These easy lemon poppy seed scones are perfect for spring and summer!
For the scones:
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
- 2 large lemons
- 320 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 2/3 cups), plus extra for dusting
- 68 grams sugar (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (9g)
- 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds (8g)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (from the lemons listed above!)
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- 2/3 cup milk
For the glaze:
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Shred the butter & preheat the oven
- Carefully grate cold butter along the large holes of a box grater. Place shredded butter into a bowl and transfer to the freezer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Heat oven to 425°F.
Prepare the lemons
- Zest each lemon; set the zest aside. Then slice lemons in half and squeeze out the juice, removing any seeds. Measure out the amount lemon juice you'll need for these scones; save the rest for other recipes.
Make the dough
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds, salt, and lemon zest together in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir cold shredded butter into the dry ingredients, making sure to break up any big clumps of butter.
- Add lemon juice, lemon extract, and milk to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The mixture will still be a bit crumbly - that's ok!
Shape the scones
- Tip scone dough onto a lightly floured cutting board. Use your hands to quickly and gently bring the dough together. Pat the dough into a large circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Work quickly here to avoid melting the butter with the heat from your hands! You want the butter to stay nice and cold in order to create an airy, crumbly scone.
- Divide the dough circle into 8 evenly sized wedges with a chef's knife or bench scraper. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
- Bake at 425° F for 14-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before adding a lemon glaze (recipe below).
Make the lemon glaze
- Place powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl. Whisk in lemon juice a little at a time until you have a smooth glaze and have reached your desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over cooled scones and enjoy!
A note about butter. We love shredding the butter for scone recipes because it gives the final product great texture. We like to wrap the butter wrapper around the end of the butter when shredding it with a box grater: It gives a better grip, acts as a small buffer between your hands and the blade, and stops the butter from melting as quickly. You can also shred butter using the shredder attachment of a food processor, or you can cut the butter into small cubes and cut it into the dough using a pastry blender (just like in a biscuit recipe!) If you cut the butter in with a pastry blender rather than shredding it, your scones will be a bit flakier (more like a biscuit-y texture).
Adjust the amount of milk if necessary. If you measure your flour by weight (with a kitchen scale) the amount of milk in this recipe should be just about perfect. If you measure your flour by volume (with cups), you may find you need an extra Tablespoon or two of milk to help the dough come together. If it's especially humid outside, or if you cut the butter into the dough (instead of shredding it) you might need a tiny bit less milk than the recipe calls for: start with just 1/2 cup milk and add a Tablespoon at a time as necessary.
Adjust the shape and size of your scones. Shape your dough into a large square and cut it into thirds from top-to-bottom and side-to-side to form nine square scones if you like. Make mini scones by shaping dough into two or three smaller rounds before cutting, or add a splash of milk to the dough for a looser consistency that's perfect for drop scones. If you adjust the size of your scones, just remember to adjust the baking time as needed!
To keep scones taller or stop them from spreading as much, place them in the fridge for 20 minutes (or the freezer for 10 minutes) before baking.
Why the lemon extract? We tested this recipe with a ton of different lemon flavor combos. When we used just lemon juice, you had to use a LOT in order to get the lemon-forward flavor we wanted (and using that much lemon juice messed with the texture of the final product quite a bit!) This combination of lemon juice, lemon zest, and a splash of lemon extract gives these scones the perfect lemon-forward flavor without compromising on texture. You can use additional lemon juice instead of the lemon extract if you need to: the scones will still taste great, but the lemon flavor will be much more mild.
Additions and Substitutions. Use chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios instead of poppyseeds. Add fresh ginger, fresh berries, cherries, or dried cranberries for a boost of flavor. For vegan scones, use cold coconut oil instead of butter and coconut milk or almond milk instead of dairy milk. Use milk or cream instead of lemon juice in the glaze if you want less lemon flavor.
Storing and Freezing. These scones are best eaten the day they're baked! Store leftover scones in an airtight container on the counter for 1-2 days, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. We don't recommend adding glaze or icing to scones you plan to freeze, as the texture can warp a bit in the freezer.
Keywords: spring, mother's day, easter brunch