Sweet buns made with currants or raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are marked with a cross on the top and are traditionally enjoyed over the Easter holidays.
They are another very popular Easter Bread recipe that you can prepare to serve your family for brunch on Easter Sunday morning.
Name a favorite family tradition you enjoy every year for Easter. For some people it's always having a ham or lasagna recipe that their grandmother makes for Sunday dinner.
Or maybe it's the tradition of spending time together dying Easter Eggs and decorating baskets.
One of the family traditions that I love is baking recipes that have been in our family for years. Italian Easter Bread and this recipe for Hot Cross Buns are always on part of our Easter Brunch Ideas every year.
Hot Cross Buns Tradition
A family tradition around the Easter holiday is Hot Cross Buns. They're either purchased from a bakery or baked at home with a recipe that's been in the family for years.
My sister bakes hot cross buns every year. She almost always brings a tray with her to our house for our Easter Sunday meal.
Traditional Hot Cross Buns Recipe
A traditional hot cross bun is a sweet bun with raisins or currants. My family loves them with raisins.
After they have baked and cooled, they're marked on top with a cross to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ. Most people prefer to pipe icing on the top of the buns to get the cross shape.
What does hot cross buns have to do with Easter?
- No one knows exactly why they are even called Hot Cross Buns, some people say that they were originally called Good Friday Buns because you ate them on Good Friday.
- While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone.
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Main Ingredients Needed
Exact measurements are listed below in the recipe card. Make sure you scroll down to print and save the recipe for later!
- All-purpose flour
- Warm milk
- Egg Wash - to brush on the buns before baking.
- Powdered Sugar Glaze - to make the cross shape on the baked buns.
Step 1 | Prepare the Yeast
- Combine the milk and butter in a sauce pan.
- Heat over a low flame until the mixture reaches the temperature of 120°F. The butter does not have to melt.
- Add the yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a small bowl and then add the warm milk/butter mixture to the same bowl.
- Allow the yeast to proof for about five minutes.
Step 2 | Combine the Ingredients
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the dough hook attached, combine 2 cups of the flour, the sugar and salt. Slowly add the yeast mixture.
- Then add in the 2 eggs.
- Continue to add ½ cup of flour at a time until you get a souft dough the clings to the side of the bowl.
- Stir in the raisins. The dough will be sticky.
Step 3 | Allow the Dough to Rise
- Let the dough knead for 5 minutes. Then shape it into a ball and place it in a large greased bowl, making sure the entire ball of dough is greased.
- Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm draft free place until double in size; about 1 hour.
Step 4 | Form the Buns
- Once the dough has doubled in size, bunch down the dough and remove from the bowl.
- Divide the dough into 16 to 18 pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
- Place with in a baking dish or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cover again with a clean cloth and allow to rise for another hour or until they have doubled in size.
- Once the hot cross buns have doubled, brush them with the egg wash before baking.
Step 5 | Baking Instructions
- Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Step 6 | Add the Cross Design
- Allow the buns to cool completely before adding the crosses on the buns with the powdered sugar glaze.
Tried any of my recipes? Let me know in the comments!
- You can replace the raisins with currents if you want.
- Some recipes call for you making an the cross shape in the raw dough before baking and then filling in that shape with the glaze.
Tips for Making Hot Cross Buns
This recipe calls for warm milk and not warm water like a traditional yeast bread recipe:
- Using milk will give the buns a softer crust that will brown more quickly due to the sugar and fat in milk.
- The milk needs to be warm to activate the yeast so the dough will rise. However, if it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast and the dough won’t rise either.
- Make sure you use a thermometer to test the temperature of the milk before adding it to the yeast.
How to Store Hot Cross Buns
- You can store the buns after they have cooled completely and the icing is dry.
- Place them in an air-tight container where they'll remain fresh for up to 3 days.
- To freeze the buns, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Place them in a freezer safe plastic bag or storage container. You can keep them in the freezer for up to two months.
More Delicious Easter Recipes
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs
- Marshmallow Bunny Peeps Pudding Cups
- Mini Easter Bundt Cakes
- Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Peeps
For the Buns
- 4½ to 5 cups all purpose flour, divided
- ½ cup sugar; plus 2 tablespoons to proof the yeast
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups warm milk; heated to 120°F
- ½ cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup raisins
For the Egg Wash
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 beaten egg
For the Icing
- ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Combine 1½ cups milk and butter in sauce pan. Heat over low until mixture is 120° (butter does not need to melt completely). Add the yeast to the milk with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Allow the yeast and milk mixture to proof.
- In bowl of your stand mixer, add the 2 cups flour, sugar and salt.
- On low speed, gradually add the milk and yeast mixture into the flour mixture.
- Reduce to low speed and add in 2 beaten eggs.
- Then add in flour ½ cup at a time until you get a soft dough that clings to the dough hook. You may not use all 5 cups of flour.
- Add the raisins.
- Let dough knead for about 5 minutes.
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, making sure the entire ball of dough is greased.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm draft free place until double in size; about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down and remove from the bowl.
- Knead on lightly floured surface for 1 minute.
- Line two baking pans with parchment paper.
- Cut dough into 16 to 18 pieces.
- Shape each piece into a ball and place on the prepared pans.
- Cover with a towel, let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°
- Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl.
- Cut a cross in top of each bun with the tip of a sharp knife.Brush rolls with egg mixture.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
- Immediately remove from pans and allow to cool on wire rack completely before adding the icing to fill in the crosses on the buns.
- To make icing combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl until smooth.
- Add the cross shape on top of the cooled buns with the glaze.
For this recipe, I used whole milk.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 184mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 5g
The nutrition information is calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you, please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator.
This recipe has been updated since it first appeared in 2019 with new photos, information and a new printable recipe card that includes nutritional information. I hope you enjoy the updates as much as I enjoyed working on them!