Traditional hot cross buns

An Easter favourite, hot cross buns make a mouth-watering morning or afternoon treat. Have a go at baking your own using our traditional recipe - it’s delicious and surprisingly easy!



Note: + Cooling & 1 1/2 hours rising time



  • 1 1/3 cups (330ml) skim milk
  • 40g butter, chopped
  • 2 tsp (1 sachet/7g) dried yeast
  • 4 cups (600g) plain flour
  • 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g) mixed dried fruit
  • 1 Coles Australian Free Range Egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 tbs caster sugar, extra
  • 1 tsp gelatine powder

Flour paste

  • 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) cold water



Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook for 2 mins or until the butter melts. Set aside to cool slightly. Add the yeast and whisk to combine.


Combine the flour, sugar, mixed spice and dried fruit in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and egg. Stir until well combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 mins or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.


Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a 23cm (base measurement) square cake pan with baking paper. Punch down the dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into 16 even portions and roll each portion into a ball. Arrange side-by-side in the lined pan. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draught-free place for 30 mins to rise.


To make the flour paste, place flour in a bowl. Stir in enough water to make a smooth paste. Place in a sealable plastic bag. Cut off 1 corner. Pipe over the buns to make crosses. Bake for 10 mins. Reduce oven to 180°C. Bake for a further 20 mins or until golden brown and the buns sound hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack. Set aside for 10 mins to cool slightly.


Combine the extra sugar, gelatine and 2 tbs water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook for 1-2 mins or until the sugar and gelatine dissolve. Brush over the buns. Serve warm.

Serve with: butter

Hot cross buns recipe

There are many traditions in baked goods, but one of the closest to our hearts must be hot cross buns. These sweet, spiced buns jewelled with dried fruit and decorated with crosses are said to have been invented by a medieval Christian monk in England, though the tradition may go back further to pagan rituals of making offerings to the goddess of spring. Whether or not you celebrate Easter, these irresistible buns offer everyone a taste of sugar and spice and all things nice, ready to tear and share. It’s hard to go past the simple pleasure of a hot cross bun, split, toasted and slathered with butter.

Why make your own hot cross buns for Easter

While you can – and should – buy traditional fruit hot cross buns from Coles – after all, they’ve earned their stripes for both flavour and value – nothing beats the smell of freshly baked hot cross buns. If you love baking, or are keen to develop your skills, you’re going to want to try your hand at making your own at least once. It’s a great way to impress guests at Eastertime and they make an amazing gift from the kitchen for friends and family. Plus, once you know how to make them, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying this seasonal treat at any time of year.

Get prepped for the best hot cross buns recipe ever

The great thing about bread baking is it uses simple, easy-to-find ingredients that you may already have handy in your fridge and pantry. Like any standard bread dough, you’ll need plain flour and dried yeast for the dough. Because hot cross buns are made with an enriched sweet dough, you’ll need to dissolve the yeast in a mix of butter and skim milk instead of water, and then add it to the flour mixture with an egg for extra richness. To give the dough its sweetness and spice, add caster sugar and mixed spice to the flour, along with the essential mixed dried fruit. For glossy buns, you’ll need gelatine powder to make a glaze. Those fancy crosses are made with a simple paste of flour and water. Don’t forget the butter for serving.

Equipment wise, grab a small saucepan for heating the milk mixture and making the glaze. You’ll be kneading the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface, but have a bowl handy and something to cover it with when you leave the dough to rise. Unless you’re making free-form buns, take a 20cm square cake pan and line it with baking paper. You don’t need a special piping bag for piping on the crosses – a small sealable plastic bag will do the job. A pastry brush is useful for brushing the glaze over the warm buns.

Easy hot cross buns recipe tips and tricks

Hot cross bun dough needs yeast to help it rise and produce fluffy buns. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour mixture until very well combined – this stirring action kickstarts the rising process. The stretchier the dough, the better it rises during baking, so make sure you knead the dough until very smooth and elastic. Don’t rush – it should take at least 10 mins. You’ll know the dough is ready if it springs back when lightly pressed.

For super-fluffy buns, the dough needs to prove twice – first for an hour in the bowl, then again for 30 mins in the pan. This allows the dough to expand and aerate, which prevents dense buns. If you like your hot cross buns to look tall and square, bake them pressed together in a square cake pan. This stops the buns expanding sideways and holds their shape. Baking on a tray works too – the buns will just be rounder in shape.

Worried your flour paste is looking too thick? Don’t be tempted to add extra water – just apply firm pressure to the bag as you pipe. Firm flour paste will hold its shape better on the buns and give that iconic cross. To give the buns a traditional shiny finish, cool the buns slightly before lightly brushing the glaze over the tops. Buns hot from the oven will soak up the glaze, making them soggy.

Now try this chocolate hot cross bun recipe and more

Good news for hot cross bun fans who love a sweeter treat – it’s easy to turn the basic hot cross buns recipe into a double chocolate version. All you have to do is increase the milk to 1½ cups (375ml), then add ½ cup (50g) cocoa powder with the flour. Instead of mixed dried fruit, add ½ cup (95g) dark choc chips and ½ cup (95g) white choc chips to the flour mixture. This recipe makes 18 buns, so skip the cake pan and arrange them side by side and just touching on a lined baking tray instead.

If you prefer fruit-flavoured hot cross buns, try these simple variations and bake them free-form on a tray as above for a rustic look. To make cherry & almond hot cross buns, swap the mixed dried fruit for 200g chopped glacé cherries and ½ cup (70g) toasted slivered almonds. Add 1 tsp almond essence and a little red food colouring with the milk mixture. Shape into 15 buns and add chocolate crosses by add 1 tbs cocoa powder with the flour for the paste. To make apple & walnut hot cross buns, swap the caster sugar and mixed dried fruit for ¼ cup (55g) dark brown sugar, 1½ finely chopped Granny Smith apples and ½ cup (55g) coarsely chopped walnuts. Change the spice to 1 tsp mixed spice and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.

You also need a good hot cross bun pudding recipe

This recipe makes a big batch of homemade hot cross buns so they may start to dry out before you can get through them all. Freezing is one solution, but an even tastier one is to use them up in a bread-and-butter pudding recipe. Day-old buns are better than fresh ones for making hot cross bun pudding because they have less moisture so they’re better at soaking up the custard mixture. This is a great to serve as part of your Easter feast or whenever you want a warm comforting dessert. To make it, halve the buns and spread with softened butter and then with jam or marmalade. Arrange in a greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle over any extras such as fresh or frozen berries or chopped chocolate. For the custard mixture, whisk together 6 eggs, 1 cup (250ml) milk, 1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream and 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar. Pour this over the buns in the dish and let it soak in for 15 minutes – don’t skip this step, because it helps you get perfect texture in the finished pudding. Now put the dish in a larger roasting pan and pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake at 160°C for 35-40 minutes or until the custard is just set – it should still wobble a little. Remove from the water bath and let it cool and thicken in the dish for 5 minutes before serving.

Now get cooking

Give this traditional hot cross bun recipe a go and treat your family a mouth-watering Easter treat made from scratch. For more sweet Easter baking ideas including traditional breads, head to our Easter desserts collection. Plus, put classic sticky buns on your baking to-do list with our traditional cinnamon scrolls recipe. Need more ideas to use up your hot cross buns? Turn them into crunchy crumbs to ripple through our easy hot cross bun ice cream. Or try an easy twist on a weekend favourite with our hot cross bun French toast.

Nutrition Information

Per Serve

Energy: 991kJ/237 Cals (11%)

Protein: 6g (12%)

Fat: 3g (4%)

Sat fat: 2g (8%)

Carb: 45g (15%)

Sugar: 15g (17%)

Fibre: 3g (10%)

Sodium: 46mg (2%)



  • How to store hot cross buns
    Hot cross buns are best eaten on the day they’re made, but you can store any leftover hot cross buns in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

  • Can I freeze hot cross buns?
    To freeze hot cross buns, wrap individually or place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Can I make mini hot cross buns?
    For mini hot cross buns, shape into 24 balls instead of 16 and arrange side-by-side on a lined baking tray. Bake for 10 mins at 200°C and a further 10 mins at 180°C, or until the buns sound hollow when tapped on the base.

  • Can I use any dried fruit in this hot cross bun recipe?
    If you want to use up other dried fruit in your pantry, go ahead – just use the same weight as in the recipe and finely chop any larger pieces.

  • Can I use this hot cross bun recipe to make regular fruit buns?
    For traditional fruit buns, simply leave out the flour paste.

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.