We made air fryer hot cross buns and they taste better than shop-bought

hot cross buns on a plate
(Image credit: gettyimages)

I have to admit, I'm not a baker. I love bread, cakes, and pastries, and I love the idea of baking, but when it comes down to it, I've never had much success. It's why I tend to avoid making baked treats during my tests of the best air fryers

However, faced with a shortage of hot cross buns in my local store and a craving for the Easter staple, I thought I'd give air fryer hot cross buns a go using a recipe I found online.

It's much easier than I expected, and the hot cross buns tasted better than the ones I buy in-store. Maybe my baking curse has been lifted!

Below, I guide you through how to make hot cross buns from scratch and bake them in the air fryer so you can eat them all year round, not just at Easter. 

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Air fryer hot cross bun recipe 

The air fryer hot cross bun recipe I have followed is by Recipe This. Although there isn't currently a YouTube video to follow, the recipe has only recently been uploaded to the Recipe This site so I'd recommend subscribing to the channel to be notified when another video is added.

Air fryer hot cross bun ingredients 

There's a few steps to making these air fryer hot cross buns which means that you'll need ingredients to make the dough, the crosses and the glaze.

Hot cross bun dough

  • 15oz/440g strong white flour 
  • 2.6oz/75g sultanas
  • 2.1oz/60g unsalted butter
  • 1oz/30g light brown sugar
  • 1oz/30g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup/240ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried yeast


  • 1 tbsp (heaped) plain flour for crosses
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar for glaze

You can also add raisins, nutmeg, mixed spice – or any other spice or flavoring you like. I particularly like adding freshly grated orange peel and a small squeeze of the juice. 

ingredients for air fryer hot cross buns

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Air fryer hot cross buns method 

To make air fryer hot cross buns you will need the following:

Note: for most recipes, you don't need to preheat your air fryer but for this hot cross bun recipe your air fryer doubles up as a proving box so make sure not to skip step one. 

Step 1: Preheat your air fryer to 360°F/180°C for 20 minutes.

Step 2: Place the flour, sugars, spices, and butter into a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour using your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.  

Step 3: Gently heat the milk and oil on the hob, or in a microwave for around 30-40 seconds until it is lukewarm.

Pour milk and yeast into flour to make air fryer hot cross buns

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Step 4: Add the yeast to the warm milk and oil mixture, and stir to activate. 

Step 5: Gradually pour the lukewarm milk into the dough and mix it with a spoon, a bread hook, or your hands until it comes together. The ball of dough should hold its shape and have a smooth surface.

Step 6: Scatter the sultanas and orange peel over a clean surface and knead the dough on top, so that the fruit becomes evenly mixed.

Hot cross bun dough and sultanas

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Step 7: Once the fruit is evenly mixed, break the dough into small balls and place them inside a cake tin, or in rows in the air fryer basket. Make sure the 20-minute preheat period has finished. Close the drawer and leave the dough balls to prove for an hour.

After an hour, your dough balls will have doubled in size. Don't worry if they're touching each other.

Step 8: Mix a tbsp of flour with water to create a paste and pipe this paste across the buns in a cross shape. If you don't have a piping bag, you can use a spoon to drizzle it over, it just won't be as neat.

Hot Cross buns flour crosses

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Step 9: Bake the hot cross buns at 360°F/180°C for 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 300°F/150°C for the final five minutes.

Step 10: Once fully baked, mix icing sugar and water and brush the glaze over each hot cross bun. If you prefer a crispy topping, mix granulated sugar with warm water and brush over the hot cross buns during their final five minutes of cooking.  

Step 11: Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the basket, cut into individual buns, and enjoy! You can also cut the hot cross buns in half and toast them. 

Cooked air fryer hot cross buns

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Air fryer hot cross buns recipe verdict

These air fryer hot cross buns may not look as good as the buns you buy in a shop but they taste so good. This is because you can choose exactly what flavors you add to the dough and, when toasted with butter, these hot cross buns absolutely sing on the tongue. 

Due to the small basket size on my Tower air fryer, the cake tin I used made the dough balls quite dense and caused them to look more like triangles than circles. This didn't impact the taste, but it did make them more filling than regular hot cross buns. 

If you have a small air fryer, I recommend making sure the dough balls are smaller than you want – due to the fact they double in size – and line them inside the basket itself to give them space to expand and look more like the buns you buy in stores. 

air fryer hot cross bun with butter

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

If you're still sitting on the fence and wondering whether to buy an air fryer, you may want to read our article to decide whether air fryers are worth it? 

Victoria Woollaston

Victoria Woollaston is a freelance science and technology journalist with more than a decade’s experience writing for Wired UK, Alphr, Expert Reviews, TechRadar, Shortlist and the Sunday Times. She has a keen interest in next-generation technology and its potential to revolutionise how we live and work.