hot cross buns and Simnel cake group shot

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.

All products were chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more and read about how we write BBC Good Food reviews.


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


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).

*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 


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 


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


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.