Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Who says we can’t have hot cross buns for Easter? These gluten free hot cross buns are everything you miss–soft tender bread studded with currants and a hint of cardamom with that classic cross on top. Serve warm with the perfect Easter brunch!

handheld gluten free hot cross bun

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We never really had hot cross buns growing up around Easter. I think the first time I tried one was in my mid 30’s. It instantly became one of my favorite holiday breads, so I knew I was going to include it on the blog. I like to eat them warm, split open with butter in between.

What Exactly are Hot Cross Buns?

A hot cross bun is a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, fruity roll that has a cross piped on top. It kinda reminds me of a cinnamon roll, but has a chai-like taste because of the cardamom. Either thinned out dough or a thick powdered sugar glaze make the cross. Hot cross buns symbolize and remind Christians of the cross Jesus died on. They also mark the end of Lent.

whole pan of piped hot cross buns

Making the Dough for Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Making gluten free hot cross buns has never been easier. It all starts with my famous gluten free sweet dough, which includes:

  • Kim’s gluten free bread flour blend–there really is no substitute for my bread flour blend. That’s why I worked so hard on creating it (I was fed up trying to make gf breads using store bought blends and other bloggers’ blends).
  • Sugar–this time around I made my rolls with brown sugar for a little deeper flavor, but feel free to use granulated sugar. There is a lot of sugar in this recipe, which is required with the amount of yeast in the rolls. Much of the sugar is food for the yeast.
  • Instant yeast
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Whole milk–use a milk alternative for dairy free.
  • Butter–vegan butter, shortening, or coconut oil may be used for dairy free, but I would not use any other oil that is not solid at room temperature as it will change the consistency of this dough. For a dough without any dairy/butter, try my gf challah dough.
  • Eggs
  • Raisins or currants–I’ve used both raisins and currants and it didn’t really make a difference. Use what you have.
  • Spices–the most important spice in hot cross buns, in my opinion, is cardamom. But I also add cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of allspice. Feel free to make it your own and use what spices you love.

Adding an Apricot Glaze

I saw Mary Berry (from the Great British Bakeoff fame) make her traditional hot cross buns a while ago and she brushed a warm syrup glaze over the top. When I first made these rolls a few years ago I didn’t bother with a glaze, but after seeing Mary Berry make them this way, I decided to give it a try and I’ve never looked back. It actually helps keep the rolls soft underneath and creates a barrier from them drying out after a few days.

I can’t remember what Mary Berry’s glaze was, but I chose to use a thinned down apricot glaze because I love anything apricot and it adds the shininess without the color. Plus, it takes seconds to prepare (in the microwave) so it was a no brainer. Simply melt a small amount of apricot jam with some water (to thin it out) in the microwave until it’s the perfect consistency for brushing onto the rolls.

row of iced hot cross buns

Piping the Cross

There are a few ways to pipe the cross onto these rolls. You can make a paste of flour and water and pipe it on before the rolls are baked. But this doesn’t add any flavor and since these are gluten free hot cross buns, the flour to water ratio needs to be modified. Not to mention I love a great powdered sugar icing. So that’s the method I use for my hot cross buns.

Add a little bit of warm milk and some vanilla to some powdered sugar and stir to combine. If you use a whisk, it’ll likely get stuck because the icing needs to be thick. It should be pourable, but thick enough to hold up on the warm rolls without melting completely into them. We still want to see that cross when we bite into these babies!

overhead shot of hot cross buns in pan with one on a white plate spread with butter

If you think you’ll be missing out on hot cross buns for Easter this year, think again! This gluten free version will let you experience the same tastes and textures of the real thing.

handheld gluten free hot cross bun

Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Who says we can’t have hot cross buns for Easter? These gluten free hot cross buns are everything you miss–soft tender bread studded with currants and a hint of cardamom with that classic cross on top. Serve warm with the perfect Easter brunch! 
Print Recipe
CourseBreakfast
CuisineAmerican
KeywordGluten Free, hot cross buns
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Proof Time and Chill Time7 hours
Total Time7 hours 55 minutes
Servings15 buns
AuthorKim

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Gluten Free Sweet Roll Dough, recipe follows
  • 1 cup raisins or currants
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature (mixed with 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt for brushing on rolls prior to baking)

Apricot Glaze

  • ¼ cup (80 g) apricot preserves or jam
  • 1-2 tsp water

Powdered Sugar Icing

  • 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp, or more hot milk (warmed in the microwave)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Gluten Free Sweet Roll Dough

  • cups (495 g) Kim's gluten free bread flour blend
  • 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp plus 1½ tsp (24 g) instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp whole psyllium husks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cups (360 ml) whole milk
  • ¾ cups (1½ sticks or 169 g) butter, soft
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

Instructions

  • Place the raisins or currants in a small bowl. Add boiling water over raisins to cover. Let sit for one hour; drain.
  • Measure out flour blend, sugar, baking powder, yeast, psyllium husks, salt, and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Add softened butter and, using the dough hook, begin blending on low speed. Add milk and eggs and continue mixing while adding the soaked and drained raisins or currants. Turn speed up to medium high and knead for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the mixer, scrape the sides, and cover the bowl. Place in a warm, draft-free area (an oven turned on to the lowest setting and allowed to warm up before turning off is what I use) and let rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • On a well-floured surface, knead dough until smooth, sprinkling more flour as necessary on your counter and the dough to prevent it from sticking.  Divide the dough into portions about the size of a small orange or tangerine (about 3-4 ounces each) and roll each into a smooth ball.  Place in a greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm, draft-free area for about an hour, or until rolls have doubled in size.  
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.  Brush with egg wash and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until buns spring back when lightly touched.  Remove from oven and immediately brush with apricot glaze. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • Stir together the icing ingredients until thick and smooth. Fill a pastry bag or plastic baggie with the icing and cut the tip off. Pipe a cross onto the rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature, with butter if desired.
  • Buns will keep, well covered, at room temperature for a few days. They can be easily reheated in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. If keeping longer, allow to cool completely before wrapping well and freezing for up to 3 months.

Notes

*Feel free to halve recipe and make an 8 by 8-inch square pan of rolls, which would make about 7-8 rolls, depending on the size you roll them.
***DISCLAIMER:  The reason I created my own flour blends is because I could not obtain the results I wanted with flour blends that were available in stores, online, or from other gluten free bloggers.  My recipes have been developed to be used with my own bread flour blend that I created after painstakingly testing for, in some cases, YEARS to develop what I believe to be a superior gluten free bread like no other.  If you do not use my gluten free bread flour blend for this recipe, I cannot speak for the results you will obtain.    While store bought blends may give you a satisfactory result, they may NOT give you the results intended in my recipe. 



22 thoughts on “Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns”

  • I think there’s an error in this recipe. Do you mean 1/4 teaspoon rum extract or vanilla extract? 1/4 cup drinking rum? 1/4 cup seems excessive.
    Thanks for yummy recipes!
    Deb

  • Looking for ideas to use your flour recipes but without the xantham gum. I finally figured out I am intolerant to xantham gum too. Is there anything I can sub? Thanks for your help

    • You can leave the xanthan gum out of the flour blend and try just using the psyllium husk, such as in this recipe. You should get similar results 🙂

  • Is physillium husk added for this recipe or a change to the sweet roll recipe? I’ve been making the cinnamon rolls without it.

    • I still make my cinnamon rolls without it because they’re perfect and I don’t want to mess with them. That’s why I didn’t change the original recipe. If you’d like to add it to the cinnamon rolls, you can but it’s not necessary.

  • By far, hands down, the BEST Gluten Free Hot Cross Bun recipe EVER! I have been trying for over 10 years to re-create a GLUTEN FREE hot cross bun that wasn’t a biscuit or a hockey puck when I was done and Kim’s recipe absolutely delivered! These rose beautifully and didn’t become dense or dry in the baking process. They not only looked like a bun but they actually tasted like one too! Thank you for all your hard work Kim in developing this recipe and sharing it with us! Happy Easter!

    • Awe, thank you so much, Kara!!! I’m so glad you liked the buns and I really appreciate your kind words 😍 I hope you had a Happy Easter!

    • I don’t think it works the same, but if you want to try that’s up to you. I’m not knowledgeable enough about it to offer much info about it.

      • Thanks Kim. These looked so good that I wanted to try them right away! I end up buying the psyllium husk and everything for your flour blend on Amazon and I will be giving this recipe a go today🤗 I’m excited!

  • I made these egg free! I substituted the egg in the dough for 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk and 1 Orgran egg free egg replacer egg and upped the baking powder to 2tsp ☺️

  • I think I heard you say in one of your videos on bread dough that “psyllium husks make all the difference” but I can’t find your dough recipe that includes it. Where can I find that recipe?

    Thanks!

  • Hi Kim, It’s me again. I just found the recipe I was asking about. It is in the sweet roll dough right above this! Dah! I thought it was in your flour mix. Thanks for working so hard to help make life a little sweeter for us gluten free-ers!

  • I just made these hot cross buns. I totally agree with Kara, above. The BEST EVER! I am extremely picky about gluten free food and this is not like gluten free food! Your bread flour blend is the best! ( and I have made many)! The gritty, dry texture of most g-f breads was no where to be found! Many thanks!

  • Your creations look delicious!! I don’t use eggs, but could probably use a flax egg in some of the recipes. Maybe I’ve missed seeing them, but I prefer not to use sugar (I sometimes use a bit of coconut sugar and use chocolate chips). I tend to use maple syrup. Wondering if you have recipes that fall into those categories.

    Your site is Amazing and makes me wish I ate sugar! LOL

    • Awe, thanks so much!! Yeah, unfortunately, I don’t have any sugar free recipes. I have Celiac and eat gluten free because of that, not as a dietary choice. Therefore, my recipes are geared towards trying to recreate those things celiacs or gluten intolerant persons can no longer have. It’s never been about creating recipes that are “healthier”.

      I think there are a couple of blogs (probably more than that) that are healthy alternatives to eating gluten out there. Against All Grain is one that comes to mind ☺

  • Excellent recipe! I only tweaked it in two ways due to necessity. 1. I did not have ground all spice…thought I did but didn’t. I happened to have mace, so I used that. Worked great 2. I made the dough in my food processor. I don’t have a stand mixer, not yet anyway, so the internet…specifically Cooks Illustrated…helped with adapting to the food processor. Very quick and easy.

    It was like real bread. You all will know what a complement that is. I am not GF but my wife is. I do all the cooking and have adapted everything just fine. Baked goods and bread though seemed a bridge to far and we have made due with store bought. Not any more. This site is a great resource and it has given me the tools to make much much more than awesome Hot Crossed Buns…I am diving in with both feet…thank you, thank you…THANK YOU!

    • Awe, thank YOU so much, Drew!!! That’s so sweet of you to say, and I really appreciate the kind words 🙂 Your wife is a lucky woman!

  • I made it! It is delicious 😋 oh em gee. I thought I messed it up because my dough was a bit more sticky when rolling so I had to add flour so it wouldn’t stick. Next time I’m adding some shredded coconut and nutmeg (I didn’t have any). Thank you Kim! 🙌

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