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Traditional Irish Scones Recipe for Afternoon Tea

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This traditional Irish Scones recipe is a light and delicious scone made with Irish butter and buttermilk. Lightly sweet with a moist, tender texture. Perfect for afternoon tea.

Irish Scone topped with strawberry jam and Irish butter

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Topping these Irish Scones with jam and clotted cream, or even Irish butter, transforms them into a rather wonderful breakfast or snack. And they become quite perfect with that afternoon cup of tea.

Scones in Ireland are an essential part of life in the Emerald Isle. Visiting with neighbors or family is a delicious affair when sharing a cup of hot tea and freshly baked scones in a cozy Irish kitchen.


What Makes These Irish Scones Recipe… Irish?

It’s said that Irish scones have two secret ingredients: Irish butter and a “splash of love.”

Irish butter differs from regular butter in that it contains a slightly higher percentage of butterfat. Though the amount is slight, it’s enough to produce a richer and creamier scone.

And the flavor Irish butter brings to scones is almost indescribable.

The second secret? I’ll leave the “splash of love” in your capable hands, dear baker. 

But I can promise that coming from a long line of Irish ancestors, my Irish family abounds in love. So… channel that inner Irish, and that “splash of love” will sweeten everything you bake. And make the lives of all who enter your kitchen a bit better.

Top view of Irish Scones with a cup of warm tea.

Irish Scones Recipe for Afternoon Tea

Scones are essential to afternoon tea. We’ve written and shared scores of scone recipes. For more ideas, check out our Afternoon Tea Scones Recipes.

Irish Quick Bread

What I love about Irish quick breads, like scones or Irish Soda Bread, or Irish Brown Bread, is that they come together quickly without yeast. There is no waiting for the bread to rise. For a special treat, one of my favorite quick breads is Irish Barmbrack Tea Cake.

They’re hearty, delicious, and time-honored breads everyone loves.

Unbaked Irish scones brushed with buttermilk before baking.

Pro Tips for Making a Perfect Irish Scones Recipe

Catherine Leyden, Odlums professional baker, says, “Apart from an apple tart, you can’t beat a real scone; a nice, light scone.”

And I would wholeheartedly agree. With the scones and the apple tart, here’s our version of an Irish Apple Cake we absolutely love.

Be sure to read Layden’s pro tips for baking “successful” Irish scones.

Pro Tip 1: It’s all about air.

Leyden says, “Air is the secret to a nice, light scone after baking.”

4 Tips to Create Light, Airy Scones

  1. Sift the flour and dry ingredients. While most recipes don’t call for sifting flour, it really makes a difference in a scone as it brings more air to the dough.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers, lifting it in the air as you do. This method introduces another layer of air into the flour mixture. It takes time to get the small breadcrumb texture you need, but it’s worth the extra effort.
  3. Lightly knead the dough to introduce more air. It’s important to do this gently with floured fingertips before shaping and cutting into circles. 
  4. When cutting the dough, Leyden says it’s “important not to twist the cutter, just stab it down into the dough.” This will affect the height of the scone.
Warm from the oven Irish Scones on a baking sheet.

Pro Tip 2: Watch the Buttermilk

There is nothing more delicious than a moist, tender scone warm from the oven. To achieve a moist texture, watch the amount of milk added to the dough.

Leyden advises to “add a little at first, because you can always add more. You can’t take it out.”

She also says, “If the dough is too dry, you will have a dry, heavy scone.”

It’s important to get the correct amount of buttermilk in the dough. Begin with 1/2 cup of buttermilk and add additional buttermilk as needed.

You want the dough to be soft but not dry or too sticky. 

Pro Tip 3: A Hot Oven

Leyden advises letting your oven preheat for at least 20 minutes before baking with the sheet pan tray in the oven. A hot tray, she says, gives extra lift to the scones.

More Irish Recipes

Are you ready for a scone with tea? You’re in for a treat!

Closeup view of Irish Scone on a Green and White Plate
Irish Scone topped with strawberry jam and Irish butter

Traditional Irish Scones for Afternoon Tea

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

This traditional Irish Scones recipe is a light and delicious scone made with Irish butter and buttermilk. Lightly sweet with a moist, tender texture. Perfect for afternoon tea.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups self rising flour and eliminate salt, baking powder & baking soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 oz butter (1/4 cup), cold and diced
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold (plus more if needed to make a soft dough)
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Add the cold, diced butter to the bowl, and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients, lifting it into the air as you go, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Every Irish baker I know uses their fingertips for cutting in the butter.
  4. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk and beaten egg. Gently stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until it forms a soft dough, add additional buttermilk if needed. My Grandma O'Hara used a fork.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 1-inch thick circle. Using a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass with a diameter of around 2 inches, cut circles from the dough without twisting the cutter. Pat the scraps into shape and continue cutting. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with additional buttermilk.
  6. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes or until the top of the scones are a beautiful golden brown. Let cool on a metal rack for 10 minutes or more before serving with clotted cream and jam. And, of course, a cup of tea!


What to Serve with Irish Scones:

  • Raspberry and strawberry jam is traditional, but use your favorite jam with your favorite tea.

More Afternoon Tea Ideas:

Irish Recipes:

  • I'm in love with Ireland and its people. I tend to write often about this beautiful land. This link will take you to more Irish recipes at 31Daily.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 408mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

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