Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow! My husband and I officially have no plans, no babysitters, no dates, and I have no presents (and the likelihood of him having anything is not good), but we do have lots of candy, so we might be able to salvage the day.

So when I was growing up, my dad would always make scones for our neighborhood 4th of July party and for super special occasions. And by scones, I mean fried pieces of sweet bread dough that we would douse in honey or dust with powdered sugar.

One night when I was in middle school, it was pronounced that we had scones in the house and I was simultaneously puzzled and thrilled because scones were strictly a holidays-only affair. Imagine my horror when I discovered that these scones resembled triangular biscuits. HORROR.

And then I tasted one and all was forgiven. Sweet but not too sweet, melt-in-your mouth texture, flaky, buttery, and crumbly in the best possible way. Call me weird, but I think scones are totally romantic food. If my husband made me scones, I would a) wonder who he was (especially since upon eating these scones for the first time, he said, “What are these supposed to be like?) and b) I would let him pick our next date night, which would probably involve The Phantom Menace in 3D and no talk of scones.

Sara has a fabulous basic scone recipe, but constantly feeling the urge to wander culinarily (I’m 98% sure that’s not a word), I adapted this recipe from Allrecipes and it comes from Pam Anderson at Three Many Cooks.

First, place the oven rack on the lower-middle position (unless your oven bakes hot like mine does or not hot, like mine doesn’t–then use your pretty brain to figure out where it should go. Mine needs to go in the middle). You’ll need 2 cups of flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, frozen butter, sour cream, an egg, lemon zest, and poppy seeds.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. Add in the zest of 1 lemon and whisk again.

Grate the frozen butter (a food processor will make the job even easier!) Take a picture because I have determined that grated butter is one of the prettiest, most photogenic things ever in the history of the universe. The fact that I find grated butter so pretty probably says something about me.

Toss the grated butter into the flour mixture and use your fingers to combine the mixture so it appears like coarse meal.

In a small bowl, combine the egg and sour cream…

and then whisk it together until it’s smooth. Drizzle it over the flour mixture and then toss the mixture together with a fork, trying to ensure the flour mixture is evenly moistened with the egg/sour cream mixture.

Use your hands to press the dough into a ball. It will come together slowly–some portions of the dough will be more moist than others, and it may seem like it’s too crumbly, but be gentle and consistent and it will all come together. I promise. There’s probably some cheesy life lesson in there somewhere.

When the dough has come together into a ball, form the dough into an 8″ disc on a lightly floured surface (I just sprinkled a little flour on the Silpat I was baking the scones on–one less mess to clean up, right?!)

Use a butter knife to cut the dough into 8 equal triangles.

Have I ever mentioned how very bad I am at geometry?

Separate the triangles and evenly space them on a lined baking sheet.

Bake until golden, or about 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the scones are cooling, whisk together 1/4 cup strained lemon juice, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar (more if you want a thicker glaze). Place the glaze in a Ziploc bag. If you want a thin glaze all over the whole scone, you can drizzle it over the scones while they’re still a bit warm. If you want the squiggles, wait until they’re completely cool. Personally? I would go for a bit warm, glaze dripping down the sides. Seriously…to die for.

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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. So I went to make these this morning, and then realized my sour cream had been left on the counter all night. So I substituted it with the only ingredients I had that were somewhat similar. I thinned out some cream cheese with milk. The scones actually turned out delicious and looked just like the picture! Haha! Sweet! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. I just made these this morning. They are wonderful!!!! Not too sweet so perfect for morning! Thank you!!

  3. Made these tonight, they turned out amazing! I have made my fair share of scones before but none ever called for an egg, so I was curious how they would turn out. Definitely not disappointed! I did the whole thing in the food processor; first pulsed all the dry ingredients together to combine, then added the butter (I just diced mine right out of the fridge, didn’t bother freezing or grating it), then the wet ingredients. I also added the juice of half a lemon right to the batter. It came together really fast and easy and I had no trouble getting it to form into a disk. Can’t wait to experiment with other flavors using this recipe as a base; I have made oatmeal scones by replacing half the flour of my standard scone recipe with oatmeal, which I might try with this recipe sometime. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kate, these look super scrumptious! Great job! I’m with ya on the warm glaze. Thanks for sharing.

  5. The Utah scones are indeed, fried bread, my grandmother always used to save bread dough for scones whenever she made bread. Now its Rhodes frozen bread dough for the lazy part of me….The sweet biscuit-like scones (pronounced with a short “o” vowel- “scons”)are from England. I love both!!

  6. What if you substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream? I do it all the time in other recipes.

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I’m willing to bet it would work just fine! Let us know how it turns out!

  7. This was my first time making scones and it was a major success!!! It totally made my family’s Valentine’s Day! Thank you! 🙂

  8. These are my absolutle favorite type of pastry. I used to get Lemon Poppy Seed scones on my way to class in college and it just made the day better. Thank you for posting this recipe! If you ever make blueberry ones, please share those too 🙂

    1. I’m 99.9% sure you could leave out the poppy seeds and lemon (or heck, leave ’em in if you want!) and then just add 1/2-3/4 cup chopped blueberries. Blueberry scones are one of my FAVORITE things in the universe! 🙂

  9. I have everything in my pantry except full fat sour cream…..I have light sour cream. Do you think that would work? I *really* want to make these scones right now….lol!

    1. I can’t say for sure, but I *imagine* it would be fine! Just don’t hunt me down and kill me if they’re dry! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! We get scones from this little bakery in town and I always find them really dry, but my husband loves them, so I’m sure that even if yours turn out that way he will think they are great. No worries! 🙂

        PS I have never heard of fried scones, but they sound so yummy!

    2. Rebecca, I always use low fat substitutes and don’t have any complaints, in fact a lot of compliments. You could also use plain greek yogurt, it would even be better for you and no fat! with lots of yumminess! Good Luck!

      1. These scones were delicious! The low fat sour cream worked great! Angie, thanks for the tip about the greek yogurt too! 🙂

  10. I was scrolling through the post and noticed the grated butter, and it made me stop and go, “ooooh, what IS that pretty stuff??”. Then I noticed your comment about thinking it was pretty, too. So whatever that says about you, it says about ME too! 😉

  11. These look DELICIOUS!! I absolutely love scones… I make a pretty mean chocolate chip version myself. 🙂 I will have to try these!

  12. Since you have given ME so many fabulous suggestions, I just thought I’d share a little bit of joy with you for a change – you mentioned how pretty and photogenic the grated frozen butter is (I agree completely), and I just wanted to let you know that the Microplane grater grates CHEESE just like that! In sweet little curls – so you can have adorable cheese (yes, that’s gilding the lily a little, I know, but how ‘grate’ is that?) every time just by using the medium ribbon side of the super awesome box grater! And I’m normally not a big fan of box graters, but this one is fabulous – mostly because of the adorable curly mini-ribbons it makes out of cheese.

  13. These look delicious – and scones are totally romantic, guess what we’re posting for Valentine’s Day too? Great minds think alike 🙂

  14. I love scones, although I am used to the fried kind. I love it with honey butter.

    My uncle ran a restaurant in the mall years ago. He also served scones with honey butter. The honey butter was made with Honey, Butter and MARSHMALLOW CREAM! It’s basically the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.

    I love Lemon and Poppy, so I’ll have to give this one a try.

  15. I love these kind of scones!! I make a pretty mean strawberry lemonaide scone (my own recipe) and a cranberry orange scone adapted from somewhere (I can’t remember). Anywhooo, I make my glaze in a shallow wide bowl and dip the tops of the scones in the glaze.. it covers the top completely, it is really quick and it leaves some glaze to run down the sides. Works perfect every time!!
    By the way, I have been watching your blog for over three years now, I do not usually leave comments, but I absolutely admire you two for doing what you have done! I love my kitchen and creating in it is a passion, thanks for helping keep that passion alive!

    1. @Angie: I was just thinking that as I was reading the recipe – I’ve got all the ingredients and I was trying to think of something to do with the lemons sitting on my kitchen table. I’m definitely going to dip mine!

  16. OK Kate, you have convinced me to try this type of scone! Up till now I’ve had a strong loyalty to the fried kind and all their deliciousness; when I saw the baked version of scones I would think “why would anybody want to eat that?”. I had always thought they were hard like biscotti, but “sweet biscuit” sounds awesome!

    I so appreciate you and Sara’s posts for their ability to get me to try new things (although I probably would have been okay having never tried sweetened condensed milk, you two kind of unleashed a monster with that one).

  17. It reassures me that I’m not the only one who grew up thinking that scones were a sweet fry bread. While I grew up in WA, my mom was from UT, so I guess that explains it.

  18. Hi Kate,
    I LOVE your recipe for the Lemon Poppy seed scones, however my husband would prefer blueberry, can I take out the poppy seed’s and add blueberry’s Or Dried cherries??
    Thank you !

    1. Yep, totally! I’m not sure how many, but I really think you could add just about anything to this recipe.

  19. I found this basic recipe years ago and everyone goes nuts over them. I usually do plain with chocolate chips, orange/cranberry and ginger with cinnamon chips. The sour cream is the secret. I definitely will try lemon/poppy seed next time. Thanks!

  20. I’m going to try these! I was wanting a lemon poppy seed scone recipe, and you delivered! By the way, what you grew up thinking were scones are actually sopaipillas. I think it’s a Utah thing to call them scones. I grew up in Colorado and I remember being confused when I went away to BYU, wondering why people were calling sopaipillas “scones”.

    Oh, and I would totally use a pizza cutter rather than a butter knife to cut these apart.

  21. I have a totally scone-ignorant question! I’ve never had one… Are they like hard cookie-ish consistency, or soft like cake?!

  22. Yummy! I love a good scone. And they must totally be romantic because I actually almost blogged my Lemon Poppy Seed Scone recipe today for Valentines Day. But then I changed my mind at the last minute and blogged my lemon poppy seed pancake recipe with strawberries. 🙂

  23. My husband and I have decayed the scone thing countless times. He’s from Utah and insists that the baked version is not a scone. We’ve even resorted to researching online! Anyway, these look delicious and will definitely make an appearance on my breakfast table soon. BTW, could I leave out the poppy seeds?

      1. Ha! I know that you REALLY were decaying the issue, which you probably learned from your many years on the decay team. 🙂

        Yes, you can totally leave out the poppy seeds. In fact, I’m pretty sure you could put just about anything in these and they would be incredible.

  24. Culinarily is TOTALLY a word. At least in my book it is. And as I was typing this it came up on my automatic input thingy. (Thingy is totally a word…)

  25. These lemon scones look amazing! I need to stop reading and start baking. 🙂

  26. Yum! I love scones! Both “regular” and “Utah”. I grew up with fried dough scones on holidays only (Dad’s family is from SLC). It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I discovered that it wasn’t just my family that called fried dough scones when I read on another blog (Make It Do) that it was, in fact, a Utah thing.

    To make blueberry scones, do you just replace blueberries for the lemon and poppy?

    1. Yep! I have no idea how many (likely in the 1/2-1 cup range), but I’m positive it would work. 🙂

  27. My boyfriend and I both have school all day Tuesday so we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with dinner (Thanks to Groupon!) and – no joke – The Phantom Menace in 3D. I figure my boyfriend celebrates V-Day with me even though he doesn’t kike it so the least I can do is go see a movie I know he’ll love. 🙂

  28. I think I know what I’m having for breakfast in the morning:)
    Also, the summer before I went to college I worked at a place called the Gangplank in Idaho Falls, where they served fried fish, fried chicken, fried scones and fries. Yum 🙂

  29. Do you think the other kind of scone that you mentioned at the beginning has anything to do with either regional or cultural (aka Utah/Mormon)? I’ll take either kind, because these look awesome. And you did me a favor cutting your scones skiwhompas, so that when I do it too I can say, “Oh, I’m just like Kate!” and it won’t be a bad thing.