AIP,  Dairy-free,  Dessert,  Gluten-free,  Grain-free,  Holiday,  Nut-free,  Paleo,  Recipes,  Snacks

AIP Hot Cross Buns | Holiday Treats

Growing up, hot cross buns signalled the snow melting and the first rays of sun warming the earth. My grandpa, a Presbyterian minister, makes the buns every year on Good Friday. I never fully shared his religious sentiments, but I certainly appreciated his ritual and joy in the task. To honour this, I wanted to recreate a grain-free and AIP Hot Cross Bun that I could adapt throughout the seasons as a lovely tea bun.

AIP Hot Cross Buns, no crosses
A Little “Cross Bun” History…

Fruit-speckled tea buns such as these are a very British Easter treat, but they have a much more varied lineage.

Crossed buns have been found in Pompeii, offered by the Ancient Romans to the goddess Diana. The Anglo-Saxons made buns with crossed horns (symbolizing the four quarters of the lunar cycle) for the goddess Eostre in celebration of the Spring Equinox. When Christianity rose, the Church adopted many “pagan” traditions and oriented Church holidays to coincide with some existing festivals and celebrations. At certain points in history, “cross buns” were restricted to Good Friday and the occasional other holiday or event. The “hot” part may have been added due to street vendors crying “get your hot cross-buns!”.

Their warm spices and hint of citrus will help chase away the last of winter’s chill and damp. Whatever tradition you follow, Hot Cross Buns are the perfect side to a cup of good tea, making them a lovely meditation on Spring, renewal, and the coming of new adventures.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

AIP Hot Cross Buns, with crosses, with glaze
Updated Recipe Notes

This recipe is slightly finickity – as you may find a lot of Autoimmune Protocol-friendly baking tends to be! I have recently found that every time I make them, the results differ slightly! Depending on the brand of ingredients I’m using, the dough can be a bit too wet or too dry, so I sometimes have to add a little extra coconut milk, or a little extra tapioca starch. Notes on this are in the method below.

If you don’t have an orange, you can use lemon instead, just expect your dough to be slightly less fragrant and sweet.

You can sub any fruit you like – try cranberries, dried apple, or candied peel (if you are doing the Autoimmune Protocol, make sure these are compliant with the stage you are in!).

Subbing flours:
I originally developed this recipe using Nutiva coconut flour. Over the years, I started buying Bob’s Red Mill, and it took me awhile to figure out why the buns were so dense all of a sudden! Therefore, I recommend Nutiva for this recipe, or really watch that your dough isn’t too wet.

I recently tested this recipe with both Anthony’s and Otto’s cassava flour.* Otto’s is the clear winner! Anthony’s resulted in dense, gummy buns, while Otto’s resulted in a smoother, lighter and softer bun.

*Please note: cassava flour is NOT the same product as tapioca flour/starch!

AIP Hot Cross Buns, detail

AIP Hot Cross Buns

Recipe by Emily HardingCourse: AIP, Dairy-free, Dessert, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Holiday, Nut-free, Paleo, Recipes, Snacks


Total time



Best served warm with a side of tea!


  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, softened

  • 1/4 c. maple syrup

  • 1 medium orange, zest and juice

  • 3/4 c. coconut milk (see *Note below)

  • 1/2 c. brewed Earl Grey or Rooibos tea (hot)

  • 1/2 Tbsp gelatin powder

  • Flour (see notes above): 1 c. coconut flour + 1 1/2 c. tapioca starch OR 2 1/2 c. cassava flour

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ginger

  • 1 tsp AIP baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 c. currants or raisins

  • 1 c. dried apricots, finely chopped

  • Optional Glaze
  • 2 Tbsp coconut manna, melted

  • 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


  • Cream coconut oil, sweetener, orange zest, juice and coconut milk in a large bowl.
  • In a separate cup, whisk gelatin into hot tea until dissolved and frothy, then gently add to creamed mixture.
  • Fold dry ingredients, including fruit, into wet ingredients and work into a soft dough. You will likely need to use your hands or use a dough hook if you’re using a stand mixer. *Note: Ingredients differ by region and brands – if dough is too wet add up to 2 Tbsp flour / if too dry, add up to 2 Tbsp coconut milk.
  • Pat dough into balls, flattening slightly on a lined baking tray. If crosses desired, simply cut a quick “X” into the tops of each bun before baking. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until golden.
  • After cooling, glaze if desired.
AIP Hot Cross Buns, inner texture
Love these AIP Hot Cross Buns? Try these AIP recipes next:

Fluffy AIP Biscuits

Winter Gingerbread Cookies

Root Cookies by Hayley Stobbs


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *