Hot Cross Buns – Spend With Pennies

Get ready to treat yourself with a delicious Easter classic: homemade Hot Cross Buns.

These soft and fluffy spiced rolls are the perfect addition to your Easter celebration. With a simple recipe that requires just a little patience and time, making these buns is a breeze.

A distinctive cross on the top adds an extra special touch and holds a special meaning.

plated Hot Cross Buns

What are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot Cross Buns are a beloved Easter tradition that is traditionally served on Good Friday. These yeast-based rolls are packed with warm spices and often have a shiny glaze on the outside. To symbolize the cross on which Jesus died, a flour paste is piped in a cross on top. The buns are also studded with raisins or currants and represent the honoring of Jesus’ body after His death.

I have a classic recipe for Hot Cross Buns that I’ve adapted from an old church cookbook of mine. This easy bread recipe is made with aromatic spices, and it’s both simple and delicious.

Ingredients to make hot cross buns labeled

Ingredients & Variations

Dough – These rolls are made with a simple yeast dough that’s easy to prepare. After the dough has risen, we knead in some raisins or currants before forming rolls.

Spices – Warm and fragrant spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are the traditional spices used in Hot Cross Buns. For a light citrus flavor, freshly grated lemon or orange zest can also be added.

Add-Ins – The possibilities are endless when it comes to add-ins for this Hot Cross Buns recipe. In addition to raisins and currants, you can add toasted nuts, pieces of candied orange peel, dried cranberries, or even toasted coconut to the dough. Mix and match to create your own unique twist on this classic recipe.

PRO TIP: Avoid overstuffing the rolls with ingredients so the flavors don’t overwhelm the spices.

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

As with most leavened bread, there are a couple of steps to this recipe. But the end result is moist and beautifully crossed buns.

  1. Prepare the dough according to the recipe below.
  2. Knead and add raisins. Form into rolls.
  3. Pipe a flour cross on the rolls and let rise.
  4. Brush with egg wash & bake until golden.

How to Make Crosses on Hot Cross Buns

  1. Make the flour paste and place it in a piping bag (or plastic bag with a small corner cut off).
  2. Pipe a cross across each hot cross bun and let the rolls rise for another 20-25 minutes.

TIP: As you pipe the cross, go slowly to allow the flour mixture to run down between the edges of the rolls a bit.

Hot Cross Buns cooling on a baking rack


Keep leftover hot cross buns in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They’re best served on the day of baking.

If they’ve sat a bit, we heat them in the microwave to warm and soften.

More Easter Baking

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Hot Cross Buns cooling on a baking rack

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Hot Cross Buns

These sweet and lightly spiced buns with a distinctive cross on the top are the perfect treat for Easter or spring!

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours 15 minutes

Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes

  • In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat just until bubbles begin to form at the edges (the temperature should reach about 181°F.) Do not boil.

  • Pour the milk into a bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and add ½ cup sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Add butter and stir until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool to 110°F (or lukewarm).

  • Meanwhile, combine yeast, ½ cup warm water (110°F), and 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Let sit 10 minutes or until foamy.

  • Add the yeast to the milk mixture. Whisk in 2 whole eggs (reserve the third egg for brushing the rolls before baking), cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

  • Add 2 cups of flour and mix with a dough hook (see notes to mix by hand). Continue adding more flour until it forms a dough that holds together and isn’t too sticky (you will use about 4-5 cups of flour total). Turn the mixer to medium-low and let it knead for 4-5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add raisins or currants and orange zest if using and knead again to incorporate.

  • Place the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

  • Punch the dough down and form into 12 even-sized rolls. Place the rolls in a greased 9×13 pan and let rise 20-25 minutes.

  • While the dough is rising, combine the flour and water for the cross. It should be thick enough to hold its shape. Brush rolls with egg wash and place the flour mixture in a piping bag and pipe a cross on each roll.

  • While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

  • Bake for 24-26 minutes or until cooked through.

If you do not have a stand mixer, mix the flour in with a large spoon. Once mixed, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes or until smooth. Add raisins or currants and knead again to incorporate. Proceed with the recipe as directed above.
*You may not need all of the water for the flour cross, you want it thick enough to pipe and hold its shape.
I love to add a sweet glaze once they’ve baked. It looks beautiful and tastes great but keep in mind that the glaze will make the rolls slightly sticky.
Optional Glaze: Boil 3 tablespoons water and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan. Brush over the warm rolls.

Calories: 273 | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 215mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 189IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine American
baked Hot Cross Buns on a plate with a title
Hot Cross Buns on a cooling rack with a title
Hot Cross Buns with butter and a title
Hot Cross Buns on a cooling rack and plated with a title

Recipe from a homemade church cookbook.

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