Sticky Buns

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Wake up to gloriously gooey, cinnamon-scented sticky buns.

Photo by Brent Hofacker

Sinfully sweet and gloriously gooey, sticky buns are fluffy yeast rolls with a caramel pecan filling and topping. The spirals of dough are baked in a pan with extra filling underneath, so when the buns are inverted after baking, the caramel bottom becomes a syrupy, nutty topping that drips down the sides. You can make sticky buns with any bread dough enriched with butter and eggs. This recipe, tweaked just a bit from one of my favorite baking books, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, is made with brioche dough.

Note that while the dough is a cinch to make and requires only 30 seconds of kneading, it requires two separate rises as well as at least 3 hours in the fridge. To have fresh baked sticky buns in the morning, make the dough a day or two before. You can assemble the buns in the morning or the night before you plan to serve them; they need only a final 1-hour rise at room temperature before baking. The recipe makes 8 sticky buns; feel free to double it and bake the rolls in a 9×13-inch pan, but keep in mind that sticky buns are best served fresh out of the oven.

What You’ll Need To Make Sticky Buns

ingredients for sticky buns

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Dough

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, warm water, sugar, salt and yeast.

butter, water, sugar, yeast and salt in bowl

Whisk to combine, then add the eggs and egg yolk.

adding eggs and egg yolks

Whisk until evenly combined.

whisking in eggs

Add the flour all at once.

adding flour all at once

Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform; it will be wet, lumpy, and a bit elastic (it will firm up in the fridge and smooth out when you knead it).

finished doughCover loosely with plastic wrap (make sure the entire bowl is covered but don’t seal it airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Step 2: Toast the Pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Arrange the pecans on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Transfer the pecans to a plate to cool. Leave the foil on the baking sheet; you’ll use it again. (Shut off the oven.)
toasting pecans

Step 3: Make the Caramel Filling

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

sticky bun filling ingredients in bowl

Whisk until thickened and all of the butter is absorbed.
whisking filling ingredients

Step 4: Assemble the Sticky Buns

Grease a 9-inch square cake pan with butter, then spread half the caramel mixture (about ⅞ cup) evenly over the bottom. Scatter half (1 cup) of the pecans over the caramel mixture and set aside. Transfer the remaining pecans to a cutting board and chop finely (these will go into the filling).

caramel and whole pecans in cake pan

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust a clean work surface generously with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and place on the work surface. Dust the dough with flour and knead, sprinkling more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick, for about 30 seconds.

kneading the dough

Roll out the dough to an 1⁄8-inch-thick rectangle, about 14×12 inches, adding more flour under and over the dough, as needed, to prevent it from sticking.

dough rolled into a rectangle

Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining caramel mixture evenly over the rolled-out dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle the finely chopped pecans evenly over top.

caramel and chopped pecans on dough

Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. rolling the dough into a log

Pinch the seam closed and press the ends in so the log is an even thickness throughout.

dough log

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces.

dough log cut into rolls

Arrange over the pecans and caramel in the prepared pan, so that the swirled cut edge is facing upward. Allow to rest for 1 hour on the counter, loosely covered with plastic wrap. They will rise just a bit. (Alternatively, place the pan in the refrigerator overnight and let sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before baking the next day.)

raw sticky buns in cake pan

Step 5: Bake the Sticky Buns

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cake pan on the foil-lined baking sheet, in case the caramel bubbles over, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and well set in the center (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center shouldn’t have any wet bits of dough on it).

baked sticky buns

While still very hot, run a knife around the outer edge of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a large serving dish or sheet pan lined with parchment paper. The warm topping will drip down the sides. (If you let the buns sit too long, they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.) Let the buns cool slightly and serve warm.

Photo by Brent Hofacker

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Sticky Buns

Wake up to gloriously gooey, cinnamon-scented sticky buns.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 1 Hour
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes, plus at least 6 hours for the dough to rise

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
  • ½ cup warm water (see note)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1⅛ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon rapid-rise/instant yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off, plus more for kneading and rolling

For the Filling

  • 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1¼ cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole pecans, divided

Instructions

  1. Make the Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, warm water, sugar, salt and yeast. Add the eggs and egg yolk and whisk until evenly combined. Add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform; it will be wet, lumpy, and a bit elastic (it will firm up in the fridge and smooth out when you knead it). Cover loosely with plastic wrap (make sure the entire bowl is covered but don't seal it airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Arrange the pecans on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Transfer the pecans to a plate to cool. Leave the foil on the baking sheet; you'll use it again. (Shut off the oven.)
  4. Make the caramel filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until thickened and all of the butter is absorbed.
  5. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan with butter, then spread half the caramel mixture (about ⅞ cup) evenly over the bottom. Scatter half (1 cup rectangle, about 14x12 inches, adding more flour under and over the dough, as needed, to prevent it from sticking.
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining caramel mixture evenly over the rolled-out dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle the finely chopped pecans evenly over top. Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam closed. Press the ends in so the log is an even thickness throughout.
  7. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces and arrange over the pecans and caramel in the prepared pan, so that the swirled cut edge is facing upward. Allow to rest for 1 hour on the counter, loosely covered with plastic wrap. They will rise just a bit. (Alternatively, place the pan in the refrigerator overnight and let sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before baking the next day.)
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  9. Place the cake pan on the foil-lined baking sheet, in case the caramel bubbles over, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and well set in the center (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center shouldn't have any wet bits of dough on it). While still very hot, run a knife around the outer edge of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a large serving dish or sheet pan lined with parchment paper. The warm topping will drip down the sides. (If you let the buns sit too long, they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.) Let the buns cool slightly and serve warm.
  10. If you have leftover rolls, transfer them to a clean plate (the caramel underneath will cause them to stick), cover tightly with foil, and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Reheat the sticky buns, covered with foil, in a 350°F oven until warmed through.
  11. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: After the 3-hour rise in the refrigerator, freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then proceed with assembling the sticky buns.
  12. Note: Warm water helps activate the yeast. The temperature should be about 110°F, but it doesn't need to be exact so no need to use a thermometer; just try to get it to about the temperature of bath water.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 sticky bun
  • Calories: 761
  • Fat: 49 g
  • Saturated fat: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 77 g
  • Sugar: 41 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Sodium: 375 mg
  • Cholesterol: 141 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • What a fantastic recipe! Amazing taste! Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Christine on May 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • This looks amazing. However my son hates nuts. Would it be possible to substitute the cinnamon filling you use on your quick cinnamon buns for a portion of these and have them rise and bake in a separate pan?

    • — Peggy Tirrell on May 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Peggy, I’d just omit the nuts in these. They’ll still be delicious. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen
    These buns look amazing and will definitely be making them. I see all the ingredients are in cup measures. Is it possible for you to put in the metric measurements in this recipe? Thanks.

    • — Andrea on May 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrea, I just updated the recipe with the metric measurements. Hope you enjoy these when you make them!

      • — Jenn on May 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    What do you recommend if I only have regular yeast (not rapid rise)? Thanks!

    • — Kris on April 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kris, This is such a slow-rising dough so you don’t need to do anything different. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    This looks absolutely delicious. Is it possible to substitute the dough with store bought pastry puffs? Just wondering if it will work the same way. Just to save time.

    Lucy

    • — Lucy Sim Conway on April 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lucy, I think you could probably get away with using crescent roll dough. I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2022
      • Reply

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