I love making hot cross buns every year around Easter. So here are My Favorite Hot Cross Buns. They are well-spiced with amazing flavor and so fluffy. Perfect for Easter breakfast, brunch, dinner, or really any time of the year!
Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns! One a penny, two a penny Hot Cross Buns!
Beyond the nursery rhyme, Hot Cross Buns are actually a thing (if you are like my husband who didn't know they were.)
These dense spiced buns are the perfect treat for Good Friday and Easter. The crosses on the buns signify the cross Jesus died on to save us from our sins.
Make sure you try some warm slathered with some butter. I assure you, you will be in heaven!
What Are Hot Cross Buns?
Hot Cross Buns are deliciously spiced sweet buns often made with fruit and marked by a cross on each bun. They are sweeter than regular bread rolls.
The cross on a hot cross bun is either made with a mixture of flour and water or with a simple icing.
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and other countries.
For Christians, the cross on each bun signifies the crucifixion of Christ and the warming spices signify the embalming at His funeral.
Why This Is My Favorite Hot Cross Buns Recipe
This is my Favorite Hot Cross Buns recipe because:
- It is not as time-consuming as most hot cross buns recipes. You only need the buns to rise once!
- No raisins! I am not a fan of raisins so I had to develop a recipe that excluded them, Feel free to use raisins or other dried fruits like currants if you want to. I talk more about variations to the recipe down in the post.
- So flavorful! These are not ordinary buns. They are filled with flavor and the aroma that fills the house while baking them is everything!
- The lemon glaze! It adds a hint of lemon flavor to the buns and makes them glisten which is quite appealing.
Here are the ingredients you need for easy Hot Cross Buns
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Nutmeg
To make the crosses, you need flour, sugar, and water. And for the lemon glaze, you need freshly squeezed lemon juice, powdered sugar, and water.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How To Make Hot Cross Buns
- Make the dough. The dough for this recipe is really easy. Just dump all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer or a bread machine (if you have one) and let the machine knead the dough. You could also mix and knead the dough by hand.
- Shape the dough into buns. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and shape each part into a ball.
- Let the dough rise. Let the shaped dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Draw crosses on the dough. Make a mixture of flour, water, and sugar, place in a piping bag, and pipe into crosses over the buns.
- Bake. Bake the buns until dark brown.
- Glaze. Mix together lemon juice, water, and icing sugar to form a glaze then brush the glaze over the buns.
Note that I love using evaporated milk in baked goods because it is so flavorful. But you could substitute it with whole milk or 2 percent milk.
Substitutions and Variations
You could make these hot cross buns your own by trying the following variations:
- Add some allspice or cardamom for a variation in flavor.
- Add dried fruits like raisins, cranberries or currants to the dough to reflect traditional hot cross buns. If you choose to add dried fruit, first knead the dough then fold in the fruits.
- Add in fresh fruits like diced apples to add a fresh element to the dough.
- If you love coconut, consider adding some shredded coconut to the dough.
- For even more flavor, add vanilla extract to the dough.
Store Hot Cross Buns in the fridge in an airtight Ziploc bag for 2-3 days. Reheat in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or simply pop a bun into the microwave and heat it up for 15 seconds.
Also, hot cross buns will keep well in the freezer for one to three months. Be sure to keep them in an airtight bag if you choose to freeze them.
To make Hot Cross Buns ahead of time, make the dough, shape it into rolls then let it rise in a greased baking dish overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, pipe on the crosses and bake!
More Recipes You Will Love
- Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Frosting
- Easy Dinner Rolls
- Chocolate Bread
- Malva Pudding
- Challah Bread Pudding
My Favorite Hot Cross Buns
For The Dough
- 1½ cups lukewarm evaporated milk (sub with whole milk) See Note 1, milk should be heated to about 110° F
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest from 2-3 lemons
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature for greasing pan
For The Crosses
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup water + 1 Tablespoon
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
For The Glaze
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons water
- Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish with butter.
- In a large bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer or a bread machine, combine all the ingredients for the dough. Mix them together using the stand mixer, bread machine, or by hand. I mixed the dough using the dough function of my bread machine. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place in the buttered baking dish.
- To ensure every bun is of the same size, you could weigh the buns on a kitchen scale. But I hardly do this. I just eyeball them.
- Place the buns in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. I love to turn on my oven for 1-2 minutes then I turn off my oven and place my dough inside to rise. This works perfectly for me everytime.
- When the buns are almost done rising, preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.
- Make the flour paste for the crosses. Mix together the flour, water, and sugar to form a pipeable paste. Pour the paste into a Ziploc bag then snip the corner. Hold the bag over the buns and carefully draw crosses over the risen buns with the flour paste.
- Bake the buns in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until dark brown on top.
- Make the lemon glaze. In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, powdered sugar, and water. Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over the buns while they are still hot.
- Serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight bag in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, simply pop a bun into the microwave and reheat for 15 seconds.
- I love using evaporated milk in baked goods because it is so flavorful. But you could substitute it with whole milk or 2 percent milk.
- For more flavor, you could also add a quarter teaspoon of ground cardamom to the dough. However, note that cardamom can be overpowering so make sure you do not add too much.