Soft, delicious, and perfectly spiced vegan gluten-free hot cross buns to complete your Easter table! This recipe is easy to make and contains step-by-step instructions and images so you get the best results, every single time you make them.
This treat is egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, and gf so no one has to miss out, ever.
In the early days of this website, when I still shared wheat flour recipes, one of those recipes happened to be my vegan hot cross buns.
It quickly became a reader favourite but when I had to go gluten-free and I started shifting my recipes to reflect that change, I started getting requests for vegan gluten-free hot cross buns.
I won't bore you with all the details about the many, MANY fails I experienced while developing this recipe but I will say it took me almost 3 years (off and on) and countless tests to get to where we are today and I'm so happy to finally be sharing this wonderful (and very well tested!) recipe with you.
These buns are free from dairy, eggless, wheat-free, and SO good. They're soft and perfect when served with a little smear of vegan butter and a cup of tea.
Please read through the entire post before making this recipe, it's packed with lots of tips, tricks, and photos to help you along the way so your results are as delicious and perfect as mine.
Before You Get Started
There are a few things to keep in mind when you make these buns, especially if you’ve made wheat buns in the past or if you've never made vegan gluten-free recipes containing yeast.
This recipe is very different because of the following:
- If you’ve made hot cross buns with wheat flour, you’ll know that there are two rises. That’s not necessary with this recipe, there’s just one rise.
- Wheat buns double in size before they bake but these do not. They will rise and expand slightly (see images below), but they will not rise as dramatically as wheat-based buns.
- The dough for these rolls is different from wheat dough. Wheat flour dough is stretchy and pliable, this dough is very different, it’s more like cookie dough and it's very sticky, so keep that in mind as you prepare and work with the dough.
- Kneading this dough is not necessary since there is no gluten to develop.
- The final texture of these rolls is different from wheat-based rolls. These buns turn out soft, but not like wheat flour buns, so know that going in, you’re not going to get the same texture as conventional hot cross buns.
- Allow the buns to cool before serving. In my gluten-free vegan baking adventures, I've found that yeast rolls and buns are gummy when they're still hot from the oven. The solution to this is to allow them to rest before eating them, that texture will go away as the buns cool. Re-heated buns will not have this issue.
Are you new to vegan gluten-free baking? If so, be sure to read all of my vegan gluten-free baking tips!
Ingredients You'll Need
The ingredients in this recipe are very specific but there are a few that you can substitute if needed. See the ingredient notes section below.
This recipe is best when followed exactly as it's written and if no changes or substitutions are made, however, I have made some notes for you below on some of the ingredients and whether or not they can be changed.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend - This recipe was developed and tested using only Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1 to 1 blend (the one in the blue bag). I have not tried any others. I am hesitant to suggest any other blends since gluten-free flours all provide drastically different results and because of how long it took me to get this recipe right. Stick with that same flour for the best results and be sure to measure your flour correctly.
Dairy-Free Milk - Any type can be used, just be sure it’s unflavoured and unsweetened.
Oil – Any neutral flavoured oil can be used.
Apple Cider Vinegar - White vinegar can be used instead if you don’t have apple cider vinegar.
Xanthan Gum - Even though the flour blend already contains xanthan gum, adding some more is essential for these buns to hold their structure. Without this ingredient, the buns will fall flat as they bake. I have not tested with any substitutes.
Sugar - I use organic cane sugar when making this recipe but white granulated sugar or coconut sugar can also be used. If you use coconut sugar, your hot cross buns will turn out slightly darker than mine. Be sure that the sugar you're using is vegan since some brands use animal bone char during processing.
Active Dry Yeast - I have only made this recipe with active dry yeast (my preference because it’s easy to tell if it’s active since it proofs separately). However, you can make this recipe instant yeast, just add it directly to the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients next, and then reduce the rise time by 5-10 minutes.
Raisins and Currants - Classic hot cross buns have some sort of dried fruit in them, my preference is a mix of raisins and currants. If you don't have currants, replace them with more raisins or you can even use a different dried fruit, like cranberries.
NOTE: Always measure your flour correctly for the best results!
How to Make Them
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions at the end of this post.)
Your first step will be to proof the yeast. Instructions are below but I wanted to provide a visual for those who haven't worked with it before.
If your yeast doesn’t look like the picture below after the proofing time has passed, then something is wrong with either your yeast or the temperature of your milk.
See the “Expert Tips for Success” section below for more info on how to fix this. If your yeast didn’t foam up, you’ll have to start over with new yeast and milk.
While your yeast is proofing, whisk all the dry ingredients together in the bowl of your stand mixer.
Next, add the rest of the wet ingredients to the proofed yeast, stir it, and pour it into the dry ingredients.
Using the paddle attachment, mix for 2-3 minutes, stopping when needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and to scrape the dough off the paddle.
Add raisins and currants at the end of the mixing time and mix until they have been evenly distributed into the dough.
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Forming the Buns
Using a large scoop or a ⅓ measuring cup, scoop out the dough balls, one-by-one (9 in total) and using your (well oiled!) hands, shape each one until they're smooth and round.
Once shaped, carefully place them into the prepared baking dish.
- If using an ice cream scoop, overfill each scoop slightly or you will end up with extra dough and smaller hot cross buns.
- When shaping the dough balls, be sure that your hands are oiled very well (coconut oil, avocado oil, etc), the dough is very sticky.
Below, you will see the shaped buns in the top left. In the image on the top right, those are the buns after they have rested for 1 hour.
The bottom left image shows the buns with the piped flour crosses and the bottom right image shows the buns after they have baked.
Note that since a rice-based flour blend is being used, they don't brown very much.
Flour Crosses or Icing Crosses?
I've included instructions on how to make both types, the choice of which one to use is up to you!
To make the flour crosses, mix flour and water and then add it to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the mixture onto the rolls AFTER they have rested and just BEFORE baking.
If you prefer to add icing crosses, you'll pipe them on after the buns have been glazed and fully cooled (so the icing doesn't melt). I've included the ingredients and instructions below for you.
The Apricot Glaze
When testing, I tried brushing on a vegan egg wash before baking the buns but that didn't work because the raw dough absorbed the egg wash.
I also tried applying it when they were close to finished baking and that did not work well either, so I turned to the classic hot cross bun glaze, which is made from apricot jam and water.
Whether you use the flour crosses or the icing crosses, you'll brush the glaze on shortly after they have finished baking.
What's the Texture Like?
One very important thing to remember is that vegan gluten-free rolls and buns need to cool before digging in, which I KNOW is counter-intuitive, because who doesn't love a hot roll fresh from the oven?
But you must be patient.
If you serve them too quickly, the texture will be gummy but as they cool, the gumminess goes away. So don't give in to temptation! (Re-heated buns will be fine and not have any gumminess.)
You can see in the picture below that the inside is soft and looks very much like a wheat-based bun. The texture is not quite the same as their wheat counterparts, though.
A wheat bun is more light, fluffy, and airy, these buns are a little more dense and heavier than conventional hot cross buns but the texture is still soft and wonderful.
These buns are their absolute best on the day they’re made, but if you have leftovers, keep them in a covered airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
If they’re not done after 2 days, move the container to the refrigerator for up to 3 more days. When you’re ready to serve the leftovers, reheat them and they’ll be just as delicious and as soft as they were on day 1.
If you will be using icing crosses, only add them to the buns that will be served right away, the buns do not store well with the icing applied.
Expert Tips for Success
- Measure your flour correctly. Too much flour in this recipe will result in buns that are tough, hard, and not soft. Measuring all ingredients the right way is very important for any baking recipe, this one is no exception. I recommend using a scale (this is one I have (Amazon Link)) and my weight measurements, but if you don’t have a scale, lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cup until it’s overflowing and then drag the flat edge of a butter knife across the top to level it off. NEVER dunk the measuring cup into the flour to fill your measuring cup because this will guarantee an incorrect measurement and a recipe fail. Read this article about the proper way to measure flour.
- Use a Stand Mixer. This recipe is much easier to make if you have a stand mixer to do the mixing since the dough is so thick and cannot be kneaded like wheat dough. I realize that not everyone has a stand mixer, so the next best option is mixing by hand with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been mixed very well and the dough has formed and looks like the images above. I don't recommend an electric hand mixer since it can possibly overheat.
- Make sure your yeast and baking powder are both fresh. These are the two ingredients that make the buns rise and get a soft texture.
- Make sure that your milk is not too hot and not too cold. It needs to be within the correct temperature range to activate the yeast properly, which is in the 100° F – 110° F (38° C – 43° C) range. If you don’t have a thermometer, it should be lukewarm (warm to the touch, but not hot).
Expert Tips for Success (continued)
- Don't Skip the Xanthan Gum. As I got closer to perfecting this recipe, one thing that kept happening was the buns would rise nicely during the resting time, but then deflate and become flat as they baked. Xanthan gum fixed that problem so it is a very important ingredient for this recipe to work.
- Don’t skip the apple cider vinegar. ACV helps the yeast to grow which in turn will help your buns to expand and rise better. White vinegar can be used instead if you don’t have apple cider vinegar.
- Make sure to place the rolls in a warm, draft-free place to rise. If it’s not warm enough, they won’t rise properly and if it’s too warm they’ll rise too fast and have an unpleasant yeast flavour. I like to place them in my oven with the light on. If you have a “proof” setting on your oven, this is the perfect time to use it.
- If you’re making these for a special occasion, give the recipe a test run before the big day.
- Read this post from top to bottom before you start. I've included a lot of tips and tricks so you get things right.
- Follow the recipe EXACTLY as it’s written for the very best results.
Some can and some absolutely can't. See the "Ingredient Notes" section above for all the details.
No, this recipe was developed specifically to use a gluten-free flour blend and will not convert well. If you want to use wheat flour, follow my vegan hot cross buns recipe.
That is up to you but my favourite way is warm and sliced with a little vegan butter.
I have not tested doing this yet, but I will update when I try.
No, this recipe was developed specifically to work with yeast.
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I hope that you give these vegan gluten-free hot cross buns a try, especially if you've been missing out on your old favourites and hot cross buns were one of them!
If You Make This Recipe...
Please leave me a comment below and let me know how things went. This recipe is the result of THREE years of off-and-on testing, so I hope you're as happy with them as I am!
You can also share a pic with me over on Instagram and tag me, I'd love to see your results.
And If You Like This Recipe...
...you may also like these other recipes, all are vegan and gluten-free, of course!
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Vegan Gluten-Free Hot Cross Buns
- ½ cup (65g) raisins
- ¼ cup (35g) currants (see note below)
For Flour Crosses (skip if using icing crosses)
- 3 tablespoons (28g) gluten free flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 1 ½ teaspoons water
- Grease or line a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, set aside.
- Prepare your flax egg by whisking together ground flax seeds and water. Set aside to thicken.
Proof the Yeast
- In a medium bowl, add the yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the warm milk. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes.
Prepare Dry Ingredients
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Whisk until everything has combined, set aside.
- Once your yeast has proofed, add the flax egg, oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon zest, and orange zest to the yeast mixture and stir.
- Pour yeast mixture into the flour mixture and using the paddle attachment, set your stand mixer to low, and mix for 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape the dough off of the paddle, when needed.
- Add raisins and currants at the end of the mixing time and mix until they have been evenly distributed into the dough.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and using a large scoop or a ⅓ measuring cup, scoop out the dough balls, one-by-one (9 in total) and using your well-oiled hands, shape each one until they're smooth and round. Carefully place them into the prepared baking dish. If using a large scoop, overfill each scoop slightly. (Be sure that your hands are well-oiled when shaping the buns, the dough is sticky!)
- Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place it in a warm, draft-free area to rest for 1 hour. If your oven has the proof setting, it can be used here.
- Just before the one hour has passed, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (if you have placed your buns in the oven to rise, remove before preheating)
Prepare Flour Crosses (skip if using icing crosses)
- Add the flour and water to a small bowl and mix well until a thick paste has formed.
- Place mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small, round tip. A small ziplock bag can also be used, if using a ziplock bag, snip off one of the bottom corners.
- Gently pipe the flour mixture onto the buns to form the crosses (3 horizontal lines and 3 vertical lines).
- Bake for 24 minutes. Remove from oven, place the pan on a cooling rack, and allow to sit for 10-minutes before brushing on glaze.
Prepare Apricot Glaze
- Add apricot jam and water to a small bowl and warm for 15-seconds in the microwave.
- Optional: If your jam has pieces of apricot in it, you can run the warmed mixture through a sieve to filter the pieces out.
- After the buns have been out of the oven for 10-minutes, brush each one with the apricot glaze.
- Allow buns to fully cool before serving or adding icing crosses.
Prepare Icing Crosses (skip if using flour crosses)
- Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and unsweetened non-dairy milk to a small bowl. Mix well until it has all combined to form a thick icing.
- Place icing into a piping bag fitted with a small, round tip. A small ziplock bag can also be used, if using a ziplock bag, snip off one of the bottom corners.
- Once the buns have fully cooled, pipe the icing onto the buns to form the crosses (3 horizontal lines and 3 vertical lines).
- Please read all of the information, tips and FAQ info above and the info below before making this recipe.
- It’s important to know that different gluten-free flour blends use different ingredients and ratios, so results will vary if you substitute. I have never used any other brand of gf flour to make this recipe (other than Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour (Amazon link) in the blue package, NOT the red package), so please know that your results may not be the same as mine if you substitute with another gluten-free flour blend. The weight listed above is for this specific brand of flour.
- This recipe will NOT work with coconut flour or any other single gluten-free flour, it must be made with a blend, the one listed above.
- Make sure your yeast and baking powder are fresh before using; these are very important ingredients that contribute to the buns rising properly.
- If you don't have dried currants, use ¾ cup raisins.
- When shaping the dough balls, be sure that your hands are oiled well (coconut oil, avocado oil, etc), the dough is very sticky.
- Allow the buns to fully cool before serving. Gluten-free vegan yeast rolls and buns are gummy when they’re still hot from the oven. The solution to this is to allow them to rest before eating them, that texture will go away as the buns cool. Re-heated buns will not have this issue.
- Store leftover rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. If they're not done after 2 days, move the container to the refrigerator for up to 3 more days. When you're ready to serve them, reheat them in the oven at 300° F (150° C) for 10 minutes or in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Adapted from my vegan hot cross buns recipe and my vegan gluten-free cinnamon rolls recipe.
- Nutrition info is based on 1 of 9 hot cross buns with flour crosses, raisins + currants, apricot glaze, and the recipe made as written. Nutrition info is only to be used as a rough guide. Click here to learn how nutrition info is calculated on this website.