The best hot cross buns and simnel cake 2020

Find out which supermarket hot cross buns and simnel cake won in our Easter Taste Awards. We tested traditional, flavoured and gluten-free hot cross bun varieties and classic simnel cake to find our favourites.

hot cross buns and Simnel cake group shot

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Hot cross buns are our number one Easter essential. While making your own is easier than you might think, shop-bought buns save time and hassle – but which ones are worth buying?

Supermarkets are getting more and more inventive in terms of flavours, shapes and sizes, with varieties like chocolate, cheese, brioche and sourdough hitting the shelves. We blind-tasted products across three categories: traditional, gluten-free and flavoured. 

More of a simnel cake fan? We asked supermarkets to submit their best traditional simnel cake and blind-tested them to find our favourite. 

hand reaching for hot cross buns
Find out the results of our taste test below, and visit our Easter Taste Awards hub page for more handy information, including the winners of our chocolate Easter egg categories. 

Please note that some of these products are only available to buy in-store and not online.

Best traditional hot cross buns

gold chicken and 4 hot cross buns on pink and blue background


M&S luxury hot cross buns

These hugely popular hot cross buns have got it all: a soft, moist dough, good level of spicing and plenty of plump, juicy fruit; a neat, well defined cross and just the right amount of glaze (not dry, yet not too sticky). Buy in-store from M&S (£1.50).

pack shot of co-op hot cross buns

*Highly commended* 

Co-op richly fruited hot cross buns

These neat-looking buns are soft, light and fluffy with a good level of saltiness, citrus flavours and juicy fruit. They have slightly subtler spicing and less fruit inside than our winning buns, but their less glazed top means they would toast really well. Buy in-store from Co-op (£1.35).

Best flavoured hot cross buns 

hot cross buns on pink background


Tesco Finest chocolate & salted caramel hot cross buns

Not a fan of dried fruit? These brioche-style buns have a light, buttery, enriched dough, studded with dark chocolate chips and pockets of melting caramel instead. Buy online from Tesco (£1.5o).

Best gluten-free hot cross buns 

hot cross buns and gold chick on blue background


M&S 4 Made Without hot cross buns 

These evenly sized buns were praised for their open bread texture, perfect amount and distribution of fruit and slightly molasses-like taste. As is often the case with gluten-free products, they have a very slightly dusty texture, but much less than others tried. Buy in-store from M&S (£2).

Best simnel cake

Simnel cake on blue background


M&S simnel cake 

A good size and beautifully decorated, we’d be proud to serve this to guests. The cake itself is moist, dense and rich with a caramel flavour, good spicing and lots of fruit, while the marzipan is thick but not dry, and well-flavoured. Buy in-store from M&S (£12).

For more 2020 winners, including the best Easter eggs visit our Easter Taste Awards

This review was last updated in February 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at 

For more taste tests and product rundowns, visit our review section

What's your favourite style of hot cross bun? Let us know in below.


Comments, questions and tips

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16th Apr, 2019
My favourite this year M&S golden marmalade ones delish
11th Mar, 2019
How did the Brioche Cranberry & Orange ones from Co-Op not even get a mention?
20th Mar, 2018
I love hot cross buns and the best I've ever had is from The Caven in Hinchley Wood.
Real Bread Chris
7th Mar, 2018
For a great hot cross bun and to help keep your high street alive, buy yours from a local, indepedent, Real Bread bakery!
6th Apr, 2017
Don't be rediculous, these aren't the 'best Hot Cross buns'. They are just things you can buy in a supermarket.
12th Apr, 2017
Wholeheartedly agree!
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