These flaky, buttery cranberry orange scones with an orange glaze are the perfect combination of tart and sweet. With fresh cranberries easily accessible during the holiday season, Christmas is the best time to whip these scones up for breakfast or brunch.
It’s officially the holiday season (or socially accepted as such, because let’s be real, our house has been decorated since November 1st) and I can finally find fresh cranberries at the grocery store again!
Cranberries and oranges are such a dynamic duo during Christmas. They pair well together in simmer pots and strung together as garland, but even better–they taste delicious when baked together.
These buttery, flaky scones have the tanginess of cranberries, with the subtle flavor of orange throughout. Then they’re topped with a sweet orange glaze.
Looking for another cranberry baked good? This cranberry wild rice bread is so nourishing and not too sweet. It’s lovely toasted with butter or jam!
If you’re looking for more scone recipes, check out these lemon blueberry scones! And a couple other great Christmas recipes such as these hot cocoa cookies and turtle cheesecake with Biscoff cookie crust, or this cranberry orange cake.
Why You’ll Love These Scones
- They’re Not Too Sweet – Scones are inherently subtle when it comes to sweetness. Generally, just enough sugar is added, but not too much. The sweetness comes from the orange glaze that they’re topped with.
- The Perfect Brunch – Or breakfast, or snack, or bridal shower or tea party treat. 😉 The list goes on. They help fanci-fy any get-together without too much fuss.
- Lovely Texture – If you follow the steps laid out below, you will have the perfect scones. Flaky, buttery, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- All-Purpose Flour – The best flour for these scones
- Granulated Sugar – Adds a bit of sweetness to the scones. Scones are not overly sweet, so not much sugar is included in this recipe. The glaze adds more sweetness to them.
- Baking Powder – Helps puff up these scones.
- Orange Juice – I use the juice of one medium sized orange. You could also use actual orange juice from a bottle.
- Orange Zest – I use the zest from the same orange I use to get the juice from. It adds a depth of flavor not provided by the orange juice alone.
- Frozen Butter – Very cold or frozen salted butter is the way to go here. I use a cheese grater to grate the butter in. You can also cube it. Pop it in the freezer an hour before baking.
- Egg – Just one egg is needed in these scones. They help keep the whole thing together!
- Buttermilk – You can use store bought buttermilk or make your own substitute easily with milk and vinegar. See notes below on how to do this.
- Vanilla Extract – A must in most of my baked goods.
- Cranberries – You can halve them or keep them whole. You can also use fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries. If using frozen, keep them frozen until just before you add them to the dough. Don’t thaw them.
For the Orange Glaze:
- Powdered Sugar – This sugar is super sweet and also is what makes the orange glaze, well, a glaze! You don’t want to substitute any other kind of sugar for this.
- Vanilla Extract – Packs the flavor.
- Orange Juice – Squeeze it from an orange or a bottle of orange juice.
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1: Use a citrus zester or grater to zest the outside of a medium sized orange. Set aside to add to the dough in step 3.
Step 2: With a wooden spoon, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Step 3: Add the orange juice, orange zest, vanilla extract, egg, and buttermilk. Mix the ingredients until just combine. They may still be loose, but you’ll combine everything together with your hands once the butter and cranberries are added.
Step 4: Grate the frozen butter into the mixing bowl. You can also cut the butter into small cubes and add to the dough.
Step 5: Use your hands to mix the butter into the dough.
Step 6: Add the cranberries. Flatten the dough, then fold it in half like a piece of paper. This adds layers to the scones and also better incorporates the cranberries.
Step 7: On a floured surface, flatten the dough into a disc about 12″ in diameter.
Step 8: Wrap the dough with plastic wrap or put it into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and let it chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 9: Once chilled, move the dough back on to the floured surface. Cut it into 8 slices and with your hands or a pastry brush, brush heavy cream on the tops of the scones.
Step 10: Place scones 1 inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 23-27 minutes or until the scones are golden brown on top. Allow them to cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.
Step 11: Make the glaze while the scones are cooling. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and orange juice in a medium sized bowl.
Step 12: Whisk until completely combined. Drizzle the glaze over the scones. Enjoy!
- Mixing Bowl
- Wooden Spoon
- Grater or Citrus Zester
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Sheet
- Wire Rack
- Plastic Wrap
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
Room Temperature: Store the scones in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Freeze the Baked Scones: You can freeze the baked scones in the freezer for up to 4 weeks. Seal them in an airtight container. Allow them to thaw at room temperature before consuming.
Freeze the Dough: You can also make the scone dough ahead of time and freeze it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then put it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to bake them, simply remove the dough from the freezer and bake them as instructed. Bake time may require an extra few minutes.
Top Tips for the Best Scones
- Make sure the butter you grate into the dough is frozen (or at least very cold). I like to throw the stick of butter in the freezer about an hour or two before baking scones. That way, I know it will be perfect by the time I need to add it to the dough.
- Don’t overmix the dough. Combine all ingredients with your hands until they are just combined. It will look lumpy and that’s just fine!
- You don’t need to purchase buttermilk from the store for these scones. You just need milk and vinegar. Grab a measuring cup and add one teaspoon of white vinegar. Then fill the cup up with milk until you reach 1/2 cup total of liquid. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it starts to curdle. And voila! You’ve got yourself buttermilk substitute.
- Chill the dough before baking. This is not optional. It’s the difference between perfectly baked flakey scones and soggy, spread out ones. Ask me how I know.
About an inch thick. They’ll puff up more as they bake.
I do recommend heavy cream but you could also use regular milk or buttermilk.
Yes! I know it may be annoying, but I promise your scones will turn out so good if you chill the dough beforehand. It’s not too difficult. You could even preheat the oven and make the glaze during to pass the time.
It should be crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft, flaky, and buttery on the inside.
You don’t have to, but making a substitute is incredibly easy to do. Read the notes above on the specifics on that. All you need is milk and vinegar! Buuuut, if you really don’t want to, you can use whole milk or heavy cream in its place.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Cranberry Orange Scones
- Wooden Spoon
- Grater or Citrus Zester
- Plastic Wrap
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium orange you'll use the zest and juice from it
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or buttermilk substitute (see note)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick) frozen
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk to brush the scones with
For the orange glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons orange juice or the juice from 1 medium orange
- Preheat the oven to 400℉. Use a grater or citrus zester to zest the medium orange and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon.
- Add the egg, orange juice, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. Mix until combined. Grate the butter into the mixing bowl. Finally, add the cranberries.
- Use your hands to work the ingredients together: flattening the dough, then folding it onto itself similar to folding a piece of paper in half. This adds buttery layers to the scones.
- Once the butter and cranberries are evenly distributed in the dough, roll it into a ball. Lightly flour a surface and flatten the scone into a disk about 12" in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to a gallon-size Ziploc bag and put it in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes.
- Once chilled, return the dough to the lightly floured surface and cut it into 8 slices. Use your hand or a pastry brush to brush the top of the scones with heavy cream or milk. Move them onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, separating them 1 inch apart. Bake them for about 25 minutes. They'll be ready when the tops of the scones are golden brown. Allow the scones to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack.
Make the Orange Glaze:
- While the scones are cooling, make the glaze. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and orange juice into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients until smooth. Use a spoon or a whisk to drizzle the glaze over the scones.