Are Scones Vegan?

A scone is a baked food product that originated in British. It’s usually made from wheat or oatmeal and chemical leaveners. I just got done writing an article on biscuits (breakfast biscuits and cookies), but forgot to include scones, so I thought I’d dedicate an article to the topic.

Are they vegan? No, the traditional scone recipe is not considered vegan. The product is typically made with a number of animal-derived ingredients including both egg and milk products.1

What we’ll do here is go over the various reasons scones tend to be non-vegan, as well as any specialty or accidentally animal-free products on the market that vegans can consume.

Why Scones Are Not Considered Vegan

Most Scones Contain Egg

If you read the biscuit article, you know that breakfast biscuits are made without egg. Because the scone often looks identical to the breakfast biscuit, this came as quite a surprise.

The eggs are usually beaten separately from the rest of the ingredients and then combined with the cream.1

Also, scones are often glazed with egg wash.2 A lot of baked goods use an egg wash to achieve a nice shiny or glazed look. When an egg wash is used, the top is brushed with egg often beaten with milk combined with an equal amount of water.3

This glazy look (if that’s a word) makes pastry crusts extra visually appealing. If a crunchy crust is desired, it’s often achieved by sprinkling around 2 tablespoons of sugar on the egg wash, though this technique tends to be used more with fruit tarts, etc.4

Then, there’s the desired color. You’ve probably noticed that scones tend to have a nice brown exterior, especially on top.

It turns out that egg is used to help achieve this look. The yolk contributes to the nice golden brown color characteristic of scones, cookies, and other bread products.5 The yolk is loaded with vitamin A, so it’s useful to achieve a golden color.

Scones Tend to Contain Milk Products

Like biscuits, waffles, and pancakes, scones are a type of quick bread—a type of bread that’s prepared quickly because it doesn’t rely on yeast as a leavener.

Quick breads can be made with pour batters (pancakes, waffles, and crepes), drop batters (muffins, coffee cakes, and quick tea breads), or dough (scones, biscuits, and certain crackers).6

The main difference is the amount of flour that’s used. So, quick breads are mostly made with the same ingredients, just in different proportions.

Quick breads, such as scones, that are made from doughs, are leavened via steam with the help of chemical leaveners like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).7

Because they rely on steam to leaven, milk is often used as a water source. Milk is a favorite ingredient for this type of bread product because it also offers a few other useful properties, such as improved mouthfeel and creaminess.

Scones contain a good bit of milk or cream, which makes them a lot richer than ordinary biscuits.1

Again, the eggs are beaten separately and then combined with the cream and other fat sources like butter.

The high-fat ingredients are cut into the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder, etc.), at which point the remaining liquid ingredients are added to the mixture. The wet and dry ingredients are combined with as few strokes as possible to avoid excessive gluten development.1

Cream and milk are also commonly used as part of the egg wash to be brushed on top. To produce a nice sheen, about 2 tablespoons of the egg-cream mixture are set aside to be brushed on right before baking.8

The scone is also a basic component of cream tea. A cream tea is a popular afternoon tea in England, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. It consists of tea consumed with a combination of scones, jam, and clotted cream.9

Commercial Vegan Scones

I’ve noticed powdered egg tends to be present in a lot of commercial scone mixes. If not for the presence of egg, many of the mixes on the market would be accidentally vegan, and easy to prepare vegan-friendly with a modified recipe.

For example, Farm Rich Bakery Scones Blueberry contain egg but no milk.10

But, there are some scone mixes on the market that are suitable for vegan consumption. The scones by Starbucks, Panera, and Trader Joe’s all have animal ingredients. But, the below should be easy to find at Walmart or online.

Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Biscuit and Scone Mix

These contain:11

  • Brown rice flour
  • Tapioca flour
  • Potato starch
  • Sorghum flour
  • White rice flour
  • Sweet rice flour
  • Grainless aluminum-free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potato starch, sodium bicarbonate)
  • Evaporated cane sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Guar gum
  • Baking soda

Great Value Cranberry Scone Mix

These contain:12

  • Wheat flour
  • Sugar
  • Cranberries
  • Dextrose
  • Baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Natural flavors
  • Salt

All-Purpose Baking Mixes

A lot of baking mixes can be used to make several products like pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and other breakfast breads. The designations (scone mix, etc.) are mostly just for marketing purposes.

Simply adjust the proportion of ingredients to accommodate scone recipes, and you should be good to go.

For a list of vegan-friendly pancake and biscuit mixes, check out the articles on the vegan status of pancakes and biscuits.

That’s it for scones. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles:


  1. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 413). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  2. Hollywood, Paul. “Paul Hollywood’s scones”. BBC.
  3. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 513). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  4. Chang J. How to make a rustic fruit tart. Fine Cooking 73:50–54, 2005.
  5. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 258). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  6. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 408). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  7. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 412). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  8. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 414). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  9. Cream Tea.
  10. Farm Rich Bakery Scones Blueberry, 8 Ct, 15 Oz.
  11. Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Biscuit and Scone Mix, 13 Ounce.
  12. Great Value Scone Mix, Cranberry, 8 oz.