Light and Fluffy Hot Cross Buns


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Light and fluffy, these Hot Cross Buns are slightly sweet, filled with spices, and make a perfect Good Friday or Easter bread.

overhead image of buns in a white baking dish

The past year has really been all about bread for me. Oh….and the garden. Bread and gardening. And all the highs and lows that have come with both those things. I have made countless loaves of no-knead bread and beer bread. And even occasionally dabbled in the intimidating world of sourdough. (BTW last year I took an online sourdough class at Dig+Co with my mom, and it was great.) 

But once I find a bread recipe that works well for me, I’m more likely to rework it into new iterations than to try something completely new. And the first time I had a sturdy, somewhat dense hot cross bun that is a favorite for Good Friday / Easter, I knew there had to be a better way. Specifically, I wondered if I could turn my go-to Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls into a version of hot cross buns. This hybrid roll is an incredibly light and fluffy dinner roll but is lightly sweetened, filled with fragrant spices and currants, topped with a cross, and (optional) finished with a shiny glaze. It wasn’t a simple 1:1 conversion. Adding sugar and spices to bread can render it tough, so getting the amounts right was key – add just enough to flavor the rolls but not so much to make them tough. 

The result you see throughout this post finally reached the texture and flavor of a sweet roll that I would happily eat all year long. It has all the flavor of classic hot cross buns in a light and fluffy package. Perfect for Easter!

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brushing baked buns with butter

How to make the cross on Hot Cross Buns

There are two ways to make a cross on these buns.

  1. With a flour-water paste drizzled over the rolls before baking. 
  2. With white icing drizzled over the rolls after they have baked and cooled completely.

After testing both ways, I am partial to the first method. I don’t find that the rolls need the sweet addition of icing on top. I also love the rustic look of the crosses when baked with the cross on top. The flour-water paste melts into the rolls as they bake and doesn’t change the texture or flavor of the finished rolls. 

Apricot Glaze

This is totally optional, and we liked the rolls both ways, but if you want the added look of a shiny glaze, brush some warmed apricot jam over top of the warm baked rolls. It looks beautiful and gives the rolls a bit of sweet apricot flavor that compliments the spices, but it does make the rolls sticky on top.

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overhead image of smaller pieces of dough on a flour covered wooden table
adding icing to unbaked buns
overhead image of unbaked buns in a rectangular white baking dish

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3.50 from 6 votes

Light and Fluffy Hot Cross Buns

Light and fluffy, these buns are slightly sweet, filled with spices, and make a perfect Good Friday or Easter bread.
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12


  • Stand Mixer
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Serrated Knife
  • 9 x 13 Baking Dish


For the Rolls:

  • 1 1/2 cups Warm Milk (110°F / 43°C)
  • 1 Tablespoons Instant or "Fast-Acting" Yeast
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (440g)
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Currants (sub raisins)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature  (2 Tbsp = 28g)

For the Cross:

  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Water

For the glaze (optional):

  • 1/4 cup Apricot Jam or Preserves (optional)


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together warm milk, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Stir in currants. Set aside.
  • Return to the yeast mixture and add 2 Tbsp softened butter and about half the dry ingredients. Mix on low until the ingredients begin to come together.
  • Add remaining dry ingredients and mix again on low until flour is fully incorporated.
  • Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (The dough will be very sticky and soft at the beginning of the mixing time, but should start to come together. You can add more flour a bit at a time as needed to help it come together, but wait until after it has been mixing for about 4 minutes before adding it. The key to light fluffy rolls is adding as little extra flour as possible.)
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides so that the dough gathers in the bottom. Cover with a dish towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 20 minutes. (I like to turn on the oven's light and let the dough rise inside the oven. The light produces just enough heat to help the dough rise quickly. In a cool room, it will take about 30 minutes to double.)
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into an even ball. Dust the top of the dough with some more flour.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into quarters. Slice each quarter of dough into 3 even pieces (you should have 12 pieces of dough).
  • Dust your hands with flour to prevent sticking and roll each piece of dough into a ball, tucking the ends under to form a smooth surface. Place dough balls in even rows in prepared pan.
  • Heat oven to 400°F / 200°C. Cover the rolls with a dish towel and put them near the warm oven to rise for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup flour and 3 Tbsp of water until it forms a paste similar to thick pancake batter. (Add more water a bit at a time if needed to get the right consistency.) Transfer the flour paste to a small piping bag or sealed plastic bag.
  • When rolls have finished their second rise, cut a tiny corner off the bag with the flour paste. Pipe a line of flour paste across each row of buns and then pipe a line going the other way to form crosses over the top of each bun. (Note: You likely won’t need all of the flour paste. Discard any that is left.)
  • Bake until golden brown, 24 to 30 minutes. (Rolls are done when they reach an internal temperature of 190°F / 88°C. If using a metal pan, the rolls should finish near the lower end of the range; if using a ceramic or glass pan, the rolls should finish near the upper end.)
  • If you want to add the apricot glaze, warm the jam in the microwave for about 15 seconds to soften. Brush warm jam over top of the warm rolls.


Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 196mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 118IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $4.00
Calories: 230
Keyword: baking, bread recipe, Easter, Holiday recipe, Homemade bread, spring
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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