Vegan hot cross buns

Vegan hot cross buns

vegan hot cross buns glazing

When I used to live in the UK, I never had time to make my own hot cross buns. I used to rely on the ones that you used to get in a packet of six at the supermarket which were overly sweet and tasted of stale flour and preservatives. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a bread product that keeps for at least a week isn’t going to be particularly delicious to eat, and it put me off hot cross buns in general. For a while at least…

This Easter I decided to set this right and bake some vegan hot cross buns that were fresh AND delicious. Traditionally, hot cross buns will contain eggs, milk and butter, so I replaced the egg with some applesauce (which makes them taste light and fragrant), the milk with almond milk and the butter with a little extra olive oil. The results were fantastic and there is no way that a non-vegan would ever know that these beauties contained no dairy products.

I decided to break from the tradition of putting a cross on the buns, even though I realised a cross is a lot easier than many other shapes, as you can just drag the piping bag across a whole row at once. Doing a ‘V’ (to stand for vegan) required a little bit more time and individual care. I thought that this would be a useful decoration if you were bringing your hot cross buns to an Easter party and wanted it to be clear which ones were the vegan ones. Or you could just say “the ones that are really, really fluffy and delicious” 😉 .

vegan hot cross buns decorating

vegan hot cross buns glaze

vegan hot cross buns close

vegan hot cross buns

vegan hot cross buns breakfast

30 min
20 min
30 min
20 min

  • 250g / 2 cups strong / bread flour
  • 250g / 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 7 g / 2¼ tsp instant dried yeast
  • 50 g / 2 oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, mixed spice or allspice
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz raisins / sultanas
  • 50 g / 2 oz of applesauce
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 125 ml / ½ cup + 1 tsp plant milk (we used homemade almond milk)
  • 125 ml / ½ cup + 1 tsp lukewarm water
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for coating


  • 45 g / 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup water


  • 1 tbsp of apricot jam or orange marmalade
  • 1 tbsp of water
  1. Mix the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, cinnamon or allspice, raisins, applesauce and orange zest in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Pour in the lukewarm (not cold!) water and plant milk and stir everything together with a wooden spoon. Then add the olive oil and combine.
  3. When the mixture has mostly stuck together turn the mixture out on to a work surface. Knead the mixture by holding one end of the dough in one hand and stretching it out with the other hand. Reform the dough, turn it 90 degrees and start again. Repeat this for 10 minutes. See this recipe for photos on how to knead if you’re unsure.
  4. When the dough is shiny and smooth, put it in a large mixing bowl, coat in a thin layer of olive oil and cover the bowl with a tea towel. Leave it in a warm place (but not too warm – ie not next to an open fire!) for between one and two hours (until it has doubled in size).
  5. Empty the dough out on to a work surface and push the air out with your fingertips.
  6. Split the dough into twelve equal parts – best to use kitchen scales here.
  7. I tend to shape my rolls by spinning the roll in a circle and tucking dough underneath until you are left with a smooth sphere of dough with the dough bunched up underneath.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 200° C / 390° F. Lay the dough balls out on an olive oil-greased baking tray in a 3×4 grid so that they just touch each other (they will merge with each other as they expand during proving). Cover with cling film and leave for 30-60 minutes or until they have doubled in size.


  1. Mix the all purpose flour and water in a small bowl until you have a mixture that is claggy and gluey.
  2. Put the flour / water mixture in a piping bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut off) and pipe crosses (or whatever letters or designs you like!) on each of the buns.
  3. Place the buns in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the buns are golden.


  1. While the buns are cooking mix the water with the jam in a small saucepan on low heat until the jam is diluted ready for glazing.
  2. Glaze the buns as soon as they are out of the oven until they are lovely and shiny then place them on a wire rack to cool.
11 g
3 g
1 g
6 g
47 g
*per bun
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12 reviews, 29 comments
What's not to love about a recipe where you throw everything in a bowl and mix? One of the simplest hot cross bun recipes I've ever made. I've made this recipe every Good Friday for the last few years. Like all doughs, it gives you time to potter between rises and bakes really quickly. By the afternoon you have the smell of spices and baked treats permeating your home. Still fresh days later, if they last that long. Would recommend and super easy for beginners.
    Aw, thanks so much Andy for you kind words! I'm delighted to hear that this recipe has served you so well over the years and thank you so much for taking the time to review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
Hi, I only have active dry yeast, how much would I use instead of instant yeast in this recipe?
    Hi Heather,
    The amount will be slightly more, most sources say add 25% more so it will be approximately 2¾ tsp in this case. The main difference is that you will need to activate it in the portion of the liquid allocated for this recipe first - which I am sure you are aware of but just in case. Hope this helps! Ania
These hot cross buns look fantastic! My husband is from England and my daughter and I want to make these for Easter. I don’t have any bread flour and can’t get any at this time because all the stores are out of it. Can I use 4 cups all purpose for the whole recipe? Would they still turn out?
Thanks!! Happy Easter
    Hi Eileen,
    Yes, absolutely you can, they will simply be a bit softer, more cake-like, but still delicious. I actually came to prefer making them with all purpose flour myself. Good luck, I hope you and your family will enjoy them! x Ania
Surely it's mixed spice, not allspice? Just confirming before I get started!
    Hi Miranda,
    Both mixed spice and allspice can be used. Mixed spice contains large amount of allspice actually. Feel free to use whichever combination you find most appealing. Good luck! Ania
Tilly Wightman:
Will this work with coconut sugar!? ☺️
    Hi Tilly,
    Sure, I don't see why not. Hope you'll enjoy them! x Ania
I've never had hot cross buns and have always wanted to make them. Well, I just made these, and they came out fantastic! I just love the glaze on top. What a winner of a recipe 😃
    Thanks so much, Lillian! I'm so pleased to hear that they were a success! x Ania
I made these for Good Friday yesterday and they were perfect. My only changes were to use whole wheat flour, date sugar, and rapid rise yeast (because I'm impatient/ don't plan ahead), and to add 1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cloves. I did have to add a bit more liquid, presumably due to the date sugar.
    That's great to hear, Frances. I suspect that extra liquid needed was due to the fact that you used wholewheat flour. I'm glad they turned out well. x Ania
Being a new transplant to the UK, hotcross buns was a new food item to me. To my Brit husband, step son and extended family, this was a beloved treat. As such, I just had to find a vegan recipe that would appeal to these bun lovers. This recipe did it! Easy to follow and produce, two things I love, but all useless without...taste. The boys loved them as did other hotcross bun lovers in my little village. A perfect amount of sweet, but not overly so, fluffy, and oh so gloriously pretty and presentable once glazed.
I highly recommend this recipe.
    That's such a compliment, Patricia! Thank you so much for your kind words! Ania
Great recipe! I made a couple changes: orange juice in place of orange zest, and omitted the oil to make them fat free. I would also suggest to anyone making this (especially if the flour is measured by cup instead of weight) that you do not put in all the flour at the beginning. Leave one cup to add gradually while kneading, as it turned out I did not need the last 1/2 cup at all. A friend who tried the recipe as written had a more dry result. I will make these again!
    Thanks, Lauri. I'm glad they turned out well. Ania
Emily Frank:
Made these again this year! They're cooking now. Thank you!
    Our pleasure, Emily! :) Ania
Hi Ania, thank you for the recipe. They turned out exceptionally! No sugar, double amount of homemade apple sauce, spelt flour instead of all purpose, less sultanas... so delectable! And almost gone! :-) I should also mention that I’ve never eaten hot cross buns before, neither store-bought nor homemade! Haha! Happy Easter from Down Under!
    That's great to hear although it feels like we should only get half the credit ;) Great work!! We are very pleased that we inspired you to try something new. Ania
I made these last year and loved them!!
Last year, however, I had more time to dedicate to baking. Is there a maximum time we should allow for proving? i.e. could I leave the dough to rise in the fridge or on the counter overnight, and then bake them in the morning? If so, would you recommend fridge or counter? Hoping to make these for Good Friday. Thanks in advance!
    Thanks, Jess! We are delighted to hear that! We don't typically refrigerate the dough (it definitely should not be left on the counter as far as I know) apart from pizza dough, but it can be done for all dough apparently. This is what I found online: “All doughs can be refrigerated. Chilling dough slows the activity of the yeast, but it does not stop it completely. For this reason, it is necessary to punch down the dough a few times over the first few hours it is in the refrigerator. Once the dough has completely cooled, it needs to be punched down only once every 24 hours. A dough will last approximately three days in the refrigerator; however, it is best to use it within 48 hours.” Hope that helps! Ania
Cool but when I hit your link and scroll down to the Important Information section and look at the ingredients- it says this (I copied and pasted)
Apples, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
Thats why I was surprised you'd suggest this brand. Other than that I understand! Convenience is fab!
    Thanks, Jan! I had no idea, it links to an organic, 100% apple brand from the UK, not sure why a different one is showing up for you - we will look into it and correct if we can! Ania
Hi ho!
Love these so much THANK YOU for all your delicious recipes, I often recommend your page to guests and pupils but have meant to say in the past why buy the Applesauce (I note the one you link to has HFCS in it..really NOT healthy!) and Applesauce is so so soo easy to make! Maybe you could amend and link to a homemade applesauce <3 (Just a suggestion)
Thanks again! (I have just shared with a pupil who wanted a good recipe for her newly vegan sister <3 )
    Hi Jan,
    I agree with you and I also prefer to make my own apple sauce, but we try to make the recipes as accessible as possible and a lot of people prefer to simply buy a jar of it on their way back from work, for example. I double-checked and the apple sauce this recipe links out to is 100% unsweetened apple sauce from organic apples so I don't see any issue here. Hope that clarifies! Cheers! Ania
Claire Hawkins:
I am craving hot cross buns now I've seen this recipe, but want to know if these would work out ok if I used gluten free bread flour and just didn't knead the dough, due to no gluten. I am tempted just to try it and see. Has anyone already had a go at this? If so how do they turn out?
    Hi Claire,
    I am sorry but I'm not confident that these would work just as well with a gluten-free flour. Gluten is needed in bread and rolls to give them texture and chewiness. I think you might be better off finding a specific recipe that calls for gluten-free flour. Ania
Will these turn out OK without the raisins? My family will not try them if they have raisins ....
    Hi Christy,
    Yes, they will, no problem! You can always substitute them for dried cranberries or even chocolate chips :) Hope that helps! Ania
      Thank you so much!!
Just made a batch. Excellent. Used raspberry jam for glaze as it was all I had to hand. Also microwaved jam/ water mix in small bowl, think this is an easy way to go, worked a treat.
    Awesome news Mark! Yeah, nothing beats freshly made hot cross buns, I'm making them again on Saturday and I can't wait...
I just made these, they are phenomenal! I am sure I will make these many more times. Hi from New Zealand.
    I'm so glad you like them! I'm going to make another batch on the weekend I loved them so much...
Hey thanks for the great recipe, I don't understand the timing though.
It says preparation time 20 minutes yet it needs to sit for like 2 hours. Currently making them and this is taking a lot longer than initially anticipated. Beginner at baking.
    Hi Brandon,

    We only count non-passive preparation time in our timings. As proving is time when the bread is just lying there (and you can get on with other things) we don't include it in the preparation time. This is consistent with what most food websites do. BTW Whenever you are baking you are almost always going to have to prove the dough at least twice for a period of 30-60 minutes each time. This applies whether you are making white rolls, sourdough, hot cross buns, foccaccia or bagels. I never attempt baking unless I have a good clear 3 hours ahead of me. And generally try and make sure there is some cricket on to watch while the dough is proving.

    Hope that helps!
Oh how pretty! To tell the truth I never tasted Hot Cross buns in my pre-vegan days. So yours will be my first.
I was wondering what is blooming on the hillsides in Greece right now and your little bouquet answered a few questions. The mallow is just charming. There is a wonderful soup that the beduin used to feed us made from fresh foraged mallow leaves and dried goat cheese.
Enjoy your Easter -Hanne
    Thanks so much, Hanne! I was never a fan of shop-bought hot cross buns, but homemade ones have converted me totally. Yes, Greece is wonderful right now, it's been a rainy winter so the island is really green and full of gorgeous wild flowers everywhere. Have a lovely Easter too, if you celebrate it! Ania
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