What makes these tender, fluffy gluten-free apple scones the best? This easy, no fail recipe is simple for a novice to pull off, but has the taste and texture of a high-end bakery treat. Adding sour cream helps coat the gluten-free starches for a tender, fluffy crumb while chunks of juicy apples perfectly compliment warm cinnamon spice and gooey butterscotch chips.
Best gluten-free Apple Cinnamon scones
When developing a recipe for tried-and-true gluten-free apple scones, I turned to successful gluten-free baking techniques used in savory GF cheese scones, coupled with the right balance of sweetness from these highly-reviewed berry scones.
First, adding sour cream to scone dough ensures a tender crumb because, along with the butter, it coats the GF starches eliminating any gritty, dry texture. However, the sour cream can be swapped out for yogurt with the same results!
Plus, adding a creamy sour cream element builds in a little insurance for variable gluten-free flour blends. Since they are made of different starches, they absorb moisture differently. Instead of relying on buttermilk, which absorbs unpredictably, sour cream offers the same tangy flavor without risking a dry or gummy crumb.
Next, it was time to settle on the best GF apple scones flavor profile. Turning to another popular recipe for gluten-free apple cinnamon bread, I wanted to showcase the apples juicy, bright flavor with caramel spiced undertones. Of course, cinnamon is a the natural choice, but stir in a good dose of butterscotch chips and you have an over-the-top, irresistible autumn flavor.
The top is sprinkled with coarse sugar for a crunchy sweet finish, and if you really want to layer on the goodness, a quick, gooey glaze really does the trick!
Learn how to make the best gluten-free apple scones with easy, step-by-step photos, baking tips, and additional mix-in ideas to make this recipe your own. Enjoy them warm right out of the oven or freeze for a gluten-free breakfast bread perfect for holidays and company!
Below are the suggested ingredients, including any workable substitutions. If you have any additional questions about modifications, be sure to leave me a comment below the recipe card.
- Gluten-free flour – An essential ingredient for achieving the best scone texture starts with a quality flour. Through my baking experiments, I’ve found Cup4Cup to be superior. The cornstarch in the mix helps absorb moisture and adds a fluffy texture. I don’t recommend swapping out the GF flour with almond flour, oat flour, or other GF starches.
- Butter – For flakiness and easy handling of the dough, the butter should be well-chilled.
- Sour cream – Gives the tang of buttermilk, but keeps dough sturdier to help structure. Plain yogurt may also be substituted.
- Egg yolk – Since gluten-free flour doesn’t absorb liquids as readily, use just the yolk to help with binding, while reducing liquid.
- Apples – It’s important to choose an apple that maintains it’s shape during baking and doesn’t break down. My preferred choice are golden delicious, but see Recommended Apples For Baking for alternatives.
- Butterscotch chips – Be sure to read labels carefully for gluten-free. Baking chips can sometimes have some sneaky ingredients. Gluten-free brands include Great Value (Walmart), Baker’s Corner (Aldi), Hershey’s and Guittard.
How To Make gluten-free APple scones recipe
To keep the recipe easy and no-fail, each step is broken down. When making gluten-free scones with apples, make sure the butter and yogurt are well chilled to maintain a tender texture, instead of dense and hard. Also, for best results, do not skip resting the dough in the refrigerator before baking.
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Begin by whisking together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl – gluten-free flour blend, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Use a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers to cut in the cold butter until there are small, uniform crumbly pieces.
- At this point I like to stir in the apples and butterscotch chips, to not overmix the dough. Once the liquids have been added the dough will be tougher to stir.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients – sour cream, yolk, and vanilla extract. Stir into the flour / apple mixture.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes while the oven preheats. This gives time for the moisture to absorb into the starches, avoiding a gritty texture.
- On a baking tray with greased parchment paper, shape the dough into a 7″ disc, 1″ thick. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles.
- Spread the scones out, brush tops with milk or cream, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake on the LOWER MIDDLE rack for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Allow the scones to cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack.
- If topping with the glaze, mix together the ingredients and use a small spoon to drizzle on the frosting.
Recommended Apples For Baking
When making gluten-free apple recipes, certain varieties work better than others for desserts or baking. Use one of the suggested types listed below so the apples don’t break down or become mealy during baking.
- Granny smith apples (these apples are tarter so may want to pair with something else)
- Pink Lady
- Golden Delicious
Optional scone Toppings
Gluten-free scone recipes can be served as is, without any topping, or simply brush with cream for a slight sheen after baking.
Other options include brushing with cream and sprinkling on coarse sugar for a crunchy sweetness. If desired, mix in some additional cinnamon with the sugar for added flavor.
Enjoy as is, or take it up a notch by drizzling on a glaze. Add milk and vanilla to the powdered sugar for a simple glaze or replace the milk with pure maple syrup to boost the flavor. Additional cinnamon could also be added to the frosting.
More Mix-in Ideas
Apple cinnamon scones are bursting with flavor, but there’s always room for more! To keep the dough to mix-in ratio, add a total of 1 3/4 cup of add-ins, scaling back on apples or butterscotch chips, if need be.
- Chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, pistachios or almond
- Dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, cherries, figs, or currants.
- Omit the cinnamon and add 3/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar for apple cheese scones.
- Add additional spices, such as ground cloves, ginger, or nutmeg.
- Replace the butterscotch chips with caramel baking bits (read label for gluten-free)
Storing, freezing, and make-ahead tips
Storing: They may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days, but will lose optimal taste and texture quickly. Refrigerating will dry out the scones, and is not recommended.
Freezing: If not enjoying the same day, individually wrap the scones after they have completely cooled (at least 3 hours). Transfer to a ziplock freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months.
Thaw on the counter for 1 hour or, for a grab-and-go breakfast, unwrap and defrost in the microwave.
Make-Ahead: To bake the scones right before serving, shape the dough in triangles and place the baking tray in the freezer until they are solid. Wrap the unbaked scones in plastic wrap and transfer to a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze up to 3 months.
To bake, place unwrapped, frozen scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425ºF (220ºC), extending the baking time by a few minutes.
Best Way to Serve Scones
Scones taste great at room temperature or slightly warmed. Gluten-free baked goods tend to become crumbly when cold, so I recommend microwaving for 10 seconds for best taste and texture before serving.
If hosting company for breakfast, brunch, or tea, below are suggested toppings for serving.
- Butter, traditional, European (like Kerrygold), or flavored, such as cinnamon butter or honey butter
- Clotted cream
- Jam, jelly, or marmalades
- Whipped cream
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Fluffy Gluten-Free Apple Scones with Butterscotch (No Fail)
Gluten Free Scones
- 1 ¾ cup (245 g) gluten-free all purpose flour (I use and recommend Cup4Cup brand)
- ⅓ cup (67 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (2.5 g) ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter chopped into ½” pieces and chilled
- 1 cup (125 g) peeled and diced apples see recipe notes for recommended varieties
- ¾ cup (120 g) gluten-free butterscotch chips optional
- ⅔ cup (153 g) sour cream (may substitute yogurt)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- In a large bowl whisk together the gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut in chopped butter until the butter is uniformly mixed with the flour in very small, crumbly pieces.1 ¾ cup (245 g) gluten-free all purpose flour,⅓ cup (67 g) sugar,1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder,1 teaspoon (2.5 g) ground cinnamon,¼ teaspoon salt,6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter
- In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, egg, and vanilla extract. First, gently stir in the apples and optional butterscotch chips into the flour mixture. Then, pour in sour cream mixture and gently combine until no flour pockets remain. The dough will be quite thick. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.1 cup (125 g) peeled and diced apples,¾ cup (120 g) gluten-free butterscotch chips,⅔ cup (153 g) sour cream,1 egg yolk,1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the dough in the center of the prepared baking sheet and shape it into a ball. Flatten the dough with your hands into a 7-inch (18 cm) disc, 1-inch (2.5-cm)–thick. If the dough is sticking, spray your fingers with cooking spray to shape. Cut the disc into 8 triangles, using a sharp knife. Use a small spatula to spread the cut scones around the baking sheet so they are about 2 inches (5-cm) apart.
- If topping with sugar, brush on milk or cream and sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake on the LOWER MIDDLE rack for 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the tops and bottoms start to turn golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk or cream,1 tablespoon turbinado (coarse) sugar
- For glaze, mix together ingredients. The glaze should be thin enough to drizzle on, but thick enough it stays on the scone. Place a piece of waxed paper under the cooling rack and then use a small spoon to drizzle glaze over the tops. Allow glaze to harden before stacking or storing.½ cup (60 g) powdered sugar,½ – 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk or cream,½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
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- Granny smith apples (these apples are tarter so may want to pair with something else)
- Pink Lady
- Golden Delicious
Storing, freezing, and make-ahead tipsStoring: They may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days, but will lose optimal taste and texture quickly. Refrigerating will dry out the scones, and is not recommended. Freezing: If not enjoying the same day, individually wrap the scones after they have completely cooled (at least 3 hours). Transfer to a ziplock freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter for 1 hour or, for a grab-and-go breakfast, unwrap and defrost in the microwave. Make-Ahead: To bake the scones right before serving, shape the dough in triangles and place the baking tray in the freezer until they are solid. Wrap the unbaked scones in plastic wrap and transfer to a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake, place unwrapped, frozen scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425ºF (220ºC), extending the baking time by a few minutes.
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