How to Eat a Scone Properly

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Is there a proper way to eat a scone at afternoon tea? Why yes, yes there is. Get etiquette rules and tips, including step-by-step instructions on how to eat a scone, the correct way.

Tea and scones photo

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Like anything with afternoon tea, there are certain rules to follow to eating a scone correctly. I’ll give you the scone etiquette run-down.

What is a Scone?

A scone is a small flour-based shortcake-like baked good. They’re usually plain, crumbly, dense, and lightly sweetened.

The traditional English scones for with afternoon tea are round, not triangular, and they’re served with jam and clotted cream.

How to Pronounce Scone

Is scone pronounced scon, rhyming with gone or is it scone, rhyming with own?

It seems like both are used depending on where you’re from. In the US, we usually say scone, rhyming with own.

Jam or Cream First?

Here is where the controversy comes in. Some people swear by jam first, then topped with cream (Cornish-style) and others, cream and then jam (Devon-style). I like cream first, then jam.

RELATED: What is Afternoon Tea? (All Your Afternoon Tea Questions, Answered)

Scones photo

How to Eat Scones

1. Scoop out clotted cream and jams onto your plate, enough for one scone.

If you’re at an afternoon or a cream tea service, on the table should be little serving containers filled with clotted cream, preserves/jams and lemon curd.

These little pots are for the table, so no dipping your own knife into them, or even worse, dipping your scone directly into the container. Instead, use the spoons provided (usually sitting right next to the little bowls) to scoop out small portions onto your plate.

Place the spoons back as they don’t belong on your plate. Try not to cross-contaminate and use a different spoon for each condiment.

Feel free to go in for a second serving of jam and cream if you’ve finished what’s on your plate.

RELATED: Afternoon Tea 101: Course Order

How to eat scones photo

You’ve now got your jam and clotted cream on your plate. Time to eat the scone.

2. Break apart a small bite-sized portion of scone with your hands or if using a knife, cut the scone horizontally.

The best method is to break apart the scone into bite-sized pieces using your hands.

I like to break it in half vertically then break that into half so you’re eating a quarter of the scone at a time.

What are scones photo

3. Use a knife to slather on cream and jam onto the broken-off piece of scone.

Don’t pre-break the scones but take off pieces as you go and spread the jam and cream on each piece.

The bite-sized piece of scone should be eaten in 1-2 bites.

Tips on How to Eat a Scone Properly

  • A HUGE no-no is making a scone sandwich by putting the two halves together with the cream and jam in the middle. Don’t do it! Shudder.
  • Scones are meant to be eaten with your fingers, not a fork. Actually, there really isn’t a use for a fork during the entire afternoon tea service. It’s strictly a knife and spoon affair.
  • Scones are best when they’re served warm. Reheat them in your oven.
  • At an afternoon tea, the scone course is the second course, after the tea sandwiches and before the sweets.
  • Traditional scones at afternoon teas are the round, not triangular.

37 thoughts on “How to Eat a Scone Properly”

  1. Jam or cream first is entirely up to your preference. Don’t listen to the mental Cornish or Devonians. I always suggest thinking of it this way. If you like more jam than cream then put the cream on first. If you like more cream than Jam then put the Jam on first. If you like equal amounts then emigrate to the west country, eat pasties and start arguing with the locals.

  2. Thank you!
    Finally, someone who gets me! My name is Elouise, and I used to live in England. We did a lot of afternoon tea there, me and my family, but when I moved to the U.S. and tried to have tea with my friends, I found that they did not eat there scones properly! Some of them made sandwiches while others did not put any toppings on at all, just stuffing it into their mouths! I has given me nightmares… not really, but it did make me cringe. They all laughed at me when I told them that they were eating it wrong.
    “There’s no right way to eat a scone.” They said.
    “Stop telling us what to do.” They said. And since I couldn’t bring them to England to prove to them that there is proper way to eat a scone, I searched the internet for a different solution. Now all of my friends know how to eat scones properly, though they eat them wrong just to annoy me. :-). this website has been a great help to me, and I am so glad that someone is trying to spread the word.
    Thanks again, Elouise.

    • Hi Elouise, haha, glad to hear I was able to provide extra proof that there is indeed a proper way to eat a scone!

    • Come now Eloise! We Americans are not barbarians as you seem to imply! I, and my friends, know how to eat a scone properly! Never have I eaten one as you described.

  3. Actually, “high tea” is often used incorrectly in this country – and it all has to do with the height of the table. Afternoon tea is usually served in the home around low tables in a living room while high tea refers to a meal served for supper around a high “sit at” table. The correct term for the low table tea is afternoon tea.


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