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Candied Ginger and Honey Hot Cross Buns

Imagine a batch of honey-sweetened whole wheat soft dinner rolls. They’re fragrant with warm spices like cinnamon and ginger and cardamom and loaded with candied ginger and dried fruit. Yep, these candied ginger honey hot cross buns.

Gingery Whole Wheat Hot Cross Buns baked in pan with cream cheese frosting cross on top

Make them healthier with whole wheat flour. Give them a cross made of flour and water before baking, or finish with a cream cheese and maple syrup cross once the buns have cooled. The flour and water cross is traditional and the frosting cross is my twist.

Click here to PIN Candied Ginger Honey Hot Cross Buns!

bowls of candied ginter, dried fruit and spices, the ingredients for Gingery Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns commemorate the renewal of life that happens each spring–think tulips and daffodils popping up all over and chirping birds busying their nest. Especially when Easter is nigh, it’s time for hot cross buns!

Hot-cross buns! Hot-cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, hot-cross buns. If you have no daughters, give them to your sons. Hot-cross buns! Hot-cross buns! ~ Old Nursery Rhyme

From Mardi Gras right up until Easter, when I worked as a pastry chef, our team baked hot cross buns every day. Using white flour and white sugar.

For a more healthful and rustic-feeling treat, these buns trade honey in place of sugar, and whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. You can find the original white flour and sugar recipe is in my Chocolate Snowball cookbook. (Affiliate link.)

Keep up the tradition. Bake a batch of these soft whole-wheat ginger-spiced fruit-filled rolls!

Candied Ginger Hot Cross Buns in pan ready to eat with a few on plates

Why do we put a cross on top?

In the Christian tradition, the 40 days before Easter known as Lent, a cross on each bun represents Good Friday and Holy Week.

Candied Ginger Honey Hot Cross Buns recipe details:

Gingery Hot Cross Buns proofed and ready to bake

Whole wheat four and dried fruit options:

  • Dried fruit: You can use whatever dried fruit your pantry offers. Like if you only have dried cranberries and raisins, use them. The candied ginger adds a nice bite but it’s not absolutely neccesary for hot cross buns.
  • Flour options: To make these hot cross buns more healthful, I use white whole wheat flour. (Affiliate link.) White whole wheat flour is lighter in color and flavor than regular whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour, ground from white wheat berries, includes the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat grain, the same as regular whole wheat flour, which is ground from hard red wheat berries. Read more about white whole wheat flour here.
  • White whole wheat flour is not that easy to find. If you can’t get your hands on white whole wheat flour, substitute a 50:50 mix of whole wheat flour and unbleached all-purpose flour. Spelt flour is another option, a good flour to have on hand. These blueberry maple hemp muffins call for spelt flour and I give a more detailed explantion of spelt flour in that muffin recipe.
  • Yeast: I use instant dry yeast, which doesn’t need to be dissolved in warm water before mixing the dough. You just stir instant dry yeast into the other dry ingredients and use a warmer liquid, 120°F to 125°F. Saf-instant dry yeast and the trademarked RapidRise yeast, as well as bread machine yeast, are all instant dry yeast. If you use regular active dry yeast, keep your milk below 110°F.

About yeast dough timing:

  • Yeast doughs, hot cross buns for example, are about passive time. 20 minutes to prepare the dough, then an hour of rising, 10 minutes to shape the rolls, and another hour of rising. You can make and shape the dough one day, and bake them the next.
  • If it works better in your schedule, mix and shape the rolls the day before and let them rise overnight in the fridge. The next morning, bring to room temperature and bake them. Or make and bake your hot cross buns the day before—they’re easy to refresh with a light sprinkle of water and a reheat in the oven. Decorate with the frosting cross when your buns are ready to serve.

More spring recipe ideas:

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Nutrition information is meant to be an estimate only. Numbers do not include cream cheese frosting. The calculation will vary based on the brands you use and substitutions you make.

*** This is an updated recipe for hot cross buns I posted here in March of 2015!


  • They look fantastic and I love that you used white whole wheat flour and maple syrup. I don’t use a lot of flour, but when I do it’s either white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. Reply · 30 March, 2015

  • Kozikat

    Our Lenten tradition and now for Easter Sunday is hot cross buns. For years I converted my old B.C. recipe to the fast-rise yeast and white whole wheat flour. I can’t wait to add the ginger but one batch I added orange zest and used a dried fruit mix and yum. I can’t wait to try the cream-cheese cross and ginger this holy week. Thanks for the inspiration. Reply · 30 March, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Katie. I remember buying HCB from the Helms truck. Reply · 30 March, 2015

  • This is a great adaptation. Hot Cross buns are often too “white bread” for my taste. This version seems to walk the line nicely. GREG Reply · 31 March, 2015

  • Louise Redmond

    Thank you Letty for this recipe, I’ve wanted to make some. I remember how good they are, I used to buy them from DV every year. I try my hand at making these and see how I do. Because of my hands now, may I use my stand mixer to knead the dough instead? And for how long to knead it? Reply · 4 April, 2020

    • I always use my standup mixer. 😉 Knead about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if necessary, until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. After 5 minutes if gets sticky again, turn it out and finish by hand. During the last minute, mix in the candied ginger, apricots, cranberries and dates. Reply · 4 April, 2020

  • Louise Redmond

    I have whole wheat flour, is it possible to use some of that with AP flour, what ratio would I use? I have a lot of wheat flour I need to use up, what ratio would I use for other recipes? Reply · 4 April, 2020

    • Whole wheat just fine. White whole wheat flour is whole wheat flour. If you are subbing whole wheat flour for unbleached or bleached white flour, your bread will just be a little more rustic. you may need to reduce the flour by 1/4 cup or so. Go by that soft and elastic test. White whole wheat flour is lighter in color and flavor than the whole wheat flour we are most familiar with. White whole wheat flour, ground from white wheat berries includes the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat grain, is the same as regular whole wheat flour, just ground from red wheat berries. If you prefer your rolls less rustic, feel free to substitute unbleached all-purpose flour for all or some of the white whole wheat flour. Reply · 4 April, 2020

  • Priscilla Watts

    You are awesome! I’m so proud of how accomplished you are not only with your cooking but also to manage such a sophisticated website💖 Reply · 26 March, 2024

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