These hot cross buns are sweet and spiced, fruity, and filling. This truly timeless Easter recipe gives you bread whose looks compete with its flavour! But don't be fooled. Hot cross buns taste just as good the rest of the year as they do on Good Friday. With a white cross down the center, a honey butter glaze, and fluffy and flavourful dough, these hot cross buns won't disappoint. The best part? You only need to spend about 20 minutes of hands-on prep work to make these.
Why You'll Love Hot Cross Buns
- Hot cross buns are the Easter tradition. Dating back as far as the 12th century—yes, the 12th century—hot cross buns are a timeless classic recipe. Trust almost 1,000 years of R&D. These buns are the best.
- Everyone loves sweet, fluffy buns. Hot cross buns are light and airy. When you knead properly, the flavourful dough picks up plenty of air during proofing. The result is melt-in-your-mouth buns with sweet raisins sprinkled throughout. Oh, and don't forget the honey butter glaze!
- Breadmaking at its finest. Making bread is fun, rewarding, and it can save you lots of money. From the art of kneading to the patience of proofing, breadmaking is a skill you'll be happy you learned—and hot cross buns are one of the best to know.
To make easy hot cross buns this Easter, you will need the following ingredients:
- all-purpose flour
- yeast - you can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast.
- granulated sugar - helps to "feed" the yeast, making it rise faster, and also adds a little sweetness to the bread.
- salt - adds flavour.
- milk - whole milk and buttermilk will result in the richest hot cross buns. You can use non-dairy or low-fat milk, but your buns will lose out on the flavour and richness that the milk fat adds.
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon
- raisins - while raisins make great traditional hot cross buns, you can substitute other dried fruits like raspberries, apricots, or citrus. You can also add a mixture of fruit. Be sure to keep the total amount of fruit you add to less than ¾ cups or 100 grams and cut up large chunks into raisin-sized pieces.
- for the cross - you will need all-purpose flour and water.
- for the honey glaze - you will need honey and melted butter.
How to Make the Best Hot Cross Buns
Prepare the Dough
- Prepare the dough. In a large mixing bowl, add milk, yeast, sugar, salt, egg, butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Whisk well to combine and let sit for 5 minutes. This allows the yeast to become active. Add in flour and stir well to combine until no dry flour is visible in the bowl. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The butter might still be a bit crumbly at this point.
- Knead the dough. Transfer the dough mixture onto a clean surface and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until the dough ball is smooth and not sticky at all. Because of the high fat content (butter and milk) in the dough, it should take less than 5 minutes of kneading by hand to achieve a non-sticky and smooth dough ball.
Tips for Kneading Dough
- How to knead dough: Knead the dough by pushing it down and outward using the palms of your hands. Fold the dough in half toward you and press down. Repeat this motion by pushing the dough down and outward, and then folding over towards you. This helps build up gluten strength in dough that is responsible for making the bread fluffy.
- How to test if dough is well-kneaded: A well-kneaded dough is smooth and can hold its shape. You can test the dough by giving it a firm poke with your finger. The indentation should bounce right back. If it doesn’t bounce back and stays like a dimple, keep kneading for a few more minutes.
- Proof the dough (first rise). Transfer the dough back into the mixing bowl and lightly grease the dough ball with oil or cooking oil spray. Cover the bowl with plastic cling wrap and let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I leave it in the oven (not turned on) with the light on to speed up the rise time.
- Add raisins. When the dough doubles in size, punch it down to release the air. Add raisins and knead for a few minutes to combine.
- Shape the dough. Roll the dough ball into a rectangle and divide it into 12 equal pieces with a knife or bench scraper. Use your hands to roll each piece into a ball and transfer onto a quarter sheet baking pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, leaving ½-inch of space between each dough ball.
- Proof the buns (second rise). Cover the pan with plastic cling wrap to prevent the dough from drying. When the dough loses moisture, it tends to form hard skin around its surface, which creates a hard crust when baking. Let the rolls rest and rise for 45 minutes. The rolls should almost double in size.
How to Make the Cross on Hot Cross Buns
In a small mixing bowl, add flour and water and stir well into a thick paste. Transfer the paste into a piping bag and attached a no. 5 round tip, or snip off the corner. Pipe crosses over the buns by piping a line down the center of the buns and repeating in the other direction to create crosses.
Then, bake the buns in a preheated 375 F oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Lastly, make the glaze by mixing together honey and melted butter in a bowl until smooth and combined. Brush the glaze evenly over the buns immediately once out of the oven. Let the buns cool on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
- How to store: Hot cross buns can be stored in a bread box or an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. You can also refrigerate them for up to a week, but they will become more dry.
- How to freeze: Let the baked buns cool to room temperature before freezing in an airtight container or freezer bag. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight or allow the buns to rest at room temperature for several hours.
- How to reheat: You can reheat hot cross buns for a few minutes in a toaster oven or air fryer at 300F.
More Bread Recipes
- Cinnamon Raisin Challah Bread
- Green Onion Dinner Rolls
- Broiche Bread
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Easy Challah Bread
- Easy Homemade Everything Bagels
- Small Batch No-Knead Bread
- Easy Small Batch Ciabatta Rolls
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.