Hot Cross Buns are a tradition yeast style spiced bun made with either raisins, currents, or another dried fruit. This Hot Cross Buns recipe is perfect for your Easter celebration.
Fluffy, sweet rolls that taste just like ones from your local bakery. Made with a few basic pantry ingredients – you’ll have homemade hot cross buns in no time!
Traditional hot cross buns are a spiced yeast dough, similar to dinner rolls but sweeter. Sweet rolls can be prepped in either a stand mixer or kneaded by hand.
These yeast sweet buns with flavors of warm spices and various dried fruits such as currants, raisins and even candied citrus rinds are a traditional Easter food. Cross buns are decorated with a white cross which represents the crucifix, either right into the dough with flour/water mixture or piped on top of the rolls with icing.
Why this recipe works
- Simple ingredients – uses ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores.
- No preservatives – Homemade hot cross buns aren’t filled with preservatives or artificial flavors.
- Several ways to make – This hot cross bun recipe gives you several options for making the dough.
What you’ll need
- Active dry yeast – located in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.
- Butter – unsalted butter in baking recipes helps control the salt.
- Eggs – be sure they are room temperature.
- Granulated sugar – adds a of sweetness touch to make these cross buns recipe.
- Apple cider – locate in the produce section with other juices. Apple juice in the refrigerated section will also work. (Try Simply orange brand!)
- Buttermilk – cannot find buttermilk? Make it at home by adding 1 teaspoon of either lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk, whisked together.
- All-purpose flour – use whatever brand you prefer.
- Dried fruit – use currants, raisins or dried cranberries for these cross buns.
Different types of yeast for cross buns
With this Hot Cross Buns recipe, there are two different ways to make the dough.
- Active dry yeast – yeast in dry, granular form that is used after dissolving in warm liquid and left to get foamy before mixing in other ingredients.
- Instant yeast – yeast that makes dough rise faster and does not need to be dissolved in liquid prior to incorporating into other ingredients.
Yeast for bread
- Active dry yeast – Follow the directions on the package of active dry yeast. Dissolve in warm liquid 100°–110°F and let bloom, where it gets foamy prior to mixing into other ingredients. Needs two rises.
- Instant yeast – Be sure and follow the directions on the package of Instant Yeast. Add water heated to 120˚F-130˚F and follow recipe instructions. Needs one rest and one rise.
Use a thermometer to check the temperature of water with both active dry and instant yeast. If you don’t have a thermometer, just be sure the water isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast. Check the expiration date to ensure it is not expired.
Storing yeast– Store at room temperature; opened jars should be refrigerated.
I use my ThermoWorks ChefAlarm to check the temperature of water. Worth the investment. I use it for pretty much everything in the kitchen.
Hot Cross buns are a traditional yeast style bread seasoned with cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg. My mom made this delicious bread recipe for Easter holiday dinner.
And what better way to celebrate the Easter holiday than with traditional sweet rolls our family has been making for years. These spiced buns are adorned with crosses made out of a simple icing. Hot cross buns are a traditional Easter dish that is one of our favorite bread recipes.
How to make Hot Cross Buns
Step 1: Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm water and apple cider. Add the yeast and stir with a spoon. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the dough hook to the stand mixer. Add the eggs to the yeast mixture. Add the buttermilk, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and combine with the dough hook.
Step 3: Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Add the softened butter and combine until you have a smooth dough. The dough will be very sticky.
Step 4: Fold in dried cranberries with a rubber spatula.
Step 5: Knead the dough. Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead the dough until smooth. Use a plastic bench scraper to easily remove the dough from the bowl. Shape into a round.
Step 6: Let the dough rise. Spray the mixing bowl with cooking spray. Place the shaped dough back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour or until doubled.
Step 7: Shape into rounds and rise again. Divide the dough and form into small balls, about 3 ¾ ounces each. Shape into rounds and place on a Jelly roll pan, lined with parchment paper. Or place in a 9×13-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Use it to scrape dough out of the bowl and onto a floured work surface. Being plastic makes it flexible and easily conforms to the shape of your mixing bowl. I have several in my baking supplies so I always have one washed and ready to use!
Cross buns typically have raisins, currants, or another dried fruit. I’ve added add a pop of flavor with dried cranberries. Want even more flavor? Add the zest from one large orange or candied citrus.
Easily make icing for cross buns with powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk whisked together. Or substitute a little orange juice instead of the vanilla extract.
Tips for Hot Cross Buns
- Yeast – be sure your yeast is not expired! If not be kept in a cool place it may not work properly. Yeast is best stored in the fridge or freezer.
- Dough consistency – when making homemade bread or yeast rolls it’s best to have a stickier dough. The stickier your dough, the more light and fluffy your rolls will be. Use the minimum amount of flour and watch for the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Add more flour if needed – you can always add more flour to achieve the correct consistency versus adding more liquid and potentially making a stiff dough that is overworked. This will result in rolls that are dense and super hard.
- Plump dried fruit – plump dried fruit in hot water for 5-10 minutes before adding to your dough.
- Glazed buns – you can also use apricot jam or orange marmalade spread brushed on hot cross buns after they come out of the oven. This will give them a sweet glaze.
They are a symbol of the significant day in the Christian faith when Jesus was crucified. Each bun is adorned with a cross made from either flour paste or icing, representing the cross on which Christ died.
You’ve likely over kneaded the dough or added too much flour. Overworking the dough will lead to too much gluten and making the dough tough.
More Easter Desserts
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Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns
- ½ cup apple cider, lukewarm
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, room temperature
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dried cranberries
Hot Cross Buns Icing
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons whole milk
Hot Cross Buns
- In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm water and apple cider. Add the yeast and stir with a spoon. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the dough hook to the stand mixer. Add the eggs to the yeast mixture.
- Add the buttermilk, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and combine with the dough hook.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Add the softened butter and combine until you have a smooth dough. The dough will be very sticky.
- Fold in the dried cranberries with a rubber spatula.
- Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead the dough until smooth. Use a plastic bench scraper to easily remove the dough from the bowl. Shape into a round.
- Spray the mixing bowl well with cooking spray. Place the shaped dough back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour or until doubled.
- Cover the baking dish or pan with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. They will be touching each other.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Use a pastry brush to brush the buns with egg wash.
- Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven to cool. Let cool completely.
Hot Cross Buns Icing
- Whisk together the icing ingredients in a small bowl. Once the buns are completely cool, pipe the icing in a cross pattern on each bun.
Hot Cross Buns variationsAdd zest from one large orange for more fresh flavor. Refrigerate yeast to maintain freshness! Plump dried fruit in hot water before adding to your recipe. Warm the mixer bowl hot water before making dough. This will make the mixer bowl warm to help let the dough rise easily. Hot Cross buns using instant yeast: Stir in just enough of the remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic and springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into small balls, about 3 ¾ ounces each. It should make about 14-15 rolls; shape into balls using your hands. Place in greased 8-inch round or square pan. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes. Follow instructions above for baking.
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