The warm hug we get from just smelling baked goods is unparalleled! They have a special place in our hearts, especially the ones we could lean on during bad days.
We chose two of those popular treats that raise many questions about their origins and whether they’re similar.
Without further ado, here’s a scone vs. cookie comparison that highlights all of their similarities and differences.
Warning: Our descriptions can get quite graphic, so we can’t promise that you won’t develop a sweet tooth while reading this article. So, go ahead, grab a snack, and let’s go!
We thought we’d start this article by telling you about the origins of both treats.
Persia is the first country where cookies can be traced back. They became popular as a pastry in the seventh century, not long after sugar became more widely available in this region.
Sugar wasn’t used in Europe at the time. In fact, it didn’t become commonly accessible until the 16th century; until then, they relied on honey to add sweetness to their deserts.
Through the Muslim conquest of Spain, a lot of their recipes and cooking techniques spread to Europe. From there, cookies made their way to several countries and, eventually, our hearts!
Scones are of Scottish origin, dating back to the early 1500s.
The main ingredient in scones back then was oats. They also used to cut the dough into wedges and bake them over an open fire.
Scones became more popular in the United Kingdom over time. However, they modified the recipe and turned it into a sweet round-shaped tea snack.
As the recipe for scones spread to America, it took two forms. First, the recipe was changed so that it became an original southern creation known as biscuits.
The other form is still similar to scones in the United Kingdom, where they’re considered a sweet treat. Yet, there are minor tweaks in the ingredients and final shape.
Scones and cookies are two examples of quick bread pastries. As the name implies, they’re made quickly because they don’t call for much kneading time and don’t require yeast.
Instead, leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda are used in quick bread. By including these agents in any recipe, you automatically reduce the rising time of the dough.
This is exactly how scones and cookies work; you add a rising agent, bake, and they expand naturally in the oven.
If you compare the ingredients in both recipes, you’ll notice that they’re nearly identical. The main ingredients in scones and cookies are sugar, flour, egg, butter, and a rising agent.
Frankly, there aren’t many additional ingredients in each recipe. They share the majority of the ingredients, but how they’re measured and mixed makes all the difference.
Please, scones experts, don’t pass judgment on us on this point!
Nonetheless, a chocolate chip or American blueberry scone can sometimes be misidentified as a cookie.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice many differences. That’s what we’ll go over below so that you can become an expert on this topic as well!
There are six major distinctions between a scone and a cookie. We’re about to get you familiar with all of them:
Cookies are far sweeter than scones on their own. The reason for this is that the amount of sugar in a cookie recipe is approximately three times that of a scone.
Hence, we enjoy adding sweet toppings to our scones!
Believe it or not, one of the determining factors is the condition and amount of butter in each goodie.
To begin with, the recipe for scones contains far more butter than a cookie recipe. Now comes the important part: the state of the butter.
When making cookies, it’s best to have the butter just melted so that the dough stays soft after chilling. Alternatively, using cold butter is the key to making the perfect scone.
In general, cold ingredients, particularly butter, are preferable in scones. If you add melted butter to the dough, the flour will most likely absorb it.
Because fat helps to maintain moisture and airiness in scones, when it’s absorbed, the dough loses its main qualities. Thus, instead of a flaky, puffy scone, you’ll get something more akin to a cookie.
Clearly, we want our scones to rise to the top while baking, unlike cookies.
This is where the leavening agent comes in; a scone recipe contains far more baking soda or baking powder than a cookie recipe.
Some scone recipes may even include both baking soda and baking powder. Accordingly, scones end up tall and fluffy, whereas cookies spread into flat gooey discs while baking.
Both doughs are mixed in completely different ways.
To make cookies, you begin by combining the liquid ingredients, a.k.a. whisking the egg with vanilla, sugar, and soft butter. Then, you add the dry ingredients to the mixture.
When making cookies, you can use a variety of mixing tools, such as a food processor, an electric mixer, or even a fork.
In contrast, when making scone dough, you begin by combining the dry ingredients. Then, you gently massage the cold butter into them until it feels sandy in your hand.
Following that, you add the liquid ingredients, which are primarily whisked egg and milk. Here, you have to do all of the mixing with your hands.
Again, when working with scone dough, we must protect the moisture and air bubbles in it so that it can rise. Kneading gives you that level of control over the dough, unlike using a whisk or food processor.
A cookie’s dough consistency is opposite from that of a scone’s dough.
Most cookie recipes don’t call for milk or water. That being said, you can expect a soft, but not sticky, dough that you can easily squeeze through.
If it becomes sticky due to excess moisture, you should add a small amount of flour and work your way up until it feels right. After that, a traditional cookie is cut out into a circle using a cookie cutter or by hand.
Given that scones contain milk or, in some cases, buttermilk, the dough should feel slightly sticky. You should never add flour to the dough at this point because it’ll dry out its moisture.
Simply flour your hands and work it on a floured surface. Then, it can be cut out either in the American wedge style or the British round shape.
When you bite into a cookie, your mouth is met with a thick flat disc that is chewy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. Of course, some cookies are only meant to be crunchy and not gooey.
The consistency of a cookie is determined by the ratio of each ingredient used in the recipe; you can experiment with them to achieve the desired texture.
When it comes to scones, the bite becomes a little taller, with inner layers of flakiness alternating with outer crumbliness.
Our happy hormones don’t know the difference between a scone and a cookie.
Other factors, however, cause us to notice the variances. Thus, we created a scone vs. cookie comparison.
Although both treats share the same key ingredients, they progress in opposite directions. So, they aren’t as close as you might’ve thought.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.