Best hot cross buns, simnel cake and Easter desserts 2023
Discover which supermarket hot cross buns, simnel cakes and Easter desserts won in our Easter Taste Awards. We tested traditional, flavoured and gluten-free varieties
Hot cross buns are our number-one Easter essential, but which supermarket hot cross buns are worth buying? From classic and alternative flavours, to gluten-free buns, we've got you covered. Plus, this year we wanted to find the best shop-bought Easter desserts for you to celebrate with, as well as classic simnel cake for traditionalists and marzipan fans.
How did we test the Easter Awards?
For our Easter Supermarket Awards, 10 supermarkets submitted their best Easter treats across 17 categories. Packaging was completely removed and judges tasted all items blind. Comments and a score out of 10 were submitted for each product in the category via anonymous online judging forms. The entire judging process was overseen by an independent adjudicator.
This year, the team tested more than 120 different products to find favourites in each category. As well as the winners, the Good Food judging panel also awarded ‘highly commended’ status to high-scoring favourites that deserve recognition.
Read on to find out which traditional, flavoured and gluten-free hot cross buns came out on top, as well as our favourite simnel cake and desserts for Easter 2023.
Find out the results of our hot cross bun categories below, and visit our Easter Taste Awards page for the rest of our winning categories, including the best chocolate Easter egg categories. For more Easter inspiration, we've also rounded up the most unusual Easter eggs and chocolate we've tried this year, including a cheese Easter egg and giant 500g half-and-half egg...
Please note that some of these products are only available to buy in-store and not online.
Best classic hot cross buns
Winner: Co-op Irresistible richly fruited hot cross buns
With a smart glazed topping, soft bread and good balance of fruit, these almost taste homemade. The spicing is light and well-balanced.
Co-op (£1.60/four pack)
Runner up: M&S Luxury hot cross buns
These contain lots of fruit and good spice levels – judges enjoyed the ‘lovely flavour’, good texture of the crumb and touch of salt that balanced the fruity sweetness.
M&S (£2/four pack)
Best alternative hot cross buns
Winner: Lidl Deluxe luxury apple hot cross buns
A subtle twist on the classic hot cross bun, these have juicy chunks of apple and dialled-up levels of cinnamon. One for hot cross bun purists who fancy something new.
Lidl (£1.39/four pack, available in store)
Runner up: Co-op Irresistible lemon and blueberry hot cross buns
Like a blueberry muffin in hot cross bun form! The blueberry flavour comes through strongly, while the bread has a lovely texture and appealing glaze on top.
Co-op (£1.40/four pack)
Best savoury hot cross buns
Winner: M&S extremely cheesy hot cross buns
The cheese flavour of these buns appealed to all judges, with good texture to the bread. It would make an extremely decadent grilled cheese sandwich.
Ocado (£1.95/four pack)
Runner up: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference cheese, sundried tomato & oregano hot cross buns
This classic flavour combination came through well, and no element was too overpowering. The bun has good texture, although judges would have liked some larger pieces of tomato or cheese.
Sainsbury's (£1.50/four pack)
Best gluten-free hot cross buns
Winner: M&S Made Without fruited hot cross buns
These have an appealing, relatively squidgy texture for gluten-free bread, and attractive golden appearance. There is good cinnamon flavour and a generous amount of fruit (including juicy raisins) to provide moisture.
Ocado (£1.95/four pack)
Runner up: Asda Free From hot cross buns
Studded with soft raisins, these have a smooth, rounded appearance, and an airy texture.
Asda (£2.20/four pack)
Best simnel cake
Winner: M&S Easter simnel cake
Judges loved the pretty floral design of the marzipan on the top of this cake with its generously sized marzipan balls, which also had great flavour. The cake had evenly distributed fruit, with a generous amount of currants, and held together well when sliced.
More like this
Best Easter dessert
Winner: Aldi Specially Selected hot cross bun pudding
Judges loved this comforting pud: crispy top, custardy centre with a hint of vanilla, and lots of fruit and spice from the hot cross buns.
Aldi (£3.99/600g, in store from 3 April)
Best Easter bakery item
Winner: M&S colomba di Pasqua
This comes beautifully packaged – great for a gift. It’s a traditional Italian Easter treat – one for people who like a panettone at Christmas! The bread is soft and sweet, with whole almonds on top for crunch.
For more 2023 winners, including the best Easter eggs, visit our Easter Taste Awards.
This review was last updated in March 2023. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your favourite shop-bought hot cross bun? Let us know in the comments below.