Traditional Irish Buttermilk Scones

Traditional Irish Buttermilk Scones

These easy Irish Buttermilk Scones are soft and fluffy on the inside with a perfect crust outside, boasting just the right amount of sweetness. Made with traditional ingredients like buttermilk and baking soda, they’re reminiscent of classic Irish soda bread but with a touch more sweetness, perfect when served warm with jam and cream and a cup of tea.

traditional Irish buttermilk scones

What is an Irish Scone?

Like traditional Irish buttermilk scones, these Irish buttermilk scones are made with simple ingredients: flour, baking soda and buttermilk.  We’re also adding butter, sugar and salt to the recipe to ensure we get the right flavor and texture. Irish buttermilk scones, or Irish soda scones, are similar to buttermilk biscuits, but a little sweeter.  They’re reminiscent of traditional Irish soda bread, but smaller in size, perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. 

A little History on Irish Scones

Did you know traditional Irish scones were historically made without butter?  The flavor of the traditional Irish recipe relied on the buttery-tasting liquid produced after churning cream to make butter.  These days, buttermilk is produced by adding an acidifier to regular milk.  It’s less rich, as a result, and that is why this scone recipe includes butter.  

Traditional Irish buttermilk scones

4 Helpful Tips For Making Irish Scones

1. Sift Dry Ingredients 

This adds air and makes the finished texture of the scones a little lighter.

2. Use a Hot Oven

We’re using a preheated 400 degree oven and placing the rack at the top of the oven to ensure they brown well on top and don’t get too brown on the bottom. 

3. Use a Cast Iron Skillet

Baking the scones in a cast iron skillet, besides being traditional for Irish scones, also helps form a better crust on the exterior. Space them evenly in the cast iron skillet to give the scones a little room.  This allows the air to circulate and produce a crispier scone.  A parchment paper-lined baking sheet will also work.

4. Cold Butter

Cold butter releases more steam than room temperature butter, creating beautiful flaky layers and a light texture. For best results, cut butter into small pieces and place back in fridge while you get everything else in order.

Ingredients and Substitution Notes

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking Soda – For fluffy scones, we’re relying on the wonderful rising power of baking soda when it’s combined with an acid, buttermilk, in this case. Make sure your baking soda is fresh. Check that expiration date!
  • Sugar – Although it’s not traditional, we’re adding a little granulated sugar to the scone dough.  Feel free to omit.
  • Kosher salt – Essential for good flavor
  • Unsalted butter – Keep your butter in the refrigerator until the very moment it’s needed. I like to cut it into ¼ inch cubes and place it back in the fridge while I gather my other ingredients.  A good Irish butter tastes amazing and gives the scones a beautiful golden hue so if you can splurge for this recipe, do it!
  • Buttermilk. This is an important component of classic Irish scone recipes.  The buttermilk activates the baking soda and gives the scones a hefty lift in the oven.  It also adds a lovely, delicate flavor.  Don’t have buttermilk? See this helpful guide for buttermilk substitutions.
ingredients needed to make irish buttermilk scones

How to Make Irish Buttermilk Scones

1. Sift & Whisk Dry ingredients

Into a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Then, give them a good whisk to make sure the baking soda is well dispersed. 

sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl
whisk dry ingredients together

2. Incorporate Butter

Remove butter pieces from the refrigerator and add to the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender or your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture by pressing and rubbing the flour together, until the butter is the size of small peas and the mixture is a crumbly, shaggy dough. 

add butter cubes to dry ingredients
work butter into flour

3. Add Buttermilk

Form a deep well in the center of the bowl and pour buttermilk into the well.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, pull the flour mixture from the sides into the buttermilk and gently form into a loose, shaggy & soft dough, being careful not to overwork the dough. 

make a well and add buttermilk
stir together to form a shaggy dough

4. Shape & Chill Scones and Preheat Oven

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat with your hands into a rough circle about ¾ to 1 inch in thickness. Using a 2 inch the cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, press cutter straight down into dough (try not to twist cutter) and place them onto a cast iron skillet with an inch or two between each scone. Use scraps to form a few more biscuits. Move oven rack to upper third and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place skillet in the fridge while you allow the oven to preheat.

press dough together into a rough circle
use a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter to cut out

5. Bake & Serve Scones

Brush the top of the scones with buttermilk (or use heavy cream). Bake in preheated oven on top rack, rotating halfway through, for 18 -22 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Remove onto a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm scones with an assortment of accompaniments like honey butter, clotted cream, and your favorite jam and/or lemon curd. Don’t forget the tea!

brush tops with buttermilk
bake scones in 400 degree oven until golden brown on top
serving Irish buttermilk scones

Storing & Freezing Extra Scones

Freshly-baked scones are best.  If you’re not eating them the day they’re baked, place in the freezer in an airtight container or tightly sealed Ziplock bag.  To serve, thaw on counter and reheat in a 400 degree oven. Alternatively, place unbaked scones on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour or so until firm enough to handle.  Remove and place in an airtight glass container or tightly sealed Ziplock bag and freeze until ready to bake.  Brush frozen scones with a little buttermilk (or milk/cream). Bake as you normally would in a 400 degree oven, but add a few minutes to the baking time.  

Mixing Things Up 

Currants are a lovely and traditional addition, so feel free to add if you can find them.  

  • For currant buttermilk scones, Add 1/2 cup of dried currants (or raisins) to buttermilk and allow to sit for a few minutes while the currants soak up a little moisture.  Pour buttermilk/currant mixture into well as in original recipe.
  • For a healthier version, substitute white whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour) for the all-purpose flour.
serving Irish buttermilk scones

More Afternoon Tea Treats to Love

Did you love this recipe?  Please rate the recipe and let me know in the comments what you thought! Also, be sure to follow Lane Bakery on Instagram, and tag me when you try one of my recipes so I can see all your delicious creations!

Traditional Irish Buttermilk Scones

These easy Irish Buttermilk Scones are soft and fluffy on the inside with a perfect crust outside, boasting just the right amount of sweetness. Perfect when served warm with jam and cream and a cup of tea.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Chill Time15 minutes
Course: Breakfast, brunch, Snack, tea
Keyword: buttermilk scones, Irish buttermilk scones
Servings: 10 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for shaping/cutting scones
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes chilled
  • 1 cup buttermilk plus more for brushing on top of scones

Instructions

  • SIFT & WHISK DRY INGREDIENTS: Into a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Then, give them a good whisk to make sure the baking soda is well dispersed.
  • INCORPORATE BUTTER: Remove butter pieces from the refrigerator and add to the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender or your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture by pressing and rubbing the flour together, until the butter is the size of small peas and the mixture is a crumbly, shaggy dough. 
  • ADD BUTTERMILK: Form a deep well in the center of the bowl and pour buttermilk into the well.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, pull the flour mixture from the sides into the buttermilk and gently form into a loose, shaggy & soft dough, being careful not to overwork. 
  • SHAPE & CHILL SCONES AND PREHEAT OVEN: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat with your hands into a rough circle about ¾ to 1 inch in thickness. Using a 2-inch the cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, press cutter straight down into dough (try not to twist cutter) and place scones onto an ungreased cast iron skillet with an inch or two between each scone. Use scraps to form a few more biscuits. Move oven rack to upper third and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place skillet in the fridge to chill scones while you allow the oven to preheat.
  • BAKE & SERVE SCONES: Brush the top of the scones with buttermilk (or use heavy cream). Bake in preheated oven on top rack, rotating halfway through, for 18 -22 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Remove onto a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm scones with an assortment of accompaniments like honey butter, clotted cream, and your favorite jam and/or lemon curd. Don’t forget the tea!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating