Homemade cranberry vanilla bean scones are bursting with cranberry and vanilla flavors, a hint of orange, and are perfectly tender on the inside with a delightfully crunchy exterior – drizzle with your choice of icing for added sweetness. No mixer required! Serve alongside a Copycat Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha or Cranberry Mimosa at brunch.
Let’s talk breakfast pastries. More specifically, let’s talk about scones.
If you’re one of those people that sees a scone and yawns, you haven’t yet experienced the joy of eating a really good scone. I have had a lot of bad scones over the years – dry scones that fell apart if you looked at them wrong, tough scones that you had to really work to chew, scones that practically lacked any flavor at all.
If any of those sound familiar to you, I can understand why you would feel underwhelmed at the idea of grabbing a scone.
Here’s the good news:
Good scones exist. Not even just good scones – really, really, delicious scones. Tender, flaky, and bursting with flavor. The right balance of sweetness to complement your morning coffee or tea. A scone you look forward to, and that makes you feel sad when it’s gone.
Even better news:
You don’t need to drive to some pricey coffee shop or bakery to get them because you can make them at home, and I swear that once you make these cranberry scones you’ll be a scone convert.
I don’t even have a collection of scone recipes yet because these have become my go-to Christmas scones (or holiday scone recipe, if you will)… along with the rest of the year, too.
Okay, sounds great – but what’s a scone?
British-style scones are more similar to a round American biscuit, and are usually topped with jams and clotted creams. I’m talking about American scones for this recipe – they’re in wedge shapes, sweeter than their British counterpart, and we’re topping them with icing rather than jams.
They’re relatively quick to whip up because they’re leavened with baking powder, so there’s no waiting around for yeast to rise like cinnamon rolls.
Scones are also heavy on butter, but you don’t need to fuss with getting it to room temperature, or melting it without letting it explode. You’re going to put the butter in the freezer and then grate it to get small, fine ribbons of frozen butter that will be one of the key components to ensuring you have that tender, flavorful scone we all desire.
Tip #1 for making the perfect scone
If I were to give you one single piece of advice about making the perfect homemade cranberry vanilla bean scones, it would be to make sure all of your ingredients are as cold as you can get them.
Frozen butter, cold cream, cold egg, frozen cranberries. Cold, cold, cold! This will prevent the scones from spreading too much as they bake, which means they’ll keep their height and not get flat and dry.
And honestly, yellow ribbons of frozen, grated butter is one of the prettiest things. Seriously, just look at it:
Tip #2 for making the perfect scone
My second piece of advice is the most important specifically for these cranberry vanilla bean scones: you need to use high quality cranberries.
My go-to brand is Decas Farms, a family owned business who owns over 400 acres of cranberry bogs in southeastern Massachusetts. They’ve been in operation since 1934 and are the second largest producer of dried cranberries in the industry, so it’s easy to trust that they know what they’re doing.
Plus, their products are made with minimal, easily recognizable, non-GMO ingredients using sustainable agricultural practices.
Their products are sold throughout the United States, so there’s a good chance you can find them at a store near you. But if you can’t, just come over to my house because I’m always swimming in them. We can make a batch of scones (or sixty) together.
For this recipe, we’re going to use a mix of Decas Farms Fresh Organic Cranberries and Cranberry-Orange Baker’s Cut Baking Cranberries.
We’re freezing the fresh cranberries before adding them to the dough, which will provide juicy little pockets of cranberry flavor that you can only get from fresh whole cranberries.
The baking cranberries are dried with fresh orange peel oil, and they add the most wonderful hint of orange flavor to the final product.
These dried cranberries have been specially crafted to withstand the rigors of heat and baking, so the flavor and texture in the end result is perfect! This could be a purely dried cranberry scones recipe, but I’d just miss the flavor blasts from the fresh cranberries too much.
How to make the perfect homemade scones
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Grate your frozen butter against a box grater on the large holes. I typically keep the paper wrapped along the bottom where I’m holding onto the stick with my hand until I get to the very end.
- Add grated butter to the bowl of dry ingredients.
- Combine with a pastry cutter (aff link) until the mixture forms small crumbs, and then place the bowl in the fridge to keep everything cold – remember, that’s the key!
- In a separate large bowl, whisk to combine egg, 1/2 cup of the heavy cream (the rest is for brushing on top of the scones just before baking), and vanilla bean paste.
- Remove your bowl from the fridge and pour in the cream mixture.
- Add the fresh and dried cranberries, and stir until everything is just combined.
- You’ll have mostly large crumbs, and as long as they stick together if you press the dough between your fingers, you’re all set. You don’t want to overwork the dough, because then you’ll end up with those terrible tough scones we talked about earlier.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a ball. Form the dough into a 7-8″ disc.
- Cut the disc into 8 equal sized wedges. If you prefer smaller scones, form two 4-5″ discs and cut each into 8 equal sized wedges.
- Place scones on a baking sheet prepared with a nonstick silicon mat or parchment paper and place in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes. You don’t need to worry about placing them a certain distance apart, this is just to chill them again and you won’t be baking them on this sheet.
- At this point, preheat your oven to 400°F and line a separate baking sheet with a nonstick silicon mat or parchment paper. Transfer chilled scones to this baking sheet, placing them 2″ apart.
- Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon heavy cream across the tops of each scone.
- Add a sprinkling of coarse sugar on top as well – this is optional, but highly encouraged for an extra crunch!
Bake large-sized scones for 20-25 minutes, or 15-20 minutes for smaller scones – you want them to be golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top.
Top with a drizzle of simple, sweet icing
You can just let the scones cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet itself while you prepare your icing.
- In a small bowl, combine all your icing ingredients (I’ve included my two favorites in the recipe card below) and whisk until completely combined and smooth. If the mixture is too thick to drizzle, add a little more milk or cream and whisk again to combine until you’ve reached desired consistency.
- Use your whisk to drizzle icing on top of each scone and let them set (if you can practice enough self restraint to do so).
My husband came downstairs inquiring about the availability of these scones for consumption, and I had to tell him it would be a few minutes while I finished up taking these pictures.
He milled around making himself a latte while I wrapped up, and it was almost like watching one of those cartoon characters where you can see the wafting scents of what they’re smelling.
When I gave the all clear, he grabbed one and retreated back upstairs with his coffee to go back to work. I didn’t even think he had been upstairs long enough to sit down at his desk before he came back down to the kitchen exclaiming, “THESE ARE AMAZING” while he grabbed another one.
I had been worried about the two of us getting through all the scones before they went bad, but… that ended up not being a concern.
Besides creating the best scone I have ever made or eaten (bold statement, but totally true), the other best part was seeing the joy that Padfoot experienced from the box that all the cranberries came in.
Doesn’t he look like the captain of a boat, gazing over the horizon as he drifts off to sea? There is no love like the love cats have for boxes, I swear.
Now get your butt to the store and grab the ingredients you need to make these scones, and prepare yourself for all the bragging you’re going to do.
While it would be nice of you to share your good work with others, I’ll completely understand if you keep them all for yourself.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Large pinch salt
- Pinch ground ginger
- ½ cup unsalted butter, frozen and grated
- 1 egg
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon cold heavy cream, buttermilk or coconut milk, divided
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup Decas Farms Fresh Cranberries, frozen
- 1 /2 cup Decas Farms Cranberry-Orange Baker’s Cut Baking Cranberries
- Coarse sugar, optional
Icing option 1: Vanilla icing
Icing option 2: Orange icing
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons orange juice, no pulp
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and ginger.2 cups all purpose flour1/2 cup granulated sugar2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonLarge pinch saltPinch ground ginger
- Add grated butter and combine with a pastry cutter until the mixture forms small crumbs. Place bowl in the fridge.1/2 cup unsalted butter
- In a separate large bowl, whisk to combine egg, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and vanilla.1 egg1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon cold heavy cream1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste
- Remove the bowl from the fridge, pour in the cream mixture, add both frozen and dried cranberries, and stir until everything is just combined.1 cup Decas Farms Fresh Cranberries1 /2 cup Decas Farms Cranberry-Orange Baker’s Cut Baking Cranberries
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a ball – it will be sticky, but if you find it to be too sticky to work with, add a little more flour.
- Form the dough into a 7-8″ disc and then cut into 8 equal sized wedges. If you prefer smaller scones, form two 4-5″ discs and cut each into 8 equal sized wedges.
- Place scones on a baking sheet prepared with a nonstick silicon mat or parchment paper and place in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a separate baking sheet with a nonstick silicon mat or parchment paper. Transfer chilled scones to this baking sheet, placing them 2″ apart. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon cream across the tops of each scone, and add a sprinkling of coarse sugar (if desired).1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon cold heavy creamCoarse sugar
- Bake for 20-25 minutes for large scones (15-20 for small scones) or until scones are golden brown around the edges.
- Let cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, or move to wire rack.
- In a small bowl, combine all icing ingredients and whisk until completely combined and smooth. If the mixture is too thick to drizzle, add a little more milk or cream and whisk again to combine until you’ve reached desired consistency.2 to 3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract1 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
- Use your whisk to drizzle icing on top of each scone and let it set. Serve and enjoy!
The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.
Thanks to Decas Farms for sponsoring this recipe!
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