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Pecan Sticky Buns

Learn how to make bakery quality Pecan Sticky Buns at home with this step-by-step guide. A fluffy yeast dough, cinnamon sugar filling and a gooey pecan topping make these sticky buns irresistible.

Is there anything better than a homemade sticky bun fresh from the oven? It’s a toss up whether I love these buns or my Apple Cinnamon Rolls more on a cold winter day.

Pecan sticky bun on a serving plate.

What is the Difference Between Sticky Buns and Cinnamon Rolls?

Sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are nearly identical at first glance. Depending on the recipe, they both use yeast leavened dough rolled into pinwheels full of cinnamon sugar.

The main difference is that sticky buns include nuts while cinnamon rolls (typically) do not.

Cinnamon rolls are often topped with cream cheese frosting whereas pecan sticky buns have a brown sugar topping that turns to a gooey glaze as they bake. That’s what makes them “sticky”.

Ingredient Notes

Cinnamon rolls with a pecan pie topping.
  • Yeast – Either active dry yeast or Instant yeast can be used in this recipe. Make sure to check the expiration date on your package; old yeast won’t rise.
  • Whole milk – Warm milk is used to proof the yeast and add liquid to the dough.
  • Unsalted butter – We prefer unsalted to have more control over the saltiness of the baked buns. You can use salted if that’s what you have. Just omit the added kosher salt.
  • Light brown sugar – This is what gives the pecan buns their sticky, gooey, golden brown topping.

Instructions

Step by step instructions showing how to make pecan sticky buns.

Making Pecan Sticky Buns starts by proofing the yeast with warm milk and sugar. When the yeast mixture is frothy, add the liquid then dry ingredients for the dough. Mix and knead until it feels soft, stretchy and supple.

Now, let the dough rise for at least an hour in a warm place.

To make the pecan topping, sprinkle pecans over the bottom of a baking dish. Combine the remaining topping ingredients in a sauce pan on the stove, then pour it over the pecans.

Once the dough is risen, roll it out into a rectangle and add the cinnamon sugar filling. Roll into a log, cut into 12 pieces, and place them on the baking sheet with the pecan topping.

Cover, let rise for an additional hour, then bake and enjoy!

Pecan sticky buns on parchment paper with one roll being pulled out.

Tips and Tricks

  • Cover the buns halfway through baking time. This keeps the tops of the buns from browning to quickly.
  • After baking, place a platter over the top of the baking dish. Flip the dish over to remove the buns from the pan with the pecan filling on top.
  • Pecan Sticky Buns taste best served warm. Leftover buns can be reheated in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.
  • Store leftover sticky buns covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months!

Recipe FAQs

How can I prep sticky buns ahead of time?

Since making pecan sticky buns from scratch is time intensive, we often like to prepare the dough the night before.
To make the buns ahead of time, follow all the steps in the recipe instructions for making and assembling the rolls. Then cover the pan with foil and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Take the unbaked buns out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking to bring them to room temperature. Preheat the oven and bake as directed.

Can I knead the dough by hand instead of using a dough hook?

You can absolutely knead the dough by hand. It will take longer but hand kneading works perfectly fine.

Why isn’t my dough rising?

If your dough hasn’t visibly risen after an hour, chances are your yeast is dead. That’s why it’s so important to proof the yeast in the first step of this recipe.
Your dough will also rise much more slowly if the temperature of the room is too cold. Make sure to place it in a spot no cooler than room temperature.

How can I tell if my yeast is fresh?

Baking yeast is made of single celled microorganisms that need to be alive (“active”) to work in bread recipes.
The act of “proofing” the dough can tell you whether or not your yeast is active.
In this sticky bun recipe, you will proof the dough by dissolving it in warm milk with sugar. After 5 minutes, the mixture should become bubbly and foamy as the live yeast releases carbon dioxide bubbles.
If there’s no hint of foaminess in your yeast mixture after 10 minutes, your yeast is probably dead. Grab a fresh packet and try again!

Pecan cinnamon roll with a bite taken out.

More Breakfast Favorites

Yield: 12 rolls

Pecan Sticky Buns

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours

Learn how to make bakery quality Pecan Sticky Buns at home with this step-by-step guide. A fluffy yeast dough, cinnamon sugar filling and a gooey pecan topping make these sticky buns irresistible.

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 packets active dry (or instant) yeast
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

For the Topping

  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ½ cups chopped pecans

For the Filling

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

    For the dough:

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the warmed milk with sugars and yeast. Lightly whisk, then let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes.
    2. Add in butter, eggs and vanilla extract, mix to combine.
    3. Using the dough hook attachment, add in salt and flour. Mix on medium speed until a soft dough begins to form.
    4. Once all the flour has been added, increase the speed to medium high and been for about 5 minutes longer, kneading the dough until it is soft and supple.
    5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for about one hour (in a warm, dry place), until it doubles in size.

    For the Topping:

    1. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking dish (we use the deepest one we own)! Spread pecans in the bottom of the baking dish. Set aside.
    2. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, milk, and salt. Cook until it begins to simmer.
    3. Once simmering, cook for 2 full minutes. Remove from heat. Pour into the baking dish, over the pecans. Do not stir. Set aside.

    For the Filling:

    1. Turn the dough after it has risen onto a lightly floured counter. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to about a 15x21-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over the rolled out dough.
    2. In a small bowl, combine sugars and cinnamon. Sprinkle over butter on the dough.
    3. Roll dough into a log, rolling the long side up. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Place each sticky bun into the baking dish, on top of the pecan mixture.
    4. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an additional hour.

    To Bake:

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Bake uncovered for about 30-35 minutes. Halfway through the bake time, cover loosely with foil to keep the rolls from browning too quickly.
    3. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes on wire rack (or stove top). Using hot pad or oven mitts, place a platter (or a wire rack) over the top of the baking dish. Flip both the dish and platter together to release the buns (the pecan topping will now be on top). Serve warm.

Notes

  • Be sure to check the expiration date of your yeast. Make sure it is FRESH. Proofing the yeast is important. You'll see it get frothy after about 5 minutes.
  • Don't be concerned if the butter doesn't mix well during step 2. Once you add the flour it will blend better into the dough.
  • If you do not have a dough hook, knead the dough by hand during step 3 and 4.
  • Make Ahead. If making the night before, follow the steps through assembly, by completely all the step until "for the filling" step 3. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, about 1-2 hours.
  • Store leftover rolls in refrigerator for up to 5 days (heat in microwave to re-warm the rolls). Or freeze baked rolls for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 roll

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 706Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 114mgCarbohydrates: 78gFiber: 4gSugar: 39gProtein: 9g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Homemade Pecan Sticky Buns make any morning cozier!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on October 6, 2022

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