How many carbs are in a hot cross bun with butter?

Quick Answer

A hot cross bun with butter contains approximately 29-38 grams of total carbohydrates, depending on the specific ingredients and size of the bun. The hot cross bun itself provides 24-30 grams of carbs, while the addition of butter adds about 5-8 more grams of carbs.

What are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot cross buns are a sweet, spiced yeast bread traditionally eaten on Good Friday as part of the Easter celebration. Here are some key facts about hot cross buns:

  • Originated in the United Kingdom and Ireland
  • Often contain raisins or currants, citrus peel, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Distinctive cross on the top made from flour paste or pastry
  • The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
  • Usually served toasted and buttered

In addition to being an Easter treat, hot cross buns are also enjoyed year-round as a breakfast or snack bread. The basic ingredients in a hot cross bun are flour, milk, yeast, eggs, butter, and sugar. The dough is enriched and sweetened, leavened with yeast, spiced, shaped into buns, topped with a cross, and baked.

Carbs in a Plain Hot Cross Bun

The main sources of carbohydrates in a hot cross bun are:

  • Flour – Flour provides the bulk of the carbohydrates and gluten structure. A single plain bun can contain 15-20g net carbs from the flour alone.
  • Sugar – Granulated white sugar or brown sugar adds sweetness and carbs. Around 5-8g carbs per bun.
  • Raisins or currants – Dried fruit fillings boost carbs by several grams per bun. Raisins add 12-15g carbs per 1/4 cup.
  • Milk – The milk used in the dough contributes about 2-3g lactose sugars per bun.

In total, a small plain hot cross bun (around 2.5 oz or 70g) generally provides 24-30g of net carbohydrates. This may be higher or lower depending on specific ingredients and recipe.

Nutrition Facts for Plain Hot Cross Bun (2.5oz/70g)

Calories 250
Protein 5g
Fat 4g
Carbs 24-30g
Fiber 1-2g
Sugar 8-12g

As shown, even a plain hot cross bun is fairly high in carbohydrates due to the enriched dough and presence of dried fruit. The carbs are mainly from added sugars and refined grains.

Effect of Butter on Carbs

Butter is commonly spread onto hot cross buns before eating. This adds additional calories, fat, and a small amount of carbohydrates.

Here’s how much butter typically adds:

  • 1 tbsp butter: 100 calories, 11g fat, 0g protein, 0g fiber, 0g sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter: 7g total carbs, 6g net carbs
  • 1 tbsp salted butter: 1g net carbs (minimal)

On average, one pat or teaspoon of butter contains about 5-8g of net carbs if using unsalted butter with milk solids. Salted butter has fewer carbs.

So a hot cross bun with 1 tbsp of butter can have roughly 30-38g total carbs. The exact amount still depends on the size of the bun and ingredients.

Ways to Reduce Carbs in Hot Cross Buns

Here are some suggestions to create lower carb hot cross buns:

  • Use nut flours or coconut flour in place of some regular flour
  • Substitute low-carb sweeteners for granulated sugar, like erythritol, monk fruit, or stevia
  • Skip the dried fruit fillings
  • Replace the milk with almond milk or heavy cream
  • Top with whipped cream instead of butter
  • Create mini or thin buns with less dough per serving

With these modifications, it’s possible to make keto-friendly hot cross buns with around 5-15g net carbs each.

Carb Counts for Different Hot Cross Bun Brands

Carb content can vary significantly between different brands and recipes of hot cross buns.

Here are the carb counts per plain bun for some popular commercial products (without butter):

Brand Serving Size Total Carbs
Aunt Bessie’s 74g (2.7oz) 29.4g
Bimbo Bakeries 85g (3oz) 39g
Flowers Foods 72g (2.5oz) 32g
Pepperidge Farm 71g (2.5oz) 31g
Trader Joe’s 55g (1.9oz) 24g

As shown, carb content ranges from 24-39g per plain bun depending on size and specific recipe. Trader Joe’s has one of the lowest carb options.

Carb Counting Tips

To accurately count carbs in hot cross buns:

  • Check the nutrition label and look at the total carbohydrates per serving
  • Pay attention to serving sizes, which are often for half a bun
  • Account for any additional ingredients like butter, cream cheese, jam etc.
  • Weigh your buns for the most precision since sizes vary
  • Round up or down to nearest 5g increment for tracking
  • Search online for carb counts from various brands
  • Make your own low-carb hot cross buns to better control the carb count

Tracking carbs takes some extra work but ensures you know exactly what you’re consuming.

Comparing Carbs to Other Easter Treats

How do hot cross buns compare to other traditional Easter and spring baked goods in terms of carbohydrates?

Here are the typical carb counts for popular Easter treats per standard serving or piece:

Easter Treat Serving Size Total Carbs
Hot cross bun 1 medium bun 24-30g
Cadbury Creme Egg 1 egg (39g) 25g
Jelly beans 20 beans (30g) 22g
Peeps marshmallow 1 chick (13g) 8g
Shortbread cookie 1 cookie (30g) 15g

Hot cross buns contain some of the highest carbohydrates compared to other Easter favorites. Only large chocolate eggs and candy have more carbs per typical serving.

Blood Sugar Impact

In addition to carb content, the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load of a food affects blood sugar levels.

Hot cross buns have a high GI around 77 and glycemic load around 25 (per 120g serving) [1].

This means hot cross buns cause rapid spikes in blood glucose and insulin compared to foods like eggs, meats, nuts, non-starchy vegetables etc.

The blood sugar rise is even faster if consuming hot cross buns toasted, as the starch gelatinizes and becomes more readily digestible [2].

Other factors like amount of fat, acidity, fiber and food pairings alter the glycemic response slightly. But ultimately, hot cross buns made with white wheat flour have a high glycemic impact.

This is important for people with diabetes or prediabetes who need to manage their blood sugar levels. Enjoying hot cross buns in moderation and accounting for the carbs is advised.

Should You Avoid Hot Cross Buns on a Low-Carb or Keto Diet?

On very low-carb or ketogenic diets, hot cross buns should be avoided or limited to occasional treats.

Here’s why:

  • A standard hot cross bun far exceeds the typical keto limit of 20-50g net carbs per day.
  • Too many carbs from hot cross buns can prevent reaching or maintaining ketosis.
  • The high glycemic impact interferes with blood sugar balance and triggers hunger.
  • There are many keto-friendly bread alternatives like cloud bread or psyllium husk buns.
  • It’s better to indulge in high-fat Easter treats like chocolate, nuts, or cheese.

Occasional higher carb days may work for some keto dieters. But regular hot cross bun consumption is incompatible with a ultra low-carb eating pattern.

Healthier Alternatives to Hot Cross Buns

For those monitoring carbs or blood sugar, here are some healthier hot cross bun alternatives:

  • Low-carb hot cross buns – Made with almond or coconut flour instead of wheat flour.
  • Cloud bread – Airy, fluffy and low in carbs. Add cinnamon for flavor.
  • Chaffles – Cheese waffles that can mimic the texture of bread.
  • Psyllium husk buns – Low-carb buns made with psyllium husk powder.
  • Portobello mushroom caps – Sliced “buns” with fewer carbs than bread.
  • Nut thins with cream cheese – Savory substitute for sweet buns.

With a little creativity, you can find an alternative way to enjoy hot cross bun flavors while maintaining low carb intake.


A hot cross bun with butter contains around 29-38 grams of net carbohydrates. The bun itself provides 24-30g carbs from wheat flour, sugar, milk and dried fruit. Adding a pat of butter increases carbs by about 5-8g depending on if salted or unsalted. Hot cross buns are among the highest carb traditional Easter baked goods. People monitoring carb intake need to be mindful of portion sizes and limit frequency. However, there are many possible lower carb substitutions for those on keto or low-glycemic diets. With some adjustments, you can still enjoy hot cross bun flavors at Easter without excess carbohydrates.

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