Easy Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

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Make easy gluten-free hot cross buns with down-to-earth ingredients. This recipe makes a sweet cinnamon dough filled with currants; top each baked bun with a frosted cross to celebrate the Easter holiday.

While researching for this gluten-free hot cross buns recipe, I was shocked at how many people have never even seen a hot cross bun. Hot cross buns are a Christian tradition in many regions and communities around the world. As you can probably tell, they're rich in history, and they're typically eaten every Good Friday.

gluten-free hot cross buns on white plate

They are a direct representation of Jesus' crucifixion, even including a little cross made of powdered sugar icing; this signifies the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Spices may vary by preference, but it is said that they represent the spices that were used to embalm Jesus after His death. For more information on this wonderful Easter treat, check out “A Little History of Hot Cross Buns” over at Good Food Ireland.

Either way, this recipe makes a much sweeter, richer bread roll than either Grandma's homemade dinner rolls, gluten-free drop biscuits, or my homemade butterhorn rolls. Hot cross buns are a unique bread meant for a very special occasion.

Gluten-free hot cross buns are also a little bit denser than normal buns, which is why my kids likened them to a hot cross scone. They liked them better, proceeding to clean out an entire batch almost as soon as I pulled it out of the oven.

Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • This recipe is versatile. Switch it up and try different fruits, use a different frosting, etc. The options are limitless.
  • Hot cross buns are a significant piece of history. In fact, just reading about them is fascinating! It helps give us a clearer picture of how people used to celebrate the Easter holiday.
  • They're super easy to make, and they don't break the bank. Most of the time involved is waiting on the rise, which still isn't much. Mix them up and watch 'em go. That's about it.
  • Got a gluten allergy? No worries, this recipe is wheat free, and it can also be made dairy-free.
  • It's great for kids. In fact, my kids cleaned out an entire batch in a matter of a couple hours. I'd say they're a new favorite!
gluten-free hot cross buns recipe ingredients on white marble countertop

Ingredient Notes

Let's talk about a few of the ingredients…

  • Buttermilk – I use buttermilk, and I like to keep my favorite buttermilk mix on hand for recipes like this. The reason I like to use buttermilk instead of milk is that it helps give the buns rise, and without gluten in the buns, we can use any help we can get with rise. If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make a 1:1 substitute by whisking vinegar and milk together. Use 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 cup of milk, and be sure to let it sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing it to curdle before using.
  • All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour – I prefer Authentic Foods Classical Blend gluten-free flour. Time and time again, it has always given me the best results and gluten-free baked goods that taste no different than the original.
  • Xanthan Gum – I add xanthan gum to my flour to help the buns rise. Some flours already contain xanthan gum, so be sure to check the ingredients before adding more. Too much xanthan gum and/or baking powder can give your hot cross buns a soapy flavor.
  • Cream of Tartar – This is yet another leavening agent for this recipe. Cream of tartar is especially useful for recipes in which baking powder is absent. Again, without gluten, we can use all the help we can get!
  • Orange Zest – The orange zest is completely optional; I add it because the orange flavor pairs really well with cinnamon. The best way that I have found to collect orange zest is by grating an orange peel with a microplane or box grater. If neither of these tools are available, it is also possible to peel an orange with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. You can then finely dice the peelings into very tiny pieces. Be sure to avoid getting the white pith of the peel, as this will give you a bitter taste in the recipe; stick to the outer orange of the peel only, constantly rotating to a new spot as you grate or peel.
  • Dried Currants – I use Zante currants in my buns. If dried currants are unavailable, it is possible to substitute raisins, dried dates, dried prunes, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and even dried blueberries 1:1 in the recipe. If using a larger fruit, though, I would recommend chopping it into smaller currant-sized pieces.

How to Make Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

To make the recipe for gluten-free hot cross buns, just follow these steps…

Make the buns…

  1. In a small sauce pan, warm the buttermilk. Do not boil! It only needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast.
  2. Remove the buttermilk from the heat, and add the yeast. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
buttermilk yeast mixture and dry ingredients for hot cross buns
  1. Cream together the sugar, butter, and orange zest.
  2. At this point, you'll need to blend in the eggs. My process pictures are a little mixed up because I forgot to add the eggs at this point and had to add them after I'd already added the flour and buttermilk.
  3. Alternate adding both the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  4. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.
  5. Add the currants to the dough and mix until they're evenly dispersed throughout the dough. You may have to mix them in with your hands.
how to make gluten-free hot cross buns, mixing ingredients together in KitchenAid mixing bowl
  1. Cover the dough and allow to rest for about 1 hour. It won't rise much.
  2. Add parchment paper to a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
  3. Working on a lightly floured surface, shape each part into a ball and place it on the baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each bun.
  4. Cover and let rise in a warm location until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. When the buns have risen, pre-heat the oven to 375ºF. Then with a sharp knife, slash a cross in the top of each bun, about 1/4″ deep.
  6. Brush each bun with egg white.
how to shape gluten-free hot cross bun dough into balls, slash crosses in each bun, and brush each bun with egg whites
  1. Bake at 375ºF for about 30 minutes, 'til the tops of the buns are golden brown. Then transfer the buns to a wire cooling rack.
golden baked gluten-free Easter bun on parchment paper

To make the glaze…

  1. During the last 15 minutes of bake time, prepare the glaze by mixing the butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk together in a small bowl.
  2. Once the buns have cooled, use a pastry bag to pipe the glaze over the slashed crosses in the buns.
mixing up frosting for Easter buns and frosted cross piped on top of bun

That's it! Now it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, the best ever gf hot cross buns.

Expert Tips and Recipe Facts

How do you measure gluten-free flour?

With gluten-free flour, you want to measure it carefully with a spoon, measuring cup, and table knife. Scoop the flour into your measuring cup with a spoon; then gently tap the top a few times with the straight edge of a table knife. Using that same knife, scrape the excess flour off the top of your measuring cup back into your flour canister. Then just dump the flour left in the measuring cup into your bowl.

What's the difference between raisins and currants?

Currants are tiny, dried “Black Corinth” or “Carina” grapes. Sweet and tangy, currants have an intense flavor that has proven to be very versatile in both sweet and savory recipes. Sometimes they're so sour that they'll make your mouth pucker! Raisins are typically much larger, softer, and sweeter; raisins are never sour.

Can I make them dairy-free?

Yes, just substitute non-dairy for any dairy containing ingredients. For example, instead of butter, you can substitute with coconut oil or another acceptable dairy-free oil. The reason I like to use buttermilk instead of milk is that it helps give the buns rise, and without gluten in the buns, we can use any help we can get with rise. To make gluten-free dairy-free hot cross buns, be sure to substitute a dairy-free milk, like unsweetened almond milksoy milk, or oat milk; to make a 1:1 buttermilk substitute, simply add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 cup of dairy-free milk, allowing it to set for 5-10 minutes afterward.

How long do gluten-free hot cross buns last?

Stored in an airtight container, they should last up to 2-3 days at room temperature before going stale. On a side note, stale hot cross buns make for a delicious Crock Pot French Toast Casserole. Don't waste them!

How do you freeze gluten-free hot cross buns?

You can freeze all hot cross buns in an airtight container or freezer bag for around 2-3 months. Be sure to let them cool before moving to the deep freeze, though.

sliced open gluten-free Easter buns on parchment paper

More Easter Recipes

Even if some of these are not gluten-free, you can easily switch up the ingredients to make them gluten-free.

If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow my on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And subscribe to my email list too!

Easy Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns

How to make easy gluten-free hot cross buns with down-to-earth ingredients. Sweet cinnamon dough with currants and a frosted cross on top.
3 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breads, Easter
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 229kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Ingredients

Hot Cross Buns

Frosting

Instructions

Hot Cross Buns

  • In a small sauce pan, warm the buttermilk. Do not boil! It only needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast.
  • Remove the buttermilk from the heat, and add the yeast. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • Cream together the sugar, butter, and orange zest.
  • Blend in the eggs.
  • Alternate adding both the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  • Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.
  • Add the currants to the dough and mix until they're evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
  • Cover the dough and allow to rest for about 1 hour. It won't rise much.
  • Add parchment paper to a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
  • Working on a lightly floured surface, shape each part into a ball and place it on the baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each bun.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm location until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • When the buns have risen, pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
  • With a sharp knife, slash a cross in the top of each bun, about 1/4" deep.
  • Brush each bun with the egg white.
  • Bake at 375ºF for about 30 minutes, 'til the tops of the buns are golden brown.
  • Once baked, transfer the buns to a wire cooling rack.

Frosting

  • During the last 15 minutes of bake time, prepare the glaze by mixing the butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk together in a small bowl.
  • Once cooled, use a pastry bag to pipe the glaze over the slashed crosses in the buns.
  • That's it! Now it's time to serve and enjoy.

Notes

*I make this recipe with Authentic Foods Classical Blend gluten-free flour. Time and time again, it has consistently given me the best results. Keep in mind, different gluten-free flours can give different results.
*Some gluten-free flours already contain xanthan gum, so be sure to check the ingredients in your flour before adding more. Too much xanthan gum or baking powder can give off a soapy flavor.
How should I store them, and how long will they last?
GF hot cross buns are best stored in an airtight container on the counter, and it's best to eat them within 2 days. If stored any longer, they'll become stale hot cross bricks. 
Once cooled, you can also freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag for around 2-3 months. Be sure to let them cool before moving to the deep freeze, though.

Nutrition

Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 214IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg
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