Brown buns with bunny ears and bunny faces and a white frosting tail on brown parchment paper, on a wooden board.

Hot Cross Bunnies

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Hot cross buns are a treat that I always look forward to during Lent. Here is a cute way to shape them into bunnies for Easter! One thing to keep in mind is that because these bake separated from one another, they won’t be as fluffy as traditional hot cross buns that bake touching one another.

When I first tested this recipe, I used raisins, but I found that the raisins were too large and were often getting in the way of either the ears or the faces. Cranberries worked really well because they are thinner and drier than raisins. I also put them into the food processor to make them into really small pieces. As a result, I didn’t have any issues with the cranberries effecting the bunny shapes.

Cutting the ears and forming the eyes and nose definitely get easier as you go. The first couple may not come out as cute as they will be once you get the hang of it, but that’s ok! Homemade food is meant to be fun and delicious, not perfect!

If you wanted to keep the “cross” in hot cross bunnies, you could pipe a small cross on top of your rolls. I tried it a couple of different ways in my test batch and wasn’t happy with how they looked, so I just used the frosting for the tails. You can make different variations of frosting to use for these. I went with a thick cream cheese frosting so that the tails would have some volume and fluff to them.

To add a bit of extra flavor to my frosting, I used my lemon-flavored Whipzi powdered sugar. Plain powdered sugar would be fine if you don’t have a flavored option. I love using Whipzi all natural flavored powdered sugars. Whipzi is a small, female-veteran owned business. They have offered me a 15% discount code to share with all of you, so if you decide to shop, you can use SARAH15 at checkout to save!

If you love my hot cross bunnies, you might also enjoy my bunny shaped shortbread cookies!

As seen on Instagram here.

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Hot Cross Bunnies

Recipe by Sarah
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snacks, DessertCuisine: American, BritishDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


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Second rise


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Hot cross buns are a favorite recipe to make during Lent. Here’s a fun way to make them into bunny shapes!

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  • For the buns:
  • 3/4 c warm milk (see notes)

  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs (room temperature)

  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp allspice

  • 1 tsp fine pink Himalayan sea salt

  • 3 1/2 c bread flour

  • 1 tbsp orange zest

  • 1 tsp lemon zest

  • 1/2 c dried cranberries (see notes)

  • Other:
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

  • For the frosting:
  • 2 oz cream cheese (softened)

  • 1 tsp heavy cream

  • 2 tbsp lemon flavored powdered sugar (see notes)


  • Add the milk, yeast and granulated sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk them together. Next add brown sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and 1 cup of the flour. Mix with the dough hook on low speed until a dough starts to form. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add in the citrus zest and then the rest of the flour, one cup at a time as you mix on low. When it starts to form a dough, add the dried cranberries. Once the dough has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and is no longer sticking, allow it to mix on low speed for 5 minutes. If the dough starts to stick at all while mixing, add in a bit of flour 1 tbsp at a time until it no longer sticks to the sides.
  • Once the dough is done kneading, push it to the side of the bowl and add a few drops of olive oil to the mixing bowl. Roll the dough to cover it in the oil, cover the mixing bowl tightly and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, it’s time to shape it into balls. I like to start by greasing a 9×13 pan with butter because this is where I like to put the rolls for their second rise.
  • Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead it a few times and then with a sharp knife, cut the dough in half. From here, I continue to cut the dough sections in half until I have 16 pieces that are roughly the same size.Hot cross bun dough cut into 16 sections on a wooden pastry board.
  • One at a time, take the dough sections and pull all of the corners to the bottom, pinch them together and then roll the dough with your hands on the pastry board until you have a smooth ball. Place each roll into the 9×13 pan, cover it tightly and allow the rolls to rise once more for about an hour. The citrus zest causes the dough to rise a bit less, so you may not see a huge difference in the second rise and that’s ok.Sixteen balls of hot cross bun dough in a 9x13 glass Pyrex dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, set a rack in the center and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (You may wait to preheat the oven until you’re about halfway done with shaping the ears and faces.)
  • Next, we’re making the bunny shapes! Keeping the dough that you’re not working with covered, work each dough ball one at a time. First place the dough on a pastry board and lightly squeeze it with both hands to make it an oval shape.One oval shaped ball of hot cross bun dough on a wooden board.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut about 1/4 inch into the dough and make the ear shapes. Using the tip of the knife, lift the ears a bit from the rest of the dough and use your fingers to pinch the ends of the ears to turn them upwards. Then using the back of a toothpick, press in and move the toothpick in small circular motions to make the eyes and nose.Close up look at the hot cross buns that have been shaped into bunny faces. They are on a wooden pastry board.
  • Once all of the bunnies have been formed, place them on the parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.Sixteen hot cross bunnies on a baking sheet ready to be baked.
  • Bake for 25-27 mins, until golden brown.
  • While the bunnies are baking, make the frosting for the tails. Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment on medium high until the cream cheese is smooth. Then add in the cream and continue to mix until smooth, Add the powdered sugar, mix on low until it’s incorporated and then increase speed to medium high and mix until the frosting is smooth. The frosting should be fairly thick so that it stays in place when you add the tails. You can place it into a small bowl and refrigerate it until you’re ready.
  • Once the bunnies are done baking, let them cool for a few minutes and then brush them with the melted butter using a pastry brush.Hot cross buns shaped as bunnies fresh from the oven and brushed with melted butter.
  • Once the bunnies have cooled, use a toothpick to gather a good sized dollop of frosting and place it on the buns where the bunnies’ tails should be. I used a toothpick instead of piping them on because I wanted them to be kind of fluffy looking rather than the perfect shape that piping makes,Brown buns with bunny ears and bunny faces and a white frosting tail on brown parchment paper, on a wooden board.
  • Serve and enjoy! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and eaten the next day.


Recipe Video


  • I used whole milk and warmed it in the microwave. I warm to 100-110 degrees F.
  • I put the dried cranberries into the food processor to make them really small. If the cranberry pieces are too big, it can make the cutting of the ears or shaping the face more difficult.
  • I used Whipzi lemon flavored powdered sugar for this. Use SARAH15 if you want to shop their all natural powdered sugars. You can use plain powdered sugar if you don’t have the lemon.

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  1. Just wondering if this could be made dairy free? Possibly with almond or coconut milk and dairy free butter?

    • Hi Lisa! Yes it could! I haven’t tested it, but I would sub almond milk for the dairy milk and then use a dairy free butter. You can make a glaze rather than a cream cheese frosting using powdered sugar and orange juice.
      Thank you!

  2. Love this recipe! I really tried to get the bunny šŸ° ears to show but I just wasnā€™t successful.šŸ˜‚ I did use non-dairy Califa Farms unsweetened coconut cream & almond milk creamer in an attempt to mimic whole milk. I also used nondairy butter. The consistency and flavor was great! I subbed regular powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest for the glaze. Thanks for the recipe!!

    • Hi Lisa! I’m so glad that you were able to make these in a non-dairy version! That’s awesome that they came out so well. I am sorry the ears didn’t show up. I find that pinching them a little bit with the tips of my fingers helps, but the dough could have been a bit of a different consistency than mine. The taste is what matters most and it sounds like you were very successful there!

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