FEMAIL tries out 26 hot cross buns for 2022

The great hot cross bun taste test! FEMAIL tries out 26 supermarket offerings in search of the best Easter treat (and a VERY surprising variety comes out on top)

  • Supermarkets have opted for a twist on the classic hot cross bun this year
  • It can be hard to know which toasted treat to opt for for a tea-time treat 
  • Here FEMAIL writers share their verdict on the 30 of the hot cross buns being sold at Britain’s leading supermarkets in a taste test 
  • With the long Easter weekend in sight, many people will be enjoying the start of the spring sunshine and enjoying a delicious hot cross bun with it.

    Several supermarkets have opted for a twist on the classic Good Friday treat this year, with Co-op offering a  Masala and Chilli bun , while Aldi has made a strawberry and cream treat.

    And with many options on offer –  includibg free-from options, made without wheat, gluten, egg, and milk –  it can be hard to know which toasted treat to opt for with a hot cup of tea. 

    Here FEMAIL writers share their verdict on the 30 of the hot cross buns being sold at Britain’s leading supermarkets in a taste test.

    The best hot cross buns for 2022…

    Tesco Free From Hot Cross Buns

    £2.20 for four 

    Chris Bridger-Linning said these hot cross buns were 'moist, tasty and with a mouth-watering texture', and it was impssible to tell they were free from gluten and milk

    Chris Bridger-Linning said these hot cross buns were ‘moist, tasty and with a mouth-watering texture’, and it was impssible to tell they were free from gluten and milk 

    These hot cross buns are apparently lacking in something… but they could have fooled me! 

    Unlike other ‘free from’ products, these buns don’t taste any different and are a wonderful Easter treat. 

    Moist, tasty and with a mouth-watering texture, I would definitely buy them again. – Chris Bridger-Linning

    Rating:

    Waitrose 4 White Chocolate & Lemon Hot Cross Buns 

    £1.65 for four 

    Charlotte Dean gave a top rating to the Waitrose White Chocolate and Lemon hot cross buns

    Charlotte Dean gave a top rating to the Waitrose White Chocolate and Lemon hot cross buns

    The Waitrose white chocolate and lemon hot cross buns looked too good to resist. These are two of my favourite dessert flavours, and this sweet treat didn’t disappoint.

    The bread itself was moist and soft with just the right amount of flavouring to be delicious but not overpowering. Would definitely buy again as an alternative to the classic hot cross bun. – Charlotte Dean

    Rating:

    M&S Luxury Classic Hot Cross Bun

    £1.75 for four

    M&S Luxury Fruited Hot Cross Buns have the perfect ratio of flavour to fruit, and work equally well either toasted or untoasted

    M&S Luxury Fruited Hot Cross Buns have the perfect ratio of flavour to fruit, and work equally well either toasted or untoasted

    For me, these are the ultimate hot cross bun. They’re sticky and glazed on the top but the texture of the bun itself is so soft and delicious. 

    It’s the perfect ratio of flavour to fruit as well, and the buns are moist without being soggy. 

    I think they’re just as good toasted or untoasted, which is also an essential for a bun in my opinion – Harriet Johnston

    Rating:

     Aldi Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Buns 

    £1.19 for four 

    Bridie thought these Aldi buns, which cost £1.19 a pack, were 'delicious' and a very chocolatey treat

    Bridie thought these Aldi buns, which cost £1.19 a pack, were ‘delicious’ and a very chocolatey treat 

    These were delicious! A gorgeous  mix of dark, milk and white chocolate meant they weren’t overly sweet. 

    Having tried a lot of hot cross buns this year, it was rare that I wanted a second one of any – but with this one I was immediately reaching for another.

    I’m not usually a huge fan of white chocolate but the way it melted after a light toasting was fabulous. Would recommend to anyone looking for an alternative treat to a traditional HCB – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    Co-op Irresistible Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns  

    £1.50 for four   

    Bridie said: 'I really enjoyed the mix of salted caramel and fudge pieces, would recommend.'

    Bridie said: ‘I really enjoyed the mix of salted caramel and fudge pieces, would recommend.’

    Chocolately goodness! I expected these to be sickly sweet, but the dark chocolate chunks gave it a good bitter bite which stopped it being too saccharine.

    I really enjoyed the mix of salted caramel and fudge pieces, would recommend. – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    ASDA Extra Special Belgian Blonde Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

     £1.50 for 4 

    The chocolate chunks melt nicely after toasting meaning you can enjoy gooey nuggets throughout the delicious crunch

    The chocolate chunks melt nicely after toasting meaning you can enjoy gooey nuggets throughout the delicious crunch

    A chocolate treat! These had a light buttery dough and simple seasoning that wasn’t overpowering.

    The chocolate chunks melt nicely after toasting meaning you can enjoy gooey nuggets throughout the delicious crunch – a delight!  – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Waitrose by Heston Mocha Hot Cross Buns 

     £1.75 for two

    Bridie said: 'The Heston Mocha Hot Cross Bun is very rich but is a great option, especially with a hot cup of coffee or tea'

    Bridie said: ‘The Heston Mocha Hot Cross Bun is very rich but is a great option, especially with a hot cup of coffee or tea’ 

    Bridie loved the mocha hot cross buns from Waitrose but thought the serving suggestion was a little far fetched

    Bridie loved the mocha hot cross buns from Waitrose but thought the serving suggestion was a little far fetched

    As a coffee fiend, I was looking forward to these – but I was quite disappointed because it was overwhelmingly chocolately.

    That said, the coffee definitely took away the overwhelming sweetness that can be in a chocolate hot bun.

    You can tell Heston uses premium ingredients in these – and they’d definitely impress on an Easter spread.

    I remembered I’d tried these last year when I saw the serving suggestion, which in true Heston style, suggests a very detailed recipe for whipping up spiced-butter that looked like it took longer to do than I usually a lot on dinner time.

    Just like last year, I decided toasting cardamon pods and whisking rose water with milk in a blender was a bit too much effort for a teatime snack.

    The bun is very rich but is a great option, especially with a hot cup of coffee or tea. – Bridie Pearson Jones

    Rating:

    Waitrose Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Bun 

    £1.65 for four

    'The Chocolate dough was a nice touch and I really like the way the dark chocolate chunks melted in the toaster,' Bridie said

    ‘The Chocolate dough was a nice touch and I really like the way the dark chocolate chunks melted in the toaster,’ Bridie said

     Another chocolate sensation! A lot of supermarkets tried did chocolate HCBs this year and this one stood out for sure. 

    The Chocolate dough was a nice touch and I really like the way the dark chocolate chunks melted in the toaster.  –   Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    Aldi Luxury Fruited Hot Cross Bun

    £1.19 for four 

    The only downside to the Aldi Luxury Fruited Hot Cross Bun is that it lacks that glazed topping which is essential to many fans of the traditional treat

    The only downside to the Aldi Luxury Fruited Hot Cross Bun is that it lacks that glazed topping which is essential to many fans of the traditional treat 

    Soft and sweet, the luxury fruited hot cross bun from Aldi has almost everything you could want in a tasty treat this Easter. 

    Packed with juicy fruit in a bouncy close texture, it’s almost unfaultable. As soon as you open the packet, the wafts of cinnamon and spices will have you drooling. 

    The only downsides are that it lacks that glazed topping which is just so essential to the hot cross bun experience. – Harriet Johnston

    Rating:

    Co-op Irresistible Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns 

    £1.50 for four 

    Bridie said the level of fruit did not disappoint, and these Co-op Irresistible Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns had a nice crunch when toasted

    Bridie said the level of fruit did not disappoint, and these Co-op Irresistible Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns had a nice crunch when toasted

    Richly fruited indeed! These have a really nice aroma that’s the perfect balance of sweet and salty that you’d expect with a hot cross bun. 

    The texture of the bread was nice too and they had a nice crunch when toasted.

    Personally I don’t love dried fruit so I preferred something with less raisins, but if that’s what your looking for in a hot cross bun (which most people are!) then this is definitely one to pick up. – Bridie Pearson-Jones 

    Rating:

    Co-op Free Form Hot Cross Buns

    These buns look slightly homemade and not as uniform as a typical supermarket bun, so maybe you could try to pass them off as your own if you're feeling cheeky

    These buns look slightly homemade and not as uniform as a typical supermarket bun, so maybe you could try to pass them off as your own if you’re feeling cheeky 

     £1.05 for four

    I have to admit I was a bit sceptical trying a gluten free bun – but I was presently surprised! 

    While free from bakes often have an odd texture, these were indistinguishable from the real thing. 

    It’s also very well balanced, with just enough zest and spicy cinnamon levels .

    I would say they look slightly homemade and not as uniform as a typical supermarket bun. – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    M&S Bramley Apple Hot Cross Buns

    Bridie said these were 'Perfectly sweet and spiced, these buns were really nice toasted and and a lovely crunch with nice melted butter.'

    Bridie said these were ‘Perfectly sweet and spiced, these buns were really nice toasted and and a lovely crunch with nice melted butter.’

    £1.75 for four  

    Perfectly sweet and spiced, these buns were really nice toasted and and a lovely crunch with nice melted butter.

    I would have preferred them without sultanas, but the candied apple and sweet warming hint of cinnamon was divine. – Bridie Pearson Jones

    Rating:

    Sainsbury’s Cheddar & Caramelised Onion Chutney Hot Cross Buns

    £1.25 for four

    Bridie said: 'These were pretty tasty - probably the nicest cheese roll masquerading as a hot cross bun I've tried this year.'

    Bridie said: ‘These were pretty tasty – probably the nicest cheese roll masquerading as a hot cross bun I’ve tried this year.’

    These were pretty tasty – probably the nicest cheese roll masquerading as a hot cross bun I’ve tried this year.

    I could actually taste the cheese and the red onion complemented it nicely.

    The texture was also top notch, with the light and fluffiness you’d expect in a HCB – Bridie Perason-Jones

    Tesco Blueberry Hot Cross Buns 

    £1.50 for four 

    Bridie said: 'I expected the blueberries to make it very fruity, but it wasn't hugely different in flavour from a regular hot cross bun with rich and warm cinnamon scent and flavour.'

    Bridie said: ‘I expected the blueberries to make it very fruity, but it wasn’t hugely different in flavour from a regular hot cross bun with rich and warm cinnamon scent and flavour.’

    10/10 for presentation. These were unlike any of the other hot cross buns I’ve seen. 

    With a nice oat topping and lilac-purple hue when cut open and a white cross on the brown-purple top  they’d look amazing on an Easter spread.

    I expected the blueberries to make it very fruity, but it wasn’t hugely different in flavour from a regular hot cross bun with  rich and warm cinnamon scent and flavour. 

    The berry flavour is subtle, but really nice and make a tasty Easter treat.  – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    M&S Extremely Chocolatey Hot Cross Buns

    £1.75 for four  

    These were very rich - but Bridie still managed to finish one - and went back for another later.

    These were very rich – but Bridie still managed to finish one – and went back for another later.

    Extremely chocolatey indeed! These would be great for any chocoholic and one of the nicest chocolate treats I tried this year.

    I really liked the mix of dark, white and milk chocolate and they were gorgeous toasted with a light layer of butter.

    These were very rich – but I still managed to finish one – and went back for another later – Bridie Pearson-Jones

     Morrisons Extra Fruity Hot Cross Buns

    £1.00 for 4

    Bridie called these a 'zesty delight' with a delicious brioche texture

    Bridie called these a ‘zesty delight’ with a delicious brioche texture

    A zesty delight! These had a really strong citrus flavour and a depth of spice that were lacking in some of the others.

    I really enjoyed the texture too – it was almost like brioche and was light and doughy which toasted perfectly, a true tea time treat! -Bridie Pearson Jones

    Rating:

     

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    …and the worst 

    Aldi Cheddar & Caramelised Red Onion Hot Cross Buns

    Really it's just a bread roll with a cross on the top. The bread was nice, but not one for traditionalist or anyone looking for a cheesy hit!

    Really it’s just a bread roll with a cross on the top. The bread was nice, but not one for traditionalist or anyone looking for a cheesy hit!

    £1.19 for four 

    I’m not sure I could taste the difference between these and a plain piece of bread.

    I love a cheesy bun, but these just weren’t cheesy and all – and I couldn’t get a whiff on caramelised onion.

    Really it’s just a bread roll with a cross on the top. The bread was nice, but not one for traditionalist or anyone looking for a cheesy hit!   – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    Co-op Chili and Masala Hot Cross Bun 

     £1.50 for four

    Bridie said the Co-op Chili and Masala Hot Cross Bun was nicer than a plain bread roll, and appreciated the addition of raisins, but would have liked a stronger flavour

    Bridie said the Co-op Chili and Masala Hot Cross Bun was nicer than a plain bread roll, and appreciated the addition of raisins, but would have liked a stronger flavour

    I was very excited by these, I love chilli, I love masala, what’s not to like!

    While tasty, I think it could have focussed for on the chilli taste. A curry bread is a great idea but this just wasn’t strong enough.

    They were definitely nicer than a plain bread role, and I like how they added raisins – which is a nice nod to a traditional hot cross bun, but would have loved a stronger flavour. -Bridie Pearson Jones 

    Rating:

    Morrison’s The Best Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

    £1.00 for six

    Bridie said: 'The apple chunks were a nice touch, but it was overwhelmed by the currants inside'

    Bridie said: ‘The apple chunks were a nice touch, but it was overwhelmed by the currants inside’ 

    A traditional apply flavour – sure to be a hit with anyone who opts for an apple treat.

    I just think these lacked a little bit of flavour, but it was by no means bad.

    The apple chunks were a nice touch, but it was overwhelmed by the currants inside.  – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    Sainsbury’s Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

     £1.25 for four

    Although these Sainsbury's chocolate buns had a nice flavour and good chocolate chips, they fell apart in the toaster

    Although these Sainsbury’s chocolate buns had a nice flavour and good chocolate chips, they fell apart in the toaster 

     These were so nice in flavour and were a nice mix of all three chocolates and the  chocolate chips melted perfectly.

    However, the structure was awful and it fell apart after going in my toaster. I’m not sure how else to eat them as they definitely need to be toasted. – Bridie Pearson-Jones 

    Rating:

    Waitrose Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns 

    £1.65 for four

    The absence of a stick glaze and a dry and claggy bun meant these Waitrose treats failed to impress

     The absence of a stick glaze and a dry and claggy bun meant these Waitrose treats failed to impress  

    You might expect a bun which claims to be ‘richly fruited’, to be moist and juicy – but I can tell you, this bun is not that. 

    It’s pretty dry and claggy in fact. The raisins themselves have a delicious flavour but the dough is very dry. 

    It’s also missing that lovely glaze which some buns have. It might be good toasted with a little butter, but on it’s own it’s a solid 3/5 at the absolute maximum. – Harriet Johnston 

    Aldi Bramley Apple Hot Cross Buns

    99p for four 

    These Aldi apple-flavoured buns were too sweet and more like an apple pie with too many raisins that added to the richness

     These Aldi apple-flavoured buns were too sweet and more like an apple pie with too many raisins that added to the richness  

     Not at all bad for less than £1 – but definitely not to my taste. 

    The first thing I noticed when opening the packet was a overwhelmingly sweet smell, that almost headache-causing sugary smell I’d associate more with an American apple pie rather than a British hot cross bun.

    But it tasted quite nice, it was very very rich with lots of raisins that added to the over saturation of sweetness. – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    Waitrose Brioche Hot Cross Roll

    £1.50 for four 

    Nothing screams hot or cross about this bun! It's effectively just a brioche roll with a cross on it

    Nothing screams hot or cross about this bun! It’s effectively just a brioche roll with a cross on it

    Nothing screams hot or cross about this bun! It’s effectively just a brioche roll with a cross on it.

    There’s no fruit or cinnamon or the usual aroma and flavour you’d expect.

    That said, it’s a decent brioche roll and would be a fun festive treat to take to an Easter BBQ – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    Iceland Hot Cross Buns

    £1 for six  

    The texture was a little too 'doughy' to my taste, which meant the whole bun felt overly chewy

    The texture was a little too ‘doughy’ to my taste, which meant the whole bun felt overly chewy

    The strong scent of these hot cross buns was immediately obvious as soon as the packet was opened. 

    The texture was a little too ‘doughy’ to my taste, which meant the whole bun felt overly chewy. 

    While I wouldn’t describe it as a claggy texture, it wasn’t particularly pleasant either. 

    Meanwhile the cinnamon taste is also a little overwhelming – I’d like the flavour to be a little more subtle, with a few more raisins and a bun with some more moisture – Harriet  Johnston

    Rating:

    Co-op Irresistible Carrot Cake Hot Cross Bun 

    £1.50 for four 

    The only thing that is recognisable is the bun's raisins, which is not even the best part of the traditional bun to begin with

    The only thing that is recognisable is the bun’s raisins, which is not even the best part of the traditional bun to begin with

    I love carrot cake so I was excited to try this new spin on hot cross buns from Co-Op, but this was not only disappointing. It was upsetting.

    While the bun is fluffy as you’d except, it is not nearly as sweet as it should be, and the carrot is barely perceptible. 

    The only thing that is recognisable is the bun’s raisins, which is not even the best part of the traditional bun to begin with! 

    If you see those and think you’ll get the lovely, spicy taste of an indulging carrot cake, think again. It also does not have the lovely cake’s frosting, which is only making matters worse. – Claire Toureille

    Rating:

    Aldi Specially Selected Strawberries And Cream Hot Cross Buns 

    £1.19 for four 

    Joanna said: 'The strawberry and cranberry pieces mixed well to give a really lovely, fruity taste and texture but combined with the double cream flavour and white chocolate chunks, it was sugar overload.'

    Joanna said: ‘The strawberry and cranberry pieces mixed well to give a really lovely, fruity taste and texture but combined with the double cream flavour and white chocolate chunks, it was sugar overload.’

    These were so sweet! 

    The strawberry and cranberry pieces mixed well to give a really lovely, fruity taste and texture but combined with the double cream flavour and white chocolate chunks, it was sugar overload.

     To me, they tasted of pick and mix sweets, which is probably why my four-year-old gobbled his down and immediately asked for another! I, meanwhile missed the spice of an original hot cross bun.

    They’d be perfect to serve as a summery dessert. – Joanna Crawley

    Rating:

     M&S Marmite Cheese Hot Cross Buns

    £1.75 for four 

    Harriet said: 'It doesn't have any fruit, so it ends up being very doughy - and while the dough is very soft, and tasty, it's not really doing it for me as a snack.

    Harriet said: ‘It doesn’t have any fruit, so it ends up being very doughy – and while the dough is very soft, and tasty, it’s not really doing it for me as a snack.

    First of all, this is not a hot cross bun. While it may be the customary shape and have the usual cross on top, that’s where the similarities between this and a hot cross bun end. 

    It’s essentially a quite strongly flavoured marmite bun.

     It doesn’t have any fruit, so it ends up being very doughy – and while the dough is very soft, and tasty, it’s not really doing it for me as a snack. 

    I think if it came layered up with slices of cheddar or brie, maybe it would be a bit better. – Harriet Johnston

    Rating:

    Sainsbury’s Hot Cross Bun Bagel

    £1.60 for four

    Bridie said: 'I expected the unique texture you get from bagels, but it was clear this wasn't boiled and baked in a New York deli.'

    Bridie said: ‘I expected the unique texture you get from bagels, but it was clear this wasn’t boiled and baked in a New York deli.’

    This is a really fun idea! I love bagels but this was really a hot cross bun with a hole in it.

    I expected the unique texture you get from bagels, but it was clear this wasn’t boiled and baked in a New York deli.

    It was very dry and nothing to write home about. Stick to a cinnamon and raisin bagel! – Bridie Pearson -Jones

    ASDA Extra Special Tickled Pink Belgian White Chocolate & Cranberry Hot Cross Buns

    £1.50 for four

    I'd buy these for a Peppa Pig loving toddler - but avoid otherwise! - Bridie Pearson-Jones Rating:

    I’d buy these for a Peppa Pig loving toddler – but avoid otherwise! – Bridie Pearson-Jones Rating:

    These are a bit of a showstopper, with a bright pink hue when they’re cut open. Not the most appetising to my eyes, but I’m sure most kids would love it.

    However, I fear these are a bit all looks no substance. I didn’t really get much flavour of white chocolate or cranberry, it was quite hard to distinguish any flavour other than general manufactured sweetness.

    I’d buy these for a Peppa Pig loving toddler – but avoid otherwise!   – Bridie Pearson-Jones

    Rating:

    M&S 4 Extremely Cheesy Hot Cross Bun 

    This offering from M&S promised a savoury twist on the traditional treat, but ended up being more like a disappointing cheese bap, rather than a hot cross bun

    This offering from M&S promised a savoury twist on the traditional treat, but ended up being more like a disappointing cheese bap, rather than a hot cross bun  

    I love a sweet and savoury combo, so I was excited to try this variety in the hope there would be some hot cross bun spice mixed with the cheese for an Easter treat that’s a bit different from the norm. 

    But disappointingly, these aren’t really hot cross buns. There was no other detectable flavouring to link it to the traditional snack, or at least if there was, I couldn’t detect it. 

    This was effectively a cheese bap, and not a very good one at that. The cheese isn’t particularly strong or plentiful and it’s quite a flat bun, not the fluffy texture you’d hope for that crisps up nicely when toasted.

    Even the addition of butter, or chutney to complement the cheese couldn’t save it. I’d suggest getting a regular hot cross bun to use as a base for cheese instead. – Siofra Brennan

    Rating:

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