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Updated: 12 Apr 2022

Why toasting your hot cross bun could actually be a fire hazard

You may need to think differently about how you heat up one of your favourite Easter treats this year

Primed to indulge in your favourite Easter snacks? Beware: not all hot cross buns are suitable for toasters (and not all toasters are suitable for hot cross buns!).

Marks & Spencer recently issued a warning to customers not to toast its 'Extremely Cheesy', 'Extremely Chocolatey' and 'Salted Caramel' hot cross buns in the toaster, as they pose a potential fire risk.

A closer look at the packaging on these buns reveals they state: 'This product is not suitable for toasting in a domestic toaster', which may come as a surprise to those used to popping their buns in to achieve the trademark toasted top.

It's not just M&S's fancy flavours that aren't OK to toast, though - we found advice on whether to grill or toast your buns varied by type and brand. Some are OK either way, while others only recommend grilling - or explicitly warn against toasting.

So make sure you check the packaging before you stuff your bun in the slots this Easter (and pick up the tastiest hot cross buns).


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Why some hot cross buns can't go in the toaster

Some hot cross buns have too many 'extra' ingredients that could potentially drop off and get lost in the depths of your toaster slots, or might stick to the heating elements and burn to a crisp. This includes things like raisins, sultanas, chocolate chips and dried fruit.

Plainer, standard hot cross buns pose less of an problem, as these have a more bready texture, but they're still notorious for breaking off in chunks and getting jammed in places they shouldn't.

Hot cross buns are thicker than the average slice of toast, so you might struggle to squeeze them into your toaster's slots - especially if they're on the narrow side. This means the sugary glazed top or rogue raisins are more likely to press against hot elements or wires and burn.

Stuffing them in may also make them difficult to remove, particularly when they're hot.

Fancy flavoured buns, containing salted caramel, apple, cheese or chocolate - or luxury traditional-style buns with extra-large raisins - are packed with sugary and sticky extras that are more likely to cause problems.

So, if you've opted for luxury buns, you're probably better off popping them under the grill than into your toaster.


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How should you warm up your hot cross buns?

M&S advises putting your hot cross bun under the grill on medium heat for a couple of minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.

The usual way to do this is slice them in half first, so the bready cut sides are toasted, rather than the top.

The grill on your cooker has a much more powerful heating element and should do the job more quickly than a standard toaster too, although you'll have to wait a few minutes for it to warm up if it's electric.

Advice from other supermarkets is pretty similar, with cooking times ranging from two to three minutes depending on where you buy from. All of them suggest using the medium setting on your grill.

This is, of course, more practical if you're heating several buns at once, so if this isn't the case (and you're partial to a teatime treat) investing in a toaster that can handle awkward shapes and sizes could be worthwhile next time you replace it.


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The best toasters for hot cross buns

Even though there are certain types of hot cross buns you shouldn't put in your toaster, some toasters are a better bet than others for those that can go in.

Toaster features to look for:

  • Wide slots - so you won't have to squish in your snack
  • Bun warmers - these racks give a gentle heat rather than a full toasting, as they sit on top but keep the buns safely out of the slots
  • High lift - good for toasting small items, making them easier to fish out of the slots.
  • Wooden toasting tongs are a cheap and effective alternative - available from Lakeland (£3.49) and Dunelm (£3.50).
  • Bun or bagel settings - toast just the cut side

Here are some recently tested models that could fit the bill:

AEG Gourmet 7 2-slice toaster, £80

This stylish toaster comes with a warming rack that attaches to the top, so you can warm your hot cross buns through without having to actually pop them inside the slots.

If you prefer to toast them (and they are toaster-friendly buns), there's a high-lift function that's designed to protect your fingers from burning when pulling out anything smaller than a standard slice of toast.

The dedicated bagel setting could be handy for just toasting the cut side too (while warming the top).

Find out just how quickly and evenly this model toasts in our full AEG Gourmet 7 T7-1-6BP-U review.

Philips HD2640 'Eco Conscious' 2-slice toaster, £50

Like the AEG model above, this Philips toaster has an integrated warming rack so you can heat up items that wouldn't otherwise fit into the slots. This includes pastries, rolls and hot cross buns.

There are eight browning settings to choose from, helping you to get your afternoon snack exactly the colour you want it, plus a handy defrost mode for any hot cross buns you've stashed in the freezer for after Easter weekend.

Read our fullPhilips HD2640toaster reviewto see how it fared in our performance and ease-of-use tests.

Tefal Includeo 2-slice toaster, £50

This Tefal toaster has been designed with inclusivity in mind, and it comeswith a handy pair of toast tongs to help you remove smaller items (hot cross buns included) without the risk of burning your fingers. They're magnetic for easy storage too.

The controls are larger than on other models we've tested, which should help with ease of use and readability, and there are seven browning settings to choose from.

Ourfull Tefal Includeo TT5338 reviewreveals whether or not this toaster is worth buying.


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