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.