This post has been updated since its original publication in 2014 for recipe, photographs and content.
If you crave fruit scones and have a “thing” for lemon recipes… especially meyer lemon recipes, these cranberry lemon scones will have you weak in the knees. With just a handful of fresh ingredients, you can have warm, homemade scones on the table in about 45 minutes. Don’t worry if you don’t have meyer lemons, conventional ones will work too. Best of all, this easy scones recipe feeds a crowd, perfect for weekend and holiday entertaining.
If you’ve ever drooled over those coffee shop fruit scones, thinking they’d be impossible to recreate at home, you’d be wrong! Scones are nothing more than sweetened biscuits – flavored with whatever you like. For these homemade scones, I was inspired by the dearth of fresh, cheap cranberries and the bountiful bags of meyer lemons at my local market. (Don’t you just love meyer lemon recipes?)
Basic ingredients for easy scones
- Baking Powder
- Cream Cheese
Most of the time, I have everything I need to whip up a batch of these beauties (and I’ll bet you do as well) – it’s just a matter of what to flavor them with. In this case, cranberries and meyer lemons.
Compared to conventional lemons, which are larger and much more tart, meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, giving them a sweeter, more complex flavor.
The softer, gentler aroma of meyer lemons give these cranberry lemon scones a more subtle, nuanced flavor.
You can substitute regular lemons for this and most other lemon recipes, but be aware that the flavor profile will be more on the tart side. That said, however, if you can get them… you’ll want to make this a meyer lemon recipe.
Making fruit scones is really easy, when you follow these simple steps:
How to make homemade scones
- Mix the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt).
- Cut the butter and cream cheese into the dry ingredients until it forms coarse crumbs.
- Add the fruit, zest or other flavorings and mix to combine.
- Add the liquid ingredients and stir to form a shaggy dough.
- Pat the dough into a rectangle measuring about 3/4″ thick.
- Cut out the fruit scones with a biscuit cutter. Do not twist the cutter when you’re forming the scones as it will impede the rise.
- Brush with milk or cream and bake for about 8 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and let the biscuits continue to bake until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes more.
I give more details in the recipe card below, but these are the basics.
That doesn’t look right…
At first glance, you might think you’d need more liquid than what’s called for, but there’s enough butter and cream cheese in the dough to create a buttery sweet layered biscuit. You’ll find that it’s the perfect amount of liquid for the dough.
What’s the right consistency for scones?
The dough should be thick and pliable. You’ll love working with this dough because, it’s not too sticky but is soft and pillowy.
Do you have to knead the dough?
No. Definitely not. It’s important not to over-work the dough. Too much hands-on will make the scones tough. Err on the side of underworking — and if you see chunks of butter in your dough — that’s ok — it’s what’s going to give your homemade scones lift and create those flaky layers.
Tips for forming & cutting fruit scones
- You can see in the picture above that I didn’t work the dough into a perfectly smooth ball. I literally just turned the dough enough to incorporate all of the dry ingredients into one semi-round, slightly rough blob. (Blob is a technical baking term).
- Gently pat the dough to the right thickness (3/4″- use a ruler to be sure).
- Set the biscuit cutter on top of the dough and pressed straight down (no twisting).
- Because this dough has fresh cranberries, you may hear them pop or snap when you’re cutting. That’s fine.
In order for the scones to achieve their lift, they need a hot oven but too hot for too long will make them TOO BROWN and DRY THEM OUT. The solution is to bake them for 8 minutes with the oven set at 425° and then turn the oven OFF to let them bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until they’re lightly brown and done.
Brushing the tops of the scones before baking with a little milk will also help them brown. If you’re not going to glaze your cranberry lemon scones, you can also dust them with some sparkling sugar. They’ll be ready to eat as soon as they’re done baking.
Look at those golden domes. Imperfectly craggy, speckled with cranberries with a tempting meyer lemon aroma. If you just can’t help yourself, feel free to snatch one of the cranberry lemon scones right from the tray and gobble it up (purely for quality control purposes.) They are delicious as is, but if you want to add a little extra, give them a lacquer of sweet glaze.
You can drizzle or spoon the glaze over your scones, but I like to full on DREDGE THEM.
Glazing cranberry lemon scones
- When the scones are cool enough to handle pick them up and dunk them head first into the glaze, making sure to cover the whole top.
- Transfer the scones to a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with decorating sugar while the glaze is still tacky.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
More homemade scones:
- 2 Bite Cherry Vanilla Mini Scones
- Orange Currant Breakfast Scones
- Cafe Style Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones
- Peach Praline Scones
More lemon recipes:
- Easy Lemon Garlic Green Beans
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Confectioners Glaze
- Sparkling Passion Fruit Lemonade
- Lemon Berry Sweet Buns
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Easy Homemade Cranberry Lemon Scones
- 2 1/2" biscuit cutter
FOR CRANBERRY LEMON SCONES
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese cold
- 1/2 cup butter cold, cut into cubes
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 meyer lemons zested (can use regular lemons)
- 1 cup fresh cranberries roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup milk or half and half for brushing the tops
- sparkling sugar optional
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- sparkling sugar optional
- Preheat oven to 425° degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large bowl and whisk together.
- Add the cold chunks of butter and cream cheese to the flour mixture and use a pastry cutter to cut them into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse cornmeal with pebbles.
- Add the lemon zest and chopped cranberries. Toss until evenly combined with the dry ingredients.
- In another bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla and milk and add it to the flour mixture. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until it starts to form a dough.
- Transfer the scone dough to a lightly floured work space. Gently, pat the dough into a 3/4" thick rectangle.
- Use the biscuit cutter to cut the scones by resting the cutter on top of the dough and pressing straight down. DO NOT TWIST THE CUTTER (it will prevent the scones from rising).
- Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. Gather up the scraps of dough and pat them into another rectangle that's 3/4" thick. Continue to cut scones until all the dough is used.
- Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the scones with milk. If you're not glazing the scones, sprinkle them with sparkling sugar.
- Place the scones in the center of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. TURN THE OVEN OFF and continue to bake for 8-10 more or until the scones are lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
MAKE THE GLAZE:
- While the scones are baking, make the glaze by adding the powdered sugar, lemon juice, melted butter and milk to a bowl and mixing until smooth. Set aside.
GLAZE THE SCONES
- Pick up a scone and dip the top of the biscuit into the glaze to coat. Transfer to a cooling rack. Continue in this method with each of the scones. Sprinkle them with sparkling sugar while the glaze is still tacky. Can be served warm or let the glaze dry completely and store in an airtight container or freeze until you need them.
TO REWARM SCONES:
- These scones are great the next day. To rewarm them, preheat the oven to 300°. Place the scones on a baking sheet and heat for 6-8 minutes or until warmed through. Note: if you've frozen the scones, defrost them completely before reheating.
Keep in mind that dried cranberries will be nice and chewy in your scone and the fresh ones will pop when they cook and create a jammy little pocket in the dough. Either way is good!