Scone Vs Biscuit – What’s The Difference?

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If you ask someone in the UK what the difference between a scone and a biscuit is, they’ll likely describe scones as something that looks like an American biscuit and define a biscuit as being like an American cookie.

In the US, scones and biscuits are both types of quick bread, meaning they require a leavener like baking soda or powder to make the dough rise quickly during cooking. There is no yeast involved. That is where their similarities end.

So what’s the difference between a biscuit and a scone? The main differences between biscuits and scones lie within their textures and flavors: biscuits tend to be buttery and flaky, leaning more toward savory on their own, whereas scones are more crumbly and usually made to be sweet. 

There are many more differences, however. In this article, we’ll discuss everything, including ingredients, texture, baked-in and post-baked additions and toppings, and even the shape.

What Is a Scone?

Delicious scones

The classic scone is where this question all begins. Scones originated in Scotland somewhere around the 1500s, well before America, as we know it, was born.

Original recipes were actually made from oats, rolled into a huge loaf that was then cut into triangles and cooked over a hot fire.

As the years passed and they made their way south into England, people gradually began to make them with flour and bake them in the oven. Dried fruits, like raisins and currants, were added as well.

They were served almost exclusively with clotted cream and preserves (jam). To this day, there is a strangely aggressive debate over whether to put the clotted cream on first, and then the jelly, or vice versa.

As more years passed, British and Scottish settlers brought their recipes to the New World, where it was altered enough to be claimed as rightfully American.

American Scone

European scones were converted more closely to American biscuits in the South, which we’ll get to in a minute.

But Northern Americans were less concerned with what to have underneath their gravy and more interested in their coffee and teatime snack.

In this way, scones in America are still, in some ways, similar to scones in the UK. They’re sweet, crumbly, and the perfect accompaniment for a coffee break. Even savory scones have a hint of sweetness.

An ideal American scone is heavy, soft, and moist, without being too dense. The outside has a bit of crunch and crumbles easily.

Even though biscuits are more well-known for being buttery, scones use much more butter in the making. However, it’s offset with even more sugar, which is why scones are better recognized for their sweetness

They’re often also glazed with a sweet icing, just for good measure.

Simple Scone Recipe

This is the basic foundation for a great scone and you can add your own favorite flavorings, be they sweet or savory. Just be sure to adjust for sugar and liquid as necessary.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk 
  • 1 large egg

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together first.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter until small pea-sized lumps form.
  4. Whisk your egg and milk together in a separate bowl and slowly add to your flour/butter mixture.
  5. Only add as much as needed to barely moisten all your ingredients and allow the dough to stick together.
  6. Knead your dough into a large round ball and then flatten it into a pie shape that’s about 8 inches. Using a bench knife, slice it into triangles or wedges.
  7. Place your scones on a lined baking sheet and bake them about 20 minutes, pulling them out of the oven just as they start to brown.

If you find you’ve made too many scones to eat before they start to dry out or go bad, you can always freeze them to extend their shelf life for up to 3 months.

How Scones Are Eaten in America

Scones are typically standalone, not necessarily eaten with other food. They’re dense enough to satisfy as a mini-meal alternative.

One of the most notable differences between scones and biscuits is that scones are often flavored with fruits or savory ingredients like herbs or cheese, whereas biscuits are much more plain.

This allows scones to be a dish on their own.

They’re easy to pack up and take for your commute without needing to worry about anything else besides your beverage of choice.

What Is a Biscuit?

Flaky biscuits

In terms of appearance, biscuits in America look a lot more like a traditional British scone.

In America, however, you’re much more likely to find them slathered in gravy than clotted cream.

The South is well known for its love of rich, savory meals. If you’re learning how to cook in one of the southern states, you’ll probably often be advised to “add more butter or lard” and maybe, “swap in some buttermilk or heavy cream.” 

This is what happened when scones from the UK met the American South, and a new recipe was born: the biscuit.

Having more fat in the mix adds volume, lightness, and flakiness. A good biscuit won’t crumble, but it will melt in your mouth and flake into perfect layers.

Rolled Biscuits

Biscuits are delicate and you have to handle them with care if you want them to rise properly. When you’re rolling your dough, knead it gently and work quickly. 

The more you handle the dough, the warmer it’s going to get, which will start the ingredients reacting together before they should – in the oven. You want your dough as cold as possible until it hits your preheated oven.

You also want to make sure you don’t activate the gluten, which happens when you over-work your flour. The more you rough up your dough, the tougher it’s going to be. 

When you roll out your dough, you’ll be using a round cutter to get the shape of your biscuit.

If you bake cookies often, you may be used to pushing in the cutter then wiggling it around to loosen the dough around it. Don’t do this to your biscuits.

Cut into the dough. Pull your cutter out of the dough. Anything else will stop them from rising correctly and a perfect biscuit needs to rise. Otherwise, you’re edging back toward scone territory.

Southern Biscuit Recipe

The secret to getting a light, airy, flaky biscuit is cutting in the butter cold, rather than massaging it into the dough as you might do with a British scone recipe. Some cooks will even use frozen butter and grate it into their dry ingredients.

Leaving larger chunks of butter helps create steam inside the biscuit as it’s baking, allowing it to rise and layer perfectly.

For best results, all your ingredients should be cold and all your tools should be chilled before you use them.

Below is a basic Southern recipe for buttery, flaky, and fluffy biscuits.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¾ of a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of butter-flavored shortening or lard
  • 1 cup of Buttermilk 

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Combine your dry ingredients.
  2. Cut in your butter and lard until the mixture is large, fatty crumbs. Pour in your cold buttermilk and mix gently until it’s just combined. 
  3. On a well-floured surface, gently knead the dough until it’s not overly sticky.
  4. Roll it out, fold it, roll it out again and fold it once more.
  5. Finally, form it into a 1 inch thick round disc. This process of folding. It’s what gives biscuits their layers.
  6. Using a 2-inch cutter, form your individual biscuits. 
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 F and place your biscuits on a lined baking sheet. Let them cool in the fridge while your oven heats up.
  8. Bake them for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know they’re cooked when they’ve grown in height and are golden brown in color.

Of course, this is only one recipe out of the many variations out there. If you’d like examples of different recipes, check out our articles for making biscuits without milk, without baking powder, and even without butter.

How Are Biscuits Eaten in America?

Biscuits are most commonly eaten warm, alongside a meal. They’ll usually be drenched in either butter or gravy, though as they’re being removed from the oven, a few will likely be inhaled without wasting any time for adding extras. 

Biscuits also make great alternatives to English Muffins for breakfast sandwiches and many fast-food restaurants in the southern states have actually amended their menus to reflect this option.

They’re usually eaten with breakfast and dinner and are not typically a stand-alone item. For breakfast, they’ll be served with jelly or with eggs, sausage, and sausage gravy.

For dinner, they’ll be on the table ready to help scoop up mac and cheese, casseroles, or the gravy from fried chicken.

Leftover biscuits are something of a mythical creature, but if you happen to find one, it’s said that they make great croutons.

Scone Vs Biscuit – 9 Major Differences in the U.S.

As you know, the differences between a scone and a biscuit vary by where you are! That’s especially obvious when you try to get a biscuit in England or the U.S.

So for the sake of this comparison, we’ll go with the differences between scones and biscuits by the American (U.S.) terminology. Sorry, Brits!

Biscuit Scone
Ingredients No eggs, more baking soda or powder, flour, butter, milk, salt, and maybe a tiny bit of sugarEggs, much more butter and sugar, flour, milk, salt, baking powder or soda
Texture Flaky Crumbly
Consistency Light and airy Heavy, slightly dense but not dry
Defining Flavor Buttery Sweet and creamy
Serving Temperature Warm Warm or room temperature
Common Baked-In Additions Sometimes cheese Fruit, spices, nuts, herbs, cheese, etc.
Common Toppings Anything savory or jam Butter, berries, jam, clotted cream
Served With A meal Coffee or tea
Origin AmericaThe UK
Shape Round and tall Short, cut into triangles, squares or rectangles

Differences Between Scones and Biscuits – Summary

Aside from the basic ingredients, there are many differences between scones and biscuits. 

A scone is a sweet and dense standalone quick bread that is perfect for a coffee break or small breakfast that will hold you over until a proper lunch.

It can be eaten at room temperature on the go or warmed up with a little extra fruity jam if you have the time and space. You can even make savory scones with herbs and cheese, but even these will have a slight sweetness to them.

They’re usually fairly large and triangular, about the size of your hand.

A biscuit is a light and airy, buttery, and flaky side dish that works well at any meal. You can butter it up or soak it in gravy and sauces. You can eat it with eggs, or as a sandwich for dinner.

They’re not very large, but they’re tall and uniquely satisfying when eaten with anything else.

Scones are more popular in northern America, whereas biscuits are a southern specialty. Wherever you are, there is a quickbread waiting for you.

Related Questions

Are Biscuits Healthy?

No, biscuits are not considered healthy.

However, there are worse things you could eat. When consumed in moderation, they’re not going to immediately cause health problems, unless you have a relevant allergy or food intolerance.

Most biscuits, and scones for that matter, are made from refined wheat flour, which is well-known to be part of the cause for a range of health concerns in the long-term. White sugar and other sweeteners are also cause for caution. 

On the flip side, however, they’re delicious. 

What Makes Biscuits Fluffy?

Fluffy biscuits require a combination of two factors: cold butter (or other fat) and a hot oven.

Whenever you’re making bread dough, you want to start with a cold fat and cut it into your flour with a tool specifically made for blending dough (this is our favorite pastry cutter). 

You should be creating little pea-sized crumbles before mixing in your small amount of liquid. Don’t overmix.

You want the butter to still be somewhat solid when it gets into your pre-heated oven. If it melts before it gets into the oven, it will prevent proper rising and result in dense, flat biscuits. 

The heat of your oven should be what melts your butter, allowing it to steam and create volume.

Why Are My Scones Hard?

There may be a few reasons your scones are hard, but the most likely culprits are one of the following:

  1. You Over-Mixed Your DoughInstead of using a food processor or blender, use a pastry cutter to form your dough.
  2. You Used Too Much Liquid – This may sound counter-intuitive, but too much buttermilk or other liquids can make tough scones, so only use as much as absolutely necessary to get your ingredients to stick together.
  3. You Overbaked Your Scones – Pull your scones out of the oven as the bottoms are just barely starting to change to a golden brown.

What Is the Difference Between Scones and Muffins?

The biggest difference between scones and muffins in America is how they’re made. Scones are a triangular sweet bread, whereas muffins are more similar to dense miniature cakes.

Scones are made from dough, almost exclusively a white flour dough. Muffins are made from batter and can have a wide variety of ingredients. Both have varying levels of sweetness and fruitiness depending on the recipe.

How to Make Moist Scones?

To make sure your scones are moist and light, start with the right ingredients. Cold butter helps scones rise, giving more space for light, airy moistness. You’ll also want to measure your flour by weight, not volume.

Too much flour can make your scones dense, rather than moist and almost cake-like. 

Too much of anything is not good for scones, really. Watch your salt, remembering that self-rising flour contains salt already, and sugar and liquids, especially if you’re adding fruit already.

Finally, keep an eye on the baking and don’t overcook them. As soon as they’re set, take them out of the oven. 

Simple Scone Recipe

Simple Scone Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This scone recipe is simple but reliable. It's the perfect base for any wild and tasty combinations your heart desires!


  • 2 cups of flour
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Additional to taste (chocolate chips, caramel, nuts, cinnamon, etc.)


    1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
    2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together first. Add additional ingredients for added flavor or leave plain.
    3. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter until small pea-sized lumps form.
    4. Whisk your egg and milk together in a separate bowl and slowly add to your flour/butter mixture.
    5. Only add as much as needed to barely moisten all your ingredients and allow the dough to stick together.
    6. Knead your dough into a large round ball and then flatten it into a pie shape that’s about 8 inches in diameter. Using a bench knife, slice it into triangles or wedges.
    7. Place your scones on a lined baking sheet and bake them about 20 minutes, pulling them out of the oven just as they start to brown.
    8. Enjoy plain with butter or prepare icing to drizzle on top.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 scone
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 701mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 6g

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