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Looking for a low(er) fat scone - is the search worth it?

This month's quest is for a scone that I can eat on my low-cholesterol diet. (Actually, it's my husband's diet, but it's a good idea for me, too.)

I've given up the scones I love, which are loaded with butter and cream (or sour cream). I'd like to find a recipe that's lower in saturated fat, perhaps even with whole grains - like whole wheat pastry flour, although that's not a requirement.

Has anyone tried any of the scones at Cooking Light's web site?


I'm particularly interested in this Tomato-Parmesan scone that's made with olive oil and buttermilk instead of butter and cream:


Or this sweet scone with dried pears and cardamom:


Then again, Cooking Light has this scary recipe for cherry-vanilla-cornbread scone that contains crisco and butter extract. Ewww!


If they'd do this to a defenseless scone, can I trust any of their recipes?

And is it even worth trying to make low-fat scones? Perhaps, ice cream or poundcake, it's better to eat a tiny amount of the real thing, rather than waste calories on a substandard light version.

I'd appreciate your advice and experience.


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  1. I'm not sure whether it's worth trying, so won't address that question. On the question of whether cookinglight's recipes are reliable, I think it's very catch as catch can. Some of them are definite duds (e.g. crisco and butter extract! I'm with you--EWWW!). Others are winners. I try to use the ingredient list and my knowledge of baking/cooking as a guide to whether the recipe even has a prayer of being decent. I would compare the recipes you're considering to a T&T recipe to see if they look sufficiently similar that they will be decent. How has the CI recipe made up for the fat that is traditionally found in a scone recipe? If you think it's a possibility, I say give at least one recipe a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained?!

    1. My favorite bakery makes their scones w/ cream, but no butter. The baker calls cream "liquid butter". They could not be any more delicious. I attempted to reproduce them a few times, using only the baker's hints that he used brown sugar and cream. I never got them right, although I did make a few edible batches and everyone at my office got used to having scones everyday one week.

      So...I conclude that removing the butter is not a problem. I would try finding a cream scone recipe and substituting buttermilk. When I make buscuits, I try to find reduced fat buttermilk, but not fat free. Please report your results!

      2 Replies
      1. re: danna

        Removing the butter is not a problem IF you're using cream, which has plenty of butterfat - cream scones are my standard, but not something I make very often. A scone recipe where the only source of fat is low-fat buttermilk is going to turn out pretty sorry, texture-wise.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I'm not sure the cream ones are going to be that much lighter - I'd bet on it being whipping cream.

          I think your satisfaction with lighter versions is going to be determined by how you picky you are about what you consider a scone. :-)

      2. If it's just the butter you want to avoid, you could try this 'quick-mix' recipe - I like it because it's so simple. 2 cups flour in a bowl, and mix in 1/3 cup oil (olive oil works fine) and 2/3 cup water.
        Otherwise try date/pumpkin scones... regular scones without the fat would just be rocks!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Kajikit

          Thanks for the recipe and the tip! It makes sense to replace the fat with a rich, thick, moist ingredient - pumpkin sounds yummy. And I love the idea of olive-oil scones with savory ingredients - caramelized onions are calling to me!


          1. re: Kajikit


            recipe please for the date/pumpkin scones, please!

          2. I've made one of Cooking Light's low-fat scones. It was, i believe sundried tomato and something. It was good, but a bit dense. I'd make them again. On the other hand, or maybe it's the same hand since i'm still arguing pro this recipe, i don't mind the textural changes you can get from lowering the fat content... I imagine that if you search CL, you should be able to find the recipe--it was from about 2003, i think.

            1. actually, Anne, I miswrote. I made these, which are the red pepper ones, not sundrieds: http://food.cookinglight.com/cooking/...

              1 Reply
              1. re: brownie

                Ooooh, this recipe sounds good. I'll give it a try...


              2. The Joy of Cooking has a very nice low fat scone recipe that uses buttermilk. They are "drop scones", so no rolling, etc. I love them and make them often with a variety of fruits and spices right now am on a dried cherry kick, but I often use fronzen blueberies and dried cranberries and cinnamon. YUM.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Miss Poste

                  Thanks, Miss Poste - this sounds quite promising!

                  Unfortunately, my copy of Joy of Cooking is the 1973 edition. (And it's stamped, on the inside cover, "American Peace Corps, Teheran" - how exotic!) The only scone recipe is full 'o cream and butter and eggs.

                  I'm trying to resist running out and buying a newer version of JoC. (I have hundreds of cookbooks already.) So I did a web search - is this the recipe you use?



                2. You can get away with as little as 1/4 to 1/3 cup fat for 10-12 scones, if you cut it in properly and use pastry flour. But no less, you'll make hockey pucks.

                  1. Um... did any of you happen to notice that the Cooking Light recipe site called myRecipes also pulls recipes from all of their other publications, such as Southern Living? I'm betting the crisco and butter extract version comes from there. Cooking Light is far and away the best low-fat cooking magazine out there. So, please be informed before you bad-mouth something.

                    1. We use the scone recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill Sorghum flour package. We substitute egg replacer, lowfat vanilla almond mylk, and Earth Balance since we're vegan.

                      1. We made the Cooking Light recipe for sun-dried tomato & cheese scones. I thought they were delicious - we used them as the bread for egg sandwiches.

                        If you search for recipes from the Cooking Light homepage, it should restrict your search to recipes that were published in Cooking Light only, not Southern Living or whatever else they publish. If you're doing a search from MyRecipes.com, use the advanced search option to restrict your results to Cooking Light only.

                        Also, I have noticed that many older recipes from Cooking Light use weird extracts and substitutions. More recent recipes tend to use more fresh herbs and smaller quantities of butter, rather than butter flavoring and Crisco. If you are looking at a recipe from pre-2002 I would read it carefully for strange ingredients.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jnstarla

                          Even on myrecipes.com you can limit the magazines it searches either in the advanced search screen or by selecting Cooking Light from the left hand column to refine your search(just scroll down since the magazines are near the bottom of the list) :)

                        2. This recipe uses buttermilk and neutral-flavored olive oil, so it's low in saturated fat but not, for better or worse, in fat altogether. I haven't tried it personally, but it seems worth a shot.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                            These scones are excellent! I recommend skipping the raspberries, despite the author's exhortations, as their flavor gets lost in the scones. These scones are great with any additions of dried fruit and citrius zest or crystalized ginger (if complementary), and have very nice texture when made with whole wheat pastry flour, an option noted in the link. I can't detect any difference in their texture with 3 siftings vs. 5, so I wouldn't bother with 5.

                          2. Anne,
                            I'm glad you like the CL sundried tomato scones. Last month, I found a maple-pecan lowfat scone recipe here on CH. I'm writing down, below, with MAJOR apologies to the 'Hound who provided the recipe as I have forgotten his/her name! But, thank you, because these are delicious and have been a hit at two brunches, even among the picky people who prefer all butter and cream!

                            Maple Oat Pecan Scone
                            1-1/2cups white whole wheat flour
                            1/4 cup golden flax seed meal --I didn't have any flax meal or seeds on hand, so i just subbed in a 1/4 c extra of the WWH Flour. 2nd time i made these, i subbed in Spelt--too heavy...wouldn't recommend--but still these were a hit...
                            1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
                            2 Tbsp. sugar
                            1/2 tsp. kosher salt
                            1 Tbsp. baking powder
                            2 Tbsp. maple syrup
                            2-1/2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small chunks
                            1 large egg
                            1/2 cup skim milk
                            1/2 tsp. maple extract --I didn't have any, so just used vanilla. I'm sure these would be more maple-y with the proper ingredient
                            1/4 pecans--I toasted and cooled these before adding.
                            For Glaze (optional)--I don't like glazes on scones, so i didn't use it...
                            1 Tbsp. orange juice
                            1/2 cup powdered sugarPreheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place flour, flax seed meal, oats, sugar, salt and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until the mixture takes on the texture of a flour. Add the maple syrup and butter pieces to the food processor and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed. Add the egg, milk and maple extract and process until a sticky dough is formed.
                            Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Place pecans in center of dough and knead several times, distributing pecans evenly throughout the dough. Pat dough into a 7- to 8-inch circle, and cut into eight triangle wedges.(i made 12 smaller ones)
                            Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper (I had neither and just plunked them on the sheet, unlined, unbuttered, no problem). Place scone wedges on the prepared cookie sheet, approximately a half-inch apart, and bake 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Whisk together glaze ingredients and drizzle over scones, if desired.

                            Hope you like them, too. And really, for the low-fat scone haters out there, I swear, these are good ;)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: brownie

                              I make a lot of scones and biscuits. One of the variations that I use the Company's Coming recipe for Scottish Oat Scones but with a mashed banana for moisture. I'm concerned about how much butter is consumed with a scone, so I've been making the scones smaller and daintier.

                              The following is Jean Pare's list of ingredients with modification.

                              modified Scottish Oat Scones
                              Blend dry ingredients
                              1 1/2 c flour
                              2 c rolled oats
                              1/4 granulated sugar
                              4 tsp baking powder
                              1/2 tsp salt

                              Stir in
                              1/2 c raisins (I don't like currants)

                              Combine wet ingredients
                              1/2 c melted butter
                              1 egg
                              1 ripe mash banana (added to recipe)
                              1/3 c milk

                              Stir wet into dry to make a soft dough. Pat into rounds. Cut into wedges or score rounds into wedges. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

                              I'm going to try brownie's recipe

                              1. re: rtms

                                rtms, I'm also a big fan of Jean Pare. I have the muffins and more book and I've made at least 20 of the recipes in it. I love them because they're so simple (no long lists of ingredients or fussy techniques), turn out well and are easy to tinker. I've been meaning to start a thread about the book but I'm lazy. :)

                              2. re: brownie

                                Thanks so much for this recipe! I'd despaired of finding a relatively healthy baked item for breakfast! I'm tweaking your recipe (adding figs and walnuts) for my blog!

                              3. We like this healthful scone which can be made with Egg Beaters if you're being really careful about cholesterol. Otherwise: Oatmeal Maple Walnut Scone: 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 1/4 cup Quaker Oats, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup brown sugar. Into this rub 5 tablespoons Canola oil. Beat 1 egg (or substitute) with 1/2 cup milk and 2 tsp maple extract. Stir all together. Add raisins and walnuts to taste. Put in buttered pie pan (optional: sprinkle with sugar) and bake @ 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cut in wedges like a pie (quicker than forming individual scones). Very substantial; a chunk of this and a couple of cups of tea and you're good to fly to Europe.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Querencia


                                  What do you mean by "rub" 5 tbs canola oil. Is that less than mixing but more than folding?

                                  1. re: lilmomma

                                    it's similar to cutting in butter - notice that those are all dry ingredients to which the oil is added...so drizzle it over them and rub the mixture between your fingers/hands to bring it all together.

                                2. here's a recipe for "drop" fruit scones we use--they are *really* easy to make, versatile, butter-free and the only cream you absolutely need is to make the pretty glossy glaze. they are made w canola oil which some would argue is healthier than olive oil. people love them, which makes me happy because they are actually pretty healthy. you could sub in some whole grain flour for part of the total. i apologize for the commercial size recipe, and my sort of loosy-goosy instructions. for a home cook i think you will want to quarter the recipe (or 1/5th it, because of the egg).

                                  8 cups flour
                                  3 cups sugar
                                  2 tbsp baking powder
                                  1 tbsp sea salt

                                  5 large eggs
                                  2 cup canola oil
                                  2 cup+ buttermilk (skim is fine)

                                  2 cups (approx) diced fruits, berries, currants, chocolate chips, nuts or other fillings of choice

                                  cream, to glaze (heavy or 1/2&1/2 works. i prefer cedar-summit cream but Anne knows i am totally snobby like that).

                                  preheat oven to 325 or 350 or whatever. the scones don't care ;-)
                                  put all dry ingredients in a large stainless bowl and mix with whisk. add fruit or other filling choice.
                                  in another bowl, crack the eggs and beat them with the whisk. add oil and beat with the whisk. add 2 cup buttermilk and beat with the whisk (yes, do this in 3 stages, it works best).

                                  pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold in with a spoon. at this point you have a great muffin batter, btw. for drop scones though, you will add a little more liquid-- for a little richness/special occasion use cream or 1/2&1/2, but for the diet-conscious, a little buttermilk works perfectly! eyeball this until you like the consistency-- drop scone batter should be semi-liquid but still hold together.

                                  drop scones onto lightly greased rimmed baking sheets. use commercial stainless 1/2 sheet pans if you have them, i won't vouch for results of this recipe on nonstick type baking sheets, as i abhor them. if that's all you have, good luck. scones will spread in the oven. you can make mini scones, big scones. a 2-4 oz scoop is helpful to portion scones evenly if you have one, or you can use 2 teaspoons or 2 tablespoons. bake 'em. when the scones have puffed up in the hot oven, remove the trays 1 at a time and quickly brush the tops of the scones with the cream or 1/2&1/2 (a silicone pastry brush is helpful for this), and return to the hot oven. you will repeat this cream glazing step 2-3 more times as the scones bake, it will form a pretty, glossy glaze on the scones.

                                  bake scones until done (time depends on oven temp and size of scones), scones are firm and cream glaze is glossy and turning light brown in a few places. remove scones to wire cooling rack with a metal spatula.

                                  the cream glaze gives a nice rich mouthfeel and even people who normally would put butter on a muffin or scone seem to be pretty well satisfied eating these drop scones plain. i hope people will try them and like them.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    Ooh - this recipe looks awesome! I will indeed try to "fifth" it for some home-baked scones. My dried strawberries are calling to me...

                                    Thanks, soupkitten!

                                  2. I have to say, my lowfat oat and currant scones rock – with no butter or cream! The dough is very wet and a bit difficult to form, but when I added more flour, they weren't as good. You can see from the picture that they have a very traditional scone look: http://www.whatwouldcathyeat.com/2010...

                                    Oat and Currant Scones

                                    1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

                                    3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour

                                    1/2 c. all purpose flour

                                    1/4 c. packed brown sugar

                                    1 t. baking powder

                                    1/2 t. salt

                                    1/2 c. organic canola oil

                                    1/2 c. nonfat yogurt

                                    1 egg

                                    1 t. vanilla

                                    1/3 c. dried currants

                                    For glaze:

                                    2 t. fresh lemon juice

                                    2 T. confectioner’s sugar

                                    Preheat oven to 375. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Whisk the oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla in another. Mix the two, stirring briefly to combine. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes, then fold in the currants. Pat the dough into an 8-inch round on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil spray. Cut into 8 wedges with a knife, using a spatula to move each wedge away from the circle to space them apart. (This may be a little tricky, as the dough is quite wet.) Mix the lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar and brush a small amount of glaze on the top of each scone. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the scones are lightly golden.

                                    Makes 8 scones.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: cathyeats

                                      Since we're talking low fat, it's worth remembering that replacing butter with an equal amount of canola oil actually increases the recipe's fat content. Canola oil also has more calories than butter.

                                      1. re: TomMeg1970

                                        Butter: http://caloriecount.about.com/calorie...
                                        Canola Oil: http://caloriecount.about.com/calorie...

                                        If the concern is saturated fats - which iirc raise bad cholesterol then canola is a better choice with 6g less saturated fat per tablespoon.

                                    2. i really like this recipe:


                                      it has only 4 oz. butter and i use lowfat milk in place of the half-and-half with excellent results. these are great with dried blueberries, dates, or currants added. i imagine any dried fruit or nut combo would work as well and you can play with dried spices as well. the mixture is a little wetter than most scones, but will bake up moist and tender.

                                      according to my estimate these would be under 30mg of cholesterol and around 8-10g of fat if you make 8 large scones from the recipe.

                                      1. Fanny Farmer's cream scone recipe calls for 2 c flour, 2 tsp. sugar, 4 T butter, 4 tsp b. pdr., and 1 egg, 4 T. cream or top milk, pinch of salt. I use 1% milk in place of the cream. It makes 8 decent sized (not jumbo, not tiny) scones.

                                        Excellent flavor, not too sweet. I like to add fresh walnuts and diced pruned for fiber and goodness.

                                        1. Cook's Illustrated is a good source for reliable lightened recipes. I have made great scones from one of their books-can post the recipe if you still want it. Probably not as low in fat or calories as Cooking Light.

                                          1. http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2011/08...

                                            someone sent me this link for low-ish fat scones since I have some figs in the freezer. I haven't tried it yet.