Best hot cross buns: We review Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and more

With Easter just around the corner, we’ve reviewed hot cross buns for 2023. Which ones are your favourite?

Find out which buns are best:

See the full review table:


I have a bag f Coles fruit buns in the freezer even as we type. :slight_smile:


Hot and cross with buns

Once again Choice embarks on a taste test, hot cross buns.

I’m getting hot and cross about how much of my subscription is spent on taste tests, on bun-quaffers rather than food chemists.

We all have different tastes. Taste tests are irrelevant to product value unless the product stinks and is unpalatable. Choice’s taste testers are unlikely to satisfy my tastes.

In my attempts to save the planet I want to know of what the bun is made, where the ingredients came from, how many food miles were required to deliver it to my local supermarket, and other existential information about what the bun is doing to the planet and to my digestive system. The carbon calculation, the impending climate catastrophe. Is my hot cross bun making the climate hotter and crosser?

In the meantime I will buy my hot cross buns at Easter from my local Royal Show award-winning bakery. I’ve no idea of their composition in terms of food miles or chemical composition, but they will taste good to me when they arrive at Easter and I’ll die happy to have consumed both the cultural and nutritional value, if any, of a locally baked Easter bun.


Hi @charlienic

I have moved your comments about the 2023 Hot Cross Bun testing into the topic regarding those taste tests. I am sure your comments will be seen and may gather some responses from CHOICE to hopefully address at least some of your concerns.


@BrendanMays hope you didn’t have to taste them all yourself?
Whatever the method I can’t see how taste wouldn’t be a subjective test.
I have sympathy with @charlienic on this one. How much did this test cost out of curiosity?

In the absence of food chemists, my method is to read the label, make sure most of the sweetness comes from fruit e.g. 25% instead of added sugar, has plenty of spice, and is actually made in Australia (remembering Coles par-cooked bakery imports from Ireland…)

I prefer the 9 packs of small buns in the supermarkets - discourages over-indulgence and freeze well.


I’m sure taste testing is to some extent subjective, but have to agree about Woolworths Free From Gluten Choc Hot Cross Buns review. We were sent some in our online delivery as a substitute for Woolworths Traditional buns. Totally hideous. Your 27% rating is generous. My sympathies to celiacs whose options are limited!


The traditional (gluten) choco ones are also terrible as well. The other half bought some because they were severely marked down in price (we now know why). Even giving them away they would still not be worth eating.


Thanks for the feedback @charlienic. Typically when we run food tests, we invite food industry experts to conduct the taste testing (including food chemists) to help us out. The types of experts we tend to get usually have crossover between food industry qualifications and professional judging backgrounds. Where possible, we disclose the judges such as with our dairy food reviews, but it’s not always possible as with the hot cross bun test.

This is the detailed info copied from the review:

How we test


We tested hot cross bun products available in major Australian supermarket chains and bakeries, including Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Bakers Delight, as well as wholesale warehouse Costco. Traditional fruit buns and chocolate buns were tested separately. Price is for the pack size specified and bought in Sydney stores (not on special).


Our experts tasted the hot cross bun samples ‘blind’ (without knowing the brands) in a randomised order, which was different for each expert.


Experts independently judged all hot cross bun products. The CHOICE score consists of 90% sensory and 10% nutrition (based on the Health Star Rating). Of the 90%, 50% of the score represents the toasted bun sample and the other 50% represents the fresh (untoasted) bun sample.

Here’s a breakdown of the sensory weightings:

** flavour (50%)*
** appearance (20%)*
** aroma (15%)*
** texture (15%)*

We recommend products with a CHOICE score of 70% or more.

Testing food products and commenting on food issues has been a part of CHOICE’s history since the early days. Here’s an interesting one from 1964!


Our work around marketing and nutrition in children’s food began in 1968, and continues to our most recent Shonky awards.

In terms of proportionality, it may change slightly over the timeline, but I think it’s been fairly relative to our overall testing regime for a long period. One trend we have noticed over the past few years is that FMCG especially food has been one of our most popular items. It’s not a simple to put a value dollar on each test, but in terms of cost of test items, food tests cost substantially less than appliance testing, as we purchase our test items in a retail setting. Our TV test, for example, contains 65 models.

However, having said all that, we do get this complaint from time to time - that a particular test is not what a member wants us to do. It can be an appliance test, or as in this case a food test. Our goals in this regards is to do our best to meet member expectations while at the same time achieving our budgets and capturing a realistic representation of any market where we are conducting tests. There may also be cases where we feel there us a huge amount of quality variation or consumer detriment, for example due to marketing claims, that may also help us decide what to test.

The more members we attract as an an organisation, the more likely we will be able to expand our tests and reviews or other activities. So we listen to all members, we conduct extensive surveys for this reason, and we will include your sentiments in this analysis @charlienic, @consumanon - and we welcome further feedback. Do you love this test? Hate it? Think it could improve - we’d love to hear from you, leave a comment here to add your voice.

Generally, we often here people love making their food at home - whether it’s buns or hummus. This is followed closely by local produce. We often include recipes in our reviews for this reason. A little while back we ran awards to celebrate local business called, The Shinies. The market info we access indicates that a lot of supermarket products remain popular and use is widespread, so we continue to test these products.

As a way to give people an easy rating regarding things such as supply chains and food miles, we partnered with Shop Ethical and provide a rating that you can access as a filter in the review. Here’s one of two buns that received a B rating (some praise, no criticism), and we also include the percentage of Australian ingredients whether the package is listed as recyclable.

We know there’s a lot of sustainability and ethical issues that have become increasingly important for consumers, and intend to continue to improve how we handle this as part of our review structure.

Finally, I’m yet to personally taste a hot cross bun this season - I think I might have to rectify that quickly!


I’m afraid to tell you that the effects on the planet of the components and transport costs would be so minute they would have no detrimental effect. Just pick your favourites and leave the world to do its thing.

More often than not how something tastes normally is supported by the majority of the people that enjoy taste of them.It can be a great guide.Other things of course count price,where it’s made etc.But #1 is always how it tastes

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Some of the more interesting variants we found in this year’s testing. Not too sure about the ‘burger sauce’ hot cross bun…

And some tips to save money this Easter:


It made me smile to see Choice tips on savings this Easter. My tip is 'Become an Atheist" problem solved and savings to boot!

Best are AP and Sonoma.

Unlikely to change the symbolism for most Christian religions. The retail commercial exploitation of the buns commencing around New Year may have served to broaden, alternately lessen the relevance of the spicy treat to the Crucifixion.

There are numerous religions including the Quakers and Jewish sects of related origins and beliefs which do not celebrate Easter.

What makes me smile is that those people who don’t celebrate Easter as a religious festivity nevertheless have no qualms about getting paid while not working on holidays which are based on religion festivities or getting paid penalty rates if working, and, except for health reasons, do they refuse a hot cross bun or a chocolate Easter egg on principle?:wink:

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I’m happy any day of the year for the occasional treat of a similar styled sweet fruited bun. No spice and no crossed top required providing it has fresh cream and a good dollop of jam. My search for the holy grail of the perfect cream bun is on par with Choice’s search for the best hot cross buns.

If a hot cross bun is intended to be significant of Easter, why do so many accept anything but the best traditionally hand made buns to mark the event. Choice’s reviews in keeping offer clear guidance on what not to buy.

Just make these buns all year round I reckon.

I think it bemusing to observe that as Jewish Passover, and Christian Easter occur at the same time every year, that in the former leavened bread is forbidden to be eaten, and in the later almost a requirement. Huh?

The Jewish Passover celebrates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. There was pressure to go out of the country quickly and not wait for bread to leaven.
The Christian tradition of hot cross buns came centuries after A.D. and legends on how, when, and why it happened are many (and can be looked-up on the web). One recurring reason is that the leavening of the buns is symbolic of the resurrection of Christ.

It’s a great story. But they didn’t seem to have a problem waiting for their wine to properly form through fermentation before the exodus. Red wine is another big part of the Passover week.

OK: from the Book of Exodus in the Bible (chapter 12) we can read of all the instructions about what was to happen that night just before the exodus, I can’t see any mention of wine but I can guess that if any was at the table it had been already prepared long before that time, as you can with wine.
The meal had to be eaten in a hurry, unleavened bread on a board ready to be transported, standing not sitting down, dressed for travel, ready to leave at any moment.
I’m not a member of that beautiful faith and have never participated in the Passover meal, but from reading about it i know that the wine served is Kosher wine, strictly under rabbinical supervision.

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