‘I taste-tested non-traditional Hot Cross Buns and found one very disappointing’

The simple offerings of a humble hot cross bun are a thing of the past, with the supermarket shelves now groaning under the weight of bizarrely flavored offerings – including rhubarb and custard

Can a non-traditional hot cross bun really be better than the original?

Previously the toughest decision when it came to hot cross buns was deciding if it was too early to start eating them.

And the topic of debate would be whether to toast it or simply eat it fresh, obviously with lashings of butter.

But now, the supermarkets have decided that the traditional flavor was not enough.

From every angle, you’re bombarded with different flavors – from salted caramel to triple cheese.

If you’re a purist like me, it’s enough to make you weep. In my opinion, the humble hot cross bun needs nothing more than plenty of fruit, a hint of spice and a glazed topping.

But this isn’t enough for the modern world, so, I sampled some of the unusual offerings on sale this year.

We sampled a range of hot cross buns from Waitrose, M&S, Co-op, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco and gave each one a score out of five.

I tested a range of supermarket buns – including some unusual flavors


Rosalene Fenton)

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M&S 4 Extremely Cheesy Hot Cross Buns (£1.75 for four)

Blurb: Loaded with Extra Mature Barber’s Farmhouse Cheddar & Smooth Red Leicester.

What I thought: It’s a delicious cheese bun. But I just can’t get on board with the idea it’s a hot cross bun. It has none of the elements that turn it into one- except that it’s mockingly marked with a pastry cross. I would give this a ⅖ and only because there was cheese involved.

Delicious – but not a hot cross bun by my standards



Co-op Spiced Masala & Chilli Hot Cross Buns (£1.50 for four)

Blurb: Hot cross buns with caramelised onions, sultanas, ground spices and dried jalapeño chillies.

What I thought: Surprisingly good. This is an elevated hot cross bun – the sweet caramelised onion pairs well with the spiced bun, while the jalapenos give a little kick. A delightfully savory treat. 4/5

The Co-Op offering was the best of a bad bunch



Sainsbury’s Chocolate & Caramel Hot Cross Buns (1.25 for four)

Blurb: Hot cross buns made with salted caramel pieces, dark chocolate chunks and caramel fudge pieces

What I thought: Adults should have no more than seven teaspoons of sugar per day, but this feels like that would exceed it. It is a sugary nightmare, but the caramel fudge pieces offer something different. Overall it’s quite stodgy and at times, it tastes a bit synthetic. 1/5

Remove a synthetic taste



Lidl Deluxe Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Buns (99p for four)

Blurb: Deliciously soft, triple chocolate buns filled with indulgent milk, dark and white chocolate pieces

What I thought: I’m a big fan of chocolate, so I really wanted to like these, but while they look pretty good, the first bite was dry and stale – as was the next and the next. The taste was slightly improved when the chocolate melted as it gave a little more sweetness, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to eat a whole one.


M&S Salted Caramel & Blond Chocolate Hot Cross Buns (£1.75 for four)

Blurb: Delicately spiced hot cross buns enriched with golden blond and milk chocolate, salted caramel fudge and toffee pieces.

What I thought: Hard to see how these are ‘delicately spiced’ when all you can taste is chocolate and caramel. These pack a serious sugar punch, rather than the more delicate flavors you’d normally expect from a traditional bun. If you’d like to eat a sweet pick-me-up, this is perfect, but book a visit to the dentist afterwards. 2/5

Not the best from M&S



Aldi Rhubarb and Custard Hot Cross Buns (£1.19 for four)

Blurb : Packed full of delicious candied rhubarb with custard flavouring.

What I thought : Definitely the sweetest hot cross bun I have ever tasted. The bun itself was quite light in color and the actual taste was quite similar to that of brioche. They did not have as much fruit in them compared to a traditional hot cross bun but the candied rhubarb was a welcome sugar fix. 3/5

These are a very sweet treat and the flavors in their work really well together. Maybe they aren’t that traditional but they are certainly inventive.

M&S Blueberry Hot Cross Buns (£1.75 for four)

I wouldn’t buy this one again


Rosalene Fenton)

Blurb: Four butter enriched hot cross buns with juicy Vostizza currants and sweetened dried blueberries. Best served toasted with a spread of butter.

What I thought: These were a total disappointment. Similarly to Dr Ashenden, I brand these an outrage. It’s basically a brioche bun with blueberries on it, and a white cross draped on top as an afterthought. The fruit is lovely and juicy, and they smell great, but I won’t be buying another pack. ⅖

Thewinner: Frankly, only Co-op stood a chance here, the rest were far too sweet and stodgy. I’d recommend sticking to a traditional hot cross bun.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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