Hot cross buns – those spiced sweet treats, made with dried fruits and marked with a cross on the top – are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, although many of us succumb a lot sooner than that. But which ones are the tastiest?
1. Marks & Spencer Luxury Hot Cross Buns: £1.60 for four, Marks & Spencer
Year after year, M&S gets it just right with its traditional hot cross buns, and these gorgeous treats are particularly rich and moreish. They don’t skimp on the fruit and there’s plenty of citrus, nutmeg and cinnamon going on. The texture is spot on too, with a decent chew factor.
2. Aldi Specially Selected Luxury Hot Cross Buns: 99p for four, Aldi
Hot cross buns don’t come more perfectly rounded than these. And the taste is great too – they’re ideal for those who prefer their hot cross buns on the sweeter side.
3. Betty’s Large Hot Cross Bun: £5.75, Betty's
This looks more like a panettone than a hot cross bun, but it tastes just as it should and there’s something particularly satisfying about this loaf version, the slices of which are much easier to fit into conventional toasters. Full of flavour, with a decent amount of fruit.
4. The Flour Station Hot Cross Buns: £4.20 for four, Farmdrop
The award-winning Flour Station originated in one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants in 2002 and now sells its breads and buns right across London, using top quality, locally sourced flour. Its hot cross buns (which are also available in mini versions) are wonderful – podgy, chewy and packed with fruit.
5. Tesco Finest Extra Fruit Hot Cross Buns: £1.50 for four, Tesco
These are generously packed with all the usual dried fruits, but the orange and honey flavours shine through. They smell great and have just the right amount of spice. Make sure you’ve got the butter ready.
6. Waitrose LoveLife Free From Gluten Hot Cross Buns: £2.49 for four, Waitrose
The hot cross bun connoisseurs among us may be able to detect that these are gluten free, but to everyone else they’ll seem as good as the real thing. Packed with sultanas, raisins and currents and with a nice hint of spice, our only criticism is that they’re slightly spongy.
7. Riverford Baker Tom’s Hot Cross Buns: £2.99 for four, Riverford
These plump, additive- and preservative-free buns are worth every penny. They taste so good (either untoasted or toasted) that people queue outside Baker Tom’s shops down in Cornwall every year – luckily enough, you can get them online, too.
8. Marks & Spencer St Clements Hot Cross Buns: £1.50 for four, Marks & Spencer
Not for purists, these buns provide a refreshing twist on this traditional Easter treat, with a strong citrus flavour coming through every bite. They’re spot on for those who have a particularly sweet tooth, or if you just want to try something different.
9. Maison Blanc Hot Cross Buns: 95p each, Maison Blanc
For a French patisserie specialist, this company makes a damn good hot cross bun. Beautifully shaped and fantastically glossy, it looks an absolute picture on the plate. Definitely best toasted, it’s good for those who prefer lighter, airier buns.
10. Morrisons M Signature Hot Cross Buns: £1 for four, Morrisons
Good for traditionalists, these glossy, plump buns tick all the boxes: decent size, appetizing aroma, just the right amount of spice and plenty of fruit. A safe bet if you’re entertaining for lots of people, but their shelf life isn’t long.
11. Co-operative Loved by Us Hot Cross Buns: £1 for six, Co-operative
Not only are these among the cheapest packs in our round-up, but they are also contain two more buns than most packs, making them exceptional value. But do they taste any good? You bet – they are well spiced and rich, although they’re slightly on the dry side.
12. Lidl Deluxe Luxury Hot Cross Buns: 99p for four, Lidl
If you like your buns more soft and chewy than light and airy, these are fabulous. Truth be told, they didn’t look as appetising as some of the others we tried, due to being unglazed, with a brown wholemeal look, but we found them to be sweet-tasting with a nice contrasting tang.
13. Ocado Hot Cross Buns: £1 for six, Ocado
Another astonishingly cheap pack of hot cross buns, these are well suited to those who like a lot of spice. That’s not to say they’re sour – far from it, they were among the sweetest in our taste test, with a generous amount of fruit and citrus zest.
It’s a toss-up between Marks & Spencer Luxury Hot Cross Buns and Aldi Specially Selected Luxury Hot Cross Buns for us this year. They are both outstanding in taste, although M&S wins on texture and Aldi on presentation. Betty’s Large Hot Cross Bun is fabulous if you prefer slices.
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