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overhead shot of hot cross buns on a cooling rack
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4.79 from 42 votes

Hot Cross Buns

Traditional Hot Cross Buns with a cream cheese icing, brushed with a sweet syrup and filled with juicy raisins. Soft, fluffy, sweet and sticky, a must have for Easter brunch.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Rising Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easter brunch, easter recipes, hot cross buns
Servings: 15
Calories: 284kcal


For hot cross buns

  • 1 1/2 cups milk lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoon butter unsalted (1/2 stick), softened
  • 1 cup raisins soaked in rum if preferred

For syrup glaze

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For cream cheese icing

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon water


  • In a small bowl combine the lukewarm milk, sugar and yeast. Stir and let it rest for about 10 minutes until the yeast activates, you will notice bubbles forming.
  • Soak the raisins in rum. This step is completely optional. If you're soaking them in rum, you'll need about 1/4 cup of rum.
  • In the bowl of your mixer add 4 cups of flour, salt and nutmeg. Mix until combined.
  • Add the eggs and butter to the yeast mixture and stir. Pour the yeast mixture over the flour, and using the dough hook attachment mix for about 5 minutes. Add raisins (drained if soaked in rum) and continue mixing for another minute. If the dough is too wet add more flour as needed. The dough should be quite soft and elastic. You will know when it's done when it doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl anymore.
  • In a large bowl add a bit of oil, about a tbsp and place the dough in the bowl, rolling it around so that it gets oil all over, this way it won’t get dry. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. You need to let the dough rise for a couple hours until doubled in size. You can also do my trick where I turn the oven on for about 1 to 2 minutes just until it’s warm in there, and place the bowl in the oven, close the door, make sure you turned off the oven and in about half an hour the dough would have doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I used a roasting pan that's 16x12 inches.
  • Clean and flour your work surface. Usually I don't add any flour to my work surface because I find it easier to roll the buns on a clean surface, but it's totally up to you. Punch down the dough, and cut it into 15 equal pieces and roll each one. Place the rolls in the pan and cover with a clean damp towel and let them rest for another 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Bake for about 20 or until golden brown. Mine were actually done after 17 minutes so keep an eye on them.
  • While baking make the syrup by mixing the sugar with the water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over low heat. Continue boiling for another minute or until syrup thickens a bit. Set aside.
  • To make the icing, whisk all the ingredients together and pour in a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use. If the icing is too thin add more icing sugar, if it's too thick add more water until desired consistency.
  • When the buns are out of the oven, brush with the sugar syrup. Let cool completely before piping the icing over the buns to form a cross.


For a NO KNEAD version try these NO KNEAD HOT CROSS BUNS.
Crosses: Traditionally the crosses on hot cross buns are made with a flour and water mixture, not icing. If you want to do this, whisk together about 1/2 cup of flour and 5 tbsp water until a paste forms. Transfer this to a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns before baking. 
You can prepare these the day before up until step 4, cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. The rolls should continue to rise in the fridge but if by morning they have not doubled in size, turn your oven on to 200 F degrees until it warms up, then turn it off. Place the pan in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes until the rolls double in size. Then you can bake them as instructed.
Make sure your milk is not too hot or it could kill the yeast which will cause your dough not to rise at all. The ideal temperature for the milk should be between 105 F degrees and 110 F for proofing. While 95 F degrees is the best temperature for yeast to multiply, that's not warm enough for proofing active dry yeast.
If after dissolving the yeast in the warm milk, the yeast didn't start to froth up, do not continue with the rolls, your dough will not rise.
Always check the expiration date on your yeast and make sure it hasn't expired. All your yeast products whether it’s in a jar or a package should be stamped with a “Best if Used by” date. Always make sure you check this date, even when you purchase the yeast, who knows it could have been on the shelf past its expiry date.
To keep your yeast fresh and longer lasting, unopened yeast packages or jars should be stored in a cool or dry place such as your cupboard. However, you can also store your yeast in the fridge or freezer. If you do store it in the freezer and need to use yeast for your baking, make sure you take out the amount you need and let it sit at room temperature for at least half hour before using.
Once your yeast package or jar has been opened, you must refrigerate the yeast or freeze it in an airtight container.
One thing to remember about your yeast, is that it is a living organism and over time it will lose activity, even if you’ve never opened the jar or package. So if you don’t bake often, buy the smaller yeast packages rather than a big jar of yeast.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.


Serving: 1bun | Calories: 284kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 110mg | Potassium: 172mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2.1mg