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Hot Cross Buns: Which bun is best?

Nothing says Easter like the sweetly spiced aroma of a freshly toasted hot cross bun. But with many Aussies buying their buns months ahead of the Easter holidays, we are unwittingly consuming hundreds (if not thousands) of additional calories. Rather than ban the bun entirely, Dietitian Suzanna went out to answer that all important question: which bun is best?

Nowadays we are spoilt for choice with all manner of delicious varieties available - from coffee to chocolate to brioche and beyond. But the reality is that with these extra flavour additions come, of course, extra calories.

A traditional fruit hot cross bun will set you back around 200-230 calories - and that's before you add a generous smear of butter (add another 50-150 calories depending how generous). If you decide to splurge and go for a chocolate variety, you'll consume an extra 50-100 calories again. Thinking of going gluten free for health? Despite their health halo, gluten free varieties are even more costly at up to 300 calories each.

Fruitless buns are lower in sugars and therefore cost less than traditional buns at 180-200 calories - however for most of us it isn't a hot cross bun without fruit! If that's you, your best bet is to go mini - with some brands offering mini fruit buns just 115 calories each.

Alternatively, consider making your own! There are so many interesting recipes available with neat tricks to lower calories and sugar while boosting fibre and vitamins. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Healthy Mummy (110 calories) - uses wholemeal flour, reduced-fat butter and stevia as a natural sweetener.

  • Taste (145 calories) - a mini version of the traditional bun you know and love.

  • Live Lighter (175 calories) - more like a hot cross scone, this super simple recipe doesn't need yeast and is easy to make with the kids.

  • Heart Foundation (175 calories) - sweetened naturally with pumpkin and uses heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil.

Already got a favourite hot cross bun recipe? Try these simple swaps to boost the nutrition of your buns:

  • Swapping ⅓ of the white flour for a wholemeal variety increases fibre content while having minimal effect on texture.

  • Swapping butter for ¾ quantity of extra virgin olive oil (e.g. 100g butter → 75g olive oil) reduces saturated fat and provides an excellent source of antioxidants.

  • Swapping full cream milk for reduced-fat varieties also reduces saturated fat.

  • Reducing sugar by ⅓ (e.g. 1 cup → ⅔ cup) will not be noticed in most recipes and helps to reduce calories.

  • Swapping sugar for a natural sweetener (e.g. stevia or monk fruit) will reduce calories even further.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying hot cross buns over Easter. However if you're keen to keep the calorie content down, Dietitian Suzanna's top tip is this: go mini and go slow. Choose mini varieties to save on calories, and get the most pleasure by enjoying your bun slowly and mindfully.


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