Thursday, December 22

Recipe: Christmas Cranberry Scones with Dried Cranberries and a Touch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg

These easy to make scones are perfect for the holidays but tasty any time of year.

Despite the sad profusion of truly mediocre scones out there, you have no reason to be scared of them. With a light touch and the right recipe, anyone can produce a pile of perfect scones in about 40 minutes. Really. Update: Click here to read rave reviews of this scrumptious recipe from several first time scone bakers!

I once spent an afternoon demonstrating how to make these scones during a holiday open house at a kitchenware store. Talk about a fun job. People who didn't even know what a scone was would wander over, take a tentative nibble of a warm sample, let out a little moan of delight, devour the rest of their scone while watching in fascinated disbelief as I mixed up another batch in minutes, then snatch up a copy of the recipe and scurry home to make scones of their own.

This happened over and over. It was wonderful.

Beautifully golden brown and dotted with jewel-like cranberries, these cute little scones are sure to brighten any holiday table. They're buttery and crumbly and rich, moist on the inside, with a satisfying light crunch on the outside. They are, in a word, scrumptious. They are also very easy to make.

You can whip up a batch of warm scones for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea in no time, much to the delight of your starving friends and loved ones. Or you can make them when you have a few spare minutes and freeze them for later. Defrost them at room temperature and heat at 375° for about 5 to 8 minutes (I put them in my little
toaster/convection oven).

I plan to pull a few of these out of the freezer and treat myself to warm scones and a large cup of cafĂ© au lait on Christmas morning—that is if I have any left by then.

With such a simple recipe, top quality ingredients are particularly important. Fresh baking powder is essential. I always have good results with Rumford brand, which is aluminum free. Organic butter, milk, flour, and sugar are easy to find these days and really do make a difference.

The optional egg glaze gives the scones a beautiful shine and dark golden color. Look for locally produced eggs at your farmers' market or natural foods store, or search on
Local Harvest for a farmer near you. You won't believe the difference compared to commercial eggs. The yolks are sometimes so dark they're a gorgeous deep orange like these, and the eggs actually taste like eggs!

If you've never grated your own fresh nutmeg, now is your chance. It took me years to get around to trying this, and I will never use pre-ground again. It tastes amazing, plus you get to use a cute little nutmeg grater. The scent alone as you're grating is worth the tiny bit of extra effort, and whole nutmeg will stay fresh for years.

I highly recommend investing in a couple of heavy duty rimmed commercial baking sheets. At about $15 each, they're one of the best kitchen deals around. I've been using some of mine for over 20 years for everything from baking rolls to roasting brussels sprouts, not to mention perfectly baking thousands of cookies. I line them with sheets of unbleached parchment paper, which is wonderful stuff, and I reuse each piece several times before discarding it.

To round out your easy scone repertoire, I suggest my popular Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones with Feta, which are made with cream cheese instead of butter. Add them to your holiday bread basket, serve them for breakfast or high tea, or split and toast them to make satisfying little leftover turkey or ham sandwiches. Enjoy!

Farmgirl Susan's Christmas Cranberry Scones
Makes 12 small scones

**Click here to print this recipe**

2¼ to 2½ cups organic all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
(make sure it's fresh!)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
 (or 1 teaspoon pre-ground)

1/2 cup (4 ounces/1 stick) organic butter, chilled & cut into small pieces
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1 egg
2 Tablespoons yogurt + milk to make 3/4 cup
(or 3/4 cup buttermilk)

Optional Egg Glaze:
Beat well with a fork:
1 egg & 2 Tablespoons milk
Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Heat the oven to 400°F. Combine 2¼ cups of the flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Using a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers, cut butter into the flour mixture until it forms coarse crumbles. Add cranberries and pecans (if using) and toss gently until combined.

Use a fork to beat the yogurt/milk mixture with the egg, then gently fold into the dry ingredients, mixing lightly just until blended. Add up to 1/4 cup additional flour if dough is too sticky.

On a floured surface, divide the dough in half and gently pat each half into a circle 5 or 6 inches in diameter. With a sharp knife (I use a large serrated knife dipped in flour), cut each circle into 6 wedges and place on a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper.

Brush the tops and sides of the scones with egg glaze if desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and store in an airtight container or freeze.

Can't survive on scones alone? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the proud to be a sconehead foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. yay! these are on the agenda tomorrow!

    i have twice now made your chocolate biscotti- even with two wee ones running around my feet and distracting me every crucial moment, the biscotti was delicious. (and every bit as easy to make as you promised.) i am very impressed.

    i am sure the scones will be as bit a hit. thank you!

    tabitha in missouri

  2. oh my goodness. i wish i had that recipe home yesterday. i was on a baking binge! i've never made homemade scones before, but seeing that it's my favorite breakfast food i think i should learn how! mmmmm!!!

  3. ooh a new recipe to try. I am going to make the biscotti on Saturday. Scones will be next. Off to make cookies for the neighbors.

  4. You're gonna think this is so lame... Until your post today, I never figured out how scones got that triangular shape! Heh. I thought they were hand-formed.
    You can see I'm not much of a baker.

  5. OMG I just love scones :-). Thanks for sharing. BTW I love your blog :-)Happy Holidays !!

  6. I am totally pro-scone.

    I have a source of relatively local, grassfed, and organic buttermilk that kicks complete baking butt, so I'm always making waffles and scones.

    This recipe looks better than Julia/Marion Cunningham's.


  7. Those are beautiful! And from the sounds of it, maybe even I could make them! Though I have trouble with scrambled eggs....

  8. I dont know if anyone else said anything.. but the pictures are looking great on this end, and so do those scones -- however, I will admit I am not a fan of crasins(?), so I will have to find recipes and adapt them to fit yours minus those particular morsels.

    BTW - Loved the picture of your girl llama!! She's so pretty!

    Have a great weekend! As I am writing this I glance to the clock and think TGIF!

  9. Okay, that'll be biscotti for today and scones and christmas stollen ofcourse and oliebollen!...
    (nothing to do with christmas but all with the mock NewYears Eve we are staging saturday because the friends we want to celebrate NYEve with are out of the country the 31st)
    And, I am not easily scared by a baking project but yes, scones scare me!

  10. report: excellent scones.

    i made your recipe first, my first attempt at scones. wonderful to look at, better yet to eat. easy to make. easier than the biscotti, which was really easy.

    then i thought i would make a second batch. i left the nutmeg out, used heavy cream in place of milk, added some pure vanilla and used dried, sweetened blueberries instead of cranberries. delish!

    thank you for giving me the courage to brave The Scone.

  11. Hi Tabitha,
    So glad you are having such delicious success with my recipes. Thanks for taking the time to let me know. And not only did you brave The Scone, but you also managed to come up with your own version that sounds absolutely wonderful. Three cheers for you!

    Hi Mona,
    Another scone lover (or Sconehead as I sometimes call myself)! Yes, you definitely need to learn to make them. So easy! See Tabitha's comment if you don't believe me. : )

    Hi Leigh,
    Glad to hear you are taking a short painting break to do some baking. Need to keep up your strength and there's no better way than with frequent cookie snacks. : )

    Hi Cookiecrumb,
    No way! I don't think that's lame at all (okay, well maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but only because I know you and can say that). But really, how cool is it that you came over here and not only learned something totally new, but solved a mystery as well. I think you should bake some scones to celebrate!

    Hi Kaliblue,
    Welcome to the farm! Thanks for your kind words and Happy Holidays to you! : )

    Hi Lisa,
    LOL, 'pro-scone." I love it. (Is there an Anti-Scone movement that you know of?)

    Oh my, I am so envious of your buttermilk connection. SO envious. : )

    Hi Alisha,
    Thanks so much for donating--and good luck! Of course you'll always still have Little Alisha. : )

    Hi Amy,
    I do love this new camera, but it was giving me fits yesterday. Of course I'm doing everything on "auto" still, so I can't really complain. I have realized I need more lighting in the kitchen. (And that I much prefer taking pictures outside!)

    Hi Jeff,
    Scrambled eggs can be very tough to master. Scones, on the other hand--a piece of cake.

    Hi Heather,
    Oh you could substitute any kind of dried fruit for the craisins (see Tabitha's comment regarding her blueberry version). You could also add chocolate chips and nuts or just make them plain with maybe some orange zest and vanilla.

    I haven't tried it before, but you might be able to make a tasty dairy-free version with say, half soy milk and half fruit juice--maybe a thick one like apricot nectar? Hmmmm. All sorts of possibilities are coming to mind now. : )

    Hi Baking Soda,
    I've seen what you can do in the kitchen. There is no need for you to be scared of scones! Go ahead, make my day and bake some. : )

    P.S. The fruit for my original stollen recipe I am concocting is soaking away in rum as I type this. Yum.....

    By the way, is everyone making their stollen for Clare's stollen meme?

    I love scones I was first introduced to this when I was new to European food & culture I was barely 15.
    My english friend invited me for tea.

    anyhow there are no cranberries here in Greece

    I did find frozen ones at the french supermarket chains and they called it manitaria.. mushrooms

    err lost in translation.

    well recipe filed!

  13. The scones look great, I am definitely taking your recipe. My first and last scone experience was a disaster, but I feel more confident now.

  14. MMMM! I just found your blog this week, saw these, had to make them, and am LOOOOVING them! They're also going over great with some of the coworkers from various depts here at the Kent State University Library.

    I lightly misted some with water and sprinkled with coarse sugar just after they came out - makes a nice touch! And I think next time I might have to try adding a little orange zest. That's no complaint about your recipe - I just love cranberry and orange together!

    Next: The chocolate biscotti! Probably this weekend?

    Thanks for such a highly entertaining (and educational!) web site. (Not to mention the fact it's a great distraction from work!) ;-) I can't wait to get my garden going this year so I can eat more fresh produce (all of your great food photography has me yearning for my homegrown goodies). And you really want to make me give up my life as a web developer and become a farmer.

    Thanks again!
    Jeph in Ohio

  15. Hi Sha,
    Greeks don't eat scones? How sad! I couldn't live without them. I'm sure one of these days (in some country you're out gallavanting around), you'll find all of the ingredients, a handy oven, and make yourself a lovely batch of these scones. : )

    Hi UnGourmetGal,
    Don't let one bad experience keep you away from scones! : )

    Hi TopMom100,
    Couldn't have said it better myself. : )

    Hi Jeph,
    Welcome to the farm! Thanks for all your kind words and for taking the time to write. I'm so glad you and your coworkers enjoyed these scones. Sprinkling them with coarse sugar does sound like a nice touch. And orange and cranberry were definitely made for each other. (Maybe skip the nutmeg?)

    Definitely make the biscotti. It is really easy. You wouldn't believe how many happy new biscotti bakers I have heard from after posting that recipe.

    I can't wait to get my garden back in full-swing either. In fact, I'm off to do some more mulching with manure right now. That stuff is the best! Take care and I look forward to hearing from you again. : )

  16. I notice you are adament about using fresh baking powder and until I read that tip from you I was unaware that it could expire. I promptly threw my old can out and bought some new just to be sure...since then I read a tip in the Farmer's Almanac calendar that says to test your baking powder before using, put 1 tsp into a cup of hot water and if it produces bubbles it is still good...if not buy new.

  17. Easy to make. Really perfect and so delicious, so so so delicious.
    I eat one and I have another one next to me while writing you!!!!!!!!!!! I return near the box before the rest of the family eats everything.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe Susan.

  18. These were so great and easy to make! My very first experience making scones, and I think it was easier than making cookies. Honestly, I had no idea that it was so simple!

    I just posted about my experience making them over at my blog, so feel free to check it out if you like.

  19. Hi ~
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful cranberry scone recipe. I made them this afternoon and they are excellent. I used fresh picked cranberries and walnuts. I have never seen a scone recipe with nutmeg and it made all the difference in the world.

    Thanks again,

  20. I found your site last week while Googling "scones that freeze well". My beautiful daughter is getting married on November 1 and the whole family gave her a shower this past Saturday. It was a tea, so I made your delicious cranberry scones and the wonderful cheese and scallion scones. I have never made them before and loved doing it and we loved eating them. In fact, I couldn't stop making scones. They were piled high at the tea on three level dessert stands. They were gorgeous and a huge hit!
    The next morning my two daughters, my husband and I recouped by having scones and coffee. It was so enjoyable on a wonderful Fall morning. Thank you farmgirl for sharing your recipes and creating such a great memory for us.
    Oh yes, I made the spicy ginger cookies too for the shower. They were sooooo good! I am going to make all your recipes, stopping only to make more scones. I saw pumpkin scones in a bakery today. See what you have started! Thank you from the bottom of my rock heart :) I collect them too! No wonder I've been visiting you everyday.

  21. Those were yummy! Lighter than a store bought scone, and not excessively sweet but tasty! Made 11 with the recipe and my eight kids scarfed them right down. Look forward to trying some of the other recipes.

  22. Susan,
    Cranberries were meant for scones. Excellent and soon to appear on our table. Thanks for this recipe.
    Steve (transplanted from your neck of the woods to the east)

  23. I've never tried making scones...because when they cool down I don't like them anymore...but I'm going to try this recipe...I adore nutmeg, fresh:) Can't wait!


  24. If these scones have freshly grated nutmeg then I am there!! I can't resist putting fresh nutmeg in nearly everything I make...sweet and savoury... especially on homemade creamy oatmealit is an unsung little spice. Thanks for the post!!

  25. I located your blog on my Google search for recipes for dried cranberries. Hubby bought massive bag of Craisins at Costco, what's a girl to do with a mega bag-0o-craisins? Thought to put them to all good use before they go bad.
    I just made your cranberry scones, SO DELISH! I did not have the yogurt or buttermilk, but substituted with milk and a sour cream mixture. They turned out wonderful. I made mini scones and baked at 400F for 16 minutes.

    Perfect, thanks so much for sharing.

    Artsy girl baker in Northern California!

  26. I made your Cranberry Scones yesterday and they were wonderful. The recipe was very easy. I had to make one change because I didn't have any nutmeg on hand. I used cinnamon instead. I will definitely be making these again. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I found your blog a couple of months ago and I really enjoy your pictures.

  27. Your scones are MARVELOUS! And easy too! Thanks so much for the recipe - now to try the biscotti!

  28. I made these today for my mom's birthday brunch and they were awesome! My family thinks I'm a baking goddess, thanks to you. I always thought scones would be hard to make since most of the ones you get at coffee shops are mediocre, but they were really easy. I made the feta + green onions ones last week and they were equally delicious. More scone recipes would be very much appreciated--I'm too novice to experiment on my own. Thanks!

  29. Great recipe! I used to use parchment paper for baking, but now I have my Silpat which I LOVE! It lasts much longer than parchment paper and ends up being cheaper in the long run. Thank you for such a great site!

  30. I am trying your recipe today because I am definitely a scone-head! Just did a maple oat scone last week and hubby is begging for more. I love cranberries, so I always buy a big bag at Sams club around Thanksgiving and freeze them so I have plenty to bake with later on!

  31. I made these scones tonight as my "grab and go" breakfast for the week. Got the coffee maker set for my way too early wake up call. Knowing I'll have something so delicious to nibble on may make the mornings a little better this week. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

  32. Please include a print CSS so one can print receipts without "extra fluff".

    Thanks ;)

  33. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for the input. Believe it or not, a 'print this page' feature (that prints only the recipe and not the photos, sidebars, etc.) is something that has been on my Blog To Do list for years (along with about 200 other things, LOL), and hopefully I'll get to it soon. Maybe right after I finally finish the entire new template I've been working on since March. : )

    Although this option is easier now to implement than it was back in 2005, it's still not something that will only take - at least for me - just a few minutes. Honestly, I don't even know what CSS stands for, let alone how to use it. ;)

    In the meantime, the easiest way to print out just a recipe from this site is to simply highlight what you want, copy it, paste it on a blank page to somewhere like Wordpad (this is what I do), and then print that out.

    It's a couple of extra clicks, but it allows you to print out just the part you need. I hope this helps. Thanks for your patience!

  34. This is my go-to scone recipe! I made some last nite and blogged about it. Yum!

  35. Great recipe! I made these today as an afterschool snack for my two boys and they were a big hit :) I love the combo of the nutmeg and dried cranberries, very yummy!

  36. You've saved me from a ton of different bad recipes, which seems to be a talent of yours.

  37. Could you put the unbaked scones in the refrigerator overnight? Or would that dry them out too much? I'm trying to plan for Christmas morning breakfast.

  38. Cam,
    So glad I could help! :)

    That's a good question! I'm really not sure how the scones would come out if you let them sit unbaked in the refrigerator overnight. I know some people like to freeze them unbaked - you put the whole baking sheet in the freezer, then when the scones are frozen, you can pack them into a freezer bag. To bake, you simply go straight from freezer to oven and add a few minutes to the baking time. I've never tried this, but I know it's a common practice and supposedly works great.

    With breads and other baked goods, I tend to fully bake the item, and then freeze it for later. These scones freeze beautifully when baked, so another option would be to bake them off, toss them in the freezer, then reheat on Christmas morning. Either go straight from the freezer to the oven, or defrost them overnight on the counter and then reheat. :)

  39. Can I use fresh Cranberry's?????

  40. Hi Pamela,
    Since dried cranberries (sometimes called craisins)
    are actually sweetened, and fresh cranberries are very tart, I'm not sure how these scones would taste made with fresh cranberries.

    If you like that tartness, you might try using fresh cranberries (maybe coarsely chopped?) and adding a little more sugar to the batter. If you do try it, I hope you'll let us know how they turn out!

  41. I was looking for a scone recipe, and googled "cranberry scones" and your page came up.

    Wow, I just made these and they are fantastic! I was in a dessert-y mood and decided to thrown in white chocolate chips instead of pecans. This is my first time making scones and your recipe was really easy and accessible, not to mention delicious! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to making a savoury scone next!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!