Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones Recipe (2024)

  • Scones
  • Baking

A recipe given to President Eisenhower by Queen Elizabeth II for drop scones, also known as Scottish pancakes.


Elise Bauer

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones Recipe (1)

Elise Bauer

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

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Updated February 18, 2022

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones Recipe (2)

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Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones Recipe (3)

In honor of all things Royal, we present to you a recipe for drop scones, otherwise known as "Scotch pancakes", that Queen Elizabeth made for President Dwight Eisenhower on the occasion of his visit to Balmoral castle in 1959.

According to the National Archives, the Queen prepared drop scones for the President, using a family recipe. Later she sent the President a letter and enclosed the recipe, with annotations and a suggestion to use treacle in place of the caster sugar.

When I first started testing this recipe, I couldn't understand why the dough was more of a pancake batter, and not "scone-like" as I had imagined. Here in the states we think of drop scones like drop biscuits, instead of cutting out triangular shape scones for baking, we drop the dough from a spoon onto the baking pan.

But "drop scones" in parts of the UK, in particular Scotland, where Balmoral castle is situated, are more like American pancakes than typical scones. Drop scones are thicker than American pancakes, and a little smaller.

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones Recipe (4)

If you read the Queen's recipe in the image above, note the use of "teacups" as measurements for flour and milk. Before Fanny Farmer we used teacups for measures as well.

To figure out how much a typical teacup holds, I tested two teacups, an English made one, and a French limoge. Oddly, when I filled each (completely different shape) tea cup with flour and weighed them, the result for each was exactly 100 grams.

By volume, the teacups were each 3/4 of an American standard cup. So "4 teacups" would be 3 American cups, and "2 teacups" would be 1 1/2 cups.

European butter has a much higher fat content than standard American butter, so if you have European butter, you may want to use it, to more closely replicate what the Queen was making.

Most recipes for drop scones I found add a little salt. I don't know if the Queen used salted butter or not. Her recipe doesn't call for it, but since I use unsalted butter, I added a little salt to the batter.

A note on the cream of tartar. We happen to have some in our pantry, but many people don't. Cream of tartar is a dry acid. It combines with the alkaline baking soda to create the leavening in the scones.

Baking powder is just the combination of baking soda and cream of tartar with some corn starch thrown in, so if you don't have cream of tartar, you can substitute both the baking soda and the cream of tartar with baking powder.

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time15 mins

Total Time25 mins

Servings16 scones

I've changed the method just a little from the Queen's original by adding the wet ingredients to the dry, instead of the dry to the wet.


  • 3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar, or heaping 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) whole milk (and maybe a little more if needed)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Mix the dry ingredients:

    Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl.

  2. Mix the wet ingredients:

    In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Then whisk in most of the milk.

  3. Make the batter:

    Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the milk egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, adding more milk until you get the right consistency - thin enough to spread on the pan, but not so thin as to run. Fold in the melted butter.

  4. Cook the drop scones:

    Heat a griddle or large cast iron pan on medium to medium low heat. Coat the pan with a little butter, spreading it with a folded over paper towel. Drop large spoonfuls of batter on the griddle to form pancakes. When bubbles start to appear on the surface (after 2 to 3 minutes), use a metal spatula to flip the pancakes over. Cook for another minute, until lightly browned. Remove to a plate and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm while you cook the rest of the drop scones.

    Serve with butter, jam, or golden syrup (Americans sub maple syrup).

Simple Tip!

An extra note here, when I first started playing with the recipe, I didn't realize it was for what are essentially pancakes. I was expecting more traditional scones, and therefore kept working at the recipe until I got them. I did manage to pull a more traditional scone out of the Queen's recipe, just by doing a couple of things. I reduced the milk to 1 cup. I mixed the ingredients until they just came together as a sticky, shaggy dough. I used heaping tablespoons of European butter. With this mixture you can make drop biscuits. Just measure out 1/4-cup scoops of the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 12-14 minutes, until nicely browned on top. Serve warm with butter and jam.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
3g Fat
24g Carbs
4g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g4%
Saturated Fat 2g8%
Cholesterol 29mg10%
Sodium 221mg10%
Total Carbohydrate 24g9%
Dietary Fiber 1g2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 33mg3%
Iron 1mg7%
Potassium 158mg3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones Recipe (2024)


What did the queen put on her scones? ›

Darren McGrady, who was a chef to the queen for 11 years, had earlier revealed that she liked to top the scones with jam, made with strawberries picked from the garden at Balmoral Castle, followed by clotted cream. “The queen was always jam first,” he said. “The jam went on followed by that delicious, clotted cream.”

What is the best flour for scones? ›

A thicker and denser scone or a lighter and fluffier one? If you'd prefer a thicker one, go for a self-raising flour or a bread flour. But if you'd prefer a lighter and fluffier scone, we'd recommend all-purpose or pastry flour.

What is Queen Elizabeth's pancake recipe? ›

Beat two eggs with 4 tablespoons of sugar and about one teacup (or 3/4 of a cup) of milk. Add 4 teacups of flour and mix in another teacup of milk "as required" Mix in 3 teaspoons of cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate soda (baking soda) Fold in 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

What should the perfect scone be like? ›

The best scones have a crisp, slightly caramelized exterior and a tender, buttery, just-sweet interior. They can be dressed up with a glaze, studded with fruit or nuts, or gently spiced.

Can I buy clotted cream in the US? ›

While you're unlikely to find authentic clotted cream in America, you can still purchase it online and at some major U.S. grocery stores. Just keep in mind that what you're buying is the FDA-approved, pasteurized version of clotted cream.

Does The Queen put cream or jam first on scones? ›

Well, according to Darren McGrady, a former chef who worked for the Royal Family for over 10 years, the Queen prefered jam first. He tweeted: “The Queen always had home-made Balmoral jam first with clotted cream on top at Buckingham Palace garden parties in the royal tea tent and all royal tea parties.” Tea, anyone?

What is the secret to a good scone? ›

Keeping scone dough as cold as possible prevents over-spreading. When scones over-spread in the oven, they lose the flaky, moist, and deliciously crumbly texture. In other words, they're ruined. But the easiest way to avoid disaster is to use cold ingredients like cold heavy cream, egg, and butter.

What is the secret to making scones rise? ›

Much like cinnamon rolls, arranging your scones side by side, just touching one another, helps in making the scones rise evenly, and higher.

What was Queen Elizabeth's favorite dish? ›

Queen Elizabeth adhered to a daily teatime meal; her preference for delicate sandwiches with the crusts cut off was well-publicized. Her favorite version was reported to be smoked salmon with cream cheese. If the old adage is true, one should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper.

What is another name for drop scones? ›

Drop scones (scotch pancakes)

What is the difference between a drop scone and an American pancake? ›

But "drop scones" in parts of the UK, in particular Scotland, where Balmoral castle is situated, are more like American pancakes than typical scones. Drop scones are thicker than American pancakes, and a little smaller.

Is buttermilk or cream better for scones? ›

Dairy: Buttermilk is a signature ingredient of biscuits while cream or milk is a more typical moistening ingredient in scones. Mix ins: A scone's finer crumbs invites more mix ins whereas biscuits are usually plain.

How long should you rest scones before baking? ›

Recipes for scones sometimes provide a make-ahead option that involves refrigerating the dough overnight so it can simply be shaped and then popped into the oven the next day. But now we've found that resting the dough overnight has another benefit: It makes for more symmetrical and attractive pastries.

Should you chill scone dough before baking? ›

Not chilling the dough before baking: to really ace your scones, it helps to chill your dough again before it's baked. Using cold ingredients does help, but your hands will warm up the dough when you're working with it and the extra step of chilling will help you get the best result.

What type of jam did The Queen eat? ›

This delicacy was the 'jam penny' - which The Queen was served as a little girl and has eaten for Afternoon Tea ever since, said Mr McGrady. He said the timeless recipe was 'just bread and jam with a little butter, usually strawberry jam.

What did The Queen put in her eggs? ›

The Queen's order went like this; 3 organic eggs with a tablespoon of whole milk, scrambled on low heat with a tablespoon of butter, just before they set, the chef would add a teaspoon of lemon zest and a pinch of nutmeg. Unheard of!

How is clotted cream made? ›

Clotted cream (Cornish: dehen molys, sometimes called scalded, clouted, Devonshire or Cornish cream) is a thick cream made by heating full-cream cow's milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly.

Is it jam then cream or cream then jam? ›

So when it comes to cream tea, what goes on your scones first? Cream or jam? Ask the Cornish, and they will tell you that the whole point of cream tea is to have freshly-baked (hopefully still warm) scones, with jam first and clotted cream on top. Ask a Devonian, and they'll tell you it's cream first and jam on top.

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