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How to Eat a Scone

By Zora Hughes

Scones are more than just another biscuit -- they're part of a cherished English tea tradition that includes etiquette rules on eating them. Similar to Southern-style biscuits, scones are slightly sweeter and more buttery. Traditional scones are plain, but modern versions often include dried fruit or nuts. You can technically eat scones however you like, but if you're planning a formal English-style tea, there are a few simple etiquette guidelines you'll want to adhere to. The rules vary slightly, but generally include how to split the scone, spreading the jam and cream, and the polite way to bite into the scone.

Slice through the scone horizontally to split it and rest both halves on your plate. Lay the knife gently on either side of your plate, facing inward.

Spoon a dollop of cream and jam each onto the edges of your plate, adding just enough for one half of your scone.

Spread just enough jam and cream onto the scone for just a small bite. Eat that portion and put the rest of the scone down until you finish that bite.

Repeat spreading the jam and cream, then taking a bite. Take a sip of tea after each bite. Wait to spoon more jam and cream onto your plate for the other half of the scone until you have finished the first half.


For traditional English teas, there is a debate among the two British counties, Devon and Cornwall -- where English scones are believed to have originated -- as to whether cream should go on the scone first, followed by the jam (Devon-style) or jam first, then cream (Cornwall-style). Choose whichever method you prefer.

Some etiquette experts insist that a scone is never to be sliced with a knife; rather, you are to break off a small piece with your fingers. However, using a knife to split the scone is more common and widely accepted. Many tea rooms and hotels that host afternoon teas in Great Britian provide knives for splitting scones.


Do not talk with your mouth full or take large bites that fill your mouth with food.

Do not spread jam and cream on both halves of the scone, then put them back together to eat it like a sandwich.

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