Lemoniest Lemon Scones

July  3, 2021
11 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 8 scones
Author Notes

There are lemon scones, and then there are these, the lemoniest. Because instead of using the juice or the zest or even the juice and the zest—we’re using the whole lemon. You might recognize this nifty trick from Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart or the Whole-Lemon Tart from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets. By blitzing the entire lemon, you get its entire personality—equal parts sour and sunny. And don’t worry, we’re using even more lemon in the glaze, too. Now about the other ingredients: White whole-wheat flour isn’t a blend of white and whole wheat. It’s a whole-grain flour all its own, with a nutty flavor and fluffy lightness, perfect for breakfasty baked goods. (Intrigued? You can learn more about it from Maria Speck here.) Confectioners’ sugar isn’t the most common sweetener for a scone dough, but it adds just enough pep, and then can be reused as the foundation for the lemony glaze. Make sure you add the grated lemon zest and flaky salt immediately after you glaze; this way the toppings can grab hold before the glaze dries. Like all scones, these are best the day they’re baked.
Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Lemoniest Lemon Scones
  • Scones
  • 2 cups (240 grams) white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons (14 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large organic lemon (about 142 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cups (284 grams) cold heavy cream, plus more as needed
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup (114 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large organic lemon (about 142 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 pinch flaky salt (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. (If you have a baking stone, great—add that to the middle rack of the oven where you’ll bake your scones. If not, no worries.) Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir.
  3. Thickly slice the lemon, then discard any seeds. Add the slices to a blender or food processor and blend until mushy, like applesauce. Add this lemon mush to the measuring cup with the cream and stir to combine.
  4. Add most of the lemon cream to the flour mixture and stir. Add the rest and stir again. You’re aiming for a lumpy dough that easily holds together when squeezed, with no visible dry patches. Add a little more cream if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Plop the scone dough onto a lightly flour surface and use your hands to shape into a 7-inch circle (about 1¼ inches thick). Cut into 8 triangles. Brush the tops generously with cream. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply golden brown and the tops are bouncy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until barely warm while you work on the glaze.
  7. Preferably with a Microplane, finely grate the lemon zest into a tiny bowl or ramekin. Now halve and juice the lemon into a glass (removing any seeds if needed). Combine the confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice, and the heavy cream in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until smooth. Stir in half of the lemon zest.
  8. When the scones are barely warm to the touch, drizzle with the glaze, then top with the remaining lemon zest and a pinch of flaky salt, if you’d like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hiromi Motojima
    Hiromi Motojima
  • rbrock1225
  • Patty Eilers
    Patty Eilers
  • stephlooys
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

11 Reviews

Bakerbird September 21, 2023
Not lemony, very bitter, flat and spongy.
I can see, from the other reviews that a serious rewrite is needed.
I was suspicious, on reading the recipe and should have heeded my inner voice.
Truly vile,
kristen.purcell January 29, 2023
Great taste and recipe for us but we like more bitter than sweet - the metric measurements are off compared to cup measurements just fair warning I had to add extra flour to get a better dough consistency. I also added almond extract to the icing because I enjoy that flavor which turned out nice.
Hiromi M. February 21, 2022
Not good as is. I knew pith would make it bitter, so I got some zest, removed pith and used extra lemon. The dough is also too moist to make a shape and cut, so I had to just half bake and cut, then finish baking. I don't like my scones too sweet, but this is not sweet at all. So I needed to add glaze even though I am not a big fan of glaze in general. Texture is off, too. So I won't be making this again.
Lola17 August 31, 2021
These weren't very good. After reading the other reviews, I added an extra tbsp. of sugar (3 tbsp) total, a tsp. of lemon and vanilla extract, only used the zest and flesh of the lemon and there were still bitter, salty, and had a weird texture. The only saving grace was the glaze, which provided a sweetness they needed. But, I will take this recipe and improve on it in the future, maybe use half white whole wheat, and half reg AP flour, more sugar, and try different flavors- blueberry and lemon, or orange, cranberry, and walnut?
judy July 26, 2021
Made these this past weekend. Reading the reviews, with reference to the bitterness. this generally comes from the pith. I removed the zest, then peeled the lemon and threw away most of the pith, then removed the seeds, then grind up the pulp and zest. I do this when I make lemon and orange marmalade. Not all the pith actually gets removed, but the greatest part. One wants a little for balance. I have been baking with white whole wheat flour in place of regular whole wheat flour for a few years now. Lighter more tender bake I have found, whether using in pie crust or bread or quick breads like these scones. Delightful. I did not use the glaze, as I am not a fan in general. These were delightful with lots of butter and honey. I do love lemon, and like a couple of others I generally add a lot of extra zest, but this was another approach worth trying.
rbrock1225 July 11, 2021
A quick way to prep the lemons is something I learned while making marmalade. Take your whole lemon, quarter it stem-to-blossom. At this point, you can take a sharp knife and cut off the very center which is where all the seeds are. Much easier than slicing and picking through to find the seeds.

(If you were making marmalade, you'd save these to add to marmalade pot, just separate from the sugar/fruit mixture, to get the added pectin.)
MiniLaura June 27, 2021
Not great but not horrible either. The glaze was lemony, but the scones were not. I won’t be making these again.
Patty E. June 26, 2021
Meh...I made these and they ended up tasting salty and bitter, maybe they would be better with less/no salt and more sugar. But then if you're watching your sugar intake that wouldn't be a good solution. Not sure what went wrong here but it was worth a try.
Joanne T. June 24, 2021
I was excited to try this recipe because I love lemon and usually triple the lemon zest of other recipes using zest. But using the whole lemon made these SO bitter. Not much sugar in the scones so basically you are just tasting flour and bitter rind and baking powder. Even with the glaze these were not pleasant. The bitter after taste ruined it for me. It might be better if you used Meyer lemons.
Carol S. June 21, 2021
Just finished a batch, shared one with husband. WOW! There is not one thing I would change in this recipe. And the touch of salt to finish is definitely a must. Thank you for this lovely, I'm certain my frequent house guests will be asking for this recipe!
stephlooys June 16, 2021
Just made these! Saw your video came up on my feed and I knew I had to try it out stat! Thanks for the recipe, Emma and the scones came out tender and moist like you mentioned. However, I think I might add a teaspoon or pure vanilla bean paste the next time I make it and add another tablespoon of sugar into the mix to balance out the bitterness that came through from blending the whole lemon.

Some changes I made to this batch is that I swapped out confectioners sugar for Lakanto sweetener in the dough but used confectioners sugar for the glaze - just wanted to reduce some calories ;)

I also added a 2 teaspoons blended earl grey tea leaves and 1/4 teaspoon lavender in into the batter and a cup of dried figs too!

It truly tasted good overall! Thanks again for the recipe, Emma!