The best hot cross buns in Britain: Nine top-end bakeries on test

You can buy them all-year round these days (and a good thing too) yet this is still the time of year to celebrate and enjoy hot cross buns. The Country Life team put some of the fanciest on the market to the test. All in the name of consumer research, naturally...

Best all-rounder

Paul Rhodes’s hot cross buns, £4.29 for four via Whole Foods Market

‘Invitingly glossy, richly coloured and delicately spiced, this bun needs nothing more than a fire and a pot of Earl Grey to make it afternoon-tea heaven,’ says Chief Sub-Editor Octavia Pollock or

Best for the traditionalist

Melrose & Morgan, £5.50 for four

In the words of Gardens Editor Tiffany Daneff: ‘The cross is clear and the glaze lovely. The flavour is that perfect mix of fruit and spice. A traditional, old-school hot cross bun’.

Best for the spice punch

Daylesford organic hot cross buns, £4.99 for four

There’s a definite spice ‘bite’ here, with a hint of mulled wine, which pleasantly dominates over the fruit.

Best for soft dough

Celtic Bakery Vegan hot cross buns, £4.29 for four via Whole Foods Market

You can’t really tell this bun from a non-vegan one, but the idea might put off some people. That would be a shame, because, as Senior Designer Ben Harris reports, it has ‘a light and bouncy texture, not dry at all, and the currants are lovely and chewy’.

Best for subtle spices

Pump Street Chocolate’s small hot cross bun box, £16 for six

A Deputy Picture Editor naturally has an eye for beauty and Emily Anderson was taken by the puffy shape and perfect yellow cross on top. ‘The bun is light and fluffy, with subtle spices’.

Best for easy eating

Waitrose’s No 1 luxury hot cross bun, £2.50 for four

With its Earl Grey-soaked sultanas, this bun is mildly spiced and not too fruity, with a light and fluffy dough that doesn’t need butter. A crowd pleaser.

Best for sharing

Bettys’ large hot cross bun, £7.50

This is Christmas pudding in size — great for an Easter family get-together. The dough is a little on the dry side, so it benefits from lashings of butter.


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Best for fruit balance

Bothams of Whitby’s hot cross buns, £4.50 for six or £8.25 for a dozen

Architectural Editor John Goodall appreciated the ‘good raisin ratio’ of this well-scented bun from a family-run Yorkshire bakery.

Best for those who don’t really like hot cross buns

Marks & Spencer Kentish Bramley apple hot cross buns, £2 for four

Who are these people? You won’t be surprised to hear that they didn’t even reveal themselves within the team. But our anonymous hot-cross-bun hater liked the fresher apple flavour.