Traditional Irish Buttermilk Scones

I make these scones regularly and they are so delicious! I use uncultured buttermilk but you can use cultured from the supermarket.  Once you have the basic scone recipe the world is your oyster.  This is a traditional Irish recipe and makes big fluffy scones the size of the Mourne Mountains.  The always look more rustic and wild than other scones.

Plain buttermilk scones

Traditional Irish Buttermilk Scones

Irish Buttermilk Scones

Difficulty – Easy


Large bowl



Greased tray

Ice cream scoop or soup spoon


500 grams (18oz) plain flour

125 grams (5 oz) unsalted butter straight from the fridge

25 grams (1 oz) of caster sugar

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 heaped teaspoons of cream of tartar

1 level teaspoon of salt

240 ml approximately of buttermilk (cultured or uncultured)


1. Preheat the oven to 245oC (gas mark 9 or 475 F) – this makes the oven very hot.  Scones love very hot ovens.

2. Tip the flour into a large bowl.

3. Add the bicarbonate of soda  cream of tartar and salt.

4. Add the sugar (if you prefer sweet scones feel free to add another 25 grams)

4. Using your fingertips rub all the ingredients together until it resembles fine bread crumbs.

5. Now gradually add the buttermilk.  Work quickly and gently.  Use your hand like a claw and pull the ingredients together.  Until all combined.  You don’t want the mixture to be too wet as this will cause spreading in the oven.

6. This is where most recipes call for the dough to be rolled out, bashed a bit and cut into circles.  I don’t do this.  Get your ice cream scoop or soup spoon and scoop out a neat ball of the mixture.

7. Pop onto your greased tray.  Continue with the rest of the mixture.  Leaving about 1 inch or a small finger’s worth of room between each scones.  Having scones closer together helps them stay tall.

8. Finish by brushing the scones with left over buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.

9. Place in the hot oven and reduce the temperature to 220 C (or gas mark 7/425F).

10. Depending on the size of your scones you need to bake them for 15 mins or until a skewers comes out clean.

11. Once cooked allow to cool and spread with real homemade butter and homemade jam.  Or just eat them without anything!


Fruit Scones – add in a handful of sultanas, cherries, raisins or whatever fruit takes your fancy.  You can reduce the sugar if you don’t have a sweet tooth.  You can also add a bit more sugar if you prefer a sweeter scone.

Cheese Scones – Don’t add the sugar and instead add two teaspoons of mustard powder, a teaspooon of ground black pepper and grate in two tablespoons of your favourite cheese.  Brush with buttermilk before you bake as usual and top with more grated cheese and a pinch of mustard.

Sodabread Scones

Cheese and black pepper buttermilk scones

Wild and Wacky Scones – I love scones and love to go crazy with the flavours.  Try adding dessicated coconut and chunks of chocolate, or grated stem ginger.  Chopped up fresh apple with some mixed spice is delicious and if you have any cranberries left from Christmas you could throw them in with some orange zest.  My all time favourite scone is raspberry and white chocolate.  Just add a handful or more of fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips – Once baked and cooled you can drizzle with white chocolate.  Totally amazing.

Go for it – go wild.  Take the basic recipe and have a look in your cupboard for inspiration.  I’ve never tried rocky road scones – but someone can …

Top Scone Tips 

Scones love a very hot oven.

Don’t overwork the dough.

Start with very cold ingredients

Don’t roll the dough just scoop out a ball of mixture.

Keep the mixture fairly close together to avoid excessive spreading

Read my buttermilk post to lean everything there is to know about buttermilk.

For the record I say scone as in rhymes with gone.


Next I will share with you my Irish Sodabread recipe.  Why is sodabread so delicious?!  What have pixies got to do with this bread and why use buttermilk?


About Claire Sullivan

Bake - Slice - Eat - Enjoy! An Irish girl living in Norfolk, sharing everything I know about baking and everything I learn along the way. The beautiful County of Norfolk is full of wonderful gems and I can't wait to share them with you.
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