Cranberry scones drizzled with white chocolate that are flaky and perfectly balanced between tart and sweet, and festive as can be in appearance. Certainly sounds like an ideal Thanksgiving breakfast to us.
Let’s talk about scones. Whether you prefer a more savory bacon and cheddar scone, or a sweeter blueberry lemon scone, or something in between, like these apple and white Cheddar scones, we can all agree that they’re easy, quick, arguably healthy, and they’re what you need in your life. If you get a little crazy about cranberries come Thanksgiving, then these cranberry scones are exactly what you need to be making.
The scones are made in a classic manner with cream to ensure delicate flakiness. What’s not so classic about them is how the tart cranberries are perfectly offset by the chunks of sweet white chocolate. We’re not complaining.–Angie Zoobkoff
Why our testers loved this
Our testers were delighted with the tender, flaky texture of these “melt-in-your-mouth” cream scones. They loved the balance of tart fresh cranberries with sweet white chocolate. Even our testers who generally don’t enjoy scones are praising these.
Notes on ingredients
- All-purpose flour–Stick with all-purpose flour here to ensure light, flaky scones.
- Lemon zest–We love the combination of cranberries, lemon, and white chocolate, but cranberries and orange also pair beautifully, so feel free to swap in orange zest, if you prefer.
- Unsalted butter–It’s critical to keep your butter cold. If you have a warm kitchen, we suggest popping the butter in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes after cutting it.
- Cranberries–Fresh or frozen will work here. If using frozen, let them thaw at room temperature for an hour, drain off any excess liquid, and pat dry before using.
How to make this recipe
- Heat the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the scone dough. Combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt, then work in the butter to make a crumbly dough. Mix in the fresh and dried cranberries and white chocolate.
- Knead the dough. Mix the cream, egg, and vanilla together, then gently mix it into the dough. Knead the dough briefly, then shape into a disc and cut into wedges.
- Bake the scones. Cook the scones until golden, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Make the white chocolate glaze (optional). Combine the chocolate and corn syrup over low heat until melted, then stir in cream and lemon zest. Drizzle over the scones.
What’s the secret to making good scones?
Like any butter-heavy pastry, a secret to making these cranberry white chocolate scones light, fluffy, and crave-worthy is to keep everything cold. Chill your butter and, if possible, your bowl and pastry cutter as well. Even more helpful is to chill them before baking—half an hour in the fridge should do.
Next, don’t overmix that batter. Not only will you break up those precious bits of butter, but you’ll also end up developing gluten. You want the batter to just come together and be quite fetchingly lumpy.
What’s the easiest way to chop cranberries?
You can give them a quick pulse in your food processor or chop them by hand. If chopping by hand, cut each berry in half to prevent them from rolling off the counter, then gather them together and give everything a rough chop.
Can you freeze scones?
Yes. Since scones can become dried out and stale within a day or two, we recommend freezing any you don’t enjoy within a day of making them. Thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a couple of hours.
- Work your dough as little as possible. The more you mix and knead your dough, the more likely the scones will be heavy and dense.
- For extra-flakey scones, grate your butter instead of dicing it. Be sure to chill it again after grating.
More great scone recipes
☞ If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
For the cranberry scones
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest preferably organic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter cold, cut into pieces
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cranberries or whole frozen cranberries thawed and patted dry
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the white chocolate glaze (optional)
- 3 ounces white chocolate chopped
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest preferably organic, plus more to taste
Make the cranberry scones
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Toss in the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, blend everything until the butter is in pea-size crumbs. Add the fresh or frozen cranberries, dried cranberries, and white chocolate and toss to coat with the flour mixture.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, egg, and vanilla. Pour it into the flour mixture and stir just until everything is moistened, taking care to not overmix the dough or your scones will turn out dense rather than delicate.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it 4 times. No more than 4 times. No less than 4 times. Do not overwork the dough.
- Form the dough into a flat circle that measures 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in diameter. Cut the dough into 8 large wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) between scones.
- Bake the scones until they’re golden on the bottom, 16 to 18 minutes. If you're uncertain if they're done, break one open and it should have the same light and flaky consistency throughout. If it has any dense doughy spots in the center, return the pan to the oven for a couple more minutes.
- Place the scones on a wire rack and let cool slightly.
Make the white chocolate glaze (optional)
- Just before serving the scones, combine the white chocolate and corn syrup in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate melts and then stir in the cream. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest.
Serve the cranberry scones
- If using the glaze, drizzle it over the scones and wait a few minutes for the excess to drip. Serve the scones shortly after glazing.
- Easier cleanup–Before glazing your scones, slip a piece of parchment under the wire rack. Any excess glaze will drip onto the parchment, which can then be crumpled up and tossed out.
- Flakier scones–For the lightest and most flaky scones, grate your butter. You’ll need to chill the butter again after grating to keep it very cold.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This cranberry scones recipe produced an excellent scone with a good balance of sweet and tart. The scones are heavy with fruit and just enough batter to hold everything together. Unexpected encounters with bits of lemon zest added a little extra intrigue.
I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate, but I couldn’t resist these cranberry scones. You know, for science. They’re an absolute breeze to make—don’t let a bit of kneading scare you away. It’s literally 4 turns and you’re done. Plus the combination of flavors is killer. Who knew that cranberries, white chocolate, and lemon would be so good?
A few things. If you have hot hands like I sometimes do, a pastry blender works just fine to work in the butter. I baked these guys for 17 minutes and cooled them right on the baking sheet. The amount of glaze was perfect for 8 scones.
The scones keep better if they aren’t glazed since the glaze gets a little sticky. But they do keep for a few days, which is great! They make a nice breakfast treat for workdays.
These cranberry scones are perfect to make for brunch. They’re easy to put together and can be made early in the morning or even the night before. They have a light, fluffy texture along with a crunchy top.
The combination of fresh and dried cranberries along with the lemon zest give a big dimension to the flavor and keep the scones from being too sweet. I used Ghirardelli white chocolate and white chocolate chips and Ocean Spray Craisins. They still tasted fresh the day after I made them.
What a delightful treat—beautiful, tart cranberries in a buttery, golden pastry. The combination of cranberry and lemon might sound a bit too sour, but they’re mellowed by the rich dough and nicely complemented by the sweet white chocolate.
There are several important steps to remember to ensure that your scones result in the flakiest, most tender, and most moist treat possible.
First is to not break down the butter too much when cutting it into the flour. Bigger pieces of butter=lighter and less dense scones.
Second is don’t overmix the dough—this will also make the scones too dense. The dough will not be completely homogeneous so do not be concerned if there are random pieces of butter dotted throughout.
Finally, the most important part is the baking time. Do not overbake the scones if you don’t want a dry pastry! All your work getting the butter just right will be for naught if the dough gets overbaked. Beginning about 14 minutes in, gently lift a scone or two to check the bottom. Once they are a light tan and the pastries spring back slightly when pressed, they will be perfect.
I let them cool about an hour before glazing. I just melted the white chocolate and corn syrup on 70% power in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. I scraped the glaze into a resealable plastic bag and snipped the corner to drizzle a design on the scones. It was slightly too runny to keep the shape of the design and the icing lines melted together and absorbed into the scones. It didn’t harden per se, but it did get gummier and dried on the surface. I might try slightly less heavy cream next time—it was useful to make the icing stir better, but I would have liked the presentation better if the glaze designs had held up.
I have always wanted to try my hand at baking scones but I’ve been too nervous to even try. When I saw this recipe, I knew this was the absolute perfect opportunity! For anyone who may be nervous like me about kneading and making scones, trust me, this recipe is foolproof. I will definitely make these again in the near future!
Another plus was I had most of the ingredients—including the fresh cranberries—on hand.
As I started, the first hint that this recipe was a winner was the smell of the lemon, cranberries, and white chocolate combining.
The second was how easily everything came together despite my misgivings about my limited experience.
The third, of course, was the taste! Yummy from the first bite to the last. As I bit into the first scone, I wanted to run out and share the rest with someone. That is how good they tasted!
I’m pretty much a purist when it comes to my food and will always choose something of few ingredients over something with many. So my first reaction to this recipe was that there’s too many ingredients—it would be better with cranberries OR white chocolate but both? No.
But I do love a good scone so I decided to give it a try. It was sooo much better than I expected. The white chocolate blended beautifully with the cranberries and the tart and sweet combination is a winner.
I tried one scone straight out of the oven and it was delicious. I then tried another one with the glaze. I think I liked them both equally well and in the future would make a double batch and glaze some and leave some naked.
The recipe is tasty enough for the unglazed scones to stand on their own. There were no white chocolate chips to be found here so I used a white chocolate bar, froze it, and then smashed it with a wooden mallet. It worked.
I have a heavy hand when it comes to vanilla so I used 1 1/2 teaspoons. Yum.
I baked these at 7300 feet and didn’t adjust the baking powder because other scone recipes I use don’t require it. This recipe was much wetter than others I have used so I think at this altitude I would benefit by reducing the baking powder to 8 grams in addition to increasing the flour. The scones had to bake about 5 minutes longer (for altitude issues) so at 10 minutes I put an insulated cookie sheet under the scones so the bottoms wouldn’t burn before they finished baking. Some of the frozen cranberries “popped” while baking so there was some running of juice that burned a bit on the baking sheet. It didn’t affect the final outcome but it just wasn’t pretty.
The glaze came together very quickly BUT I didn’t think the zest came through enough so in the future I would add a little more zest in addition to some lemon juice.
Neither my husband nor I like white chocolate and I do not like scones. So, you may wonder, why would I choose to make this recipe? That is, indeed, a very good question. The only thing I can up with is that something told me to try it, to keep an open mind. That, and the fact that my husband does really like scones, got me wanting to make this recipe.
Wow, I must tell you, and wow, I, in particular, kept saying, as we stood in our kitchen and ate two of the scones within a short amount of time after they came out of the oven. Either these are not your normal scones, or the scones that are sold in most places are just nowhere near as good as these are.
I am used to scones being dense. Thick, heavy, and dry. Not at all light and flaky. And these scones are light and flaky. Very light and flaky. That, I believe, is a result of the very good directions within the recipe. Read them well and follow them and you, too, will be rewarded with light, flaky scones.
The problem that I have with white chocolate is that it is usually just too sweet for me. Perhaps with the fresh cranberries, as well as the dried cranberries, the white chocolate chips found their match.
I put some “sugar in the raw” on the top of some of the scone and we really liked the crunch that added to the finished scones.
A tip: The recipe states to leave 1 inch (2.5 cm) between the scones on the baking sheet. These scones really spread out as well as rise. I suggest that you leave 2 inches (5 cm) between the scones. I always like to turn my sheet pans 180° halfway through the baking time. When I went to turn my pan, my scones had all morphed into each other. This was easy enough to solve, as I just moved them with a metal spatula. However, it will just be easier to place them further apart the next time that I make them.
There will be a next time, fairly shortly. Now, I want to see how well they will freeze. I’ll let you know.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
These cranberry scones melt in your mouth. I love cream scones for that reason. I was a little worried that the fresh cranberries would be too tart but that wasn’t the case. All the ingredients combined to deliver a perfect balance of not too sweet or tart.
I wasn’t able to find fresh cranberries, but I found frozen cranberries and they were perfect. I let them thaw for about an hour at room temperature and drained off the residual liquid. The only change I made was to pat the dough into a 9-inch square and cut it into 9 squares and then cut each square into a triangle resulting in 18 smaller scones.
There was a nice crunch from the white chocolate chips that caramelized during baking. They are delicious and I’ll try this recipe with fresh and dried blueberries. The glaze recipe seemed a little stiff so I added another teaspoon of corn syrup.
An alternative to the glaze would be to brush the scones with heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Again, just delicious! Perfect the for upcoming holidays.