Hot cross buns are a delicious sweet treat, traditionally made as an Easter recipe on Good Friday. Soft and sweet with flavors like cinnamon, cloves and ginger, these buns are perfect sliced in half for breakfast on Easter morning served warm with good quality butter.
Of all the Easter recipes I see every year, hot cross buns are probably my favorite. The sweet and spicy taste always takes me back to when I was a kid. I’d eat them in the weeks leading up to Easter and then be bummed to have to wait another year to see them again.
I simplified the recipe for these hot cross buns, the dough is a bit sweeter and all the ingredients get mixed in at the beginning making it a super easy recipe to make. I also use this dough for any sort of sweet bread I need to make, like this Cinnamon Crumb Bread or these obnoxiously good Triple Berry Breakfast Buns. The dough is easy to manage and takes no time to rise by using quick-rise yeast.
how to make hot cross buns
- Making the dough
Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. A dough hook is best to use but a paddle attachment will also work.
- Letting the dough rise
Once the dough has been mixed and kneaded into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Find a warm place such as a laundry room or dryer to help with the rising process.
- After the dough has risen
Once the dough has doubled in size, dump it out onto a floured work surface and roll into an evenly sized log shape.
- Divide the dough
Slice the dough into 12 roughly evenly sized pieces.
- Rolling the dough into balls
Using some flour to help prevent sticking, roll each dough piece into a ball and place on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and dusted lightly with flour.
- Making the cross
The cross is just a mixture of white flour and water mixed to create a stiff paste. Use a piping bag with a very thin nozzle to get the best results and straightest lines.
FAQ’s about making hot cross buns
Rise time depends on a lot of factors, like how hot and humid your kitchen is. Yeast needs humidity to rise so I always like to set the bowl with the dough in it either in direct sunlight, on top of the laundry dryer or turn on the oven to 200 degrees then switch it off once it reaches temp. Cover the bowl with a towel and gently place the bowl into the oven. You’ll know when the dough is ready because it will have doubled in size. Like all yeast recipes, waiting is the hardest part. Take a deep breath and relax while the yeast works its bubbly magic. Making bread and other yeast products is a game of patience but the rewards are amazing!
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, which is two days before Easter Sunday. As a result, if you decide to make this recipe, the day before Good Friday is the best time. Then all you have to do on Friday if you’re like me is slice them in half and spread a thick layer of salty butter on the inside.
Keep the buns in an airtight container or large ziplock bag. To serve, slice in half and place them in the toaster for a few minutes. Spread some good butter on each one and you have the perfect breakfast or coffee time snack!
So I know you’re looking at my buns and asking yourself where’s the frosting? Sorry, but I grew up with the traditional flour and water mixture for the cross. If you prefer the frosting version, just skip step #10 and add your own. Or, make this Lemon Icing.
more Easter recipes
Easy Easter Hot Cross Buns
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 envelope of quick rise yeast
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour plus 2 tbsp
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup dried raisins
For The cross
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup plus 6 tsp of water
For The Glaze
- ⅓ cup apricot jam
- 2 tbsp water
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and dust lightly with some flour.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm water, yeast, sugar, egg, flour, olive oil, salt, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and raisins.
- Using a dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients on low speed for about 4-5 minutes until they have come together.
- Dust your table with some flour and dump the dough onto the work surface.
- Sprinkle some extra flour on top of the dough if it seems sticky and knead the dough into a ball shape.
- Transfer the ball to a bowl that has been lightly sprayed with oil .
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, humid place until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen enough, dump it back out onto the table and knock out all of the air from it.
- Roll the dough into a log shape and cut it into 12 even sized pieces.
- Roll each piece into a tight ball and place on your prepared baking pan in a 4 x 3 pattern making sure to place each ball almost touching.
- Cover with a clean towel and let rise for another hour or until they have started to rise and touch sides with each other.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- While they are rising make the mixture for the cross. Mix the water and flour together to form a smooth paste. Once the buns are ready for the oven, using a piping bag with a very thin nozzle or zip lock back with the corner snipped of, squeeze the cross mixture across the buns in both directions to form the cross.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes and golden brown.
- Bring the apricot jam and water to a boil in a pot. Simmer until thin and runny.
- Glaze the buns and let cool. Best served the same day.
Easter is not complete without hot cross buns! Love them! This is the first year I actually made them, and ever since I’ve been obsessed with trying different recipes….this one is next :)
Ya gotta have them Kelli.. it’s like pumpkin pie :)
I don’t recall ever making hot crossed buns but yours look perfect and definitely sound tasty. Nice recipe and great photos.
Sweet and spicy like a teacake Vicki :)
I love these hot cross buns. They look so beautifully golden brown and tasty.
Thanks Angie, have a great week!
Thank you for the pictures! Visual cues are incredibly important and I always appreciate being able to see what something is supposed to look like at each stage in the process. I have thought about making hot cross buns a dozen times but never gotten around to it for some reason. Maybe this is my year! Yours look irresistible.
This is a strange question, but what is the flour cross like? Does it taste like anything? And what is the texture like when you bite in? I’ve never had a hot cross bun before and have no frame of reference, but I’d probably go with the flour cross instead of frosting, too.
Also, does the syrup glaze stay syrupy after the buns cool or does it dry into more of a donut glaze?
Good questions Erin. The flour cross doesn’t taste of anything really, the buns are soft with some spicy taste from the spices and i love to spread butter on the inside. Another great thing about the flour cross is that it’s a lot less messy when storing them. The glaze drys in after about 12 hours but you can still see a slight sheen.
Why on earth have we not “met” before now? A Scottish guy food blogging in So Cal? That’s so cool! I’m a Scottish girl food blogging in So Cal! I’m actually headed back to Scotland later this year to be a judge in the Scottish Home Baking Awards competition! Looking forward to following along! Christina
Hey Christina, I can’t believe we haven’t crossed paths! I’m in Long Beach. Judging at the baking awards sounds like a ton of fun!
They look perfect!
You are totally right—waiting is the hard part with yeast dough. And it is sooooo worth the wait. These buns are not part of my tradition, but I like them. It was fun to hear how much it was intertwined with your Easter memories. Food is such a powerful binder of memories and people.
Happy Easter to you too.
i always intend to do these every year for Easter and then stuff happens and I get busy and forget! I swear this year is the one and your recipe is the ONE i will be using!
Gorgeous hot cross buns! I haven’t made them but now I must – love the warming spices!
Is it weird that I’ve never had a hot cross bun before? I’ve seen them, but never tasted. I’m definitely wanting to try them now! These look great!
Not weird Shawn, i think they’re way more popular back in the U.K. so for me I always ate them as a kid :)
They look gorgeous and absolutely delicious! I love the step by step photos you included :-)
“3 teaspoons Red Star quick rise yeast”…. do we need that particular brand??? and quantity???
Yes you do need that quantity but you could use another quick rise yeast if you can get it.
These buns are delicious! I made them tonight and cant wait to toast some in the morning. I live in Tokyo and have been meaning to get around to making some one year. I saw yours and decided this is the year. Thanks for the great recipe. It’s a keeper!
Thanks Victoria, Glad you like them!
This is my first time on your site. Found you through pinterest. I love the name of your blog. I’m looking forward to trying these buns. Thanks for the recipe!
Welcome Kathryn and thanks for the kind words, enjoy :)
I am Australian and have been sad about not being able o get the things I am used to for holidays. I have been looking for a traditional recipe and am so glad to find this one, I am proofing them as I type this and can barely wait to eat them they smell amazing! Thank you and Happy Easter to you.
Happy Easter Michelle, It sounds like you miss them as much as I do :)
I’m pretty sure it should say, 6 teaspoons of water for the cross. I just made it with 6 tablespoons and there is no way it would stay on the roll, so I changed it to teaspoons and it made a perfect paste.
Thanks Vicky, I just tested it and you’re right. I appreciate the headsup!
Wonderfully written instructions, clear, concise and not too wordy. Step by step pictures always completes a good recipe. These buns look delicious. Would you recommend 2 separate batches over doubling the recipe? I am having a large family meal and need at least twice what the single batch makes.
I would say to make two batches, less hassle and easier to manage. Good luck :)
serves 12??? Or one homesick Australian!!
I know what you mean James :)
I just used this recipe. I Love It!! My cross buns came out great I did add a extra tablespoon of sugar they are delicious.
Just put these into the oven…. Loved the recipe, instructions and pics. I knew it was going to be a good one so tripled the recipe as I want to give some to my neighbours for Easter. Can’t wait for them to finish baking!
wow, Chris kudos to you for tripling the recipe!! Thanks for the great feedback!
I can’t wait to try this and wean mu husband off the store bought hot cross buns (with all the artificial ingredients). I don’t have a traditional dough mixer. Can I use a hand mixer with dough hooks?
Hi Kathryn, you could try but it might not be enough to get a good knead going. Give it a try though and let me know :)
I just bake these hot cross buns. House smells heavenly. The only change I made was to add more salt. Curious about your reason for only using a pinch of salt. Thanks for a great recipe.
hi Venessa, It’s a personal thing that can be changed to suit yourself, I don’t think adjusting the salt either way makes any dramatic changes :)
Do you think the dough could be made in a bread machine?
Hey Kristi, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be OK in a machine. The rise times might be different but the basics like yeast and flour are still reacting so you’ll still end up with a dough. Let me know how it goes :)
Hello! I made these hot cross buns for Easter. Never made them before. They smell fantastic! However, I just want to point out that I had to make way more of the “cross” mixture” than the recipe says, and the glaze isn’t enough to cover the buns entirely. Also, I would suggest warning people that this recipe requires lots of rising time for the dough. I thought it was less rising time since the recipe says 20 minutes. Thanks for the recipe though. Like I said they smell delicious!
Thanks Tam, I’ll make some notes and adjust the recipe as needed. Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it.
can i use sunflower oil instead of olive oil ?
Hi Neda, I haven’t tried sunflower but it may be a good healthy alternative. Let me know how it goes :)
I’m proofing as I’m typing. Can’t wait to try them. First time trying to bake any type of bread. Had trouble with the cross mixture as it wasn’t enough water. Just kept adding water until it became a liquid and didn’t have a machine so had to do the dough by hand. Hope it turns out.
These turned out perfect. Thanks, great recipe. Simon
Hi there, love this. Would you like to share this with the other participants in Food on Friday over at Carole’s Chatter? I have a weekly link up party – each week there is a different ingredient or theme. The current theme is Easter Food!
You can see upcoming themes in one of the pages at the top of my home page. If you would like to join in the fun please schedule a reminder for each week. The collection starts at 7am Friday New Zealand time – which might be some time Thursday your time – I do find time zones quite confusing. Hope to see you soon. Cheers, Carole
Could you freeze these before baking ?
Hi Janet I don’t think you could freeze before baking
I doubled the recipe so I could freeze some for Easter. They turned out just the way they look in the recipe . The right spice mix and delicious taste.
Excellent Carol, thanks for the feedback!
I would like to make these for Easter brunch, do you think I could do the last rise overnight in the refrigerator? That would let me bring them to room temperature and bake after church in the morning.
Hi Sherry, I think they would be okay kept in the fridge on a baking tray close to one another so they don’t dry out and covered tightly with a clean towel.
This worked well in my breadmaker, pulled them out before final rise and made buns. I didn’t like the crosses, they turned out hard for me. Also I got 12 huge buns. Next time I’ll make 18 small buns.
Made these today with a few adjustments for my taste, added the zest of an extra large orange and reduced the cloves by half. Skipped step 13. Added a little orange extract to the glaze. Only recommendation, Watch the bake time started with 20 and they were well-done suggest starting at 15-16minutes. They are delicious and very light, fluffy. Love that there is no dairy in them. Light glaze gives them just enough sweet.
Love adding the zest and extract! Glad you liked them Lisa and happy Easter!
Is it possible to make these without rapid rise yeast? I’m very excited to be making them for the first time!
This looks amazing and easy to make; I can’t wait to try it.