Best Hot Cross Bun Recipe And A History Lesson

A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins, marked with a cross on the top, and traditionally eaten on Good Friday in Australia, British Isles, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and some parts of America. The buns mark the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm Him at His burial Wikipedia

There is a nursery rhyme that begins –

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns……..

There’s also so much legend and lore behind Hot Cross Buns, which date back to the old country. English folklore said that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday would never spoil throughout the following year. Some bakers believed that holding on to one Hot Cross Bun and hanging it in the kitchen meant that all yeast products in the coming year would rise successfully. Some sailors took Hot Cross Buns on their voyages to ensure their ships wouldn’t sink. And friends who gift one another with Hot Cross Buns every year are said to remain friends for life.

I’m not sure if that’s due to inherent powers in the buns…or just all the yummy carbohydrate goodness. The line is kind of blurry.

Either way, Hot Cross Buns are a fun, meaningful Easter tradition. I have memories of my mom making them, and now I make them too.

I’ve researched Hot Cross Bun recipes – and, boy, is research fun when you get to taste your results!! This recipe came out on top. The soft dough is easily shaped, and makes tender buns, ready for an icing cross the top. And the fragrant aroma filling your kitchen will set your taste buds drooling.  




  • 1/4 cup apple juice 
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, 1 separated
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon milk


  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing



  1. Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.
  2. Mix the apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 
  3. Mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, till the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the cooled fruit and any liquid not absorbed.
  4. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.
  5. Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You’ll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.
  6. Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour in a warm place, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.
  8. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.
  9. Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.

As you sit down to Easter dinner with your family or as your prepare these in the kitchen you can share the story of the cross with your precious family. Enjoy!!!

14 thoughts on “Best Hot Cross Bun Recipe And A History Lesson

  1. I made hot cross buns once but they turned out kind of dense. They weren’t bad tasting or anything, but I decided it was just easier to buy them! I sure love them at this time of year. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the story.

  2. I remember when my older brother took a home economics class, came home and made hot cross buns. I always associate these with him as he really took to that home economics class. (I also remember when he hemmed his pants!)

    Anyhow – I hail from a British colonized country so we had hot cross buns at Easter.
    Thanks for the memories and history lesson

    Stopping by from #Coffeeforyourheart linkup

  3. Those look so yummy!! I’ve always heard about them, but could never find a good recipe. This sounds amazing. Pinning it to try! 🙂

  4. I learned so much about an Easter tradition that you introduced to me. I can’t wait to try out this recipe with my daughter. Thanks for the history lesson and for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.

  5. This sounds like a good tradition to have. I have tried making hot cross buns once before but mine didn’t turn out well. Maybe i will have to try yours. Thanks for sharing at Family Joy blog linkup.

  6. My grandma and my mom always made Hot Cross Buns for our Easter celebrations! Thanks for sharing your recipe (and the history!) with our Merry Monday party this week!

    1. Thank you so much Mary for having such a great Link Up. I always find encouraging anf helpful posts. Appreciate you featuring Mary and Martha’s House this week. Blessings.

  7. Rebecca – I am so sorry, it has taken me almost a whole week to stop by and comment from #TuneInThursday linkup last week. I was away at a Conference since last week and the wifi was practically non-existent.

    Ok quick questions – have you ever made the buns without the dried fruit and raisins? my hubby hates them both, but the bread sound delicious and I just may have to try to make some this weekend, now that I am home. I also enjoyed reading some of the history behind the hot cross buns, I had heard the nursery rhyme of course, but thats about it. LOL
    Again thank you for linking up last week, and I hope to see you today at #TuneInThursday

    1. I appreciate your sweet comments Debbie. I love those get away conferences but they sure do take their toll. LOL I’ve never made the hot cross buns without the dried fruit but I think you could. The basic recipe is just a yeast recipe. I enjoyed researching all the history too and didn’t know all those things before I started. Hope your rolls are a huge success. Happy Easter.

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