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How to make homemade Hot Cross Buns

In case you want to practice before Easter this year!

hot cross buns in a basket.

Until recently, I’d never eaten a hot cross bun. If you live in England, I know that’s probably unthinkable, but here in the United States, hot cross buns aren’t terribly common.

But a recent grocery store ad had them on the front page, and I suddenly got the urge to make a batch.

If you’re interested in the history of hot cross buns, you can read this article from The Guardian, but if you just want to know how to make them, read on!

I poked around in several of my cookbooks to find a recipe and settled on one from my 1970s Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook. I seriously adore that book, people. You should totally go buy a used copy on eBay!

better homes and gardens bread cookbook.


The dough starts with flour, yeast, salt, and some spices. I opted to put cardamom and cinnamon in, but a lot of other recipes I saw called for things like saffron, ginger, and nutmeg.

Do whatever floats your boat, I say.

dry ingredients in a metal bowl.

Next, combine the milk, oil, sugar, and salt, and heat to 125° F. You can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave.

liquids in a glass measuring cup.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, add the eggs, and beat for 3 minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixer, just stir the dough really well by hand.

bread dough in a mixer.

Stir in raisins and enough additional flour to make a soft, kneadable dough.

Incidentally, the recipe called for currants, but I had none and figured raisins would be an acceptable substitute.

(They were.)

soft bread dough in a bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic. The length of time this takes will depend on how much mixing you did previously.

Properly kneaded dough will bounce back when you poke it with your finger, though.

kneaded hot cross bun.

Place the dough back into the mixing bowl (I don’t even bother to wash mine), cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and divide into 18 pieces. Form each into a ball, and place on greased baking sheets.

To make my dough into balls, I just kind of pull the edges inward until the ball is smooth and neat.

dough balls on a baking sheet.

Cover the dough balls with a wet tea towel, and let them rise until they’re doubled, about 35-45 minutes.

Or you can cover them with plastic wrap.

Or you can place them in your oven (turned off, of course!) with a pan of warm water on the bottom of the oven (that will keep the air warm and humid, which helps the rolls to rise.)

Once the rolls have risen, use a really sharp knife to cut a cross in the top of the rolls. I’m not gonna lie, this was a difficult task. I tried a lot of different knives and even a pair of kitchen scissors, and didn’t manage to turn out super beautiful slashes.

slashed bun dough.

I had the best luck with a knife that had lots of shallow serrations on the blade.

Beat an egg white until it’s a bit foamy, and then use a pastry brush to brush the egg white over the rolls. Save the extra egg white because it’s going into the frosting later.

Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 12 minutes, or until the rolls are nice and brown.

a single frosted hot cross bun.

To make the frosting, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to the reserved egg white.

Pipe an X on top of the rolls, using a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off.

A basket of hot cross buns.

And then enjoy your soft, fluffy hot cross bun.

two hot cross buns in a white plate.

The printable recipe is at the end of this post; keep scrolling!

I’m curious…am I the only one here who’d never had a hot cross bun until recently?

hot cross buns in a basket.

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

Yield: 18 buns

Hot cross buns are a fun baking project, and they're not any more complicated than regular yeast rolls. Plus, they're way cheaper than bakery buns!


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (possibly up to four)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 1 slightly beaten egg white


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • reserved egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of salt


    In a mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, cinnamon, and cardamom.

    In a separate bowl, combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt, and heat to 120 ° F. Add to dry ingredients along with eggs, and beat at low speed until combined. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes, then add raisins and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

    Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise 1 hour, or til doubled.

    Punch dough down; divide into 18 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise till double (30-45 minutes).

    Brush rolls with egg white (reserve extra for frosting), then bake in a preheated 400 ° oven for 12-15 minutes (12 was good for mine). Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

    When cool, pipe an X shape on top of each bun with frosting (see below).


    Combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, reserved egg white, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and a dash of salt. Add enough milk to make of piping consistency.


You can use a non-dairy milk in this dough; I often use oat milk in my yeast breads. You can also sub oil or another non-dairy fat for the butter.

Nutrition Information
Yield 18 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 227Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 45mgSodium 162mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 1gSugar 18gProtein 5g

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Sunday 13th of March 2022

I look forward to enjoying them every year. However I must confess my absolute favorites are made by Entenmann's, a regional bakery in the Northeast. Even my mother, who made the best bread I have ever had, admitted that she preferred them to her own, and her own were delicious. I know it's more frugal to make them, but I have a tiny kitchen and my mom passed a few years ago, so I am okay with spending a bit for a few boxes each year when they come out. I wrap each one carefully and freeze them to enjoy on Good Friday, then Easter morning, and for few more weeks until they are gone. Then it's back to waiting patiently for them to be in season again.


Sunday 13th of March 2022

My mom made them throughout the 70s. Her favorite recipe involves spice, candied peel, and lemon glaze for the cross.

I always make them. They remind me of my childhood. (And I'm American.)


Sunday 13th of March 2022

if anyone wants Mom's recipe, hit me up.

And yes, you have to candy your own peel. But it's ridiculously easy.


Sunday 13th of March 2022

What you had never had hot X buns! they are so popular in this part of the UK that the local baker makes them every Saturday throughout the year and if you are not there before 9am he has sold out. I must go and get some next Saturday. I feel the US is deprived.


Sunday 13th of March 2022

What an enjoyable read! A bun with ancestry! I've never had hot cross bums although I have read about them in recipe books from the UK. I might give it a try and make some with cardamom, one of my favorites, and some with aniseed.


Sunday 13th of March 2022

Buns, of course. I sometimes hate autocorrect.

Jennifer Y.

Monday 13th of April 2020

I made these yesterday for Easter! They were soooo good. My family loved them. I plan to make these again!

Thanks for the recipe!


Monday 13th of April 2020

Oh, I am so glad to hear that. Yay!

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