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Master Gluten Free Scones Recipe

August 19, 2020
At a Glance

Summary

This master gluten free scones recipe makes a dry mix to make ahead and use any time. Just add shredded cold butter, mix-ins, and water for light and airy scones with your favorite flavors.

Categories

Prep / Cook Time

10 minutes / 18 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (12 votes)
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Master Gluten Free Scones Recipe

This master gluten free scones recipe mix makes quick work of the lightest, most airy pastries. Add your favorite mix-ins!

closeup image of stack of scones

What are scones?

Scones are not biscuits. They’re a light and airy pastry, but they’re not technically flaky. They’re absolutely a great idea for a gluten free breakfast, but they also make a great snack.

A word about American English

Before I continue, a few words about my use of language. I’m an American, born and raised. It’s not necessarily better or worse than any other nationality (really), but it is likely different. If you’re from somewhere else in the world and you refer to what I call “scones” as something else entirely, then we’re not really speaking the same language.

You are of course free to use whatever words you like to describe anything you like. But since I’m the recipe developer around here, I’ll be using American English, not British English as my guide.

Similarly, when I’m speaking about what Americans call “cookies,” you may see or expect “biscuits.” Just as it would be inappropriate to begin leaving a comment on every single one of my cookie recipes saying that they’re, in fact, biscuits, it’s not helpful or appropriate to angrily “correct” the words I use to name this recipe.

I’ve let nearly all of the comments go through, and I’ve responded to them directly and politely—even when they’ve been impolite. Let’s move on to the recipe that I’ve shared here. If it’s not for you, I won’t be offended! But I will expect respect, and show it to others. Being respectful doesn’t mean tolerating disrespect, though.

Back to (American) Scones

Flaky layers in pastries in general, gluten free an conventional, are achieved through rolling and folding, rolling and folding, a process called lamination. It’s the basis of gluten free puff pastry, the most laminated of pastries.

The flakiness comes from cold cold pieces of butter, surrounded by and layered among dough, that expand when they meet the high heat of the oven. The dough holds the shape and the space created by that expansion.

Scones, on the other hand, are not rolled and folded. They’re simply rolled and cut, chilled and baked. The pastry that results is almost crumbly, not because it’s dry but because it’s light.

Raw unshaped scone dough in a bowl

Tips for making light pastry

Cold dough, hot oven

All pastry is made using cold ingredients, for the reasons described above explaining what scones are. Since grating cold butter tends to warm it up, it’s best to grate the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment or waxed paper, then have it sit int he refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before adding it to the mix.

You don’t have to use actual ice water, although it’s the coldest type of water (colder than ice alone). You can just use water from a filtered pitcher you keep in your refrigerator, or tap water that you measure and chill completely before baking with it.

Be sure to handle the dough with as light a touch as possible to minimize the amount of contact the dough has with the warmth of your hands. Once the scones have been shaped, place them in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until truly firm.

Then, when you place the cold dough in a hot oven, the baking soda will be activated, but that’s not all. The chunks of cold fat in the form of butter will expand quickly, pushing out the surrounding pastry dough and causing it to rise.

Blunt cut edges

I find that the sharper the cuts on the edges of your scones, the more readily they rise. Sharp cuts mean pastry dough that isn’t compressed.

I use a metal bench scraper, which is also just a very handy tool to have. But a sharp chef’s knife works well, too.

I would not recommend using a pastry cutter, which has a small wheel which will compress the pastry dough. If you have a metal pizza cutter with a very large wheel, you can try using that.

Pastry brush in hand brushing milk on raw shaped scone on tray

Suggested mix-in flavor combinations

The best part about using this master gluten free scone recipe is that it can be made with many different flavor combinations. If you’d like to use a fresh or frozen berry, I recommend using our recipe for gluten free blueberry scones.

This recipe is for dried or self-contained pieces like chocolate chips and dried berries. Here are a few flavor combinations I suggest trying.

Make them chocolate peanut butter-flavored. For the mix-ins, use half chocolate chunks or chips, half peanut butter chips. You can even replace a tablespoon or two of the cornstarch with some powdered peanut butter. 

Try chocolate berry flavored. Use half chocolate chunks or chips, half dried berries (cranberries, cherries, or blueberries). The combination I used in the photos and video in this recipe is half dried cranberries, half broken chocolate baking disks.

Finally, the variety that shows off the versatility of this recipe the most, try lemon blueberry flavor. Add finely grated zest of one lemon the dry ingredients, and replace one tablespoon of water with lemon juice. Use dried blueberries as your mix-in, with or without some dark or white chocolate chips.

Three scones in a stack on a baking tray

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

The mix calls for a dairy powder, preferably buttermilk powder, which is what allows the scones to be made with cold water, not cold buttermilk. My favorite cultured buttermilk powder is made by Saco, and the powder stays fresh in the refrigerator for a long time after opening.

You can replace the powder with nonfat dry milk, ground into a finer powder, or whey powder. If you’re dairy-free, try replacing the buttermilk powder with more all purpose gluten free flour, replacing the water with cold, nondairy milk. Or use a powdered coconut milk powder in place of the dairy powder.

To eliminate the butter, try replacing it with butter-flavored Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. I don’t recommend vegan butter for pastry, especially not Earth Balance buttery sticks, since it has more moisture and melts more quickly than butter.

If you’re dairy-free, be careful about what mix-ins you use. Many will have dairy, so choose non-dairy pieces.

Corn

If you can’t have corn, you can replace the cornstarch with another light, flavorless starch. I would try arrowroot powder, but potato starch might work well, too.

 

scone triangle on its side next to stack of 3 scones

Raw scones mix in bowl, shaped scone being brushed, and baked scones in a stackThis gluten free scones mix makes quick work of the lightest, most airy pastries. Add your favorite mix-ins!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 8 scones

Ingredients

For the dry mix
1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter), plus a bit more for sprinkling

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch

Scant 1/2 cup (43 g) cultured buttermilk blend powder (I use Saco brand) or 1/3 cup (43 g) whey powder or nonfat dry milk, ground into a finer powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons (24 g) granulated sugar

To make scones
1 batch dry scones mix

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, shredded and kept cold

1 cup mix-ins (See Notes)

3/4 cup cold water, iced (ice cubes don’t count in volume measurement)

Milk, for brushing (optional)

More granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions

  • To make the dry mix, in a medium-size bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, buttermilk or milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. It’s best to store the mix in the refrigerator, especially if you’ve used buttermilk powder.

  • To make scones, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper, and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the entire dry mix from the first step, and whisk to loosen. Add the shredded and chilled butter, and toss to coat the butter in the dry ingredients, breaking up any large clumps in the butter. Add the mix-in berries or chips, and toss to coat. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the cold water, and mix to combine. The mixture should come together and everything should be just moistened.

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat into a square, handling it as little as possible. Working quickly, roll out with a rolling pin until the square is about 3/4-inch thick. Press a metal bench scraper or other flat tool against the edges of the square to smooth any cracks in the dough and square the edges. Using a large knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal squares, then each square into 2 triangles by slicing it in half width-wise. Place the triangles of dough about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with a bit of milk, and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar, if you like. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until the scones are firm.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the scones are puffed and firm to the touch, and just beginning to brown on the edges (about 18 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to set briefly before serving warm or at room temperature.

  • Adapted from the Make-Your-Own-Scone Mix on page 207 of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Quick and Easy: 100 Recipes for the Food You Love—Fast! (Da Capo 2012). Originally published on the blog in 2017.

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Kathy A. Cretsinger
    September 20, 2020 at 4:19 PM

    Thanks, Nicole, for this recipe. Newly gluten free, and trying to learn more about cooking this way. My niece in Scotland makes the most delicious, light scones, but not gluten free. I love them, and I’m anxious to try this recipe. It looks delicious.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 21, 2020 at 7:13 AM

      You’re very welcome, Kathy! No reason you shouldn’t have what she has. :)

  • Celeste
    September 12, 2020 at 7:44 PM

    How much arrowroot do I use in place of corn starch?

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 13, 2020 at 1:28 PM

      Try an equal amount, by weight, Celeste.

  • Kasia
    August 28, 2020 at 6:54 AM

    Dear Nicole! I’m wondering if I can replace xantan gum with psyllium husk powder? What do you think??

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 28, 2020 at 9:37 AM

      I’m afraid not, Kasia.

  • GF Mum
    August 27, 2020 at 8:41 AM

    Nicole,
    I made these for a friend who purported not to like scones because they’re too dense. She was pleasantly surprised! She’d never tasted a scone so light and delicious before. (Of course, I directed her to your recipe!)

  • Kim
    August 25, 2020 at 3:21 PM

    These are absolutely amazing, tender and soft in the centre and easy to cut open and spread on some butter. I made lemon and white chocolate chips, I didn’t have milk powder so I used 1/3 cup dry vanilla pudding mix. Thanks Nicole for your wonderful recipes.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 25, 2020 at 3:34 PM

      So glad you enjoyed them, Kim! And that’s an interesting swap. Glad it worked out!

  • Antoinette
    August 24, 2020 at 2:13 PM

    To nicole, thankyou for your delicious recipes, hope all your family is safe and well. I have celiacs and many other allergies and autoimmune issues. your recipes have been wonderful to make in this disaster year of the unknown. Keep your wonderful way, stay safe be well..KEEP COOKING AND BAKING!! thankyou.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 24, 2020 at 4:13 PM

      Thank you so much for the kind note, Antoinette! I don’t think it’s being dramatic to refer to 2020 so far as “this disaster year of the unknown.” It really has been! But we’ll get through it, as we have no choice, right?

  • Jill
    August 24, 2020 at 1:34 PM

    I’m going to make these delicious looking scones this afternoon but I have a question about buttermilk vs non-cultured milk. Does the acid in the buttermilk help leaven the scones? If I use non-cultured milk, should I add a tsp or so of lemon juice or vinegar?

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 24, 2020 at 4:10 PM

      Hi, Jill, this recipe in particular doesn’t call for buttermilk, actually. It calls for water. So you should be all set! In general, though, I do not recommend “souring” milk with an acid. That absolutely won’t recreate the texture and taste of buttermilk. I will typically mention this in any recipe that actually calls for buttermilk, but if you don’t actually have buttermilk, you can replace it with half (by volume) plain regular yogurt and half (by remaining volume) milk.

  • CJ
    August 23, 2020 at 12:11 PM

    These look amazing, Nicole! Unbelievable how rude some of your commenters can be…
    Unfortunately the internet has allowed people the ability to be anonymously rude in a way they never would in person. Hopefully, anyway.
    Way to let that crap roll off your back.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 23, 2020 at 12:18 PM

      Thanks, CJ. :) As a woman, I do run the risk of being called some awful things for pushing back, but I’ve come to believe that my silence in the face of cruelty for the sake of it is inappropriate. I think it sends the wrong message, and I wouldn’t want my children to behave that way, so neither should I!

  • sharon
    August 23, 2020 at 11:54 AM

    I was afraid to bake gluten free then I found your site Love the recipes and the videos really help me not to fear baking you make this easy for people like me thank u so much for what u do Sharon Kline

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM

      I’m so glad you feel more confident now, Sharon!

  • Bev
    August 23, 2020 at 10:50 AM

    Scones need to be at the very least 2″ thick to be able to halve them and dollop them with strawberry jam and cream, these look like biscuits (as we call them in the UK) – flat and crunchy. Don’t think these will be lovely and soft inside, they look incredibly hard and dense, sadly.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 23, 2020 at 12:03 PM

      They’re not flat and crunchy, Bev. They are, in fact, lovely and soft inside. I’m honestly not sure what else to say in response, so I’ll leave it there.

  • Stuti
    August 20, 2020 at 5:38 AM

    Hey Nicole! Thank you so much for yet another great recipe! Your recipes have genuinely changed my life and added happiness to it since I’ve become gluten free and I always recommend your website to others! Just wanted to ask if you would consider adding nutritional info to the recipes? Thank you so much for sharing all your great creations.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 20, 2020 at 6:23 PM

      Hi, Stuti, thanks for the kind words about the recipes. I’m afraid I really just don’t have the manpower to provide nutritional information for all of my recipes. Feel free to plug the information into an online nutritional calculator; that’s all I would do!

  • VickiCool
    August 20, 2020 at 4:25 AM

    In Australua Lotus sells buttermilk powder. BTW lemonade in Australia means a carbonated and bottled lemon soda, not a drink made from lemons, sugar and water.

  • Elizabeth
    August 19, 2020 at 7:10 PM

    These don’t look like traditional scones! They are more like high rise biscuits. Maybe Americans don’t call scones by the correct English name. Won’t bother trying these.

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 20, 2020 at 6:25 PM

      Elizabeth, I’m an American. I don’t consider either American English or British English to be “correct.” They are distinct. But if I had to choose one to call “correct,” it would probably be the name given by the recipe developer.

  • Kerry Perry
    January 30, 2017 at 4:56 AM

    Mmm these look yummy! If they’re anywhere near as good as everything else I’ve baked from your recipes my family will yet again be impressed!

  • Carolyn Mars
    January 29, 2017 at 6:10 PM

    I would be interested in knowing about the buttermilk substitute too. Have never seen buttermilk powder in Australia. Also, my traditional scone recipe uses chilled lemonade instead of water. Extra air in this scones. Do you reckon that might work here too? Or not with this combo? Thanks Nicole! Scones are something I make a lot& it is very hard to do gf!!

    • Michelle Kosmicki
      February 1, 2017 at 2:21 PM

      OH! Love the idea of lemonade instead of water. A little lemony taste with some blueberries…YUM!

  • Wendy in OZ
    January 29, 2017 at 5:52 PM

    Must try these. Tried for years to make gf scones
    (shortcake) for strawberry teas in Canada with many failures. Back home Downunder, I will try these and have a go at traditional Aussie scones. Very different – light and higher. Many recipes o/l including gf but essentially just flour, raising agent, butter and milk. Yummy with jam and cream or butter hot out of the oven! I started making them very young in our farmhouse kitchen with a wood oven! No, I am not as old time! But not easy gf. Google Australian scones gf or not. Thanks, Nicole, for your patience and continued efforts to bring us fabulous gf recipes. Cheers from DU.

  • Pam
    January 29, 2017 at 5:06 PM

    Your recipes look great! Can’t wait to try this, along with others you gave in your last email. I love cooking with buttermilk. Could I substitute real buttermilk for the water and milk powder? (BTW, you can freeze buttermilk if you use it only occasionally.)

    • Carolyn Mars
      January 29, 2017 at 6:07 PM

      I would be interested in knowing that too. Have never seen buttermilk powder in Australia. Also, my traditional scone recipe uses chilled lemonade instead of water. Extra air in this scones. Do you reckon that might work here too? Or not with this combo? Thanks Nicole! Scones are something I make a lot& it is very hard to do gf!!

  • Gail
    January 29, 2017 at 2:10 PM

    The problem with gluten-free flour is that it has milk product in it, which my husband is not eating right now either. Too bad, my grandma made the best scones and I made them for years, so miss them greatly right now.

  • Judy
    January 26, 2017 at 7:50 AM

    OMG ! I am dying for these! They look just mouthwatering !Thanks for the recipe.
    I am on lactose-free so I try to swap some and hope it will still look like yours.

  • suzeyg3
    January 25, 2017 at 5:31 PM

    These will be baking in my oven at the weekend. Thanks Nicole x

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