I have been asked, ‘can you freeze scones’, on several occasions. The answer is yes, scones can be successfully frozen and reheated as needed. In this article, I explain why you might want to freeze freshly baked scones and how best to do it.
Why you should consider freezing scones
I don’t get much time to do any baking during the week when I’m busy working and helping the children with their homework after school. At the weekend, however, I like to prepare and cook batches of various recipes for use during the week. Scones are perfect for batch baking and freezing if you have a busy family. You can freeze them, which keeps them much fresher than leaving them in a container, and defrost one or two when you have unexpected guests or need something for the children.
You might also want to freeze scones if you have cooked a batch for an afternoon tea event and have some leftover scones.
How to freeze scones?
If you are going to freeze scones it is best to do it on the day of baking for the best results.
Cook the scones as if you want to eat them straight away, apply an egg wash and make sure that they are golden brown before removing them from the oven.
After baking your big batch of scones, the objective now is to get them down to room temperature as quickly as possible. To do this remove them from the baking sheet and put them onto wire racks. Doing this removes a source of heat and allows air to circulate around the scones.
Don’t be tempted to put warm food directly into your freezer. This can cause adjacent items to slightly defrost and then refreeze which will damage the food and could potentially cause food poisoning. Even if you have a lot of space in your freezer, it is best not to put warm food in there as it will stress the compressor as it works extra hard to bring the temperature back down.
Another reason for letting the scones cool down first is to remove the steam. If we put the warm scones directly into a freezer bag or airtight container you would see steam and condensation form on the sides. This could cause the scones to stick to the surface. It can also cause excessive ice crystals to form which would spoil the texture of your scones.
It normally takes about an hour for scones to drop to room temperature.
Once the scones are down to room temperature and there is no sign of steam, my preferred method is to just put them into a large freezer bag. Some people find it easier to keep their freezer tidier by using an airtight container. If you do use a container, I recommend putting a layer of parchment paper or aluminium foil between layers of scones.
Personally, I prefer to freeze scones in a plastic bag as I find it takes up less space in my freezer when freezing a large number of scones.
If you use a bag it is important to try and squeeze out as much air as possible. This helps the freezing process and avoids freezer burn.
Before putting the scones into your freezer it is worth checking your freezer instructions. Many modern frost-free freezers have a fast freeze or super freeze compartment. If your freezer has one of these put the scones in there for 1-2 days and then when frozen solid move them out to a normal shelf.
Don’t forget to date and label the scones. In a good freezer, they should keep for months, but I have to say mine have never stayed in the freezer more than a few weeks before they have been eaten.
Note: In commercial kitchens with walk-in freezers, you can get away with freezing warm food items a little more as the volume is small compared with the size of the overall freezer. In factories where items like scones are frozen on an industrial scale, they would use a spiral blast freezer. The conditions are carefully controlled to bring the temperature down over a few minutes. This maximises their throughput and maximises shelf life.
How to defrost frozen scones?
To defrost the scones simply remove them from the freezer and place them in a microwave for a couple of minutes on the defrost setting.
Can you freeze cheese scones?
Yes, you can successfully freeze cheese scones in the same way as plain scones and fruit scones.
Can you freeze scone dough?
You can also freeze uncooked scone dough. This is not something I recommend as it will mean heating an oven up for a small quality of scones. When I have tried this I have found that the scones have a more crumbly texture. This is probably due to the larger quantity of water in the uncooked dough freezing, forming and forming ice crystals.
If you want to do this, it is best to shape the scones and then place the uncooked scones on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper directly on a shelf in the freezer to cool down and freeze as quickly as possible. Once they are frozen you can take them off the tray and again put them in a plastic freezer bag. Don’t forget to date and label the scones.
How to bake frozen unbaked scones
When you want to bake the scones, take them out of the freezer and put them onto a baking tray. I like to give them 20 to 30 minutes to start defrosting at room temperature. You can apply an eggwash so they go golden brown when cooked. After this, depending on your oven, adding about 5 minutes to the normal baking time seems to do the trick.
Can you freeze fruit scones?
Yes, you can freeze fruit scones using exactly the same process as outlined above. It is always best to start with good-quality fruit. My tip is to highly soak the fruit in a drop of cold tea. This helps the fruit swell up and adds a great flavour to the scone. Do make sure you drain the fruit really well for five minutes or more before incorporating it into your scones dry ingredients. If you don’t do this, there will be excess liquid and the scones will go heavy. I do recommend experimenting with this one.
What is the shelf life of scones?
For the best quality, scones need to be consumed on the day of baking. In fact, they are best consumed within a few hours of baking. In England’s top hotels where afternoon tea is a major event, scones are freshly cooked just before they are served. There is nothing worse than being served a scone which has been sitting around all day, or worse still one left over from yesterday.
It should be noted that homemade scones and those you will be served with at a café or hotel afternoon tea only contain a handful of ingredients and do not contain stabilisers, colourings and preservatives that you will find in the mass-produced products that you will find in supermarkets.
When can you eat scones?
In England and the United Kingdom as a whole, scones are generally eaten as an afternoon snack, most typically as part of an afternoon tea. Scones can be searched with cream and a pot of tea, this is then known as a ‘cream tea’ in England. There is however much debate about what goes onto the scone first, jam first or cream first, and the answer varies from one part of the country to another, and from one family to another. A cream tea can also be served with cold butter. All I know is, it’s a lot easier to apply a little butter, then some jam and finally some cream.
My children have a sweet tooth and enjoy a defrosted scone and jam for breakfast or as a treat when they get home from school in the afternoons.
My scones don’t have much colour, what can I do?
You do need to apply an eggwash for the best results. If you are doing this and your scones still lack colour please check which eggs you are using. Eggs come in various sizes and it could just be that your eggs are not large enough. It could also be that your eggs are not of the best quality. Some hens are feed fed with supplements to artificially make the yolk yellow. Try and use quality free-range eggs from an organic farm.
Can I wrap scones in cling film?
I try and avoid using clingfilm in the kitchen these days. I don’t recommend wrapping scones in clingfilm as scones contain fats which can interact with clingfilm. Freezing scones or storing them in an airtight container is also more sustainable and doesn’t cause plastic pollution.
Can scones be different shapes?
No scones are always round. The size however can vary depending on the event and the venue.
Can you refreeze scones?
Technically if the scones were defrosted slowly at a low temperature in a fridge you could refreeze them. However, be cautious refreezing foods is generally to be avoided as it increases bacteria growth and can cause food poisoning. Even if safely performed the quality of the product will suffer in the process.
You can refer to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s guidelines on freezing and food safety at this link: Freezing and Food Safety.
Can you freeze potato scones?
Yes, you can freeze potato scones. I haven’t tried this myself but I have heard that the results are not so good.
Please remember that potatoes often become soft and grainy when frozen and thawed and this will affect the quality of your scones. This is because freezing causes the water inside the potato cells to expand and burst the cell walls, altering the texture. Waxy potatoes (like red or new potatoes) generally freeze better than starchy ones (like Russets).
Therefore if you have leftover potato scones I recommend you store them in an air-tight container and eat them within a few days.