Sarah Wilson’s sugar free hot cross muffins

The impact of sugar on our long term health and wellbeing has been creeping into the spot light more and more lately. And it seems, according to a recent book give-away we ran on Facebook, that you really do want to give going sugar-free a go. Sarah Wilson, author of foodie cook book Simplicious, has completely cut sugar from her life, or as she puts it quit sugar (the way one would quit smoking). To show you that even a holiday such as Easter can be enjoyable without sugar, give her sugar free (fructose free) hot cross buns, or rather muffins, a go.


Sarah Wilson’s philosophy on ‘quitting sugar’ refers largely to cutting fructose from your diet. The ‘sugars’ like rice malt syrup, that are still present in her recipes are fructose free. She explains the usage of these types of sugars in this q&a on sugar on her website.

“I’ve spent four Easters perfecting a HXB that contains no gluten, no dried fruit and no gooby additives that no one has in their pantry, but that still tastes like the things Woolies starts selling shortly after Christmas. Here she is …”


50 g coconut oil or butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
1½ cups (150 g) almond meal
4 Tbsp arrowroot (available from health shops like Faithful to Natureor substitute with cornstarch
1½  tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Pumpkin Spice Mix (found on page 45 in Simplicious) or ¾ tsp ground cinnamon, ¾  tsp ground nutmeg, ¾ tsp ground cloves)
Pinch of sea salt
4 Tbsp chopped pecans
50 g dark (85–90% cocoa) chocolate, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp rice malt syrup (also called brown rice syrup, available from health shops)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbsp gluten-free plain flour (regular plain and spelt are fine too)
Butter, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas 4) and grease an 8-hole muffin tray.
2. Place the almond meal, arrowroot, baking powder, spices, salt, pecans, chocolate and orange zest in a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the melted butter or coconut oil, vanilla, rice malt syrup and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin holes.
4. Whisk the flour with 2–3 tablespoons of water to make a thick paste.
5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag (or a zip-lock bag with one corner snipped), and squeeze onto each muffin to make a cross.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until brown on top. Cool for a minute or so, then slice open and serve with a dollop of butter.

May these sugar free hot cross bun alternatives add a healthier spin to your upcoming Easter weekend. If you enjoyed this recipe and would like more just like it, check out Sarah Wilson’s new cookbook ‘I quit sugar – Simplicious

Recipe with thanks to Sarah Wilson – from her lovely cookbook Simplicious