Bread Machine Hot Cross Buns: Make Good Friday Special

Sneak Preview: Make these Bread Machine Hot Cross Buns easily with your bread maker, stand mixer, or by hand. Spices and raisins (or currants) combine to make these traditional rolls a favorite ritual on Good Friday, especially in Britain and other Commonwealth countries.

hot cross buns on brightly colored plates.Pin

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Do you have memories connected with Hot Cross Buns? One of my co-workers brought them to work every year on the Friday before Easter. I still think of her on Good Friday, although I haven’t seen her in years. Shared food is like that.

These rolls come with many traditions associated with Easter in addition to the familiar nursery rhyme–one a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns. The shape of a cross on top supposedly represents the crucifixion of Jesus.

It’s no surprise that most Hot Cross Buns from the grocery store don’t hold a candle to the ones you make yourself.

Six Reasons Why the Hot Cross Buns You Make Will Taste Better

  1. If you don’t have any of the spices mentioned, leave them out.
  2. If you don’t want icing, leave it off. Slashing the dough will still leave a cross imprint.
  3. If you don’t care for raisins, try dried cranberries, cherries, currants, sultanas, or nothing—baker’s choice.
  4. If you don’t want dairy, see the substitute list below.
  5. If you want less sugar, reduce the amount to one tablespoon, leave out the raisins, and, of course, the icing.
  6. If you don’t want to use 100% white flour, substitute up to a cup of white flour with whole wheat flour.

Make this recipe with the DOUGH cycle on your bread maker. Shape the rolls by hand, let them rise a final time, and bake in your conventional oven. This method produces rolls that are far fresher and better than most stores. Check the recipe notes for specific directions for making these with a stand mixer or by hand.

Happy Bakers Speak Up

Wonderful recipe, turned out perfectly, only cooked for about 16 minutes at 350
I added 1/2 cut of mixed dried fruits along with the raisins. They were gone before I could even finish icing them!”–

Recipe Inspiration

My favorite dinner roll recipe, Classic Dinner Rolls, is the foundation for these buns. If you are a fan of my Japanese Milk Bread Dinner Rolls, you could use that recipe instead by adding raisins and spices to the dough. It will taste the same, but that recipe tends to stay fresh and softer for a couple of days longer.

split hot cross bun so you can see the  light and fluffy texture inside.Pin

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients in Bread Machine Hot Cross Buns.Pin
  • MILK: Any milk works, but the higher fat content makes more flavorful rolls. Non-dairy or water are fine, no pre-warming needed. No pre-warming needed.
  • BUTTER: Unsalted is preferred, salted is ok with less added salt. Use non-dairy butter, shortening, or oil as substitutes. Instead of warming the butter, use it straight from the fridge, but chop it finely before adding it to the bread machine pan.
  • EGG: All of my recipes use large eggs; adjust liquid for other sizes.
  • SALT: Essential for flavor and yeast control. Use table or sea salt, add more for Kosher. Don’t omit. You can experiment with cutting back, but cutting the salt out altogether is not recommended.
  • SUGAR: Traditional brown, white ok. For honey, use less due to sweetness and moisture, and adjust flour as needed. Check the dough as it kneads in the machine to see if you need to add more flour.
  • SPICES: Cinnamon common, others like nutmeg, allspice, clove, cardamom, or apple pie spice work. Optional but recommended.
  • FLOUR: All-purpose for softness, bread flour ok. One-third can be whole wheat for more grain, with a slight texture change.
  • YEAST: My first choice is bread machine or instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, add 1/4 teaspoon extra.
  • RAISINS, SULTANAS, or CURRANTS: Raisins, sultanas, currants, or alternatives like cranberries, cherries, dates. Optional.
  • GRATED LEMON RIND: Small lemon or orange, or use lemon oil/extract sparingly.
    📌COST-SAVING TIP📌: Freeze grated lemon rind before juicing for future use.

📌KITCHEN TIP📌 The “apple pie spices” set these sweet rolls apart from the average raisin roll. The recipe calls for cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. You can make it easy and buy “apple pie spice” found in the spice aisle at the supermarket or pick and choose the spices you like and have on hand. Go easy with the nutmeg and cloves. It doesn’t take much to pack a punch.

How Do You Shape the Dough into Smooth Balls?

I shape the dough differently than Betty Crocker’s method of rolling it into balls. I find smoothing the dough by pinching from the top works better for me, rather than rolling it on a flat surface. It’s a bit hard to describe, so I made a simple video a while back to demonstrate my technique. Ultimately, use whatever method you prefer.

How To Make Bread Machine Hot Cross Buns

all ingredients for the dough are added to the bread machine pan, except for the raisins or currants.Pin
Add all the dough ingredients except raisins or currants. Measuring the ingredients straight into the bread saves time as long as you remember to zero out the weight after each ingredient.

Select the DOUGH cycle, then press START. Open the lid and ensure the paddles are engaged properly. Within the first five minutes, the dough should start to come together in a clumpy ball.

Dough that sticks to the side and pulls away from the edge. Your dough should look like this.Pin
After 12-15 minutes, the dough should stick to the sides, then pull away.

If it is too dry (bounces off the wall or rides on top of the paddle), add more liquid, a tablespoon at a time, and use a spatula to help it incorporate into the dough. If the dough is too wet and won’t pull away from the side, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it looks like the dough in the picture above.

bowl of raisins soaking in water.Pin
Meanwhile, drain the raisins or currants you soaked in hot water and squeeze as much water out of them as possible. Add to the dough when the machine beeps that it’s time for add-ins. If you forget, knead them in by hand at the end of the DOUGH cycle.
dough ball after removal from the bread pan and a small amount of light kneading.Pin
When the DOUGH cycle finishes, check to ensure the dough has doubled in size. If not, leave it in the machine until it does.

Remove the dough from the bread machine pan onto a floured surface. I like to use a silicone mat because you can throw it into the dishwasher when you’re done. Knead the dough lightly to push out any big bubbles and form a rough ball.

Dough is portioned into 12 eqally-sized pieces.Pin
Divide the dough into twelve equally-sized portions with a bench scraper if you have one. Shape each portion into a ball. See the video above.
shaped rolls sitting in a pan before the final rise.Pin
Place rolls into a greased 9×13-inch rectangular pan. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place to rise. Rolls should increase in size until they are all touching each other.
brushing the buns with glaze.Pin
Slash rolls with a sharp serrated knife, a razor blade, or a lame to the shape of a cross as pictured. Brush each roll with the glaze. Try not to let it drip onto the bottom of the pan, as it will make it more difficult to remove the rolls after baking.
baked hot cross buns still in the pan without frosting.Pin
Bake in a 350˚F or 180˚C oven for 20 minutes or until the rolls reach an internal temperature of 190˚F or 88˚C. Check with a quick-read digital thermometer (paid link). Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack to cool so the bottoms won’t steam and get soggy.
baked hot cross buns on a serving tray.Pin
After the rolls cool for a few minutes, pipe crosses according to the directions in the recipe if desired.

I use a small zippered plastic bag with the corner snipped to hold the frosting. Then, push it out with your hands like you would use a decorator’s bag. If everybody is in a big hurry to eat, you could use a spoon to drip the icing over the top.

FAQ About Hot Cross Buns

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Yes. You have a couple of choices.

1. Mix up the dough on the DOUGH cycle. When the cycle finishes, remove the dough and drop it into a large mixing bowl, cover it, and store it in the fridge until you are ready to shape the rolls. Let them rise a final time before baking according to the directions.
2. Mix up the dough on the DOUGH cycle. When the cycle finishes, remove the dough onto a floured surface. Shape the rolls by hand and arrange them in your pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake the rolls, take them out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature and become puffy. They may not double in size, but they should be touching one another. Slash, glaze, and bake according to the recipe instructions.

Chilling dough can make them taste more yeasty. Unless you like that, I don’t recommend leaving the dough in the fridge longer than 12-24 hours.

Can I make this recipe non-dairy?

Yes. Substitute almond milk, cashew milk, or soy milk, or use water. For the butter, try a plant-based butter, shortening (like Crisco), or vegetable oil.

What kind of glaze can I use to make the rolls softer on the outside?

Substitute a whole egg or an egg yolk for the egg white. Substituting heavy cream for the milk will also make a softer crust.

How can I make a cross on top without using frosting?

Slash the rolls with a cross shape on top. The rolls will expand as they bake to reveal a cross design, as seen in the pictures above. You can also make a flour and water paste and paint it on top of the rolls in the shape of a cross before baking.

What can I serve with Hot Cross Buns?

Serve with butter, marmalade, preserves, clotted cream, homemade creme fraiche, or, my favorite, microwave lemon or orange curd.

Do I need to warm all ingredients before adding them to the bread machine?

You can if you like. However, warming is not necessary. The friction of the kneading paddles will warm up the ingredients. If you’re not convinced, try sticking a quick-read thermometer into the dough at the end of the kneading phase.

Does the butter need to be soft before I add it?

📌Time-saving Tip📌 Bread recipes often call for room-temperature or even melted butter. Neither is necessary when using a bread machine.
Instead, I chop the butter into small pieces before adding it to the bread machine pan. This keeps the butter from coating the yeast at the beginning of the mixing phase.
I don’t add melted butter to the pan as it can make the dough sticky and tempt you to add too much flour, causing your rolls to be dense.chopped butterPin

Can I make this recipe with whole-grain flour?

Yes. Substitute a cup of whole-grain flour for a cup of all-purpose flour. Expect your rolls to be slightly more dense.

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Closing thoughts: I don’t know about you, but making these rolls inspires me to sing and clap to “Hot Cross Buns.” I hope you have fun with them.

Although I’m no expert in English teacakes, I’m told these buns are similar. Let me know what you think.

Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

close up of hot cross bunsPin
Yield: 12 rolls

Bread Machine Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Get out your bread machine to make these traditional Hot Cross Buns–think apple pie spices inside a sweet dinner roll with a bit of icing on top.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 4 votes


Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Mix and Rise Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 55 minutes



  • ½ cup (72 g) raisins or currants
  • cup (198 g) milk (7 oz) (any kind, but whole milk is best)
  • 1 (50 g) large egg
  • 1 (17 g) large egg yolk (save the egg white for the glaze)
  • 3 tablespoons (36 g) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons grated rind of one lemon (or grated rind of a small orange)
  • 3 cups (360 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons bread machine yeast


  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 (33 g) egg white from a large egg


  • 1 cup (114 g) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 + tablespoon milk to make a thick icing


  • Pour hot water over a ½ cup (72 g) raisins or currants and let them soak while you assemble the dough.
  • Add ⅞ cup (198 g) milk (7 oz), 1 (50 g) large egg , 1 (17 g) large egg yolk , 3 tablespoons (36 g) brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon allspice, ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon cloves, ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons grated rind of one lemon, 3 cups (360 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, and 2¼ teaspoons bread machine yeast, to the bread machine pan.
  • Select the DOUGH cycle, then press START.
  • Check the dough at least twice by lifting the lid to take a peek. The first time, look a minute or two after the machine starts mixing to ensure the paddles are engaged correctly and the dough is starting to make a ball.
    Look again 10-15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle to assess the consistency of the dough. For most recipes, The dough should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly.
    If your dough is too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.
    Conversely, if the dough is too dry, add one tablespoon of liquid at a time until the dough looks just right. Read more about this surprising secret to success with a bread machine here.
  • Meanwhile, drain the raisins or currants and squeeze all the water out. When the machine beeps that it’s time to add extras, pour the raisins or currants on top of the dough. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, Add the fruit 5 minutes before the end of the kneading phase. If you miss it, knead the drained fruit into the dough by hand before shaping it
  • When the dough cycle completes. and the dough has doubled in size, remove the dough from the pan onto a floured surface. Note: If you didn’t add the raisins already, squeeze the water out and knead them into the dough by hand
  • Divide the dough into 12 equally-sized pieces and form into smooth round balls. Place the balls into a greased 9 x 13-inch non-stick pan (preferably with a gold finish).
  • Lightly cover the rolls with a tea towel and allow the rolls to rise until almost double.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C.
  • Use a sharp knife, a razor blade, or a lame to slash the top of each roll to make a cross. Cover each roll with the glaze, being careful not to let it run down the sides of the rolls and make them stick to the pan.
  • Bake in at 350˚F or 180˚C for 20 minutes. The rolls should reach an internal temperature of 190˚F. or 88˚C. Remove from the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Remove rolls from the pan and allow them to cool on a rack or serve immediately.


  • Whisk together1 tablespoon milk and 1 (33 g) egg white from a large egg. Brush the rolls after slashing them immediately before putting them in the oven.


  • Combine 1 cup (114 g) powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 + tablespoon milk to make a thick icing, stirring until smooth. Pour over cooled rolls


Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
Using a Stand Mixer:
  • In a heavy-duty stand mixer, add the ingredients to the bowl in the specified order.
  • Begin mixing on low speed until all the ingredients are moistened.
  • Switch to a dough hook attachment and increase the speed to 2 or 3.
  • Continue beating/kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, typically about 5-10 minutes.
  • Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place.
  • Once risen, gently deflate the dough and shape it as directed in the recipe.
Making by Hand:
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until they form a shaggy ball.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
  • Knead the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth and elastic. Depending on your experience, this may take 10-20 minutes.
  • Place the dough ball in a greased bowl.
  • Cover the bowl and allow the dough to double in size.
  • After rising, gently deflate the dough and shape it according to the recipe’s instructions.
Please Note: You can use active dry yeast as a substitute. Follow the directions on the package for dissolving the yeast before adding it to the other ingredients. Because active dry yeast usually has a slower rise, I recommend adding ¼-½ teaspoons more yeast than specified in any recipe developed with instant yeast (all of my recipes).


Serving: 1 | Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 146IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a

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Recipe Rating


  1. I would leave 5 stars if I could.
    I’ve made these twice in the last week.
    Just doubled the spices because I like more.

    Otherwise, perfect as far as instructions.

    1. Hi Lois,

      Good job! Adding extra spices is always the baker’s prerogative. Something to note: Extra cinnamon can slow down the yeast a bit. Watch for that.

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe, turned out perfectly, only cooked for about 16 minutes at 350
    I added 1/2 cut of mixed dried fruits along with the raisins. They were gone before I could even finish icing them!

    1. Ooooooh, I love mixed dried fruit in bread. Good idea. Glad they were a hit!

  3. In your instructions, it says “6 1/2 t” of cinnamon (which I put in). I went back to list of ingredients to see it should have been 1/2 tsp. I tried to get most of it out. Still in machine – not sure what I’ll get. Maybe you could change that in the instructions.

    1. Thank you, Jean. I have erased the “6”. Seems like no matter how many times I check, I still miss something. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. Hope you like the rolls even if they are rather cinnamon-y.

    2. @Paula, time will tell. Also had the other spices in so probably lost most of those as well. It is a good trial run for Easter!

  4. If a recipe calls for homestyle white bread flour, can I use WHOLE WHEAT BREAD FLOUR using the same measurement for all ingredients?

    1. Hi Miles,
      I wish it were that easy. Because there is not as much gluten in whole wheat flour, it’s easy to go from light-and-fluffy to “bricks” in a hurry. I recommend you start out by substituting a third of the white flour with the same amount of whole wheat flour and see how that goes. If that works well, increase it a little more the next time. If you are a beginner, I recommend you stick to recipes designed for whole wheat flour until you understand how whole grain flour acts differently. It really is a different game and it takes experience to understand the rules. Good luck!

    2. @Paula, thank you. I’ll heed your advice.

  5. 5 stars
    Thanks for listing the measurements by weight and adding the nutritional info! To this recipe I added 25g candied peel (using up the last of the holiday fruitcake mix) and subbed mixed spice. A great recipe!

    1. Hi Sharon,
      You’re welcome on the measurements by weight and nutritional info. Glad you liked the recipe. I can imagine the candied peel took these rolls over the top.

  6. Ann Jackson says:

    5 stars
    Oh i am so going to make these! I love them but cant make much due to a frozen shoulder so this is ideal.
    Thank you for posting the recipe, i will add it to my file of your wonderful, well written easy to follow and make breads 🙂

    1. Oh no, Ann. I’m sorry to hear about your frozen shoulder. Hope you are back to normal and baking bread soon.