Hot Cross Buns Recipe

A traditional hot cross buns recipe flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, and filled with raisins and candied fruit. An old fashioned Easter recipe with meaning.

Holidays mean family. And family means food. Our goal with our site is to bring food and family together and that means that we’ve got you covered for holiday recipes…even Easter recipes!

You may have tried our Easter bread or our Resurrection rolls, but we’re going back even further in time to sing the praises of this old fashioned hot cross buns recipe.

hot cross buns in a pan

What are hot cross buns?

Hot cross buns are English in origin and may date back to the early 12th century. In present day, they are served on Black Friday or during the Lent season. What do they taste like? They are yeast rolls that are spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Most recipes will have dried or candied fruits such as raisins.

The defining look of the yeast buns are the cross that is baked into the top of the rolls. The cross represents Jesus’ cross and the spices are meant to represent the embalming spices of Christ’s body.

ingredients for hot cross buns

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

Make the yeast dough:

  • In a medium bowl whisk together 1 cup of flour with the sugar, yeast, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. *Note: If you are not using quick rise yeast, read the back of your yeast packet to see how/when to add it to the dough.*
  • In a large bowl beat together the milk, butter and eggs. Add the flour/yeast mixture to the milk mixture and beat well, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the candied fruit and raisins. Gradually stir in the remaining flour to make soft dough.
  • Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 7 minutes, until dough is smooth. If you have a stand mixer you can use that to knead the dough. And you can even use the dough setting on your bread maker to knead the dough.
  • Form the dough into a ball, cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal sized pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and place it in the prepared baking dish. Cover with a clean tea towel and let stand in a warm draft free area until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
how to make crosses on hot cross buns

How to Make the Cross

We often get asked, “How do you make the crosses on hot cross buns?” It’s a mixture of flour, sugar and water that you’ll pipe onto the unbaked rolls.

  • In a small bowl mix together the water, flour and powdered sugar for the crosses.
  • Put this mixture in a Ziploc bag. Then cut a corner off the bag and pipe a line down the length and width of the pan of buns to form crosses over each bun.

If you happen to have a piping bag you can use that, but a Ziploc bag works just as well. No special tools needed!

After you have the crosses on the buns, bake for 30-35 minutes. The rolls should be golden brown.

glaze on hot cross buns

Glaze for Hot Cross Buns

Mix together the powdered sugar and milk for the icing and brush it over the buns while they are hot from the oven. This adds a touch of sweetness and will help keep the rolls soft.

hot cross buns for easter on a plate

How to Store Homemade Buns

Store these buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Have more than enough leftover? You can freeze them! Double wrap them, first in plastic wrap and again in a zippered bag or storage container.

To defrost, bring them to room temperature before opening the package. This helps keep the moisture in the rolls.

overhead shot of hot cross buns
overhead shot of hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns

5 from 1 vote
A traditional hot cross buns recipe flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, and filled with raisins and candied fruit. An old fashioned Easter recipe with meaning.
Servings 12
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the rolls:

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (divided)
  • cup white sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon quick rise yeast (1 packet)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup warm milk
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup mixed candied fruit

For the crosses:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup water (plus 1 tablespoon)

For the icing:

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl whisk together 1 cup of flour with the sugar, yeast, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. *Note: If you are not using quick rise yeast, read the back of your yeast packet to see how/when to add it to the dough.*
  • In a large bowl beat together the milk, butter and eggs.
  • Add the flour/yeast mixture to the milk mixture and beat well, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the candied fruit and raisins.
  • Gradually stir in the remaining flour to make soft dough.
  • Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 7 minutes, until dough is smooth.
  • Form the dough into a ball, cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal sized pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and place it in the prepared baking dish.
  • Cover with a clean tea towel and let stand in a warm draft free area until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  • In a small bowl mix together the water, flour and powdered sugar for the crosses. Put this mixture in a Ziploc bag, cut a corner off the bag and pipe a line down the length and width of the pan of buns to form crosses.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
  • Mix together the powdered sugar and milk for the icing and brush it over the buns while they are hot from the oven.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making 12 rolls, with 1 serving being 1 roll. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 293kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 126mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Calories 293
Keyword easter, spring

Photography by Siân C Photography

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat hot cross buns cold?

Yes! The adjective “hot” was most likely just added to make the rolls more appealing to sell. You can eat the buns warm or cold, with butter or just plain. It’s up to you!

Can you leave out the candied fruit?

Yes you can. Many people (especially kids) won’t like the dried fruit. You can leave it out if you’d like.

What can you do with leftover hot cross buns?

If you happen to have leftovers, they are great in bread pudding or as the bun to a breakfast sandwich with egg and bacon.

Can I just use frosting to pipe a cross over the buns?

Yes. If you want to skip the flour step, simply pipe lines of frosting over the baked (and cooled) buns.

Other Easter Recipes

Whether you are celebrating Easter or the spring season in general, we’ve got you covered with new treats that the family will love:

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Jamie Young
3 months ago

Can you make the Hot Cross Buns dough the night before you need them?