Buttermilk Poppy Seed Citrus Scones

Breakfast and Brunch, Easter Recipes, Holiday Recipes, Scones | 35 comments

I think it’s pretty apparent by now that I have a weakness for sweet breakfast recipes. Scones are definitely at the top of that list for me and these Buttermilk Poppy Seed Citrus Scones just might be my favorite yet.

grapefruit poppy seed scone

People often ask me how I come of with my recipes. Do I just make stuff up? Well, yes! I’ve mentioned many times how I often like to cook (or bake) with formulas rather than recipes.

Over time I’ve come to learn what things can be changed and what can’t. I am pretty sure that all of the scone recipes on GoodLife Eats have originated from the first scone I ever made: Cranberry Orange Scones, which is (in my opinion, of course, one of the best scone recipes).

This method gives me room for variation that wouldn’t happen if I viewed a recipe as just a recipe. It opens up cooking and recipe development to being a creative process rather than purely scientific.

Once you dissect a recipe down to it’s bare bones and have a basic understanding of rations, you have a pretty basic scone formula that can be changed into a multitude of different recipes. If you have a good base, the sky is the limit!

poppy seed scone recipe

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Basic Scone Formula

The ingredients are so flexible. For example, use a full 3/4 cup of milk for your moistener or use a combination of milk and juice. Use all granulated sugar or part granulated and brown sugar. The end result is up to you!

Flexible Ingredients

Flour – 4 cups

  • You can experiment with different types or stick to all purpose. Sometimes I will use half all purpose and half freshly ground white hard wheat.

Moistener – 3/4 cup

  • Dairy: Milk, buttermilk, half and half, or cream.
  • Fruit: fruit puree (pumpkin, apple sauce, etc.), juice
  • Dairy Alternative: coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk

Sweetner – 1/3 – 2/3 cup

Depending on the type of sweetener use, you may need to vary your amount. Liquid sweeteners are far sweeter tasting than traditional sugars so you don’t need to use as much. This is where experimentation and your judgment come into play. Find what works for you and stick to it.

  • Sugars: Granulated, Whole Cane, or Brown
  • Liquid Sweeteners: Agave, Honey, Maple Syrup, Molasses

Remaining Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cold butter

For this particular recipe, I knew I wanted a Buttermilk Scone with Poppy Seeds. Depending on what mood you’re in or what citrus you have on hand you can change the flavor of the scone: Lemon Buttermilk Scone, an Orange Buttermilk Scone, or even a Grapefruit Buttermilk Scone.

I love lemon and poppy seed together, but this time I decided to try something a little different: Buttermilk Poppy Seed Scone with Grapefruit. The Grapefruit is subtle, so increase the zest if you’d like more zing.

lemon poppy seed scones

I usually like to top scones with a simple glaze. Instead, I prepared a simple Grapefruit Curd (I’ll share that recipe another day) to top this perfect springy treat.

With the Easter holiday coming up soon, I have to say that I think these Buttermilk Poppy Seed Scone with Grapefruit would make a wonderful addition to a special Easter brunch menu.

Related Posts:

Buttermilk Poppy Seed Citrus Scones

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2/3 cup sugar

1 - 2 tablespoons zest (grapefruit, lemon, or orange)
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup cold butter
2 large eggs, plus an extra for the egg wash
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup citrus juice (grapefruit, lemon, or orange)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a small bowl, combine the sugar and zest. Rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers to release the oils.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, zest, and poppy seeds. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine the 2 eggs, buttermilk, citrus juice, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the egg mixture and stir until it comes together. Whisk the additional egg in a small bowl combined with 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.

Turn out on a lightly floured counter and knead a few times until it holds it's shape. Divide into two equal portions (a kitchen scale helps with this) and roll into an 8 or 9 inch circle. Dust the bottom of the circles with flour.

Cut each circle into 6 or 8 triangles. Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly brush with the egg wash, then bake for 15-25 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until golden and cooked through.

Cool on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Serve.

To Freeze: cool completely, then place in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black - March 23, 2011 @ 6:47 am

    YUM! Thanks for the “basic” formula! :)


  • 2
    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking - March 23, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    Love scones, and I love your formula/recipe — thanks!


  • 3
    Lynn - March 23, 2011 @ 7:15 am

    These look really good. And I love a basic formula like this that you can do so much with. A good basic recipe can be used in so many different ways. And as always your pictures are great.


  • 4
    Marilyn - March 23, 2011 @ 7:27 am

    I’m a big fan of basic formulas. They help a cooking novice, like me, learn to experiment. Thanks for posting this. I’m excited to play with it.


  • 5
    J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) - March 23, 2011 @ 7:28 am

    I love poppy seeds! Great recipe, they look delicious.


  • 6
    Chef Danielle {CookingClarified} - March 23, 2011 @ 7:53 am

    I love formulas! I can’t wait to play with this one.


  • 7
    Shannon - March 23, 2011 @ 9:08 am

    I’m definitely going to try this. I have been on a scone kick lately and have been coming up with different flavor combinations in my head. I can’t wait to try them all out! Thanks so much.


  • 8
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies - March 23, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    I love scones. I love the addition of poppy seeds.


  • 9
    Suzi - March 23, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    I love Vanilla yogurt on my scones, the thicker the better.


  • 10
    Amanda - March 23, 2011 @ 10:00 am

    You are so sweet to share the basic as well as modified recipes… both seem divine! :)


  • 11
    EatLiveRun - March 23, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    these are perfect for spring–love the colors and flavors!


  • 12
    Cookbook Queen - March 23, 2011 @ 10:44 am

    Love this post!! The recipe break down is so helpful and your photos look like Spring :)

    These sound so darn yummy


  • 13
    tom - March 23, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    The flowers seal the deal, lets eat
    Tom Billard


  • 14
    Tracy - March 23, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    I agree; these WOULD make a wonderful addition to Easter brunch! And I’m going to need that recipe for grapefruit curd. ;-)


  • 15
    Ann@Apples and Twinkies - March 23, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

    Thanks for the basic formula for scones. I have to get to that point in my baking.


  • 16
    Rene @ BargainHoot - March 23, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    These look so decilious and your picture is beautiful!


  • 17
    Sharlene - March 23, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    Thank you so much for your basic recipe. I have a basic cupcake recipe down but not much else and am looking to expand. These scones look amazing!


  • 18
    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} - March 23, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

    I totally agree that once you have a basic “formula” for a certain recipe, the sky is the limit. These look really tasty!


  • 19
    Megan - March 23, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

    Hey Katie, thanks for posting this! However, you have a typo! In your basic formula section, you have baking soda instead of baking powder (like you have in the later recipe).

    I realized this when I tried the formula today and my scones came out rather, um, salty. Oops!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — March 24th, 2011 @ 6:38 AM

      Oh gosh, Megan, I am SO sorry! Thanks for letting me know. I’m fixing it right now.

  • 20
    TheGourmetCoffeeGuy - March 23, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

    Great recipe for a fabulous scone. A basic recipe like yours is guarantee for success, thank you for sharing.


  • 21
    Megan - March 23, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

    Your scones look lovely. Thanks for the basic formula, that’s very helpful.


  • 22
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen - March 24, 2011 @ 12:48 am

    I’m the same way when it comes to cooking and baking, I go by formulas and try to break a recipe down to it’s basic components in order to know what works and what doesn’t.


  • 23
    Sues - March 24, 2011 @ 6:11 am

    I have a huge thing for scones and these look wonderful :) I wish I was better at formulas, but I think it just takes practice. I just got Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio, and I can’t wait to read it!


  • 24
    Shaina - March 24, 2011 @ 8:07 am

    These scones look gorgeous. I love lemon poppy seed, and I can’t wait to try grapefruit poppy seed.


  • 25
    Kelsey, from Happyolks - March 24, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    I love basic formulas like this, room for creativity is perfect when you’re in an ingredient bind! Love your blog, as always :)


  • 26
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction - March 24, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    Scones are one of my favorite treats for breakfast… And, I love the infinite possibilities. These poppy seed scones look just divine!


  • 27
    Happy When Not Hungry - March 24, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    These look delicious! Love this basic scone recipe. Will definitely have to give it a try!


  • 28
    cailen - March 25, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    umm…wow. those look delicious! i love the lemon/poppyseed combo : )

    great blog! glad i stopped by


  • 29
    Kendel @ Eating Abroad - March 27, 2011 @ 9:00 am

    I love the idea of sharing the formula for a recipe. I’d love to see this kind of thing more often. It shows your creativity and understanding of the craft. Thanks!


  • 30
    Nancy @SensitivePantry - March 27, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    I love the idea of the base recipe with variations depending on what you have on hand or what your heart desires at that moment. (PS – I think I’m partial to the Cranberry Orange Scones myself…some of my favorite flavors.)


  • 31
    SweetSugarBelle - April 02, 2011 @ 1:48 am

    I love your blog! These look yummy. I like scones more than I like cookies even!!! Stumbling this now!


  • 32
    Laurene - January 15, 2012 @ 2:43 am

    Mmmnnn these look gorgeous and yummy.. I will try your grapefruit curd recipe to make a tart :-)


  • 33
    joan - April 11, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

    Loved the scones with the grapefruit zest. The taste is very light. Thanks.


  • 34
    Rebecca - April 14, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    I made these yesterday with grapefruit zest & juice and made a glaze with some grapefruit juice and powdered sugar to drizzle over top. The grapefruit flavor was delicious! Thanks so much for the inspiration and recipe!


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