One of the things I remember most about my trips to Ireland are the scones! They’re tender and delicate—thanks to Irish butter, of course—and a dream to eat alongside a cup of strong black tea.
For this recipe, I make small scones (2 to 3 bites each) studded with currants. It's the perfect size for a quick snack, or to serve with an assortment of pastries and breakfast items for a casual brunch.
Here’s how to make a warm batch of flaky, delicately sweet Irish scones at home!
What Are Irish Scones?
Irish scones are close relatives to English scones. They are made with a simple combination of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, and milk. Dried currants or raisins are a common addition and sometimes an egg is added to the dough to enrich it.
They aren’t as sweet or rich as American scones because they don’t contain as much butter or sugar. They’re intended to be plain, simple, and only moderately dense so that they can be enjoyed with butter, jam or clotted cream. I also love serving them with lemon curd!
While quite similar, what distinguishes Irish scones from English scones is that they typically contain a bit less sugar. They’re also made with less leavener, so they’re slightly flatter and smaller.
It’s important to note that no two Irish families make their scones the same way. Like so many things, especially in the kitchen, minute details are debated. This recipe is just one iteration. No matter what, though, they’re the perfect treat at teatime or breakfast.
Tips and Tricks for Making Irish Scones
With such basic ingredients, making Irish scones is quite simple. However, these tips and tricks will help you achieve a tender baked good.
- Freeze and grate the butter: Cold butter is the secret to a flaky scone. I like to take extra precaution by freezing it, then grating it on the largest holes of a box grater. These frozen shreds hold their shape in the dough and ensure the scones will be ultra-tender and flaky. Typically, you would add cubed cold butter to the dry ingredients, and you can still use that method here if you’d like.
- Reach for Irish butter, if you can: Irish butter, such as Kerrygold, tends to be richer in flavor than many common American brands due to the lush green grass the cows graze on in Ireland. To truly make these Irish scones, it’s worth seeking Irish butter out as your results will be richer in flavor and texture. Luckily, Kerrygold is easy to find in most grocery stores these days.
- Try not to overmix the dough. Tread lightly when combining the dry and wet ingredients. You want to mix them until a shaggy dough forms without any kneading. Kneading leads to tough scones.
- Plump the dried fruit in the milk. Instead of mixing the dried currants or raisins in with the flour, stir them into the milk and egg mixture. This will help them soften before they’re added to the dough. If they’re really dried out, let them sit it in the liquid for five minutes or so to give them a little extra time to plump.
Swaps and Substitutions
Typically, scones are made by “cutting” cold butter into flour—which is just a fancy way to say that pieces of butter are pressed and incorporated into the dry ingredients. You can still use that method for this recipe if you’d like.
Add the cold cubed butter into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using your hands coat all of the butter with the flour mixture. Gently press and rub the pieces of butter into the dry ingredients by pressing it between your fingers and thumb until you are left with pea-sized pieces of butter throughout.
Make sure the butter is evenly dispersed throughout the flour mixture before adding your wet ingredients. Don’t worry, no matter which method you choose you’ll end up with a delicious scone.
If you prefer not to add dried fruit, you can easily leave it out—Irish scones are commonly made with or without dried currants or raisins.
You can also leave the egg out, if you’d like. The final result will be a little less tender of a baked good, though definitely no less tasty.
How to Store and Freeze Leftovers
These scones are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, but you can also enjoy them warm or at room temperature.
Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days. Alternatively, freeze leftover baked scones, thaw on the counter overnight, and rewarm them in a 400°F oven.
If you’d like to make these scones ahead of time, you can also freeze them unbaked on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer the scones to a zip-top freezer bag once frozen and bake them off directly from the freezer, as directed brushing them with the milk before baking. You’ll likely just need to tack a minute or two onto the baking time.
More Satisfying Scone Recipes
- Ginger Scones
- Lemon Blueberry Scones
- Queen Elizabeth’s Drop Scones
- Savory Scones with Goat Cheese and Chives
This recipe calls for grating frozen butter. Place a stick of butter in your freezer for at least 15 minutes while you work on other steps in the recipe, or you can keep a pound of butter in your freezer for exactly these occasions.
- 2 cups (257 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon (13 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, divided
- 1/2 cup dried currants or golden raisins
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
- To serve
- Jam and butter
Line a baking sheet:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Combine the wet ingredients:
Measure out 2/3 cup milk. In a medium bowl whisk together about half of the milk, along with the currants and the egg. You will use the rest of the milk later. Set bowl and remaining milk aside.
Grate the butter:
Place a box grater over the prepared baking sheet. Grate the frozen butter on the large holes of a box grater. When you get down to a small nub of butter, chop that nub into a few small pieces.
Add the butter to the dry ingredients:
Use the parchment paper as a sling to transfer the butter to the dry ingredients and then return the parchment paper to the baking sheet. Use your fingers to toss the butter in the flour, breaking up any clumps, until the butter and flour are evenly coated.
Combine wet and dry ingredients to make dough:
Carefully drizzle the milk, egg, and currant mixture over the butter-flour mixture in the large bowl. Use a fork or your hands to combine and lightly mix. The mixture will start to look sandy.
Add the remaining half of reserved milk 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing to combine with a fork or your hands, until a rough and lumpy, but cohesive, dough ball forms without any dry spots; do not overwork the dough. You may not use all the remaining milk.
Shape the dough:
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat it into a rough 3/4-inch-thick circle about 8 inches in diameter.
Cut the dough into scone rounds:
Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds, as close together as possible to ensure you get as many scones as possible.
Gently press the scraps together and cut out additional rounds. You should have 8 to 10 rounds, depending on how diligent you are pressing the scrapes together.
Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, refrigerate, and preheat the oven:
Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart, about an inch or two between scones. Refrigerate the unbaked scones. Place the rack in the middle of your oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Brush scones with milk and bake:
Once the oven has preheated, use a pastry brush to brush the scones with the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes.
Cool and serve scones:
Let the scones cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before enjoying warm or transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve with jam and butter, if desired.