Classic Easter Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns hero

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise Time: 105 mins
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 12 buns
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
244 Calories
13g Fat
30g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 244
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 49mg 16%
Sodium 257mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 4g
Calcium 108mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Hot cross buns have a long history as sweet breads made for offerings to ancient deities. As religions evolved and changed, Christians adopted hot cross buns as a special bread to be made and eaten every year on Good Friday.

This basic hot cross bun recipe makes a sweet dough that is shaped into 12 rolls. Each roll is topped with a deliciously sweet icing, making it a special treat for anyone with a sweet tooth.

"The hot cross buns were easy and came out great—fluffy and yeasty, and, I thought, sweet enough. Begin to check the buns after about 20 to 25 minutes in the oven and look for an internal temperature of around 190 F or slightly higher. I loved the almond flavored icing." —Diana Rattray

hot cross buns
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • For the Buns:
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 cups (638 grams) all-purpose flour
  • For the Icing:
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    hot cross bun ingredients and icing ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. In a large bowl, stir in the evaporated milk and melted butter. Add the sugar, salt, and yeast. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

    evaporated milk, melted butter and other ingredients in bowl with spoon

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Mix in beaten egg, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

    egg and spices added to bowl of wet ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Slowly mix in flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed.

    flour added to wet ingredients in bowl to form a soft dough

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Knead the dough for about 8 to 10 minutes.

    dough being kneaded by a hand on cutting board

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Put dough into a greased bowl and turn dough over so that the top is greased.

    dough in a ball in a greased bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Cover and let rise in warm place for 1 hour.

    dough risen, in greased bowl, with kitchen towel resting on counter next to bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Turn out dough and knead out air bubbles.

    risen dough being pressed by hand on cutting board

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  9. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Shape into rolls and place on greased baking sheet or cookie sheet.

    dough divided into 9 balls

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  10. Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes or until double in size.

    dough balls risen, with kitchen towel covering them partly

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  11. Preheat oven to 350 F. Slash an "X" on each bun top (optional).

    risen dough balls on baking sheet with an X marked on top

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  12. Bake at 350 F for about 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Look for an internal temperature of about 190 F or slightly higher. Remove the rolls from oven and allow to cool.

    baked hot cross buns on baking sheet, deep golden brown

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  13. Mix icing ingredients in a small bowl.

    icing ingredients mixed together in a bowl with a spoon

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  14. Make a cross on top of buns with icing.

    icing piped in X shape on top of the baked hot cross buns

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack


  • To decorate the rolls easily, put the icing mixture in a small plastic sandwich bag. Cut out a piece of a corner, and pipe the icing onto the rolls.
  • Keep yeast stored in an airtight container and in the refrigerator. Heat, moisture, and air kills the yeast and prevents bread dough from rising.
  • Store flour properly to keep it from spoiling.
  • There is a milk to dry milk powder conversion table. You can use it to figure out how much dry milk to add to the water if you decide to replace the milk in the recipe.

Recipe Variations

  • To replace the egg, use 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • Egg substitute can be used in place of the egg.
  • You can use any type of milk in this recipe: whole milk, skim, low fat, etc. Evaporated milk can also be replaced with water and nonfat dry milk.

How to Store Hot Cross Buns

Transfer cooled hot cross buns to an airtight container and keep them in a cool, dark place for up to 2 days.

To freeze hot cross buns, place them in zip-close freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the buns at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours.