Bread/ Recipes

Hot Cross Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

These Hot Cross Buns are soft, tender and filled with juicy raisins. The buns are lightly brushed with a sweet syrup and topped with a cream cheese icing. They are perfect for an Easter brunch!

Hot Cross Buns in a glass pan.

I have a confession to make. There are only three days left of this month…and I never got around to actually making a challenging recipe for my New Year’s resolution (remember these macarons or this creme brulee?). Isn’t it hard to stick with resolutions sometimes? The struggle is real my friends. So, I may just have to make up for it by sharing TWO challenging recipes in April! We’ll see what happens.

Hot Cross Buns that are not iced.

Today’s recipe for hot cross buns is very fitting for the upcoming Easter weekend. Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday or around Easter time in general.

If you’ve never had hot cross buns, they are spiced sweet buns made with currants or raisins, and marked with a cross on top. The cross is typically made with a mixture of flour and water that is piped into a cross shape.

Hot Cross Buns that are being iced with cream cheese icing.

But, for my recipe, I decided to change things up a bit by using cream cheese icing instead. Because who doesn’t love cream cheese icing? While it’s certainly not traditional this way, it sure tastes good!

And the addition of the cream cheese icing makes these buns perfect as a side dish or for dessert or breakfast or really just however you like to eat them.

An up close shot of the Hot Cross Buns.

Since this was my first time trying this recipe, I decided it would be interesting to learn a little bit about their origin. Hot cross buns come from the United Kingdom, and they have some cool symbolism behind them. The cross on the buns represents the crucifixion of Christ, and the spices used in the dough represent the spices used in his embalming. Did you know that?

Hot Cross Buns being served out of the pan.

Some of the folklore behind hot cross buns is so interesting too. It was once believed that if the buns were taken on a sea voyage that they would protect against shipwreck. Also, if the buns are hung in the kitchen they would protect against fires and ensure that any breads baked would turn out perfect. I’m thinking I may need to hang a few in my kitchen!

A single Hot Cross Bun out of the pan.

One of my favorite folklores though is if you share a hot cross bun with a friend, it will guarantee friendship for the upcoming year. So this Easter, be sure to share a hot cross bun with one of your friends!

If you haven’t started the tradition of making hot cross buns at Easter time, now is the perfect time. All you’ll need are some basic ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

Hot Cross Buns in a glass pan.

These hot cross buns aren’t overly sweet, so you’ll be able to have a nice balance with all of that Easter candy you’ve been enjoying (Cadbury eggs are my weakness)!


Hot Cross Buns with Cream Cheese Icing
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins

These Hot Cross Buns are soft, tender and filled with juicy raisins. The buns are lightly brushed with a sweet syrup and topped with a tangy cream cheese icing. They are perfect for Easter or anytime of year!

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: British
Servings: 15 buns
Hot Cross Buns
  • 1 1/2 cups milk lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup raisins
Syrup Glaze
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp milk
  1. Add the milk, sugar and yeast to a small bowl. Let the yeast mixture rest for 10 minutes or until bubbles start forming.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 4 cups of flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix until combined.

  3. Add the eggs and butter to the yeast mixture and stir together. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour. Mix using the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes. Add in the raisins and continue mixing the dough for another minute. The dough will be done once it stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if necessary. 

  4. Add around a tablespoon of oil to a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around until it is covered in the oil. This prevents the dough from getting dry during the rising process. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. You can let the dough rise on your counter for several hours or place it in the oven for quicker rising. Turn the oven on for a minute or two, place the bowl in the oven, and then turn the oven off. The dough will be doubled in size within an hour.

  5. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface. Place the dough on the surface and cut it into 15 equal pieces. Roll out each piece, and place them in the pan. Cover the pan with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are golden brown. 

  7. While the buns are baking, make the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and continue boiling until the syrup thickens. Once the buns are done, brush them with the syrup.

  8. For the icing, whisk all of the ingredients together. Pour them in a piping bag or a sandwich bag with the end snipped off. Add more milk or powdered sugar depending on the desired consistency.

  9. Once the buns have cooled, pipe the icing on top in the shape of a cross.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Jo Cooks

  • Store buns in the fridge for up to one week. You can also freeze any un-iced buns for up to two months.
  • These buns can be prepared the day before. Simply cover the 9x13 inch pan with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, let the buns sit on the counter for a few minutes until they have warmed up a bit. Then pop them in the oven!


Also try my Light and Fluffy Brioche Bread.

A loaf of brioche bread showing the details.

Hot Cross Buns long Pinterest pin

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