Tender, perfectly spiced and glazed Starbucks Pumpkin Scones are one of our favorite fall treats! This copycat recipe is simple and easy with plenty of pumpkin and spice flavor in a moist scone with sugar and pumpkin glaze.
At the law firm I worked for just out of law school, there was a secretary named Lena who loved to bake and made the most amazing scones ever. Once every couple of months or so, she would show up in the morning with dozens of scones to share with everybody, in at least 2 or 3 varieties.
I fell in love with scones thanks to her amazing maple bacon scones, her bright and juicy lemon blueberry scones, and her chocolate chip scones. I'm going to have to recreate all of them since I left the firm 4 years ago to stay home with our girls and I miss her amazing creations!
But possibly my favorite version ever are these copycat Starbucks pumpkin scones that show up each fall, usually at the same time as their pumpkin spice lattes.
Why this Recipe Works
- These pumpkin scones are wonderfully sweet (in the best way) thanks to two different glazes that top the soft, pumpkin spiced scone beneath. Which is honestly good enough to stand on its own if you want to avoid the sugar rush for healthy pumpkin scones (or healthier, at least).
- The pumpkin keeps the scones from being dry, which is a common problem for people who aren't sold on scones yet.
- The flavor of the pumpkin is wonderfully showcased in both the scone and the glaze. This is a great recipe for fall bake sales, breakfasts, brunches, or as an afternoon snack.
- Pumpkin puree: Make sure you are getting regular pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. Or you can make homemade pumpkin pie puree yourself and use that instead!
- Molasses: Use original (sometimes labeled unsulphured or "regular") molasses. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor and sweetness.
- Spices: You are welcome to use pumpkin pie spice, but I usually just use the spices in my pantry rather than buy an extra spice blend that I will only use a few times a year.
How to Make this Recipe
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. One of the keys to really excellent scones is to not overwork the dough, so it's important to mix in the leavening agents and spices now so they are evenly distributed before adding wet ingredients.
- Add the cold butter by grating it on a box grater and using your hands to toss it around in the flour so you don't have any large clumps of butter. Or you could use a pastry cutter and cut the butter into the flour mixture that way until it is the size of small peas, just life if you were making pie crust.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, molasses, cream, vanilla, and egg until smooth. Again, this extra bowl is necessary because you don't want to overwork the scone dough, so it's best to really combine the wet ingredients separate so the egg and pumpkin are evenly distributed.
- Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula until a soft dough starts to come together. It’s okay if some of the flour is still visible; you don’t want to overmix. Transfer the dough onto parchment paper or a lightly floured surface and knead three or four times, until it just comes together. I find it's helpful to use the parchment paper to fold the dough in on itself a couple of times and what looked shaggy at first should start to hold together.
- Pat the dough into a 10x7-inch rectangle with your hands. Use a sharp knife or or bench scraper to cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then crosswise four times creating 8 rectangles. Next, cut each rectangle in half on the diagonal to making 16 total scones.
- Transfer the pumpkin scones to the prepared baking sheet and then bake in a 400 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes until done. You can do the toothpick inserted into the middle of a scone test to see if they come out clean, but I find it easiest to just look and see if the edges are starting to look slightly browned and the scones look done. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, and cream in a bowl and stirring to combine. Dip each cooled scone into the glaze and then place them glaze side up on the cooling rack. I like my glaze a little on the thicker side but you can thin it out more with more liquid or by using milk instead of cream.
- Make the pumpkin spice glaze by combining the powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of cream in another bowl. Stir together until smooth.
- Spoon the pumpkin glaze into a piping bag or Ziploc bag, then cut off the corner and pipe the glaze onto the pumpkin scones in a zigzag pattern. Let the scones set for 30-60 minutes so the glaze can firm up before serving. Both glazes should set pretty well, but they stay soft so be careful when storing these for transport to keep them in one layer or else all the glaze will get stuck to the bottoms of scones lying on top of other scones.
Scones taste best when they are nice and fresh, there is no doubt about it. But the good news is that these scones can keep for up to a few days - at least 3-4 - in a sealed airtight container kept at room temperature.
If you want to make and freeze the pumpkin scones, I recommend waiting to glaze them until after they have been thawed. They can be frozen with the glaze, but it doesn't do as well being thawed and might be more sticky the second time around.
- Use cold butter. Keeping your butter cold creates little pockets and layers when the scones bake that give them their distinctive texture. Just leave your butter in the fridge right until you are ready to add it to your dough, and then handle it as little as possible so it doesn't start to warm up.
- Don't overmix the dough. You really just need the scone dough to start coming together when you stir the liquids into your dry ingredients. But it's totally normal for there to be streaks of flour when you turn your dough onto the surface you plan to use to shape your scones. Just gently knead or press it together 3 or 4 times once you turn it out of the bowl and it will hold together.
- Use parchment paper or keep your surface floured. Make sure you are patting out the dough on parchment paper or a lightly floured surface so that the pumpkin scones don't start sticking as you are shaping them. If they do, then just add more flour to the surface or your hands. I also found that it helps to flour the pastry cutter or knife I use to cut the scones into triangles.
More Scone Recipes
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Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (73g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup salted butter, frozen or very cold
- ½ cup pumpkin puree (120g)
- 1 Tablespoon molasses
- 3 Tablespoons cream
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Simple sugar glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar (120g)
- 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Pumpkin Pie Spice Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar (120g)
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin puree
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Making the scones
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Grate the cold butter on the large holes of a box grater or use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas or crumbs.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, molasses, cream, vanilla and egg. Stir pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until a soft dough starts to come together. Transfer the dough onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured surface and knead three or four times, just until it all comes together.
- Pat the dough into a 10x7-inch rectangle, then use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. Then make 4 crosswise cuts to create 8 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half on the diagonal for 16 triangular-shaped scones.
- Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet, then bake for 11 to 14 minutes until done. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Glazing the scones
- Combine the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of cream in a medium bowl and stir to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add a little more cream at a time. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the glaze reaches a consistency where it slowly drizzles back into the bowl when you pick up a spoonful of it.
- Dip each cooled scone directly into the simple sugar glaze, then place glazed side up back onto the cooling rack.
- Make the pumpkin spice glaze by combining the powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of cream in another bowl. Check the consistency and adjust using the same method as the simple sugar glaze.
- Transfer the pumpkin spice glaze into a piping bag or Ziploc bag, then snip off the tip of one corner. Drizzle or pipe the glaze onto each scone in zigzag lines, then allow to set for 30-60 minutes before serving.
- I don't know of a good substitute for heavy cream for making scones other than possibly coconut cream, which I haven't tried yet. I imagine you could make these with whole milk as well, but they won't be quite as rich and won't have quite the same texture.
- Store in a single layer in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days.
- You can freeze unglazed scones for up to 2 months. You can freeze the glaze separately and then glaze the thawed scones before serving.
This post was originally published in November, 2016. The photos and content were updated in November, 2021.