Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns! are the words to the children’s song, and they hold true even now. These little buns are traditionally served at Easter time: A sweet dough that is spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing. I made them after many requests and my kids devoured them within minutes; they were nervous about the raisins, but the cream cheese crosses and scent of cinnamon and nutmeg drew them in.

As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are just as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them. Some people slash the dough to make the cross, others use a flour and water paste to create the symbol and others use the sweet icing. Tell me how you make your buns, and if you don’t have a family tradition yet, you can start with these!

If you follow along on Breadin5’s Instagram, you can watch the bun-making in an Instagram story. The recipe comes from the latest book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a whole chapter on Easter bread recipes.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
From Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Follow along in our Instagram stories to see how we make the buns!

Dough (yields 5.7 pounds, about 25 buns)
1 ½ cups (340g) lukewarm water (100F or below)
1 tablespoon (10g) Granulated Yeast

1 tablespoon (17g) kosher salt
8 large eggs (455g), lightly beaten
½ cup (170g) honey
1 ½ cup (3 sticks | 340g) unsalted butter, melted
7 ½ cups (1065g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons orange zest, grated
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (200g) currants or raisins

Egg wash (1 yolk with 1 tablespoon water), for brushing buns

4 ounces (113g) cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (57g) confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup (85g) maple syrup

Hot Cross Buns

Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter in a 6-quart bowl, lidded (not airtight) food container, or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Mix in the flour, spices, zest, vanilla, and raisins without kneading, using a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate.

The dough can be used as soon as it’s thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.

On baking day: dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-sized) piece. Divide the dough into 8 or 9 equal pieces and quickly shape into balls.

Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until richly browned.

Allow to cool completely. Pipe the icing in a cross over the top of each bun. There will be some extra icing for spreading on the buns.

Hot Cross Buns

Note:  Red Star Yeast sponsored this post, and provided free samples of Red Star and Platinum yeast for testing. is reader supported–when you buy through links on the site, BreadIn5 LLC earns commissions.

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186 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

  1. This looks delicious. This morning I mixed in dried blueberries from Trader Joe’s instead of raisins for Judy’s boardroom bread and the result was heavenly.

  2. Hi Esther,

    That sounds wonderful. A wonderful variation to the raisin bread!

    Thanks for sharing the idea.


  3. I made hot cross buns using a traditional recipe. I wish now I thought to used the brioche dough, having used it for so many other things. Mine came out OK – but I know it would have been softer and richer with the brioche dough. I made mine with a combination of thompson and golden raisins, currents, chopped dried cranberries, and chopped dried apricots too. I already plan on getting your new book when it comes out. One request though, thanks to my Irish husbands potato loving family, I have developed a passion for potato bread of many varieties. Could you consider that for another type of no knead bread?

  4. Hi Bonnie: We’ve got 3 recipes in the book with potato:

    Eastern European Potato-Rye Bread

    Roasted Garlic Potato Bread

    Rustic Wild Mushroom and Potato Pizza Provencal

    Give them a try!

  5. Someone asked me about the type of yeast that is best for your recipes. He had heard that he should use instant yeast. I didn’t recall seeing this in any posts. Can you let me know what kind of yeast to use for these recipes?

  6. Oh, and one other thing….my hub and kids are not big bread eaters. Does the bread you make from these recipes freeze well?

  7. Hi Kandice,

    You can tell your friend that any yeast will work well with the recipe.

    You can either freeze the dough or the baked bread. Just wrap it very well!

    Thanks, Zoë

  8. Here’s my HCB recipe – it is the closest thing to the UK/NZ/Aussie version I’ve been able to recreate in terms of flavor – it’s taken me about 14 batches of HCBs before I found something even close to what I remembered – but like Victoria my husband doesn’t like the bits of peel (but I like that flavor) besides finding mixed peel like at home is impossible. Orange zest seems to impart a better flavor anyway. Fresh spices are the key – love Penzies Spices. The Authentic Colonial HCB version should have the soft feather light texture of a parker house roll with sweet glaze , but the spices are more like stollen (light years from a hockey puck with icing you find in the us supermarkets). My tradition has been to make them in huge batches and give to neighbors on good friday. I pretty much stay up all night to do so, so I like the idea of the 5 minute bread solution to streamline my easter baking 🙂

    These ARE soft and tender and because they don’t have icing, you can toast them the next day – they also freeze and toast well. I’d be interested now to try it with your Brioche recipe and compare?

    Kelly’s Authentic Aussie Hot cross Buns (12):
    2.25 tsp yeast
    4 tbs butter
    1.3 cups milk
    .3 cup brown sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    .25 tsp nutmeg
    .25 tsp all spice
    .5 tsp ground cloves
    .5 tsp ginger
    3 tsp ground cinnamon
    oranage zest from one med orange ( or .25 cup of mixed peel – if you can get it)
    1tsp table salt
    1 egg
    3-4 cups plain AP flour
    .3 cup currants

    1 Tbs Sugar
    .25 cup flour
    .25 tbs vanilla or grand marnier
    water (to make a paste 5:3 ratio flour to water)

    1 tbs sugar
    2tsp unflavored gelatine
    3 Tbs boiling water

    In bread machine or mixer add ingredients (except currants) in order listed. Mix for 6 mins max – over this will toughen texture. add curreants at 3 min mark. Prove until doubled ~ 2 hours and divide into 12ths – use scale to get equal size. Place on baking tray with parchment paper. At this point can refrigerate or freeze. Bring to room temp and proove rolls till doubled in size ~ 2 hours. Mix paste for crosses and pipe crosses on on rolls – a ziplock baggie with corner snipped out works well. Bake 375F 190C for 30 minutes. While baking, mix glaze and heat in microwave till dissolved. Brush over hot rolls. Wait for glaze to cool and set and serve buns while warm with butter. YUM!

  9. Hi Kelly,

    This is great, thank you so much for sharing your recipe! They sound wonderful! The glaze is so intriguing.

    Cheers, Zoë

  10. yes also surprising that when toasted the glaze doesn’t tend to burn, just gets a little sticky…it makes lovely shiny buns.

  11. Zoe thank you so much for posting these! growing up in australia they were my all time fave! we cut them in half and butter them and eat them hot. soo good, i couldn’t wait till Easter and these would come out on the grocery shelves.
    P.S next time you feel commonwealthy, i would love to see your take on the good old fashioned crumpet! 🙂
    lots of love
    sarah sorge.x

  12. FYI, the recipe I posted above does not translate well to stored dough, it comes out very heavy/chewy. I think the held dough converts the flour to gluten, instead of being mostly steam in the original recipe. Think I’ll try the Challa loaf as my next basis of reference. I want light and fluffy.

    Note the flavor is still very good, however you do want to use the freshest spices. I used last years, and though it was good, it was duller than I remember. Of for a trip to Penzies!

  13. I would like to make these for Easter using the Oatmeal Date Bread (use currants instead of dates, add spices, omit walnuts) from HBin5. However, I would like to add 2 eggs. By how much should I reduce the water? 1/3 cup? 1/2? Any thoughts? Thanks for your great recipes… they keep my family & friends deliciously and healthfully fed!

    1. Bridgit: You should be OK assuming about 1/8 cup per egg, increase the water by that amount. So 1/4 cup should do it. Glad the recipes are working for you. Jeff

  14. Hello there it’s 1.43 am Good Friday morning and I am waiting for the HCB (challah) to rise on my counter. I do this every year, make huge batches of HCBs and give them to neighbors, this year husband has asked to take some to his work. The 5minsaday method is great, it took far less time to assemble. I’m only doing it this late because I didn’t start till after dinner and after I cleaned up my kitchen and got the toodler to bed…besides hot cross buns have to be hot, and my family loves waking up to the smell – its sort of traddition. Anyway, I’m here and just thinking of you guys and so glad I have your books in my life. You’ll be pleased to know that pretty much everyone I come in contact with now has heard of your books and a good many of them have sampled your bread 🙂 Happy Easter.

    1. Thanks Kelly- have a great Easter. Thanks for spreading the word about the versatility of the Challah dough. Jeff

  15. Just finished HCB made from the 100% whole wheat brioche in HBin5. My picky 13 yr old , who “doesn’t do whole wheat” just scarfed down two and wanted more!! Thanks for the great recipe!

  16. I made a version of these using the Jewish anise & olive oil dough from HBin5 last year. We enjoyed them, but I will be trying the brioche dough this year.

  17. Just came back to get a copy of my recipe for traditional HCB making season and making sure I have ingredients on hand. It was faster than tracking down my cookbooks. Hope Zoe you get to try these HCBs this year. 🙂 happy Easter Kelly

  18. I made a batch of these but the dough was still doughey after 20 minutes in a 350 oven and 5 more minutes with the oven off. Should I try a higher temperature or longer time?

    1. Carol: Depends on whether your oven is up to temperature, have to check it with something like

      Are the other recipes from our books coming out the way you expect (which of the books, page number, recipe description) so we can help you better? Jeff

  19. Thank you so much for your recipes. As a mother of two young children (Ten months and two years, one with special needs) it is important for me to provide wholesome homemade foods for my family. But it is a double edged sword- I have very little time to prepare such foods! My family loves every loaf of bread that has come out of our oven since I bought your book, and it’s always such a compliment when visitors tell me that my house smells like “warm fresh baked bread” all the time!

    I am wondering about this recipe. We are going to my in-laws for easter. Would it be possible to par-bake the rolls on Friday and store them in the fridge, travel with them for roughly two hours in the car on Saturday, store them back in the fridge and bake them/ice them on Sunday for easter brunch??? Or would I be better off to bake them all at once on Friday, then reheat and ice them on Sunday, or just accept that if I make them, they will not be “hot” cross buns

    1. Hi Jess,

      Is it possible to bring the dough and bake them there? These buns will be best baked the day they are eaten. You could bring the dough, set them up in the pan on Saturday, cover the dough with plastic and let them rise over night in the refrigerator and bake them fresh on Sunday. Does that sound realistic?

      Thanks, Zoë

  20. Believe it or not I have never had a hot cross bun.They are made for Easter?What do they taste like and also can I pre-order your new book yet?

    P.s: I love your breads and my husband refuses to make your bread but yet he always ask me “Honey,Do you have that bread from that book in the fridge” I don’t get it..He’s funny that way I guess.One day he will see the magic inside your books and breads.

    1. Brooke: They’re basically mini-brioches, with some frosting, a bit of spice, and some fruit. For a lighter effect, you could use the Challah dough.

      The pizza book is now available for pre-order on Amazon, at


  21. I want to make a bunny shaped bread for easter but not sure which of your doughs you would recommend. Do you think this one would work? I was thinking of something a little bit sweet.

    1. Alicia: the brioche and the challah are the natural choices for Holiday breads (see my note to Brooke). Many kinds– which of our books do you have (page number, recipe) so I can direct you?

  22. Hey folks, thanks so much for all of the information here! So wonderful!

    I’m just wondering – do you think your recipe for gluten-free brioche would work here? I love the idea of using a brioche dough for HCBs. Cheers!

  23. Alicia: In ABin5, these doughs would work nicely: Page 180, 189, 201, 211, 221

    From HBin5, page 258, 265, 275, 277, 279, 284

  24. using “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes A Day” 1st Edition….
    Hi, I am a little confused on the making of one of your breads called 100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread, page 146: Step #6 – Elongate the ball into an oval and place it into the loaf pan, etc; then in step #9 – Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone, etc.; then in Step #10 – remove the bread from pan, etc. This has me confused do I bake this in a pan or do I bake it directly on my stone?
    I hope that you are able to answer this soon as I am wanting to bake some of this next week ….. I am also wondering where the answer will be.
    Thank You for a great book and the inspiration to tackle making bread for my Family.

    1. Hi Phil,

      We meant to have you bake the the loaf, in the pan, on the stone. The stone is never mandatory when baking in a loaf pan, but if you have the stone in the oven, by all means use it.

      Thanks and enjoy the bread, Zoë

  25. Best hit cross buns ever!!!! I just made these for the first time, having grown up on a less enriched version my mom made. My hubby and kids declared these Best Ever which is saying a lot, and I gleefully agree.

    I followed the recipe exactly, except no currants at my grocery so I substituted 1 cup of Sun-Maid dried “Fruit Bits” which include dried apple, apricot, raisins, and other fruits. Gave the buns a pannettone-ish flair.

    Frosted with a standard cream-cheese frosting (1 stick butter, 8 oz cream cheese, confectioners sugar to taste) but used 1 tsp. orange flower water instead of vanilla in the frosting—superb complement to the zest and spices in the dough.

    Literally the best ever!!! Thank you Zoe and Jeff.

  26. I just pulled these from my oven, using whole wheat challah from the HBin5 book. I’ll warm them for breakfast and dinner tomorrow, add the honey glaze and the icing cross, and yum!! So looking forward to it, thanks!

  27. I also found these needed a longer baking time. That often happens to me making buns with these recipes, but loaves (and all the other baking I do) are fine. Not sure why.
    I added some clove and increased the other spices a bit. Next time I would add even more. Which reminds me that I think the pumpkin brioche recipe would probably make a great variation too!

  28. My husband is from Cornwall and always makes saffron hot cross buns (with the flour and water crosses of course). I think it’s a local specialty and they’re so tasty and pretty!

  29. Hi, I just made my first batch from the master recipe, and I’m wondering if I did something wrong. My dough was 5 days old, and while it initially rose from 2 L to 4 L, in the fridge it fell back to 2 L over the days. The resulting loaf feels very heavy, and smells strongly of red wine. It tastes okay, and the crumb doesn’t seem overly dense, but I don’t think this is how it was supposed to come out. Should the dough stay risen in the fridge, or fall back down like mine did? Could my fridge be too cold? Thanks.

    1. Katie: Key question is whether or not it’s over-dense, and you say that it is not. Assume flavor and aroma of the finished bread is to your liking; this is the way it’s supposed to come out (when the dough ages). Our last loaves are different than the 1st– they develop sourdough flavor.

      After the initial rise, it sinks back, and does not rise again. See our FAQs tab above and click on “Dense crumb…” Main recommendation, consider a longer rise-time (60 or even 90 min) for a lighter result. Esp if fridge is too cold. Which book are you using (page number), each has a Master recipe? Jeff

  30. Substituting soy flour: We have a child that is allergic to gluten, soy, dairy and nuts. Hence, learning how to make everything ourselves. 🙂
    We are wondering what we could use instead of soy flour in the gluten free recipes?
    We are loving your books. Thank you so much!!!!

    1. Hi Constance,

      The soy is used to bump up the protein in the bread. You can use any of the bean flours to achieve this. Garbanzo bean is a good substitution, but it has a stronger flavor.

      Thanks, Zoë

  31. Just thought I’d let you know that I made these for Easter (with my own spice mix) and they were divine. Gave some to the neighbours and they said they were the best HCB they ever had! So light and fluffy! And dead easy!

  32. I tried making this recipe with the gluten-free brioche from page 252, but the dough was way too wet to shape it well. Am I doing something wrong?

    When I add up the ingredients, the recipe seems to be around 6 cups dry to 5 3/8 cups liquid.

    That’s really, really wet. How am I supposed to work with it for these or for the cinnamon rolls?

    1. Hi Thea,

      Are you having this issue when the dough is refrigerated, the dough solidifies considerably once it is chilled.

      Are you using the scoop and sweep method of measuring the flour? If you spoon the flours into the cup you will end up with a wetter dough.

      Let me know a bit more detail about your dough and I can try to help. It is softer than the crusty boule dough, but still very workable.

      Thanks, Zoë

  33. Hey Zoë,
    When it’s chilled, it’s hard enough to separate into pieces, but not enough to shape smoothly or for it not to “melt down” once it’s on the cookie sheet.

    I’m trying something different this weekend. I’m putting the brioche dough into the freezer in between steps (trying to make the strudel bread this time).

    Maybe I’m not using enough flour on the surface and my hands? Could that be the problem?

  34. I want to try your Hot Cross Buns but had a question first. You mentioned you added cinnamon, nutmeg and currants to the bucket and mixed as usual. Since this would be in the total batch would you only be able to make hot cross buns plus would it stay for two weeks with the extra added to mix

    1. Hi Pam,

      The dough you make will last just as long with the dried fruit, but most of the enriched doughs only store for 5 days.

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. I want to make HCB, but mixing an entire brioche (4 loaves) mixture with the cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. seems like too many buns. Could I incorporate 1/4 of the spices, dried fruit and zest into the dough before the 2nd rise?

        Thanks for your help.

  35. I had trouble getting the flour paste to stick, so it was difficult to make a nice cross design. Any tips? Otherwise wonderful

    1. Hi Mary,

      You can try making the paste a little bit thicker if it is running off the buns. It is also not essential to have the paste if you are going to top it with the icing.

      Thanks, Zoë

  36. I would like to make bunnies this year with this brioche recipe which is my favorite. But I’m wondering if we can make the dough on Friday, form the bunnies Saturday night from dough right out of the fridge, then put them in the fridge on cookie sheets (covered), then take them out an hour or so before cooking on Sunday morning? Sorry if that’s confusing! Can the dough work this way? I really appreciate any advice! Thank you!

    1. Jill: You can, but may lose their shape. See our post on refrigerator-rise under FAQs tab, then click on “Dense crumb…”

  37. Zoë (or Jeff), I want to make the Brioche with Chocolate Ganache for Easter. I’ve never made the brioche dough before (scandalous, I know). You have (at least) two versions of it: One in ABin5 and one in PizzaIn5. Is the one in PizzaIn5 an improved version or should I stick with the original in ABin5? Thanks in advance! -scott

    1. Scott– it’s just different, more a matter of taste. We try to avoid re-using recipes so there’s value in people buying our subsequent books. The pizza book’s brioche has half the butter, so it’s a healthier recipe. Though there’s more sweetener. Your call. Both are delicious, but the original is closer to traditional French brioche.

  38. Made a trial half mix batch of these using the listed engredients . Very nice but we are used to more spices and dried fruit. Will try the addition of golden raisins, more zest and more spice with my next batch.
    I certainly understand that the base recipes needs to be fairly mild.

  39. Hi Jeff, I am writing about your comment about working spices into part of the dough.

    Howw do I do that? If I have a batch of challah dough, I’d like to use half the batch to make cinnamon rolls, and half the batch for julekage. How can I work the raisins, anise, and cardomom into 2 pounds of dough for julekage?

    Thanks soooo much. This would help me avoid making 2 half batches, and sounds faster.

      1. Thanks so much, Jeff! Ok–roll out dough, sprinkle with fruit and spices, roll up, shape into a ball, and then roll out again into the shapes needed.


        Happy Holiday to you. It was funny getting the book out because I put all the baking books in the back bedroom to make room for holiday foods in the kitchen…

  40. I have brioche dough already in my fridge….can I just add the additional ingredients or do you suggest I whip up a whole new batch mixing in the additional ingredients?

  41. Wasabimon just posted a recipe for hot cross buns that have dried apricots, cherries, and cranberries. It also has cardamom in it. I think I will make some artisan bread but use those fruits as mix-ins just for something fun and different.

  42. I’d love to make these for breakfast Easter morning, but I don’t want to get up early enough to do all the resting and baking in the morning. Can I shape the dough Saturday evening and do the rest/rise in the fridge overnight, and then just pop them in the oven Sunday morning?

    1. Statgirl: See the FAQs tab, “Dense crumb…” and read through to the refrigerator tip. Short ans: yes.

  43. Just made the hot cross buns using HBI5 brioche dough, but put a chunk of marzipan in each bun. They’re rising right now!

  44. All this is making me want to make them for Easter. Problem is altitude (we’re in Tahoe). My friend brought us an ebelskiver pan, so I think we’ll try that!

  45. I made my first batch of dought in your 5 minute book.
    The first two loaves came out perfect.
    The last loaf (same batch of dough) came out bad. The upper crust broke away from the crum and swelled up an inch above the inside dough . When it cooled down, it dropped down but was still detached from the inside. The only thing I did different was, I forgot to put in a cup of water to steam.

    1. Hi Glenn,

      Which recipe are you baking? Adding the water helps to soften the dough so that it will rise better in the oven, and produce a nicer crust.

      Thanks, Zoë

  46. I have the HCB dough rising on my counter right now for baking Easter Morning! Thank you! So far very easy and even the dough smells divine. 🙂

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