Hot Cross Buns

Light and fluffy Hot Cross Buns with delicious spices and raisins. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

hot cross buns on baking tray with plate of butter

Hot Cross Buns

For as long as I can remember, Easter has always been celebrated in my family with a batch or two of 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 on wire rack with small plate of butter with gold butter knife

Easter Hot Cross Buns

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!

split hot cross bun with melted butter

Hot Cross Bun Recipe

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 Hot Cross Buns.

The recipe for Hot Cross Buns 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.

hot cross buns on wire rack with one split open and spread with butter

Easy Hot Cross Buns

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.

hot cross buns on baking tray with white cloth

Different Types of Yeast

There are generally 3 different types of yeast that you can use in bread baking:

  1. Fresh yeast, which is usually sold in small cubes and found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket.
  2. Dried yeast, also called active dry yeast, which are sold in cans or sachets with small to large granules.
  3. Instant yeast, also called instant dried yeast, fast-action dried yeast, or easy blend yeast, which are sold in cans or sachets with fine granules.

Fresh yeast is easy to differentiate from dried yeast and instant yeast.

However, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate dried yeast from instant yeast, especially since they are often both called something similar, and they also look very similar.

Difference Between Dried Yeast and Instant Yeast

Dried yeast tends to have larger granules than instant yeast; instant yeast usually consists of very fine granules.

Dried yeast needs to be activated first, usually in a liquid at blood temperature, and you will know that it has activated once the liquid starts to froth. This process should take only about 5 minutes.

On the other hand, instant yeast can be added straight to the flour and does not need to be activated first.

If in doubt, check the instructions on the packaging to see if the yeast needs to be activated first. More information on the difference between dried yeast and instant yeast can also be found here.

The Hot Cross Bun recipe below uses instant yeast. But if you can only find dried yeast, please see my instructions in the Kitchen Notes below.

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

For a printable recipe, please scroll down.

butter, milk, raisins, orange zest, cardamom pods and cloves on small plates
melted butter in saucepan with bowls of raisins and brown sugar
mixing bowl with dry ingredients and sachet of yeast
mixing bowl with dry ingredients with saucepan of melted butter and plate of eggs
hot cross bun dough in mixing bowl
hot cross bun dough after first session of proving
hot cross bun dough rolled into twelve portions on baking tray
bowls containing flour and water
hot cross buns on baking tray before going into the oven
small saucepan with water and sugar
hot cross buns with glaze on baking tray
hot cross buns on wire rack with white butter dish

How to Proof Dough

Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:

  • In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
  • In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf. Use about 1 litre (4 cups) of water, and top up after about 1 hour.
  • In the oven at a low temperature of about 25-30°C (77-86°F).
  • On the open oven door, with the oven turned on at 100°C (212°F).

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

To make Hot Cross Buns with chocolate chips, please see my recipe with step-by-step photos here.

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns recipe with step-by-step photos.

More Bread Recipes

For more bread recipes, you might also like:

Brioche Bread

French Brioche Loaf

Fruit Loaf


Hot Cross Buns

5 from 22 reviews

  • Resting Time: 1.5 hours
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes 12 buns
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Australian

Light and fluffy Hot Cross Buns with delicious spices and raisins. Recipe with step-by-step photos.


For the Hot Cross Buns

  • 185 ml (3/4 cup) full cream milk
  • 125 g (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 90 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) light muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 125 g (4.5 oz) raisins
  • 625 g (4 cups plus 3 tablespoons) strong white bread flour (see Kitchen Notes)
  • 7 g (1/4 oz) instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) (see Kitchen Notes)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 eggs

For the crosses

  • 60 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water

For the glaze

  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar (superfine sugar)


Making the dough

  1. Combine the milk, butter, orange zest, cardamom pods, cloves and brown sugar in a small saucepan and gently heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the raisins, and leave the mixture to cool until it is lukewarm (about 37°C or 98°F).
  3. Remove the cardamom pods and cloves.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground ginger and salt.
  5. Slowly mix the milk mixture into the flour mixture.
  6. Add one egg at a time.
  7. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is elastic in texture. If you have an electric stand mixer, you can knead the dough using the dough hook for about 10-12 minutes on medium 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.

Shaping the buns

  1. 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.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I like to weigh the whole dough, divide the weight by 12, and then weigh each portion of dough as I form them.
  3. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place them on a tray lined with baking paper.
  4. 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.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). If you have been using the oven to prove the buns, make sure you have taken them out of the oven by this step!
  6. To make the crosses, mix together the flour and water until you have a thick paste.
  7. Fill a small piping bag with the paste, or a small plastic bag and snip off the corner.
  8. Pipe a cross onto each bun. I do this by piping a line horizontally across all of the buns, and then vertically.

Baking the Hot Cross Buns

  1. Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden.
  2. 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.
  3. Brush the glaze over the buns as soon as you take them out of the oven.
  4. Serve the hot cross buns with a generous spread of butter.

Kitchen Notes

* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* If you do not have instant 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 6 when you are also mixing in the butter mixture. As a guide, please refer to my recipe for Fruit Loaf to see the steps involved in using dried yeast.

* Bread flour contains 11-13% protein content, which is required to develop more gluten in the dough, which in turn gives yeasted bread a nice, chewy texture.
* If you do not have strong white bread flour, plain flour (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.
* For Swiss readers, I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven at a low temperature of about 25-30°C (77-86°F).
* On the open oven door, with the oven turned on at 100°C (212°F).

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

This recipe produces 12 large buns. You could also divide the dough into 15 portions to produce slightly smaller buns which are more kid-friendly.

Hot Cross Buns are best eaten the day they are made. Any leftover hot cross buns can be stored in the freezer and toasted before serving.

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 364
  • Sugar: 13.2g
  • Sodium: 78.2mg
  • Fat: 10.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 75.2g
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Protein: 9.6g
  • Cholesterol: 69.7mg

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram and using #eatlittlebird


This recipe was first published on 28 March 2013. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

Shop this recipe

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  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. 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 🙂

  6. thelittleloaf 29 March 2013

    These look absolutely beautiful. Happy Easter!

  7. 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.

  8. Sue b do 30 March 2013

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

  9. 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 🙂

  10. At Anna's kitchen table 31 March 2013

    They look so perfect Thanh! Happy Easter!

  11. 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 🙂

  12. 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..

  13. 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 🙂

  14. 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.

  15. 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 🙂

  16. 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!

  17. plasterer bristol 7 March 2017

    These turned out perfect. Thanks, great recipe. Simon

  18. 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.

  19. Miriam 4 March 2018

    Die sehen toll aus! Super Idee!

  20. Julia 13 April 2018

    This is a great idea for my breakfast. Looks very tasty! Thank you!

  21. Jane 22 March 2021

    Delicious!! I made my first batch on Saturday and they were gone by dinner. They were much easier to make than I first thought. Thank you for a lovely recipe!

  22. Alice 22 March 2021

    Excellent recipe! These hot cross buns tasted delicious and looked very beautiful too. I’m going to try and bake it into a loaf next time. Also going to try your chocolate version. Love your recipes!

  23. Amy 22 March 2021

    Found your recipe on Pinterest and just baked a batch this morning. Very delicious!! I’ll be making these again for Easter.

  24. Julie 22 March 2021

    Found your recipe on Pinterest too! Love the step by step photos. I added some mixed spice as well and it tasted perfect.

  25. Jess 23 March 2021

    I’ve used your recipe several times now and they make the best hot cross buns! I added more of the spices last time but the kids like them with less. Just made another batch today!

  26. Christine 5 April 2022

    Beautiful! These hot cross buns were nice and soft, and just the right amount of spice. Actually I would prefer more spice in my buns but these were just perfect for my family. I will definitely make these again.

  27. Melissa 5 April 2022

    I’ve made this recipe several times with great success. Do you think I could also bake the dough in a loaf pan? If so, what size loaf pan and for how long? TIA!

  28. Alyssa 14 April 2022

    Amazing recipe! This was my first time making Hot Cross Buns and they turned out just like your photos. Thank you so much for such an easy to follow recipe. The buns were soft and fluffy with just the right amount of spice. So good!

  29. Karen S 14 April 2022

    Beautiful hot cross buns and very tasty! I served them straight from the oven but if I had to be honest, they tasted better toasted the next day 🙂 I will make them again this Sunday for sure.

  30. Erika 14 April 2022

    Wow, a wonderful recipe! The buns were very delicious and so soft and tender. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Mel 15 April 2022

    Wonderful recipe. My hot cross buns turned out beautifully, very soft and delicious.

  32. Johanna 15 April 2022

    I love this recipe. I made these buns for the second time today and doubled the spices – thanks for the hint in your IG stories! I prefer them with the extra spice 🙂

  33. Christine 15 April 2022

    Beautiful recipe!

  34. Shannon 16 April 2022

    Absolutely delicious. Very easy to make and the buns were lovely and soft, with the right amount of spice.

  35. Diana 16 April 2022

    I tried your hot cross bun recipe today and they turned out wonderfully.

  36. Amy Kendall 17 April 2022

    I made these hot cross buns for brunch today and they were amazing! They were lovely and soft buns and tasted delicious. I just wish there were leftovers, ha ha!

  37. Dan McPherson 17 April 2022

    Beautiful recipe! We all enjoyed the hot cross buns very much.

  38. Emma Murphy @MyPetDoggie 24 March 2023

    Found the recipe! My Aussie gonna love it!

  39. Maki 2 April 2023

    Amazing recipe! My family and I loved it xx

  40. Sandra 1 June 2023

    So Easter was a bit hectic for us this year and I missed out on making hot cross buns from scratch. Nevermind! I decided to make a batch today and they were truly wonderful. Thank you for your recipe.