks of pink or orange in the discard you must throw it out as that’s a sign of bad bacteria.

  26. These were amazing! I’m always looking for good ways to use my sourdough starter discard, and the man of the house is a big fan of scones. I’ve made scones before, but these are my new favorite. Didn’t have buttermilk in the house, so used 2% milk with a little bit of lemon juice as a substitute. Took the advice to double the baking sheet so they didn’t brown too much on the bottom. I made a half recipe which gave me ten 2-1/2″ scones. They all fit on one half sheet tray and took about 25 minutes in a well heated 375 oven. The crumb and flavor are perfect! Thanks so much.

  27. Hi eileen this looks wonderful … do you think these could be made eggfree? what substitute would you recommend?

    1. Yes, you’d need to change the recipe. This would require a bit of trial and error and testing to get right. I can’t say off the top of my head how to get a good balance.

  28. Firstly, I followed the recipe except I halved the sugar as I don’t like scones too sweet. The scones turned out great moist and fluffy as a good scone should be! However, 2 tablespoons is a ton of baking powder. I can really taste it in the finished product. Any way around this?

    1. You can use less baking powder. The scones won’t be as light but you’d have to test and adjust the recipe to get it to your taste.

  29. This is a bit of a large quantity for my wee family. Would it be possible to cut the recipe in half.

    1. Yes, certainly. You can also bake and freeze extras. That’s what I do since it’s just the two of us. Just defrost and warm a bit in the oven.

  30. Yay! Love this easy recipe. They are (were!) delicious. I had a question about add-ins/flavors. I was thinking about making orange scones and considering whether I could sub some of buttermilk with OJ and add in some orange zest. Thoughts?

    Also, if I were to add berries or currants, would I just toss into the dry ingredients before adding the liquids?
    Thanks.

    1. Instead of orange juice, I would use orange zest. The zest has more orange flavor because of the oil. The buttermilk adds richness that you might miss with just orange juice. Dry current or raisins can be tossed into the dry ingredients. Fresh berries should be gently folded in after the wet ingredients are added.

      1. Thanks. They were perfection. I halved the recipe and grated the zest of one orange into the liquid and added 1/3 cup of currants. Amazing! Thank you so much.

  31. I was wondering if I wanted use this recipe and make them salted Carmel ( little crunchy on top) any suggestions. Thanks

    1. Do you want to mix caramel into the dough or just sprinkle sugar/salt on top and then caramelize like a brulee?

  32. I’d like to make cheese scones, would this recipe work if I leave the sugar out? How much cheese would you recommend?

    1. I have a great cheese scone recipe that’s based on the same original recipe as this one. You can follow the cheese scone recipe with the following changes – reduce the buttermilk to 1 cup, reduce the flour to 4.5 cups and add 8 oz (1 cup) sourdough discard.

  33. Hi Eileen, thanks for this recipe. I made a batch today but the dough was pretty wet. And then they spread out during baking. They taste delicious, they just don’t look very “scone-y” haha. Should I 1) cut the amount of starter 2) or increase the amount of flour or 3) chill the dough before baking?

    1. If your starter is a wetter starter (mine is 100%, equal weights of starter-water-flour) the dough will be wetter too. In that case you’ll either need to use a little less discard or a little more flour to adjust the texture of the dough. But my scone is is fairly moist (makes a lighter scone). Make sure the surface and your hands are well-floured while working with the dough.

  34. I made these today, followed the recipe exactly. I added fresh blueberries to the dry mix, before adding the liquids. Divided the dough in half and patted to a round shape, cutting each round into 12 triangle shapes. Brushed with buttermilk and sprinkled a little sugar on the scones. These turned out fabulous! Can’t wait to try other variations.

  35. Hello Eileen, with the current conditions in our world I have only been able to obtain “bleached” all purpose and bread flour. Your recipe calls for unbleached flour, if using the bleached should I substitute or add any additional baking powder or sourdough starter to offset decreased yeast that is in the bleached flour due to the bleaching process. BTW, looks like a great recipe. Thank You
    Raymond

    1. You can. You’ll loose a little of the lift from the baking powder, but may get a little extra lift from the discard.

  36. These look great I am from the UK as well so appreciate having this conversion, I’m going to try and bake these today with maybe some blueberries and lemon or even a lavender for fun. I think my problem with sourdough is I don’t know when to stop it’s a discard/feeding cycle and then put it into the fridge

    1. If you want to put it in the fridge, you can feed it, let it sit on the counter for 2 hrs then put in the fridge for a week. To get it ready to bake again, you will need to feed it 1-2 times before it’s ready. So you could pull it on Friday night to bake on Saturday-Sunday. 🙂

      1. Yes I did that my starter is amazing And I have made this recipe several times since plane, with berries, and also with cheese and chives thank you so much

    2. Christina, I keep about 1 cup of my starter in the fridge and feed it every 10 days or so. I keep a note on it with the date I last fed it so I’m not guessing as to how long it has been. (I forgot it once for 3 weeks and it was fine). When you want to bake remove one third of what you need and feed it 2 x a day for 3 days or until you have the amount you need. It keeps me from wasting a lot of flour. Does that make sense?

  37. Oh Em Gee
    they are delicious I did fold a few raspberry into a few of the scones that I cut out I only used half a recipe because I didn’t know if they were to turn out or not but they are delicious

  38. Curious what the original amount of buttermilk for the recipe was and if you also used less flour? Trying to learn to convert recipes to sourdough. Thanks

  39. Hi.
    I have started baking with sourdough starter a few weeks ago and now I’m trying different recipes with the starter discard.
    Can you tell me what I can use instead of buttermilk for this recipe?
    Thank you

    1. If you don’t have buttermilk you can use yogurt thinned with a little water to get it to the texture of buttermilk. You can also use 1 cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar stirred in to sour the milk.

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