Butternut Sage Scones

October 27, 2010
9 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

When Autumn rolls around, it's time to make Pumpkin Scones for the farmers market here in Pound Ridge. I usually use canned pumpkin, but thought I might be able to achieve a similar product using cooked butternut squash. So I tried it. They came out pretty yummy. I am not a big fan of sage, so feel free to increase or decrease the amount. They do look very pretty decorated with the sage leaf on top, so don’t skip that step. You can always pluck it off. Keep in mind you will have to drain the cooked squash, as it contains a lot of liquid. You can do that the day before. This recipe is inspired by my pumpkin scone recipe, which is adapted from the recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Scones here: - mrslarkin —mrslarkin

Test Kitchen Notes

We've been lucky enough to taste the Scone Lady's goods firsthand (our former CTO Alain makes a point of jogging by her stand at the Pound Ridge Farmers Market on Sundays for scones and her aptly-named Crack Cookies) -- so we knew we had to try making them ourselves. Lo and behold, with mrslarkin's recipe, they come out just as delicious as the real thing -- incredibly moist, perfumed with sage and squash, and as sweet as you want them to be, depending on if you opt for the cinnamon drizzle. If you made these for breakfast, they wouldn't make it till lunch. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups (about 9 oz. or 255 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of scones
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • Scant ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Scant ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree (see below for directions)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing on top of scones
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 small sage leaves
  • Cinnamon drizzle, optional
  1. When measuring flour, fluff with a whisk, scoop it up with a spoon, sprinkle it into the measuring cup, and sweep off the top with the flat edge of a knife or spatula. But when I make scones, I always weigh flour, and bypass all that extra work.
  2. FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Pierce a medium butternut squash all over with a fork or tip of a knife. Place on microwave-safe dish and cook on high for about ½ hour, turning every ten minutes or so, until soft and mushy. Cut squash down the middle. If it’s still hard in the middle, nuke it a little more. Scoop out seeds and pulp. Scoop out the soft squash, mash it a bit, and place in a mesh strainer over a bowl. Let drain for a couple hours, or overnight. Depending on the size of your butternut, you’ll probably have extra squash, as this recipe only uses ½ cup. Make soup with the rest. Or double the scone recipe. And make a little less soup.
  3. FOR THE CINNAMON DRIZZLE: mix 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Add 2 tablespoons warm water. Stir until smooth. I always do this by sight, so if too loose, add more sugar. If too thick, add more water. If not cinnamon-y enough, add more cinnamon. It should be thick like corn syrup. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, place the dry ingredients and the chopped sage, and pulse to combine.
  5. Add the butter, and pulse about 10 or so times. You want to retain some small pieces of butter. Don’t blitz the heck out of it. Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl. If you've got some really large butter lumps, just squish them with the back of a fork.
  6. In a large measuring cup, place the squash, egg and heavy cream. Mix well. Pour into flour mixture. With a dinner fork, fold the wet into the dry as you gradually turn the bowl. It’s a folding motion you’re shooting for, not a stirring motion. When dough begins to gather, use a plastic bowl scraper to gently knead the dough into a ball shape.
  7. Transfer the dough ball to a floured board. Gently pat into a 6” circle. With a pastry scraper or large chef’s knife, cut into 8 triangles. I use a pie marker to score the top of the dough circle and use the lines as a guide.
  8. OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED: Place the scones on a wax paper-lined sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once they are frozen, you can store them in a plastic freezer bag for several weeks.
  9. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place frozen scones on a parchment-lined sheet pan, about 1 inch apart. Brush with cream. Take the whole sage leaves, brush front and back with cream and place on tops of scones. Sprinkle tops of scones with sugar.
  10. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, turning pan halfway through. They are done when a wooden skewer comes out clean. When cool, drizzle with cinnamon glaze.
  11. Slather with clotted cream and fig jam, if you feel like gilding the lily. But if not, these are pretty darn good with just plain ol’ butter, too. These are great the next day, warmed in the microwave for 15 - 20 seconds. They freeze really well, too, and can be reheated in a 350 degree F oven until warm. Enjoy!
  12. BAKING TIPS: Last but not least, I highly recommend you get an oven thermometer, if you don't have one already. The success of quick breads like this depend upon a really cranking hot oven, and if your oven fluctuates, like mine does, then you can adjust your oven temp accordingly. Mine always runs cooler, so I crank it up until the thermometer reads the temp I want. Also, if you are baking less than a full batch, double up on your baking sheets, which helps prevent scorched bottoms.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hark
  • Jackson Fust
    Jackson Fust
  • Victoria Maynard
    Victoria Maynard
  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux
  • darby

134 Reviews

laran October 3, 2023
I had half and half and butternut squash I wanted to use up and this recipe seemed just right. I replaced 1/2 cup white flour with whole wheat pastry and used 1/2 cup half and half rather than the heavy cream. I am reducing sugar so used only 1 Tsp brown sugar. Also, I went lighter on the spices, using just 1/16 tsp nutmeg and cloves. I skipped the sage. They were light and delicious, perfect for a fall dinner.
Macheese October 22, 2022
So yummy! I ran out of white flour and ended up using 128 gm of white and a cup of whole wheat flour (rough 50-50 split). It was still very light after baking. I used the microwave to cook the squash which dried it out enough that I felt like I could skip the drain overnight step since I woke up this morning wanting scones! And lastly put in a lot of freshly grated ginger instead of the sage because that’s what I had. Such a delicious treat!
missshar August 5, 2020
Is there a way to make this without the eggs? My sister has an egg allergy and I'm having no luck with figuring out how to replace the eggs :(
Linda W. October 10, 2020
I have pretty good luck using one tablespoon flax seed, ground fine in a blender or coffee grinder, mixed with a couple tablespoons water. Chia seeds can also replace eggs in recipes like this that have just a small amount of egg.
Hark February 18, 2020
Delicious. Soft inside, the bottom caramelized, and the top was crispy and just a little sweet.
jennygallo November 19, 2017
So if you were using a thermometer what internal temperature would you be aiming for?
mrslarkin November 19, 2017
Hi Jenny! I have no idea.
jennygallo November 19, 2017
Thanks for the swift reply...I think I misunderstood your comment at the end of the recipe and that you actually mean a thermometer for the oven temp. and not a thermometer for internal temp. I look forward to making these on Thanksgiving!
DebraCR July 15, 2017
Dear mrslarkin,
I was curious about using cake flour in scones. A baker friend of mine used to make the lightest, most ethereal scones and although I never new her secret I started to use 1/2 AP flour and 1/2 cake flour in recipes that yielded similar results. Do you ever do this in your recipes?
mrslarkin July 15, 2017
Hi Debra! I don't use cake flour or pastry flour. I find it to be too delicate for this recipe. If you do try it, please let us know how it turns out for you!
Peggy November 14, 2016
Just made these and added grated Parmesan, bacon crumbles with just a touch of bacon fat to go with our soup tonight. I set them on a tray to cool a bit while I finished up some chores. Well I can back in the kitchen to an empty tray and a note on the chalk board asking me to make more so the guys must have really like them!
Natalie November 14, 2016
Awesome! Thanks the help and suggestions guys! On to testing these out!
Natalie November 14, 2016
REALLY want to make these! Been looking for a unique scone to bake this season. However, I'm looking for something a bit more on the savory side. Would the addition of some cheese-perhaps some gruyere or Parmesan pair well with this recipe as is? Maybe I should cut down on some spice?
Jackson F. November 14, 2016
Hi Natalie, made these on Saturday and I think there is definitely some wiggle room with flavorings—I didn't find them overly spiced in flavor as is, so perhaps just cutting back on some of the sugar? Let me know how it goes if you do make a savory version—they were so simple to make, I'd definitely try them again!
mrslarkin November 14, 2016
Hello Natalie! Jackson is right - these aren't overly spicy. Cutting back on the sugar will make them more savory and less sweet, but they will not bake up as big. So if you are ok with that, go for it! If you read gingerroot's comment below, she omitted the sugar by accident, and they were still yummy. 😁
jaynknight September 24, 2016
Truly the most delicious scone I've ever tasted. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I followed it precisely. The rise was perfect, the flavor sublime. This will be our new fall favorite!
mrslarkin September 26, 2016
Thank you, jaynknight! I'm so happy to hear that!
Jackson F. September 15, 2016
These were so delicious! Can't wait to make them for a brunch!
mrslarkin September 26, 2016
Perfect for brunch, Jackson! So happy you like them!
Victoria M. September 15, 2016
So so good!
mrslarkin September 26, 2016
Yay! Glad you like them, Victoria!
Chef D. December 10, 2015
doesnt look that much like a scone...
darby January 14, 2015
Added a yogurt+powder sugar frosting instead of the cinnamon and it was delicious!
gingerroot November 24, 2014
these scones are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!
gingerroot November 24, 2014
(said my seven year old son and best Thanksgiving sous chef as we prepare for my favorite day of the year!)
gingerroot February 20, 2014
As I've commented before, these have become a part of our Thanksgiving tradition. I made two batches last night to share with my son's K/1 class - they are studying family celebrations - froze them and baked them off this morning. As we shared them, the kids smelled them, "they smell like pumpkin pie," "they smell like sugar," then tasted them, "it kind of tastes like pizza!." Pizza??? I thought. Since they are so reliable I didn't taste one before sharing with the class - but quickly realized I forgot to add the 6 T sugar! (I had remembered to sprinkle the top with sugar and add the cinnamon drizzle, doh!). The kids still happily enjoyed them, and it does make for a lovely savory scone.
dymnyno February 20, 2014
Great story...where do you teach?
gingerroot February 21, 2014
Hi Mary! I am an educator at the Honolulu Museum of Art. I was visiting my son's class with Liz's scones. Hope you are well! Aloha.
mrslarkin February 21, 2014
what a great story!! Good to know we can turn these babies into savory scones! Excellent investigative work, gingerroot.
Chaiwalla January 16, 2014
Super super love these :) Roasted the squash though -- 400 deg oven halved, face down, buttermilk instead of cream - and today I am halving the sugar - let's see what happens! I'd like them to double as a savoury scone as well -- oh and I used turbinado sugar on top - I like the big granules :) Thanks for this resipe, the flakiness and ease of making in the food processor is awesome.
mrslarkin January 16, 2014
Hi sarah! So glad you like the recipe. Sugar is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture), so using less will yield a "skinnier" scone. Let us know how your savoury scones turn out!
Chaiwalla January 16, 2014
Well it turns out that with half (three tbsps) there doesn't seem to be much difference -- tiny bit less sweet, but still poofy and light and yummy! Not quite savoury yet -- will try another batch and see :)
gingerroot February 20, 2014
Didn't read your comment before posting mine just now above - I totally forgot the sugar but had lovely (I actually split the dough into 2 rounds for 16 smaller scones) savory scones. I did not notice a change in rise or poofiness either.
Chaiwalla February 20, 2014
NICE! good to know - I will try too :)
Sabine G. March 24, 2013
I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this recipe! It's always a hit. Super delicious & moist. It's truly perfection. I've always used pure canned pumpkin instead of butternut because I have a TON of it and need to use it up and it comes out fabulous! I'll be making these for a long time coming. Thank you for the recipe!
mrslarkin January 16, 2014
Hello Sabine! So glad you like the recipe! I recently read about longneck squash (similar to butternut, but supposedly better.) Have you heard of that variety?
Jesper February 20, 2013
Hi, Thanks for the great recipe. How much in grams would you say that 6 tablespoons of butter is?
mrslarkin January 16, 2014
wow! totally missed this question - so sorry! I'm guessing you've already figure out the answer, but just in case you're still wondering....6 tablespoons (3 ounces) of butter is about 85 grams.

Also, here is my favorite metric conversion website:
Franca January 17, 2013
I've been looking at these for the better part of two years and finally got around to making them this week. My kitchen smelled heavenly as they were baking and the end result & taste was just lovely. Thank you Mrs. L
mrslarkin January 17, 2013
You're welcome, Franca! I'm so happy you enjoyed them.