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Hot cross buns is a timeless classic Easter bread made with raisins, cinnamon, and a honey glaze. They are perfect for breakfast, a snack or dessert. |

Hot Cross Buns

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sam Hu | Ahead of Thyme
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 buns
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Hot cross buns is a timeless classic Easter bread made with raisins, cinnamon, and a honey glaze. They are perfect for breakfast, a snack or dessert. 


  • 180 grams milk  (3/4 cup), at room temperature 
  • 3 grams active dry yeast or instant yeast (1 teaspoon)
  • 25 grams granulated sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • 3 grams salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • 50 grams unsalted butter (1/4 cup), at room temperature
  • 4 grams vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • 3 grams ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
  • 375 grams all-purpose flour (3 cups)
  • 100 grams raisins (3/4 cup)

For the cross:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Prepare the Dough

  1. In a large 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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. A well kneaded dough is smooth and can hold its shape. Also, when you give the dough ball 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 minutes.

Proof the Dough (First Rise)

  1. Transfer the dough back into the bowl and lightly grease the dough ball with oil or cooking oil spray.
  2. 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.

Shape the Buns

  1. When the dough doubles in size, punch it down to release the air. Add raisins and knead for a few minutes to combine.
  2. 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 1/2-inch of space between each dough ball.

Proof the Buns (Second Rise)

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. 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.

Add the Cross

  1. In a small bowl, add flour and water and stir well into a thick paste. 
  2. Transfer the paste into a piping bag and attached a no. 5 round tip, or snip off the corner.
  3. Pipe crosses over the buns by piping a line down the center of the buns and repeating in the other direction to create crosses.

Bake the Buns

  1. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  2. 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.


How to customize: 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.

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.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes (1 hour 45 minutes rise time)
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American