How to Make Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns
Whether or not you jammed out “one a penny, two a penny” on the recorder in elementary school, you’ve likely heard of hot cross buns.
And it’s more than just a song — it’s also a tasty baked good. If you’re looking for a lighter approach to this beloved treat, you’re in luck! Our easy hot cross buns recipe is healthier than traditional recipes or versions you’d find in grocery stores and bakeries, and it’s gluten-free, too.
They have about half the calories and just a fraction of the fat and sugar of an average store-bought hot cross bun, but we promise that they’re still plenty tasty.
Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium mixing bowl; mix well.
Add yogurt and raisins; stir until combined and small crumbles form.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead 10 times. If dough is sticky, add a little more flour and knead again.
Press dough into a rectangular disk; divide evenly into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
Arrange balls on prepared baking sheet so they are close but do not touch.
Brush each ball with egg white. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.
To make frosting, combine powdered sugar and water in a small bowl; mix well. Drizzle frosting onto each bun in the shape of a cross.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.
How to Make Hot Cross Buns
Our gluten-free hot cross buns swap in gluten-free all-purpose flour for conventional all-purpose flour. And to make our recipe healthier, we omitted butter and call for 2% plain Greek yogurt instead — a substitution that also prevents dry, crumbly dough.
While you may be tempted to skip the egg-white brushing step, we strongly suggest you don’t! Since recipes with gluten-free flour blends typically don’t brown the same way recipes with gluten-containing flour do, brushing egg white on top will help you achieve a more traditional look.
For a refreshing, citrusy variation that won’t alter the nutrition stats of this recipe, consider adding some orange zest to your dough. (Since zest is the very top layer of citrus skin, consider buying an organic orange, which won’t be coated in synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.)
Enjoy the buns fresh out of the oven, or spread on a little butter or coconut oil for extra richness. You can’t go wrong either way!
What Are Hot Cross Buns?
Often studded with raisins and marked with a cross made of icing, these simple yeast buns feature warming spices like cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. They’re made by rolling dough into little balls and arranging them relatively close together on a baking sheet. As they bake, the buns expand and bake into one another, forming a rounded square shape.
By the end of the 16th century, Queen Elisabeth I deemed them sacred, passing a law limiting sales of hot cross buns to the Friday before Easter, Christmas, and funerals. This exclusivity only boosted the buns’ popularity and inspired more and more people to bake them at home.
Versions of yore sported crosses made of dough or a simple knife imprint, popular recipes these days often use icing to create the two perpendicular strips on top of each bun.
And although lore says hot cross buns baked on Good Friday never get moldy, you’ll probably want to finish these within a few days.
Photography by Anguel Dimov, AB Creative