These ultra-soft hot cross buns are made with a spiced dough, juicy raisins, and a simple sweet glaze. You’ll love this traditional and mouthwatering recipe!

Soft Hot Cross Buns on a baking sheet.

Looking for more Easter goodies? Give paska a try — it’s a dome of raisin-stuffed brioche bread that inspired this recipe.

What Are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot cross buns are spiced buns filled with dried fruit and decorated with icing in the shape of a cross. They originated in England and are deeply symbolic of Jesus Christ’s death. The cross on the buns signifies the crucifixion of Jesus, the dried fruit represents His body buried in the tomb, and spices in the dough represent His embalming. Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and enjoyed warm with butter or jam. However, they can also be eaten cold at any time of the year!

Hot Cross Buns Video

How To Make Hot Cross Buns

The process for making these hot cross buns is super simple. Make the dough, add the fruit, bake, and then decorate with icing!

  • Bloom the yeast: Combine the milk, yeast, and one cup of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together, cover, and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  • Separate and beat the eggs: Separate the egg yolks and whites into two separate bowls. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the egg yolks and beat together. Then, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and knead: Add the egg yolk mixture, melted butter, vanilla, and spices to the dough. Fold the egg whites in. Gradually mix in the remaining flour and knead the dough until it becomes elastic and smooth.
  • Allow the dough to rise: Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Add the fruit and allow the dough to rise again: Soak the raisins in hot water for at least 15 minutes, then drain and mix them into the dough. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Shape and prove the buns: Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 (or 15) equal pieces. Shape each piece into a seamless ball and arrange them in a parchment-lined 18×13 inch baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow the buns to rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Bake the buns: Whisk together the egg with one teaspoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the buns after they have risen, then bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Decorate with icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, then pour the icing into a piping bag or ziplock bag with the corner tip snipped off. Drizzle the glaze over the warm buns in a cross shape. Serve and enjoy!

Don’t have a stand mixer? No problem! Knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes.

Flavor Variations

The base of these hot cross buns is incredibly tasty as-is, but a slight tweak never hurt anyone! Try any of these flavor variations to create the most flavorful sweet buns.

  • Citrusy: Mix in one tablespoon of lemon or orange zest for a vibrant citrusy burst.
  • Spiced: Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg for a warm, woody flavor.
  • Fruity: For a fruity twist, glaze the buns fresh out of the oven (before adding the icing) with two tablespoons of apricot jam mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of hot water.

Hot tip: Soak the raisins in orange juice or rum to infuse more flavor into the fruit.

Soft Hot Cross Buns broken apart on a serving tray.

Tips for Super Fluffy Hot Cross Buns

Get ready to sink your teeth into the softest hot cross buns you’ve ever tried! Listen up to these five tips to “cross” over into sweet doughy paradise.

  • Bloom the yeast properly. First things first — make sure your yeast is fresh. If it doesn’t foam after being bloomed in the milk, buy new yeast. Also, make sure to heat the milk to 110-120°F to properly activate the yeast and produce the optimal rise.
  • Adjust the flour. Depending on the type of flour, you may need to add more or less — the dough should be tacky but not sticking to your fingers. King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill brand are our top picks for the most consistent results. We usually use all purpose flour, but bread flour may be used as well.
  • Knead the dough until it is elastic. Smooth, elastic dough produces the fluffiest buns! A great way to know if your dough is properly kneaded is the windowpane test. Take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingertips. If light filters through the thin dough without any tearing, it’s ready.
  • Allow the dough to rise in a warm place. Here’s a hack for you — turn the light on in the oven to create the perfect proving area for your dough!
  • Cover the buns with foil if they brown too quickly. Because of the sugar in the dough, these buns take on color rapidly. If the tops are too dark before the baking time is up, cover the pan loosely with a piece of aluminum foil.


Hot cross buns are especially soft on the first day, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy them again later. Here’s our secret to keeping the buns fresh for days (or even months!) to come.

  • Room temperature: Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.
  • Freezer: Store leftover buns in a ziplock bag and freeze for up to two months.

Hot tip: Wondering what to do with the leftovers? Hot cross buns are delicious sliced in half, toasted, and slathered with butter. They also make phenomenal French toast!

More Sweet Buns

About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.