• Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross

Hot Cross Donuts

I’ve hot crossed buns, biscuits and scones but it wasn’t until very recently that I had a sweet and spicy epiphany. Hot cross bun dough is essentially the same as donut dough.

Yup. Mind Blown.

Once that wondrous notion had settled in, it didn’t take me long to whip up a batch of lightly sweetened but richly spiced, enriched dough (which means it has egg and butter in it) and plug in my deep fat fryer to test my theory out. It works beautifully.  I give you, my Hot Cross Donuts.

Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross

I know, I know, deep fat frying is not the most virtuous of cooking methods but it’s Easter – a time of celebration, even if like me and Hungry Hubby, the reason for your celebration is 4 uninterrupted days off work!  

Plus, if you fall into the camp of eaters who love the smell of hot cross buns but you don’t like dried fruit or perhaps, really dislike the poor quality candied peel that supermarkets love shoving into their buns then my donuts are for you.

You see, the fruit burns if you try to deep fry it so I have left it out. You get all the spice and soft pillowy texture of a good hot cross bun but none of the fruit. well, you do get an orange and lemon creme pâtissière filling but there’s no “bits” of fruit so that must be allowed, right?

Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross

You could of course, use this recipe to make your actual hot cross buns with if you want – I’ve tested it out side by side and it works brilliantly. I simply knead in 1 cup of dried mixed fruit after the first prove.

The only thing which you need to know is that dried fruit does two things to dough – one, it retards the action of the yeast due to all that extra sugar, so you’ll need to give up to an extra 2 hours proving time once the fruit is added.

And two, as they are dried, they suck out moisture from the dough which is why it is so important to make sure your dough is soft and sticky after adding the liquid to the flour mix and why you don’t ever get more than a day, possibly two out of HXBs before they stale.

Dare I say this but as a lifelong lover of traditional hot cross buns, I think these hot cross donuts are my new favourite. Even without the fruit (which I personally love) these donuts deliver everything I could want from hot cross anything.


4.86 from 7 votes
Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross
Hot Cross Donuts

Everything you love about hot cross buns but made into a donut. Plus, if you don't love dried fruit then these are the hot crosses you need, as there is none in them!

Servings: 12 people
: 249 kcal
Author: Just Jo
For the dough:
  • 250 g strong white bread flour
  • 4 tbsp soft light brown sugar (muscovado sugar is lovely too)
  • 12 g dried fast action yeast
  • 7 g sea salt
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice (I often use Pumpkin Pie Spice in it's place)
  • 1 orange (zest and juice)
  • 60 g soft butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 g whole milk
  • 1-2 litres vegetable oil for deep frying
For the glaze:
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
For the citrus creme patissière:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 45 g soft light brown sugar (3 tbsp packed)
  • 20 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 150 g double cream (you can use full fat sour cream instead if that's what you have in)
For the crosses:
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • A little orange juice
  1. Mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, spice and the zest of the orange in the bowl of a stand mixer then rub in the butter, like how you do when making pastry or scones. 

  2. Whisk the eggs, milk and 45g (3 tbsp) orange juice together in a jug then with the motor running and the dough hook fitted to the mixer, pour in to the flour mix. Do this slowly and stop when you get a soft and slightly tacky dough. Mix for approximately 10 minutes on a low-medium speed until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. 

  3. Form the dough into a ball and lightly grease before covering. Leave to prove until at least doubled in size. This could take 2-4 hours at room temp because all that spice and sugar retards the action of the yeasted. 

  4. When proved, divide the dough into 12 even sized balls and roll into balls. It is worth spending a minute to get them as smooth as possible so that they don't unfurl on frying. Rip up some small squares (about 4 inches square) of baking parchment and lightly flour them, sitting a dough ball on each. Place in a large or several smaller tupperware boxes and leave to prove. I do this overnight in the fridge but at room temp this will take about 2 hours.

  5. To cook, pour the oil into a deep fat fryer as per it's instructions and heat to 170˚C. This is much safer than doing it on the hob with a thermometer. When up to temp, pick up a dough ball on it's parchment and flip onto a slotted spoon before lowering into the oil. Cook 2-3 at a time so not to drop the oil temp and cook for about 3 minutes side. Drain on kitchen roll. 

  6. When the whole batch is finished, mix the sugar and orange juice together and bring to the boil in a small saucepan. Once bubbling, take off the heat and use a pastry brush to coat the still warm donuts with glaze.

For the creme patissière:
  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl then whisk in the flour and citrus extracts. 

  2. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and then dribble it very slowly over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it is smooth. Scrape this back into the saucepan and over a medium high heat, again whisking constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes until it suddenly thickens and becomes heavy on the whisk.

  3. I pass my cooked creme pat through a fine meshed sieve to ensure it is super smooth at this point then place in a disposable piping bag and leave to cool. when cold, pop in the fridge - this could be done the day before you need it. 

To finish:
  1. Poke a hole in the side of the donuts with a chopstick and then snip off an opening about 8mm across on the piping bag before inserting into this hole and piping in a generous quantity of filling. Stop as you see it just come out of the sides. 

  2. Mix the icing sugar with just enough orange juice to give the texture of toothpaste - i.e. it doesn't flow unless pressed. Scrape this into another piping bag and snip off an opening 3mm across and pipe crosses on top of each donut. Once set you're finally good to go! Best eaten within 24 hours of making (recipe halves very nicely if you don't think you'll get through the whole batch in one go). 


This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn a little commission if you chose to buy items I’ve advertised, helping me to bring you all these recipes for free!

Like this post? Then why not try these related recipes:

How to make your own pumpkin pie spice - easy peasy and utterly delicious in lots of home baked goodies

Pumpkin Pie Spice


  1. Caroline @ Caroline's Cooking 14th April 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I love hot cross buns and these are such a fun variation on the theme! I like the idea of the orange-flavored glaze and using pumpkin spice too.

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 8:54 am - Reply

      You definitely need that glaze as hot cross bun dough isn’t overly sweet – it really does add a little something extra 😀

  2. Daniela Anderson 14th April 2017 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Really creative, l wouldn’t have thought of hot cross donuts, but they certainly look scrumptious. And, you are so right, it’s Easter, so we should indulge without feeling guilty. I’m definitely going to have one too many delicious dishes these days.

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 8:55 am - Reply

      I hope you’re enjoying your Easter treats Daniela!

  3. Kelly @ Trial and Eater 14th April 2017 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    I love this idea! I just made hot cross buns for the first time but have never seen them turned into donuts 🙂

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Maybe these can be your next experiment Kelly – hope you enjoyed your buns 😀

  4. Veena Azmanov 14th April 2017 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    This is so cool. I love the idea of turning my hot cross buns into donuts. These looks so amazing.

  5. Adriana Lopez Martn 15th April 2017 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Inpsired in a classic recipe and so good. Love that you filled them with vanilla cream and that are donuts. This is super creative a great twist to a Easter favorite.

  6. ManilaSpoon 15th April 2017 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Wow! This is such a delicious idea for easter! My kids will be all over these! I also love the sweet, tangy citrusy filling!!

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 9:08 am - Reply

      I hope your little ones enjoy them!

  7. Alicia Taylor 15th April 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    I have never actually had hot cross buns, but donuts are like a weakness for me. Between the two, I’d rather try these. I love your epiphany

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Well I hope you give the recipe a go then Alicia – I’m with you in preferring the donuts now too 😀

  8. Stephanie@ApplesforCJ 15th April 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Such a unique idea! I’ve seen a lot of hot cross bun recipes but never one for donuts. Love this 🙂

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Thanks Stephanie! Most things are better for a spot of deep fat frying lol 😉

  9. Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy 16th April 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

    We love hot cross buns…and I love making baked donuts. This is a win-win for me. Would be perfect for Easter brunch, but I would for sure eat them all year long.

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Aye – I make “fruity buns” all throughout the year which are basically hot cross buns without the crosses 😉

  10. Sara @ Modern Little Victories 16th April 2017 at 3:07 am - Reply

    Hot cross donuts?! This is so unique and clever. For allll the recipes of hot cross buns I have seen I’ve never seen one for donuts like this! I love that you added a twist to a classic!

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Aw thanks Sara! I do like mixing things up 😀

  11. Byron Thomas 16th April 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    What???? This is super unique – I love it! My mom was a hot cross bun pusher. Seriously! She would make a big batch and she had this whole tradition of placing a bun at each place setting and we had to eat the bun after a prayer/grace was said on Easter. I disliked the taste of hot cross buns, but I’m sure I could handle the donut version! If only my mom had been this clever. LOL

    • Just Jo 16th April 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Lol I am proper giggling at you being hold to ransom over a hot cross bun before you were aloud dinner! Hilarious! Lovely family memory – thanks for sharing 😀

  12. Jennifer Morrisey 16th April 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Hot Cross Donuts is such a fun twist on the classic hot cross bun! I have only had hot cross buns once and found them dry, but I am positive I would love a donut version! Your citrus creme patissière sounds divine.

    • Just Jo 17th April 2017 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Ah, they can be really tricky to get them soft and moist at home but honestly, turning the same dough into donuts is exactly the thing you need to keep them soft and fluffy!

  13. Sandhya Ramakrishnan 17th April 2017 at 4:05 am - Reply

    This is definitely the way to go for holiday feasts and I would definitely vote for the hot cross donuts over the buns. I love my buns and breads, but who could say no to the donuts. Love the citrus creme filling.

    • Just Jo 17th April 2017 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Thank you Sandhya! It’s not a celebration without a delicious and decadent baked treat 🙂

  14. Molly Kumar 17th April 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

    OMG, they look so cute and I can totally gobble few of them right away 🙂 Love the fusion of donut+bun and definitely one really unique recipe that I’m bookmarking to try.

    • Just Jo 17th April 2017 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Thanks Molly! I’m so delighted they’re going down so well 🙂

  15. Natalie 17th April 2017 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    These donuts/cross buns are absolutely amazing. Love the fusion of those two delicious treats. Orange and lemon combo surely brings Spring to the table. Love the sound of that citrus creme. Can’t wait to try this.

    • Just Jo 18th April 2017 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Natalie – I hope you enjoy them!

  16. Kylee from Kylee Cooks 17th April 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    OMG what a great idea for Good Friday! My kids and I would love these

  17. Lori Vachon 17th April 2017 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    I’ve never had a hot cross bun, but I certainly have eaten my fair share of donuts! I love that you combined two tasty treats into one delicious creation.

    • Just Jo 18th April 2017 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      I do love giving a twist on a classic 😀

  18. Maha Khan 19th April 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Wonderful recipe.I like this and I think this is very delicious. I am going to make this recipe for my family and husband Thanks for sharing

    • Just Jo 19th April 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      You’re very welcome Maha – I hope you all enjoy the donuts x

  19. Amy 21st April 2017 at 4:06 am - Reply

    I cannot believe I have never had hot cross buns! And now I definitely need to try these hot cross donuts, which I’m pretty positive my husband would love even more!

    • Just Jo 21st April 2017 at 6:45 am - Reply

      Oh you must Amy – they are absolutely wonderful. You could make a whole batch of this dough and use half for donuts and bake half for traditional HXBs 😀

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.