3/27/2024 | By Katie Leaird

For a light and airy, slightly sweet Easter bun, we added plumped raisins to a simple, water-based yeasted dough and gave it plenty of time to rise. Butter and eggs added richness, and an egg wash gave the buns a gorgeous golden-brown sheen once baked. To decorate our hot cross buns, we opted for a simple icing, which we piped in long continuous stripes across the rows to create a traditional cross atop each bun.

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12 buns

Note: You can use either regular or golden raisins in this recipe. The buns can be served warm or at room temperature.


For the buns:

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
hot cross buns with colorful Easter eggs in the background.

For the icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt


For the buns:

  1. Combine raisins and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; cover and microwave until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain raisins and discard liquid.
  2. Whisk 3/4 cup warm water, 3 eggs, and melted butter together in 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add egg mixture and mix until dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
  3. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add raisins, and knead until combined, about 2 minutes (dough will be sticky and some raisins may not be fully incorporated into dough at this point; this is OK).
  4. Turn out dough and any errant raisins onto lightly floured counter and knead by hand to evenly incorporate raisins into dough, about 1 minute. Form dough into a smooth, taut ball; transfer to a greased large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured counter and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a rough ball by pinching and pulling dough edges under so that the top is smooth. On a clean counter, cup each ball with your palm and roll into a smooth, tight ball. Arrange in the prepared pan in three rows of four and cover loosely with plastic. Let buns rise until nearly doubled in size and start to press against one another, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  6. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush buns with beaten egg. Bake until golden brown and centers register at least 190 degrees, 24 to 26 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let buns cool until just warm, about 1 hour.

For the icing:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until smooth (icing will be very thick). Transfer icing to a small zipper-lock bag. Cut off the very tip of one corner of the bag. Pipe continuous line of icing across center of each row of buns, then pipe icing in lines perpendicular to first to form cross in center of each bun. Serve.

To make ahead

Make dough through Step 5 and let rise until doubled in size. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Proceed with recipe from Step 6, extending baking time by 5 minutes.

For 25 years, home cooks have relied on America’s Test Kitchen for rigorously tested recipes developed by professional test cooks and vetted by 60,000 at-home recipe testers. The family of brands — which includes Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country — offers reliable recipes for cooks of all skill levels. See more online at

©2024 America’s Test Kitchen. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Find more great Easter desserts on Seniors Guide:

Grandma Easter’s Chocolate Pie Recipe

Katie Leaird