The best new hot cross bun flavours for 2020, judged by baker John Whaite

From salted fudge to fig and honey, we put the latest hot cross buns to the test

best hot cross buns 2020
Credit: Romas Foord

This weekend, unwrapping a chocolate egg or toasting a hot cross bun on Easter Sunday will have a special significance; offering a moment of joy, perhaps, at an otherwise strange and unsettling time.

Since winning the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012, John Whaite has launched a cookery school, supper club and his pop-up Tart House Bakery, where burnt-butter and sour-cherry cookies are bestsellers.

‘A hot cross bun has to have some density to it,’ says John, examining the first of this year’s many-flavoured buns. ‘I want to be able to toast it, butter it and sink my teeth into it; I’m not a fan of anything too fluffy or airy.” His criteria is clear, but which of our supermarket and specialist producers will rise to the occasion?

Though stock (available at the time of going to print) may be low and deliveries delayed, here’s to enjoying the sweeter things in life.

Best alternative hot cross buns

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference cranberry, blueberry and lingonberry hot cross buns

£1.25 for four

‘These are much drier than I would like and the fruit dispersal isn’t great, either. Blueberry dominates the smell. A heavy buttering is needed.’

Tesco finest* white chocolate and raspberry hot cross buns

£1.50 for four

‘These are a little grainy – they feel almost wholemeal. And dry. Again, not a great distribution of fruit throughout the buns, and there’s not much of an aroma.’

Asda Extra Special sea salt fudge hot cross buns

£1.25 for four

‘These have a lovely yeasty bakery bread smell. There’s not much fudge inside, but I like the texture a lot. The flavour is all fur coat and no knickers – there’s no discernible flavour, and no sea salt.’

Co-op apple and cinnamon hot cross buns

£1.35 for four

‘The glaze is good on these. They have a lovely warming cinnamon smell, and good apple pieces.’

Abel & Cole fig and honey hot cross buns

£3.50 for six

‘Sadly these are not evenly baked – the dense layer on the bottom suggests they’re under-proved. They’re tough as boots to eat.

Aldi apple and cinnamon hot cross buns

£1.09 for four

‘All the fruit is at the edges of the buns – full of false promises. They’re all smell and no flavour – all the butter in the West Country wouldn’t save these.’

Booths chocolate and cherry hot cross buns

£1.50 for four

‘A good size, and a very subtle chocolate smell. They’re very attractive, with good quality dark chocolate, but they might just be a bit too fluffy in texture.’


Lidl Deluxe triple chocolate hot cross buns

99p for four

‘These are a little dry but they have a nice flavour and a lovely glaze, too – toasted, with lashings of butter, they are lovely.’


M&S marmalade hot cross buns

£2 for four

‘These feel nice and squidgy, and they have a lovely sharp orange smell, very zesty indeed. The bun sticks to your teeth, which I love. Gorgeous.’


Waitrose toffee hot cross buns

£1.60 for four

‘These look lovely and stodgy, just how you want a hot cross to be. They have chunks of lovely soft toffee, really nice and dense. Warm and buttered, these are heaven.’