Inspiration Inspiration

Examining Hot Cross
Bun trends and
the 2024 Easter Bakery Market


The Hot Cross Bun has been a staple Spring bakery product, notably synonymous with Easter Celebrations since 12th Century England. 

The spiced fruit bun with a sweet sticky glaze is not only enjoyed by millions of consumers each year but carries a rich history and is typically enjoyed on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. 

The first written record of hot cross buns occurred in Poor Robin’s Almanac in 1733 and is also celebrated in a nursery rhyme – “one a penny, two a penny”

Fast-forward to 2024, and supermarkets and bakeries have already lined the shelves with both traditional and innovative new recipes for Hot Cross Buns, which are often eaten as an indulgent breakfast alternative or as a tempting snack at any time of the day.

The bakers at our Colchester Technical Centre conducted an in-depth taste panel review of the 2024 hot cross bun market, covering updates to the traditional recipe as well as some new innovations in flavour and recipe 

Sweet Flavours

Supermarket retailers and bakeries are continuing to experiment with the flavour of hot cross buns, with many focusing on the indulgence trend and growing their appeal to a wider, younger target audience.

Whilst many hot cross buns have a zesty citrus flavour profile from the addition of mixed peel, we have seen this enhanced with the addition of white chocolate chips, honey and orange marmalade delivering an extra zesty flavour hit. Cramming extra fruit into the bun making the crumb moist and flavoursome is also a popular trend at the more premium end of the market.

Chocolate hot cross buns are now a staple of most retail ranges and are delicious served warm so melting chocolate chips add an extra level of deliciousness. However, with the rising cost of cocoa there has been notable innovation around other favourite sweet flavour combinations - hugely popular salted caramel makes an appearance, adding an extra level of gooey, sticky sweetness as well as a sticky toffee pudding variation tapping into the trend for nostalgia.

Savoury Inspiration

While Hot Cross Buns are naturally sweet, in recent years we have seen a move to savoury flavours, creating versatility as a food that can be enjoyed as a lunchtime snack.

Cheesy hot cross buns are now a popular flavour choice, with Cheddar and Red Leicester buns a popular example.

This is also changing the way that consumers are consuming hot cross buns. The debate will always be whether to eat straight from the pack or slice and toast, but the savoury element also opens the hot cross bun up to be eaten as a sandwich or even a burger bun.

We have also seen many bakers use a sourdough starter to add a new flavour dimension. 

Traditional flavours inspire product innovation 

Traditional hot cross bun flavour profiles such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger can also be found in alternative recipes such as spiced fruit Easter Panettone and Easter tarts.

 Exploring Zeelandia’s Easter Ingredient range

At Zeelandia, we work with Craft and Industrial bakers all year round to drive baking innovation through our commercial baking ingredients.

Our Exakt Zest concentrate is a popular all-in-one product with a high yield and excellent process tolerance, a versatile choice for sweet bakery goods such as Hot Cross Buns, teacakes, and fruit bread. 

For industrial manufacturers, we also offer hydrated fruit, specially prepared vine fruits which are moisture infused to ensure your bun goods remain moist and delicious across shelf life – Watch our Baker Adam Davies put this our Exakt Zest to the test as he bakes some easter bunnies!

From fruit fillings, jams, and caramel we can also help you identify the best flavour profiles to create innovative Easter Bakery goods. Please get in touch if we can help provide some further inspiration for your New Product Development programme.

Get in touch with us to discuss your commercial bakery needs today. 

Examining Hot Cross Bun trends and the 2024 Easter Bakery Market