Hot cross buns are a beloved Easter treat that originated in England, but did you know that Iceland has its own unique version of this delicious baked good? Iceland hot cross buns are a delightful variation that combines traditional elements with a distinct Icelandic twist. In this article, we will explore the origins of hot cross buns, the special characteristics of the Icelandic version, and how you can make them at home. So, let’s dive into the world of Iceland hot cross buns!

The History of Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns have a rich history that dates back centuries. These spiced, sweet buns are typically marked with a cross on the top, symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, making them a popular treat during the Easter season. The tradition of eating hot cross buns on Good Friday is believed to have originated in England, where they were said to have special powers to ward off evil spirits and protect the household. Over time, hot cross buns have become a staple of Easter celebrations in many countries around the world.

Icelandic Hot Cross Buns: A Unique Twist

Icelandic hot cross buns share many similarities with their English counterparts but also have some distinct features that set them apart. One of the key differences is the addition of cardamom, a popular spice in Icelandic baking, which gives the buns a unique flavor and aroma. Additionally, Icelandic hot cross buns often include dried fruit such as raisins or currants, adding a sweet and chewy texture to the buns.

Another characteristic of Icelandic hot cross buns is the use of skyr, a traditional Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt but with a thicker consistency. Skyr adds a creamy richness to the dough, making the buns soft and moist. The cross on top of Icelandic hot cross buns is typically made with a simple icing glaze, adding a touch of sweetness to the buns.

How to Make Icelandic Hot Cross Buns

If you want to try your hand at making Icelandic hot cross buns at home, here is a basic recipe to get you started:


  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup skyr
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, currants, etc.)
  • For the icing: 1 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 tbsp milk


  1. In a bowl, combine the lukewarm milk, yeast, and sugar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cardamom, and salt. Add the yeast mixture, melted butter, skyr, and dried fruit. Mix until a dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide it into equal-sized balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet, cover, and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  6. While the buns are baking, make the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Once the buns are cool, drizzle the icing over the top to form crosses.

Enjoy your homemade Icelandic hot cross buns with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa for a cozy Easter treat!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the significance of the cross on hot cross buns?
    The cross on top of hot cross buns symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and is a traditional decoration for these Easter treats.

  2. Can I substitute skyr with another dairy product in Icelandic hot cross buns?
    If you can’t find skyr, you can use Greek yogurt as a substitute in Icelandic hot cross bun recipes.

  3. Are Icelandic hot cross buns only eaten during Easter?
    While hot cross buns are traditionally associated with Easter, you can enjoy Icelandic hot cross buns any time of the year as a delicious treat.

  4. Can I freeze Icelandic hot cross buns?
    Yes, you can freeze Icelandic hot cross buns. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

  5. What other spices can I add to Icelandic hot cross buns for extra flavor?
    In addition to cardamom, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice to enhance the spice profile of Icelandic hot cross buns.

Icelandic hot cross buns are a delightful variation of this classic Easter treat, combining traditional flavors with Icelandic flair. Whether you’re celebrating Easter or simply craving a cozy baked good, give Icelandic hot cross buns a try and savor the unique taste of this delicious treat.

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