The Best Low-Carb Hot Cross Buns with Yeast

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Happy Easter, everyone! It’s that time of the year when the kitchen smells like heaven, and hot cross buns are the star of the show. If you’re thinking that being on a low-carb or keto diet means you have to skip this tradition, I’m here to turn that thought on its head.

We’re about to roll up our sleeves and bake some keto hot cross buns that’ll make your Easter Friday unforgettable. With almond and coconut flours, we keep things low-carb without missing out on flavor. Spices like cinnamon and ginger bring the Easter vibe right to your table, and for the cherry on top? Dark chocolate chips, because Easter without a bit of chocolate just isn’t the same.

This Easter, we’re all about making those buns and having a fabulous time doing it. Carbs? What carbs?

Why You’ll Love These Recipe

  • Keto & Diabetic-Friendly: Enjoy with zero guilt, perfect for keeping carbs in check.
  • Gluten-Free: Everyone can dig in, including celiacs, no wheat in sight.
  • Freezer-Friendly: Whip up a batch and save some for later; they keep well.
  • Perfect For Easter: Just the right mix of cinnamon and ginger to hit the Easter sweet spot.
  • Chocolate Lovers: Option to add dark chocolate chips for an irresistible twist.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Heads up: For exact measurements, see the recipe card below.

Making these buns is not as hard as it may seem, and here’s what you’ll need:

Activating Yeast

  • Active Dry Yeast: The starter for that classic rise and texture.
  • Sugar or Yacon Syrup: To activate the yeast, without adding to the carb count. (The yeast will take care of the carbs!)
  • Warm Water: For dissolving and activating the yeast.

Hot Cross Buns

  • Almond Flour: A low-carb base that adds a delicious nutty flavor and works really well in breads and cakes.
  • Flax Meal: Adds texture and binds the ingredients together.
  • Coconut Flour: Helps with the texture, keeping the buns light and airy.
  • Protein Powder: For structure and to mimic the chew of traditional buns. Unflavoured whey protein powder or egg white protein powder are good options. Make sure to opt for isolate, not concentrate (higher carbs).
  • Psyllium Husks (Powdered): Adds that bread-like consistency. You can use whole psyllium husks and powder them in a food processor.
  • Granulated Low-Carb Sweetener: For sweetness without the carbs. Allulose or Erythritol-based sweeteners work best, although Xylitol is a good option too.
  • Cream of Tartar & Baking Soda: For lift and lightness. You can use gluten-free baking powder instead of these two.
  • Sea Salt: To enhance all the flavors.
  • Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Ground Nutmeg: The classic spice trio for that unmistakable hot cross bun aroma.
  • Egg Whites & Egg Yolks: Separate uses for structure and fluffy results.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Helps the dough rise.
  • Optional Chocolate Chips or Cranberry Raisins: For those who like their buns with extra goodies. You can chopped dark chocolate (at least 85%, or sugar-free milk or white chocolate. If you like a bit of fruit, add some Sugar-Free Cranberries!

Glaze and Icing

  • Egg Yolk & Water: For that shiny finish on top of the buns.
  • Powdered Low-Carb Sweetener & Water: For a sweet, smooth icing without the carbs.
I’m keto, can I really use sugar in this recipe?

Yes, you can! The sugar used in this recipe is actually for the yeast’s benefit, not as a sweetener. And since yeast feast feeds on sugar, converting it into carbon dioxide and ethanol, it helps the buns rise without leaving any carbs from sugar behind. So, if you don’t have sugar, honey or maple syrup are good alternatives. Also, yacon syrup is a fantastic keto-friendly alternative that works just as well.

Baked Keto Yeast Hot Cross Buns.
Can I swap fresh yeast for the dried yeast in the recipe?

Absolutely! If you prefer fresh yeast over dried, use a ratio of 3:1. For every tablespoon of dried yeast, use three tablespoons of fresh yeast. Just crumble it into your warm water and sugar mixture to get it activated.

What if I don’t have cream of tartar?

No worries! You can swap out the cream of tartar and baking soda with gluten-free baking powder. To do that, use this conversion: 1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder = ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar + ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. So to make 10 buns, you’ll need 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

I want to add more flavors to my hot cross buns. Any suggestions?

Yes! Adding lemon or orange zest can bring a fresh, citrusy twist to your buns. If you’re feeling adventurous, a bit of rum extract can add a warm, rich flavor that’s perfect for the holiday season. But make sure to add these to your wet ingredients for an even distribution of flavor.

Can I use carton egg whites?

Yes, just measure them accurately: 33 grams (1.2 oz) per egg white (large egg whites).

How To Make Low-Carb Hot Cross Buns

Activate the Yeast. Start by warming up your oven light or setting your oven to the lowest temperature to create a warm environment. Mix the warm water with sugar or yacon syrup in a bowl until dissolved. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over this mixture, stir lightly, and let it sit inside your warm (but turned off) oven for about 10 minutes, or until frothy and active.

Mix Dry Ingredient. In a separate large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, powdered psyllium husks, granulated low-carb sweetener, cream of tartar, baking soda, and spices.

Activating yeast in a bowl.
Wet ingredients for low-carb hot cross buns.

Add Chocolate or Raisins (Optional). If you’re adding chocolate chips or cranberry raisins, mix them in now.

Mix Wet Ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, egg yolks, and apple cider vinegar with the additional warm water.

Dry ingredients for low-carb hot cross buns with chopped dark chocolate.
Wet ingredients for low-carb hot cross buns.

Combine Yeast and Wet Ingredients. Once the yeast mixture has activated, add it to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

Make the Dough. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing continuously to form a sticky dough. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more warm water until it reaches the right consistency.

Mixing wet ingredients for low-carb hot cross buns.
Combining wet and dry ingredients for Keto Yeast Hot Cross Buns.

Shape the Buns & Proof: Wet your hands slightly to prevent sticking, and shape the dough into bun-sized balls. Place these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between each for expansion. With the oven light on (or in a slightly warm oven, turned off), allow the buns to proof for about an hour, or until they’ve nearly doubled in size.

Glaze & Bake: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) for conventional ovens, or 325°F (165°C) for fan-assisted ovens. Beat an egg yolk with a bit of water and brush this mixture over the top of each bun for a glossy finish. Bake the buns in the preheated oven until golden brown. This should take about 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. If they start to brown too quickly, cover them with foil.

Decorate with Icing Crosses: While the buns cool, mix powdered low-carb sweetener with just enough water to create a thick icing. Once the buns are cool, use this icing to draw crosses on each bun, paying homage to the traditional hot cross bun look. Enjoy these keto hot cross buns warm, with butter, or your favorite low-carb spread.

Brushing Keto Yeast Hot Cross Buns with egg wash.
Baked Keto Yeast Hot Cross Buns - piping icing on top.

Low-Carb Hot Cross Buns: Troubleshooting

Ran into some trouble with your low-carb hot cross buns? Don’t worry, we’ve got some easy fixes to common issues so you can get those buns looking and tasting just right.

  • Weigh Your Ingredients: For accuracy, especially with low-carb flours, weighing your dry ingredients is better than using cups.
  • Don’t Rush the Proofing: Find the warmest spot in your kitchen to help the yeast activate and the dough rise effectively. Allow enough time for the buns to double in size. This may take longer than an hour, depending on room temperature.
  • Shape Gently: When forming your buns, handle the dough gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
  • Cool Before Icing: Let the buns cool completely before applying the icing to prevent it from melting and running off.
What if I live at high altitudes?

Increase your oven temperature by 15-30°F and start checking for doneness at 20 minutes.

What if my yeast doesn’t foam?

Check the water temperature (ideal is around 40°C/100°F). Too hot and the yeast will not survive. Too cold and the yeast will remain dormant. Also, ensure the yeast hasn’t expired – it’s a fungus that eventually dies. Finally, if using a keto-friendly sweetener, make sure it’s a yeast-friendly sweetener like yacon syrup (Erythritol or Allulose won’t work).

Do I need to use protein powder in low-carb baking?

Protein powder helps replace gluten and makes the buns fluffy. You can skip it, but the texture might be less fluffy. Alternatively, you can use xanthan gum to mimic gluten’s elasticity, but it may cause digestive issues for some.

Storage Instructions

How should I store and reheat these low-carb hot cross buns?

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze them for up to 3 months. Reheat thawed or room-temperature buns in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for fan ovens or 375°F (190°C) for conventional ovens for about 5-10 minutes.

Baked Keto Yeast Hot Cross Buns served with butter.

How to Serve Low-Carb Hot Cross Buns

Enjoy these buns warm from the oven, split open with a generous pat of butter melting inside. They’re perfect for an Easter brunch or a cozy spring morning. Pair with your favorite low-carb spread or jam for an extra flavor kick.

Tools for Low-Carb Hot Cross Buns

  • Kitchen Scale: Essential for accurately measuring your ingredients, ensuring consistency and perfection in low-carb baking.
  • Piping Bag (or Ziplock Bag): Handy for piping the icing onto your buns to create the classic cross pattern. If you don’t have a piping bag, snipping the corner off a clean ziplock bag works in a pinch.
Baked Keto Yeast Hot Cross Buns served with butter.

Low-Carb Hot Cross Buns with Yeast

5 star from 1 vote
Make your Easter special with these keto hot cross buns, flavored with cinnamon and ginger. Add dark chocolate chips for a touch of indulgence without the carbs. They’re a perfect fit for anyone following a low-carb diet but still looking to enjoy traditional Easter flavors.
Servings10 buns
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Proofing Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Print Pin Rate


Yeast Starter

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 30 g fresh yeast (1.1 oz))
  • 1 tbsp sugar or yacon syrup (this won't affect the carb count)
  • ¾ cup warm water


  • 1 ¾ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup packed flax meal
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup unflavoured whey protein powder (or egg white protein powder)
  • 6 tbsp whole psyllium husks, powdered (or 3 tbsp psyllium husk powder)
  • ¼ cup granulated low-carb sweetener (Allulose or Erythritol)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger spice
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup chopped 90% dark chocolate (optional, or dark chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup Sugar-Free Cranberry Raisins (optional)
  • 4 large egg white (at room temperature)
  • 2 large egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (30 ml)
  • 7 fl oz warm water

Glaze & Icing

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4-5 tsp water (divided)
  • ½ cup powdered low-carb sweetener (Allulose or Erythritol)


  • To activate the yeast, warm water to about 38 °C (100 °F), dissolve sugar or yacon syrup, sprinkle yeast on top. Wait 10 minutes for froth.
  • In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, whey protein powder, psyllium husk powder, granulated low-carb sweetener, spices, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Whisk egg whites, yolks, apple cider vinegar, and additional warm water in another bowl.
  • Add yeast mixture to wet ingredients, then gradually incorporate dry mix until a dough forms.
  • With wet hands, form dough into balls and place on a baking sheet. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about an hour.
  • Set the oven to 165 °C (325 °F), or 175 °C (350 °F). Brush buns with beaten egg yolk mixed with water.
  • Place in the oven, baking until golden, approximately 25-30 minutes. Check after 15 minutes – if too brown by this stage, cover with foil.
  • Mix powdered low-carb sweetener with water to create a thick paste. Pipe crosses on cooled buns.


Calories: 207kcalNet Carbs: 3.9gCarbohydrates: 10.9gProtein: 11gFat: 14.7gSaturated Fat: 2.3gSodium: 216mgMagnesium: 83mgPotassium: 301mgFiber: 7gSugar: 2.1g


  • Serving Size: 1 bun. Nutrition facts do not include optional ingredients (chocolate and raisins).
  • Serving Suggestions: Best enjoyed warm with butter or your favorite keto-friendly spread.
  • Kitchen Scale is a Must: Use a kitchen scale for dry ingredients to ensure best results.
  • Yeast Activation: Water should be warm, not hot, to activate the yeast without killing it.
  • Proofing & Baking: Allow the dough to fully double in size for the best texture. Make sure the oven is preheated to the right temperature before placing the buns in.
  • Icing Technique: For neater crosses, use a piping bag or a small ziplock bag with a corner cut off. Make sure the buns have cooled to room temperature before piping.

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