Vegan hot cross buns are unbelievably soft and fluffy with the perfect amount of sweetness. They are filled with spices, orange zest and juicy raisins and decorated with an orange glaze cross.
Hot Cross Buns are enjoyed around Easter, usually on Good Friday and have a long history. They are marked with a cross, either baked into the rolls as a flour paste or with icing.
Looking for more vegan Easter recipes? See 40 Vegan Easter Recipes.
What do hot cross buns taste like?
They are a cross between a dinner roll and a sweet pastry, and are completely addicting! My version has cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in the dough, as well as orange zest and a little sugar.
The texture is so soft and fluffy, and the rolls are studded with plump raisins or currants.
They also have a simple sugar glaze that is brushed on warm, making them perfectly sticky. Finally, they are topped with an orange flavored cross glaze.
Vegan hot cross buns are a fun yearly baking project, and kids will love helping you pipe on the crosses!
Tips and substitutions
- Instant yeast – Use instant or rapid rise yeast to make the process quicker and easier. If you only have regular active yeast, that is fine to use but know that rise times will be longer.
- Sticky dough – Don’t add so much flour that your dough is no longer sticky at all, or the rolls won’t be as soft and tender. Flour your hands when working with sticky dough.
- Smooth rolls – For smooth rolls, divide the dough into equal pieces and use your hands to shape them. Pull the seams downward gently and place the less smooth side down. See this video from Sally’s Baking Addiction, it’s a helpful visual!
- Orange zest and juice – If you don’t want a hint of orange, simply leave out the orange zest and use water instead of orange juice in the icing.
Want more Easter vegan brunch recipes?
Vegan Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns
- 4 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast*
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk, warmed
- 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
- 1 cup raisins or currants
- zest of 1 orange, optional but good
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Orange Glaze for Crosses
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice*
Prepare the dough
- To the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, add 4 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Mix to combine.
- Now add the warmed soy milk, softened vegan butter, currants or raisins and orange zest, if using. If using a stand mixer, mix with a dough hook on low speed for about 5 minutes, until a dough forms. Add additional flour as needed, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Alternatively if you don't have a stand mixer, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed.
- The dough should be slightly sticky, smooth and stretchy. Be careful not to add too much flour, or the buns will be dense and not rise as well.
- Place the dough in a large bowl sprayed with oil, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Shape the rolls
- Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 8-9 inch round pans.
- Punch the dough down gently to release the air and divide into 15 pieces. To make them as smooth as possible, pull the seams downward and shape each roll so the top is smooth. Place the less smooth side down onto the prepared pan or pans, right next to each other.
- Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes (they won't quite double in size this time.)
- While they are rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.
- While the buns are baking, place the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved, then set aside off the heat.
- Whisk the icing ingredients together in a bowl until combined, then add to a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
- When the buns are done, brush them with the sugar syrup. Let them cool for 20 minutes or so before piping the icing over the buns to form crosses. Serve and enjoy!
- Cover leftover rolls tightly and store at room temperature for 2 days, or refrigerate for 4-5 days. They can also be frozen.
- Gluten free – I haven’t tried a gluten free version, but a 1:1 mix would work best. If you try it, let me know how it goes!
- Yeast – I like using instant yeast (also called rapid rise yeast) because it works faster. You can use regular active yeast if desired, but know the rise times will be longer.
- May use another non-dairy milk in place of soy, such as almond, cashew, coconut or oat milk.
- You could skip the sugar glaze if needed, but it adds a sticky quality that will be missed.
These buns were outstanding! My first attempt at making vegan Hot Cross Buns, and I’ve made them 3 times already this Easter! They don’t last long around here!
Awesome! Thanks for your fantastic feedback and review!
absolutely the most perfect hot cross buns no one knew they were vegan except me. no need to look any further for another bun recipe! thank you Nora
How awesome! You are welcome! Thanks for your wonderful feedback and review!
Absolutely the best recipe I’ve found for hot cross buns. I added citron because my mom always did. Perfect amount of sweetness, a delicious soft roll. This is the one I will now always use. Thanks so much! Great start to Easter Day!
Oh Nora, absolutely delicious. I don’t care for fruit in my bread. So I just used the spices. And I’m not using the glaze, sorry. But these are delightful little spicy buns. Thank you again.💕💞
Hi Linda. How fabulous you loved the buns! I’m glad you found just the taste you like! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!
Oh so good!! These are delicious! Thank you for another amazing recipe!
Delicious recipe as always, Nora! I used chopped apricots as I didn’t have enough raisins, and orange essence instead of juice in the icing as I ended up breaking the mixture. Any tips for preventing this? Either way the buns were amazing texture and taste.
I’d like to try this for Easter morning but don’t want to be up half the night baking. Any version I could let the cut buns rise in the refrigerator overnight and then bake first thing Easter morning ?
Yes, that will work! Just remove them from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for an hour or so before baking. Enjoy!
I made these this afternoon. They are hands down the best hot cross buns I’ve ever eaten — vegan or otherwise. I’ll make them again for next weekend. Thank you so much!!
Hi Meredith. I’m so glad you loved the buns! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Happy cooking!
We’re trying to go back to our Celtic roots this Easter so I gave this recipe a try for some traditional hot cross buns that fit the way we eat now and ohmygoodness.
My family can not get enough of these and I’ll most definitely have to make myself only make these for special occasions. Made the substitution of plain old refined coconut oil instead of vegan butter because we were out. Thank you for the great recipe!
I’m so glad these were a hit with your family! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!
Just took these out of the oven and they are AMAZING. So fluffy and pillowy! I added the orange zest and the dough has a lovely spiced, citrusy flavour. I ended up sort of combining the simple syrup and orange glaze and made an orange syrup by boiling some orange juice and sugar in a saucepan. Truly the softest rolls I’ve ever made. Thank you for the recipe!!
Thank you for sharing your review, Mary! They sound so delicious! I’m so glad they turned out so wonderful for you!
Nora thank you so much for all your wonderful vegan recipes. I made these today for Easter. They were so delicious and your directions were so clear they came out perfect. So perfect that 3 of us devoured all but 5 out of the 15 made. I will for sure be making these on a regular basis.
How fantastic that you enjoyed the buns! I love hearing my recipes are easy to follow, and delicious! Thanks for sharing your comments and wonderful review! Happy cooking!
I LOVE all your recipes and as a new vegan your recipes have been amazing!!! For these buns, do you think I could make the dough in a bread machine?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Thank you so much, I’m happy to hear that! You might be able to, but I actually don’t have much experience using a bread machine so I wouldn’t know what to tell you.
Can I substitute with gluten free flour?
Hi Laura! I haven’t tried a gluten free version, but a 1:1 mix would work best. If you try it, let me know how it goes!
I was thinking about making hot cross buns today, but not many good vegan recipes out there. I was hoping my favourite vegan blogger would have a hot cross buns recipe and today was my lucky day! So good
Hi Kayla. Thank you for your kind and wonderful review! It means a lot to me! I’m glad the hot cross buns turned out good for you!