A sweet hot cross bun, filled with raisins, branded with a cross and popped in the toaster, then slathered with copious amounts of butter. Aren’t they just the perfect spring snack?
But forget tradition: there are now a wealth of weird and wonderful flavours of hot cross bun available. We’re talking mocha, we’re talking pizza, we’re talking white chocolate and raspberry. But do they trump the traditional pre-Easter treat or are they destined to stay on the shelves?
We asked supermarkets to send us their most unusual flavours, then got the HuffPost UK Life team to taste and review them. Which are worth your cash?
Aldi Specially Selected Raspberry and Belgian White Chocolate – £1.09 for four
“My raspberry and white choc hot cross bun goes straight into the bin after a couple of bites. I expect it to be like one of those incredible Sainsbury’s white chocolate and raspberry cookies (you know the ones) but it’s far too doughy and dry. I really want to like it, but the toasted bread absorbs what little flavour there is – imagine a bun with a smidge of raspberry jam on it. This is that. My advice? Stick to the OG hot cross bun in any form.” Brogan Driscoll
Waitrose Heston Mocha Hot Cross Buns – £1.70 for two
“Texturally, these are closer to a cake than a bun and a touch on the dry side, so I compensate by slathering on butter using the Nigella buttering method. I like coffee and chocolate together, but something about this seems a little off. The fruit doesn’t come through, though the chocolate adds a melty, decadent touch. It’s a decent elevenses snack and mid-morning pick-me-up, but there’s room for improvement. Not a bad bun, but not a hot cross bun either – more an oversized cake. I’d still opt for traditional because I’m a purist type of gal.” Angela Hui
Sainsbury’s Strawberries And Cream Hot Cross Buns – £1.25 for four
“I get it, Wimbledon’s not too long after Easter, and we’re all desperate for summer feels. So why not strawberries and cream in a hot cross bun, ask Sainsbury’s? I can only imagine how the product development meeting went: “Two birds, one stone!” The thing with real strawberries and cream, though, is there’s a freshness to it, and there are real strawberries. These buns, on the other hand, have tiny bits of strawberry smushed in. They’ll divide opinion – purists will probably hate the lack of currants – but that’s the whole point.” Adam Bloodworth
Aldi Chilli and Cheese Hot Cross Buns – £1.09 for four
“These buns have cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers and caramelised white onion flavours in them. They are pleasant enough, but not as spicy as I hope – slightly warming, rather than the kick I’d brace myself for. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, they are a good festive alternative for Easter and the jalapeno and cheese combo is tasty. Then again, you could always make yourself chilli cheese on toast and add as much chilli as you like.” Brogan Driscoll
Lidl Deluxe Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Buns – 99p for four
“As someone who like to slather butter on breaded goods of all sorts, hot cross buns are the dream, because it’s the actual serving suggestion. Go hard or go home, as Nigella knows. The issue with chocolate-flavoured ones is that it feels like overkill. Even Bruce Bogtrotter didn’t butter his cake, right? At the same time, chocolate can be very drying in baking and when I cut open this hunky bun to toast, it does looking worrying parched. Two minutes under the grill melts all the chocolate chips, but when I bite in, there’s just not enough squidge. A decent tea-time mouthful – the buns are large and undeniably great value – but I’d opt for Lidl’s OG or Apple and Cinnamon variety next time.” Nancy Groves
Asda Tomato And Red Leicester Hot Cross Buns – £1 for four
“These hot cross buns are marketed as ‘pizza’ flavoured, and they don’t disappoint. The dough inside is slightly yellow-y and smells delicious. I can’t see any flecks of tomato or cheese as it’s all blended in, so I do wonder how tasty they’ll be. But happily, it’s like eating a leftover pizza crust, just softer and squidgier. The pizza flavour definitely comes through, more tomatoey, than cheesy, I would say – but nonetheless, a savoury kick I can definitely get on board with. How has no one thought of these before?” Amy Packham
Morrisons Mocha Freshly-Baked Hot Cross Buns – £1 for four
“I’m not a huge fan of coffee-flavoured food items. I love coffee, but coffee in chocolate? Not so much. So I don’t have high hopes for the mocha-flavoured HCBs Morrisons are selling... until I try them. The soft and squidgy bread tastes like a delicious fluffy and light cake, with chocolatey chips scattered in between. It’s not a strong coffee taste – rather, a subtle, cappucino-style creamy coffee taste, with strong chocolate tones throughout. I have them straight from the packet, warmed-up, and toasted with butter. Delicious! They’re only available in-store, freshly made from the bakery counter – that probably explains it.”
M&S Extremely Chocolatey Hot Cross Buns – £1.65 for four
“As a staunch devotee to traditional hot cross buns, I’m ready to turn my nose up at the chocolate version. But from the moment I stick these bad boys in the toaster and the warm chocolate smells wafts from my kitchen, I’m hooked. They’re a delicious sweet bun with white and milk chocolate chips embedded instead of raisins or sultanas. When toasted, the chocolate chips melt and ooze out. The bun goes crisp on the outside but maintains its softness on the inside. I’m not prepared for how much I’d enjoy these. I smother mine with butter, which merges with the chocolate chips to make gooey chocolate butter heaven on my tongue.” Natasha Hinde
Not *technically* a hot cross bun. But it captures the taste so well, says our reviewer, we thought it worth including.
Iceland Luxury Hot Cross Bun.. Cheesecake – £2.75
“There are those who believe tradition shouldn’t be messed with and that hot cross buns should be frill-free with no fancy additions. Those people would detest a hot cross bun cheesecake – but my family love this quirky treat.
“Before testing out the cheesecake, we traditionally toast a pack of Iceland hot cross buns and then – with the taste fresh on our lips, we move on to the cheesecake. Not only are we wowed by the delicious cheesecake, we are amazed how overwhelmingly it captures the flavours of a classic hot cross bun.
“The creamy dessert is rich and lusciously sweet with baked spiced orange flavour with hidden nuggets of raisins all on a crunchy biscuit base, covered with a delectable salted caramel sauce. Everything works together brilliantly. This cheesecake isn’t just an Easter gimmick – it’s a weird and wonderful twist that actually works. It tastes like hot cross buns – but even better.” Aasma Day
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.