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These homemade Hot Cross Buns are warmly spiced, just sweet enough, and studded with dried fruit. Although these yeast bread buns are a traditional Easter recipe, Hot Cross Buns are so delicious, you’ll want to make them year-round.

Hot cross buns on a white plate.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled Ingredients for Hot Cross Buns.

Ingredient notes

  • Warm milk: Instead of using refrigerator temperature milk, warm it to 110 degrees. This is important to allow the yeast to activate.
  • Vanilla extract: You can make your own vanilla if you want to. If desired, you could replace some of the vanilla in the glaze (say, ¼ teaspoon) with almond or orange extract.
  • Active dry yeast: Fleischmann’s, Red Star, and most common yeast brands sell packets filled with ¼ ounce or 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast. Below, learn how to test yeast to guarantee it’s active.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Mix the warm milk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla in a large measuring cup (preferably something with a pouring spout).
Melted butter in a measuring cup.
  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add 3 cups of flour, and all of the sugar, yeast, salt, and cinnamon. Turn the mixer on to a low speed, and drizzle the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
Hot cross bun dough in a silver mixing bowl.
  1. Next, add the raisins (or other fruit) and increase the speed to medium. Mix until the dough is elastic and smooth, 9 to 10 minutes. Check the dough at the halfway mark. If after about 5 minutes, the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining ½ cup flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Hot cross bun dough in a silver mixing bowl.
  1. After the dough is mixed, turn it out onto a heavily-floured work surface and shape into a ball. Lift the ball of dough and place it inside a greased bowl, then spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Hot cross bun dough in a clear bowl.
  1. Once the dough has risen the first time, it’s time to make the individual buns. So it’s ready for later, coat a baking dish with nonstick spray or line it with parchment paper.
Hot cross bun dough in a clear bowl.
  1. Gently turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth tight ball using a cupped palm, rolling it over your work surface. As you go, place each ball seam side down into the prepared baking dish.
Hot cross bun dough being kneaded into individual balls.
  1. Lightly coat the buns in nonstick spray, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap, and return it to the warm place to rise a second time.
Pre-risen hot cross bun dough balls in a silver baking pan.
  1. Allow the buns to rise until doubled in size and touching, about one hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Next, make the egg wash, which is what gives the Hot Cross Buns their glossy finish. Whisk together the remaining egg and water in a small bowl. Brush the wash over the risen buns.
Butter being spread on uncooked hot cross buns in a silver baking pan.
  1. Bake hot cross buns at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outsides are a deep golden brown and the insides register 190 degrees when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Cool at least 30 minutes before glazing.
  2. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla in a bowl. When smooth, dip a teaspoon in the glaze and drizzle in a line across the middle of each row of the barely warm buns. Then repeat the lines in the other direction, to form the cross.
Hot cross buns in a silver baking pan.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: One batch of the recipe makes 12 buns.
  • Storage: Store the buns at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, with the baking pan covered plastic wrap or the buns tucked inside a zip-top plastic bag.
  • Make ahead: After forming the dough into balls and placing them in a baking dish, don’t let them rise the second time. Instead, slide the covered baking dish into the refrigerator up to 16 hours before you need them. When you’re ready, let them sit at room temperature for one hour, until doubled in size, then proceed with step 7.
  • Freezer: Arrange cooled buns on a sheet tray that will fit horizontally in your freezer. They can be close, but not touching. You don’t want them to stick together as they freeze. Freeze the buns until solid, then transfer them from the tray to a zipper-top plastic bag. Press the extra air out of the bag as you seal it, then label and date the bag. Thaw at room temperature.
  • Score it: If you prefer the look of incised buns, in which the dough is scored to form a cross shape, it is simple to add and offers a nice divot for the glaze to rest. After step 6 (the second rise), use a sharp paring knife to make a 1/4-inch “X” slice across the top of each roll. Brush on the egg wash and bake.
  • Testing yeast for freshness: Dissolve ½ teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water. Add one packet (or 2 teaspoons) yeast, stir, and wait 10 minutes. If the yeast mixture is bubbly and domed, your yeast is active and ready to go. (You can use the same yeast you tested–just reduce the liquid in your recipe by ½ cup.)
  • How to proof dough: Yeast bread needs a warm, draft-free space to rise, a process called proofing. Here’s how I make a perfect warm area: Turn the oven on to the lowest temperature it will go, usually 200 degrees. Once it reaches 110 degrees, turn the oven off. Place the dough in the oven and close the door. Opening the oven door will lower the heat a bit, and that’s okay (you’re aiming for 75 to 85 degrees). Repeat as needed for second proofing.
Hot cross buns on a white plate.

Easter Dinner

This delicious Easter Dinner menu has a crumb-topped baked ham, cheesy potato casserole, roasted green beans, and simple homemade biscuits. It’s great for brunch, too! Of all the holidays, Easter may be the most beautiful.…

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More homemade bread ideas

Hot cross buns on a gray platter.

Hot Cross Buns

These homemade Hot Cross Buns are warmly spiced, just sweet enough, and studded with dried fruit. Although these yeast bread buns are a traditional Easter recipe, Hot Cross Buns are so delicious, you'll want to make them year-round.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 40 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 336

Ingredients 

For the buns:

  • 1 cup milk warmed, 110 degrees (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup butter melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (see note 2)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 2 packets (see note 3)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (about 2 ounces)

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water or more as necessary
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

To make the buns:

  • In a large measuring cup, whisk together warm milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and cinnamon. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
  • Add raisins and increase mixer speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 9 to 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl (have pulled away) but stay attached at the bottom. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl.
  • Turn out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees, see recipe notes) until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • Coat a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tightly formed bun and place in the prepared baking dish, seam side down.
  • Cover the buns with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray and let rise in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees, see recipe notes) until doubled in volume and touching, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven 375 degrees. To make the egg wash, whisk together egg and water. Brush gently over the buns. Bake until the buns are deep golden brown and the interiors have reached 190 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze:

  • Whisk together powdered sugar, water, and vanilla in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze in a cross pattern on top of each bun (I found it easiest to do a long, continuous line in one direction across the buns in a row, and then repeat in a perpendicular direction for each row). If the glaze is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you can drizzle it.

Notes

  1. Warm milk: Instead of using refrigerator temperature milk, warm it to 110 degrees. This is important to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Vanilla extract: You can make your own vanilla if you want to. If desired, you could replace some of the vanilla in the glaze (say, ¼ teaspoon) with almond or orange extract.
  3. Active dry yeast: Fleischmann’s, Red Star, and most common yeast brands sell packets filled with ¼ ounce or 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast. Below, learn how to test yeast to guarantee it’s active.
  4. Yield: One batch of the recipe makes 12 buns.
  5. Storage: Store the buns at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to xx days, with the baking pan covered plastic wrap or the buns tucked inside a zip-top plastic bag.
  6. Make ahead: After forming the dough into balls and placing them in a baking dish, don’t let them rise the second time. Instead, slide the covered baking dish into the refrigerator up to 16 hours before you need them. When you’re ready, let them sit at room temperature for one hour, until doubled in size, then proceed with step 7.
  7. Freezer: Arrange cooled buns on a sheet tray that will fit horizontally in your freezer. They can be close, but not touching. You don’t want them to stick together as they freeze. Freeze the buns until solid, then transfer them from the tray to a zipper-top plastic bag. Press the extra air out of the bag as you seal it, then label and date the bag. Thaw at room temperature.
  8. Score it: If you prefer the look of incised buns, in which the dough is scored to form a cross shape, it is simple to add and offers a nice divot for the glaze to rest. After step 6 (the second rise), use a sharp paring knife to make a 1/4-inch “X” slice across the top of each roll. Brush on the egg wash and bake.
  9. Testing yeast for freshness: Dissolve ½ teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water. Add one packet (or 2 teaspoons) yeast, stir, and wait 10 minutes. If the yeast mixture is bubbly and domed, your yeast is active and ready to go. (You can use the same yeast you tested–just reduce the liquid in your recipe by ½ cup.)
  10. How to proof dough: Yeast bread needs a warm, draft-free space to rise, a process called proofing. Here’s how I make a perfect warm area: Turn the oven on to the lowest temperature it will go, usually 200 degrees. Once it reaches 110 degrees, turn the oven off. Place the dough in the oven and close the door. Opening the oven door will lower the heat a bit, and that’s okay (you’re aiming for 75 to 85 degrees). Repeat as needed for second proofing.

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 7gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 205mgPotassium: 170mgFiber: 3gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 196IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 2mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. These turned out great! They were light and tasted so good. I did add 1 1/2 tsps. of cinnamon; just enough for a very subtle bit of spice. I also added a second rising before I shaped the dough into buns. Mary Berry suggests that for better texture. Thanks for the recipe. I will definitely make these again.5 stars

    1. Crazy and totally wrong. I’m correcting the nutrition label. For some reason we had 9 cups of flour in the calculation. So sorry about that!!! Should be 44g of carb per roll. 1.5g dietary fiber. Thank you so much for finding that and sorry about the error!

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