Healthy Hot Cross Buns Two Ways (and a Dairy-Free Chocolate Sauce)

The Cusp nutrition expert, Nikki Heyder of NOOD, shares not one – but two – healthy recipes for hot cross buns that she’s created especially for us. Both are full of whole foods, easy to whip up and totally delicious.

It’s so hard not to overindulge when it comes to Easter time. Being bombarded by Easter bunnies left right and centre – and those irresistible packets of soft, hot cross buns. Eating hot cross buns is one of the greatest things about Easter! But making your own is even better, with the sweet smell of cinnamon floating around the house.

So how do we make such a naughty time of year a little bit healthier? These two recipes take all the nasties out from the original recipe and replaces them with whole food alternatives – without comprising on flavour, of course.

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Orange and cinnamon hot cross buns with dairy-free chocolate sauce


If ‘spelt’ made your eyebrow arch inquisitively, then know this: spelt is an ancient grain. It’s classified into the same family as wheat, however, unlike wheat, 100% spelt is much higher in fibre, has a different taste and a different molecular structure – it’s way lower in protein and gluten.

The gluten is also more water soluble, and not as elastic as regular wheat gluten, making this grain much easier for our digestive systems to process. Many people who have intolerances to wheat, can tolerate spelt quite easily.


2 cups 100% whole-wheat spelt flour
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup raisins
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Rind of ½ orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ cup coconut or almond milk
1 large egg, whisked

For the Chocolate sauce

1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut cream
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tsp unprocessed honey
Pinch sea salt


Makes 6 delicious buns – DF

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Pour in milk, egg and coconut oil along with the orange rind and vanilla – mix to form a dough.

Sprinkle a light dusting of flour onto your work bench – just enough to ensure that the dough doesn’t stick. Using your hands, knead for no more than a couple of minutes until it all comes together neatly into a round ball. Roll dough into a long sausage shape.

Line a small square baking tin with baking paper, and then cut the dough evenly into 6 even pieces and place them in the tin.

To make the crosses, combine a couple of tablespoons of spelt flour with just enough almond milk to form a very thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with the thinnest nozzle and make crosses on each bun (note: if you don’t have a piping bag, simply spoon the mixture into a plastic sandwich bag and cut a really small hole in the corner – use this as your makeshift piper!)

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer can be inserted and removed cleanly.

To make the chocolate sauce, simply combine all ingredients and whisk well – the sauce will remain soft unless refrigerated where it will harden to form more of an ‘icing’.

Serve warm with a drizzle of chocolate sauce…or allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Gluten-free hot cross buns

GF hot cross buns

These sweet spicy buns are perfect for morning or afternoon tea with a cup of tea. Buckwheat is gluten free, and the buns are light and fluffy in the middle and crisp on the outside, with plenty of soft, sweet little raisins. A spicy honey glaze gives you the satisfying sweetness of a traditional hot cross bun without any of the refined sugar.


1/4 raisins
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
Zest of half a Lemon or orange
3/4 cup coconut yoghurt

The Cross:

3 tbsp buckwheat flour
1/4 cup water


1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of ground clove
1 tsp hot water


Makes 6 delicious buns – GF: DF

Soak the raisins in the warm water to soften them. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.

Mix the 3 Tbsp of buckwheat flour and 1/4 cup of water to make a thin batter. This is for the cross. Pour into a piping bag with a small tip. If you don’t have a piping bag you can use small ziplock bag. Just snip the corner off when you’re ready to pipe the crosses.

Combine the dry ingredients for the buns in a large bowl. Strain the raisins and save the liquid. Using a wooden spoon gently mix in the coconut yoghurt and the raisins. Try to be as gentle as possible, be light with the spoon and only mix until just combined.

Gently mix in the water a little at a time until mix is coming together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board or bench and shape into a log. Cut into 6 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place closely together on a tray lined with baking paper.

Pipe the crosses onto the buns and place in a 220 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Glaze with the spiced honey as soon as they come out of the oven and then allow to cool.

Nikki Heyder is a Perth-based Nutritional Counsellor and Director of NOOD. You can follow her on Instagram @nood_eatnourishinspire