Hot Cross Buns


Make your own delicious Hot Cross Buns with this recipe with step-by-step photos.


For as long as I can remember, Easter has always been celebrated with some Hot Cross Buns in my family. Well, growing up in a bakery meant that each holiday was always associated with baked goods of some sort, but I have always held a soft spot for Hot Cross Buns. This sentiment only amplified when I moved to Switzerland and discovered that these spiced buns were not as universal as the religious festival.

Hot Cross Buns are small, spiced yeast buns and which are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. In Australia, bakeries start selling these buns almost as soon as the Christmas items have been removed from the shelves. In my family’s bakery, three varieties of Hot Cross Buns were always on offer – plain, with fruit or with chocolate chips. Of course, chocolate Hot Cross Buns are not traditional but gosh they are good!


As has been the story of my journey in the kitchen, my craving for foods not available in my adopted home country has meant lots of opportunities to cook and bake things that I would not otherwise. And so began my foray into the world of breads and yeast and endless experiments with different recipes for these Easter treats.

The recipe below is a culmination of those experiments, gathered from scribbles on post-it notes containing amendments to recipes in cookbooks and cross-referencing other cookbooks, ultimately becoming, I suppose, my own recipe.

Being a personal recipe, it responds to my expectations of a Hot Cross Bun, using a method which I find easiest for me. The spices have been amplified for more punch, the dried fruit content has been reduced to just raisins (and not too much, at that), and the method is in keeping with how I make most breads.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe 🙂

{For a printable recipe, please scroll down}














Hot Cross Buns

hot cross buns
  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes 12 buns


For the buns

  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) full cream milk
  • 4.5 oz (125 g) unsalted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 cup (90 g) light muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 4.5 oz (125 g) raisins
  • 5 cups (625 g) strong white bread flour
  • 1/4 oz (7 g) easy blend yeast
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 eggs

For the crosses

  • 1/2 cup (60 g) plain flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water

For the glaze

  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar


  1. Combine the milk, butter, orange zest, cardamom pods and cloves in a small saucepan and gently heat until the butter has melted.
  2. Add the brown sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
  3. Add the raisins, and leave the mixture to cool until it is lukewarm (about 37°C or 98°F).
  4. Remove the cardamom pods and cloves.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground ginger.
  6. Slowly mix the butter mixture into the flour mixture, and then add one egg at a time.
  7. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is elastic in texture. If you have a KitchenAid or other stand mixer, you can knead the dough using the dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium-high speed.
  8. Lightly oil a large bowl.
  9. Place the dough into the bowl, cover with a teatowel, and leave it to prove in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. I like to do this in an oven at 50°C or 120°F.
  10. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it back with your fist to release some of the air, and then gently knead the dough into a ball.
  11. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions.
  12. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place them on a tray lined with baking paper.
  13. Cover the balls of dough with a teatowel and return the tray to a warm place to prove for 30 minutes or until the balls of dough have slightly risen.
  14. Preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C). If you have been using the oven to prove the buns, make sure you have taken them out of the oven by this step!
  15. To make the crosses, mix together the flour and water until you have a thick paste.
  16. Fill a small piping bag with the paste, or a small plastic bag and snip off the corner.
  17. Pipe a cross onto each bun. I do this by piping a line horizontally across the buns, and then vertically.
  18. Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden.
  19. Meanwhile, make the glaze by heating the water and sugar together in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved.
  20. Brush the glaze over the buns as soon as you take them out of the oven.
  21. Serve the hot cross buns with a generous spread of butter. Any leftover buns can be stored in the freezer and toasted before serving.

Cook’s Notes

If you do not have strong white bread flour, plain (all-purpose) flour also works well in this recipe. The texture will be a little softer and less bread-like, but the difference is otherwise not very noticeable.

You can also play around with the dried fruit content, or omit it completely for just a plain spiced bun.

The advantages of using easy blend yeast is that you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first. If you do not have easy blend yeast, I would suggest using the same amount of dried yeast. In which case, omit the milk from the first step, and instead warm it separately until it is blood temperature (about 37°C or 98°F). Add the dried yeast to the warm milk and set it aside for about 5 minutes until it is frothy. Add this yeast mixture in step four when you are also mixing in the butter mixture and eggs. As a guide, please refer to my recipe for Fruit Loaf to see the steps involved in using dried yeast.

Share your photos!

If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird




  1. Helen 29 March 2013

    These look STUNNING! I love your presentation and quirky photos and illustrations – thank you for a lovely blog!

  2. Ellen @ Indigo Scones 29 March 2013

    Gorgeous! I’ve never actually had a hot cruss bun, but all this talk of them is making me want to try my hand at it. I’ve heard also of piping on cream cheese crosses on the finished bun, what’s your take on that?

    • eat, little bird 29 March 2013

      I hope you will have a chance to try Hot Cross Buns one day – they are really delicious! These days, there are so many different versions to be found. I’m not so sure about cream cheese crosses … I don’t think they would go very well with the spiced bun but I would still be curious to try!

  3. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom 29 March 2013

    These are beautiful!! I also baked hot cross buns today. . yours look so much prettier! this was my first time baking them and I followed a friend’s recipe. . I love your version!

    • eat, little bird 29 March 2013

      I’m happy to hear that you made some Hot Cross Buns! I think they are a lovely tradition to have at Easter. I’m sure I will still be tweaking my recipe in years to come but, for now, I’m quite happy with this version 🙂

  4. Andrea Raup 29 March 2013

    They look amazing! I was literally placing my first ever homemade batch into the oven when the notification of your post arrived! I hope mine turn out as well!

    • eat, little bird 29 March 2013

      Hello! Lovely to see you here 🙂 I’m sure your batch turned out beautifully. Hope are are having a lovely Easter!

  5. […] Cross Buns, I knew I wanted to try it. I also adore Thanh’s blog, Eat Little Bird and love the recipe she just posted. And lastly, I have to share this one from Singapore Shiok, because it has a […]

  6. Louise 29 March 2013

    Ooh I like the look of these. Going to attempt with my children today!

    • eat, little bird 29 March 2013

      Good luck and have fun! I’m sure the kids will love getting their hands into this sticky dough, as well as eating them 🙂

  7. thelittleloaf 29 March 2013

    These look absolutely beautiful. Happy Easter!

  8. Laura@bakinginpyjamas 29 March 2013

    I love hot cross buns, especially home made ones. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to making any this year, but I’ve made them for past Easter celebrations. I can’t wait to see more recipes from you.

    • eat, little bird 29 March 2013

      Although I guess Hot Cross Buns could be eaten at any time of the year (minus the crosses), I think they are a lovely tradition to have at Easter. This is why I try to make them every year, otherwise I couldn’t bear to wait another year! But when I was living in Australia, the bakeries sold such delicious buns that I doubt I would have made them at home if I was still living there.

  9. Sue b do 30 March 2013

    Love your programme and your recipes I will try your hot cross buns. Happy easter.

  10. Sofie 30 March 2013

    Hey, I have tried making this recipe twice and each time my dough did not rise during the first prove. I followed the recipe exactly, except for 1 small change of using lemon zest instead of orange. Any ideas why it hasn’t work out for me? Thanks!

    • eat, little bird 30 March 2013

      Oh dear! What type of yeast did you use? If you used dried yeast, please see my Cook’s Notes as you will need to activate the yeast in some warm liquid first. Otherwise, did you leave the dough to prove in the oven or in a warm enough place? Depending on the type of yeast and room temperature, you may need more or less proving time. I hope we can work out why your dough hasn’t risen!

      • Sofie 30 March 2013

        Oopsy, I didn’t read the cooks notes! My yeast is active dried yeast so I guess I should have put it in warm milk beforehand. Thanks! Hopefully 3rd time lucky will work for me. They look delicious so I can’t wait to try them.

        • eat, little bird 30 March 2013

          Oh at least we have identified why it hasn’t risen. If it helps, please see my recipe for Fruit Loaf as I used dried yeast there. Hope this helps and I hope you will be third time lucky! I have my fingers crossed for you. And thank you for persisting with this recipe. I really do hope you will enjoy it after all of this effort 🙂

          • Sofie 30 March 2013

            Thanks for your help. Hot cross buns are always worth the effort 🙂

  11. At Anna's kitchen table 31 March 2013

    They look so perfect Thanh! Happy Easter!

  12. Monique Prins 1 April 2013

    Your buns look great, and I’ve saved the link so I can make them next year. Wish I had seen your post a couple of weeks ago so that I could have made them in time for this Easter! I’m a Kiwi living in the Netherlands, and I’m having huge troubles finding strong white flour (bread flour) here. Do you have the same problem in Switzerland and do you have any tips on how I can get my hands on it? Thanks!

    • eat, little bird 1 April 2013

      Hi Monique,
      Strong white bread flour is also not sold in Switzerland, although there are many other types of “bread” flours available here for certain types of bread.

      I buy my strong white bread flour online from an expat website in Switzerland called the Britshop. I think they only deliver in Switzerland but my advice would be to see if something similar exists in the Netherlands.

      I will ask a Dutch friend of mine if he has any tips 🙂

      • Joost 1 April 2013

        Hey Monique, Dutch friend here 😉 I have the same trouble finding strong bread flour. You can buy Italian ’00’ flour online and presumably in some delis, and some mills (if you’re lucky enough to live near one) sell various types of flour. However, I’ve never had any disasters using patent tarwebloem in any bake, including loafs. Having said that, I’ve never used strong bread flour, so don’t really know if it makes much difference. Maybe I’ve been missing out all these years 😉

        • eat, little bird 2 April 2013

          Thank you so much for your helpful reply! Since I moved to Switzerland, I used normal plain flour when baking bread and found there to be little difference. Since I’ve been able to get my hands on strong white bread flour, I prefer to use it when I can because, for some reason, I feel more confident using it for breads, etc. I might need to do a proper experiment with both flours 🙂

  13. Not Only Sugar 2 April 2013

    Sofficissimi e bellissimi.. di una bontà unica..
    mi piace molto anche la foto degli ingredienti, anch’io la propongo così..

  14. Rushi 2 April 2013

    Happy Easter Thanh! Awww love your hotcross buns, I baked a batch and I’m so pleased with the results. They disappeared before my very eyes 🙂
    I have one tiny question, if I omit the sugar the next time I make the buns would the recipe suffer?

    • eat, little bird 2 April 2013

      Hi Rushi!
      Lovely to hear from you. I’ve been meaning to write to you … I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! I personally like the addition of sugar to give a sweeter bun; omitting the sugar would have an effect on the taste but I’m not sure about the bread itself.

      Have you tried Nigella’s recipe in Feast. Her recipe contains no sugar and I found it to be bland for my tastes. But it’s all about experimenting with different recipes before you arrive at one that you like 🙂

  15. Kay 3 April 2013

    I love chocolate and hot cross buns! so the idea of combining the two sounds delicious! The cinnamon buns here look yummy.

  16. Laura 6 April 2013

    This recipe looks delish! As a kiwi living in the US I couldn’t believe it when I found no hot x buns on the store shelves!! How do you think this recipe would survive if it was made into a loaf (for toast) instead of buns? I read your fruit loaf recipe, but i love the spices and cinnamon in hot x buns! 🙂

    • eat, little bird 12 April 2013

      Hi Laura,
      Sorry for the late response … I think you could definitely use this recipe to make a fruit loaf, roughly following the steps in my recipe for Fruit Loaf. Looking at both recipes, I daresay you could get 2 loaves out of this Hot Cross Bun recipe. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for ages but always end up making the buns instead. I might try it myself soon (I have some bread flour which I need to use up) and report back here on the results 🙂

  17. The Food Sage 27 April 2013

    An extra spice kick and not too many raisins … sounds like my kind of hot cross bun. Thanks for sharing your personal recipe!

  18. […] Classic Hot Cross Buns by Eat Little Bird […]

  19. […] […]

  20. […] est inspirée de la version de Thanh, que l’on peut retrouver sur son sublime blog culinaire Eat, Little Bird (blog en […]

  21. plasterer bristol 7 March 2017

    These turned out perfect. Thanks, great recipe. Simon

  22. Rob 15 April 2017

    I’m excited to make these tomorrow! As I’m going through the recipe I noticed it doesn’t call for salt- was this an oversight? How much should I use?

    • Eat, Little Bird 15 April 2017

      Hi Rob,
      There is no salt in this recipe. Some bread recipes call for salt, but I don’t think it is necessary for these hot cross buns. However, if you wish to add some salt, I would suggest adding 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt with the flour. Hope you will enjoy the recipe.


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