These classic sticky buns are sweet, soft, and filled with cinnamon sugar and pecans. The ultra-soft and rich dough is swirled with cinnamon sugar and covered in a gooey pecan-sticky topping.
These are going to be the softest, most gooey pecan sticky buns you’ve ever had. We’re using a brioche dough as the base, which means it’s an enriched dough made with more fat and sugar. Five whole eggs, whole milk, and butter give this recipe a super soft texture. You won't be alone in baking with a lot of eggs. More eggs are consumed during the winter holiday season than at any other time of the year.
There isn't anything better than warm sticky buns on a crisp morning with friends and family for the holidays, especially if you prep them ahead of time.
We love this recipe because it's a great one to make overnight. The biggest reason I like to make them ahead of time is that the process to make them is a little time-consuming, but if you have an open morning or evening it's worth the effort. Don't be afraid of the yeast base! I've got a few tips for you.
Cinnamon Roll Vs Sticky Buns
Both are made with a very similar enriched dough, but sticky buns usually contain and sticky pecan topping. Sticky buns are baked with the caramel topping in the bottom of the pan and inverted once they're baked, while cinnamon rolls are baked and usually topped with frosting.
What Yeast to Use
This recipe calls for Instant yeast, as opposed to active dry yeast. While active dry yeast has a moderate rate of rising, Instant yeast rises faster. Don't worry if you only have active dry yeast. They can be used interchangeably 1:1 in any recipe (like our pumpkin cinnamon rolls), it just may take longer for the active dry yeast to rise.
You may notice this recipe doesn't require you to "proof the yeast mixture." A lot of times recipes will call for proofing the yeast in warm milk to "prove" it's alive and working before starting the recipe. You dissolve the yeast in warm milk and sugar and wait 5-10 minutes to see if it's foamy. If not, it's dead and should be tossed. However, if it's a quality brand and it's not expired, this step isn't really necessary. If you're feeling iffy about your yeast, you can do this step before starting the dough.
The bottom line, either type of yeast will work and you don't have to wait for it to get foamy. Told you it was simple!
Here are the key ingredients for this easy sticky bun recipe. If this is your first time making sticky buns, have no fear, because we're covering what these ingredients mean and we have a video tutorial to walk you through it.
- Whole milk: this gives the dough fat and when it's warmed it helps activate the yeast. You can swap this for another milk (even almond milk will work).
- Eggs: Eggs are one of the most important ingredients in holiday cooking and baking, and all year long! Eggs add moisture, color, flavor, and nutritional value to recipes. There’s a good chance the eggs you’ll use for holiday baking came from an Ohio egg farm! Ohio is ranked No. 2 in the nation for egg farming, producing more than 10 billion eggs a year.
- Instant yeast: this helps the dough rise and creates fluffy cinnamon rolls with a soft texture. See the notes above to learn more about yeast and sweet rolls.
- Sugar: white sugar in the dough sweetens it and activates the yeast as well.
- Butter: very soft, almost melted butter is mixed in the dough and spread on top of the dough for the filling.
- Bread flour: the flour is the structure of the dough so we're using a lot of it! Bread flour absorbs more moisture, which is ideal for the amount of moisture we're adding to the dough.
- All-purpose flour: a mixture of bread and all-purpose flour helps the dough become tender and hold up against moisture. You can use all bread flour or all all-purpose flour in this recipe and will still work.
- Brown sugar: we used light brown sugar for the caramel topping, but dark brown sugar is a good option too.
- Heavy cream: to create the gooey caramel topping.
- Maple syrup: I love the flavor the maple adds to the topping!
- Pecans: buy whole pecans and chop them yourself or save time and buy them chopped.
- Spices and seasoning: cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
How to Make Sticky Buns
Here are the simple steps (with photos) to make these easy sticky buns. Jump down to the recipe card for the full recipe.
- Make the dough: combine the warm milk, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, butter, bread flour half of the all-purpose flour in a stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook until the flour is incorporated. Add the remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is sticky and starts to slap the sides of the bowl.
- First rise: transfer the dough ball to a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Rise in a warm, dry place for 1-2 hours, until it's doubled in size.
- Pecan topping: melt the brown sugar and butter together over medium heat. Remove it from the heat, cool slightly, and stir in the maple syrup, heavy cream, and pecans. Pour the caramel topping into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Roll and cut: turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spread very soft butter on top then mix the cinnamon sugar filling and sprinkle it on top. Roll the dough, starting with the long side, into a tight log. Use a serrated knife or dental floss to cut the dough into 12 pieces.
- 2nd Rise: place the cinnamon buns into the prepared pan with the sticky topping, cover and let the dough rise again for 30-45 minutes.
- Bake: bake the sticky buns at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and completely baked in the center. Check them with 10 minutes left and cover them with aluminum foil if they're starting to get too brown around the edges.
- Use room temperature ingredients: room temp eggs and butter create an emulsion in baking. This traps the air in the dough, which then expands while baking, to create a fluffy roll. Additionally, cold ingredients don't incorporate as evenly or easily. Set eggs out about 30 minutes ahead to safely bring them to room temperature for easy mixing into batter or dough.
- Measure the flour correctly: we're using a lot of flour in this recipe, so it's important to get the measurements right. Spoon the flour into a measuring cup then level it off with a knife
- Large eggs are best for holiday baking. Using a different size egg, without adjusting, will affect texture, flavor, and consistency. If you don’t have large eggs, use this conversion chart to see how to substitute different sizes.
- Use the oven to proof the dough: pre-heat your oven to 150-170°F then turn it off immediately. Cover the dough and let it rise in the warm oven.
- Tent with foil: these are very large sticky buns and it might take a bit longer for the center rolls to bake. Covering them with foil helps them bake all the way through before the tops get too brown.
- Carefully flip the baked sticky buns over. We like to place a piece of parchment on top and then a large serving plate, baking sheet, or wire rack on top. Carefully invert them (you may need an extra set of hands if your baking dish is heavy) and the parchment paper will be underneath the buns to catch any mess.
Our Favorite Sticky Bun Products
You likely have everything you need to make this pecan sticky bun recipe, especially if you're a fan of pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Here is some of the equipment to keep on hand if you love sweet rolls.
- A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment is ideal, but an electric mixer will work as well. You'll need to knead the dough by hand.
- Large bowl to allow the dough to rise and a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap to cover the dough while it's rising.
- A 9x13-inch pan is a must (these rolls are big!).
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
Overnight: prepare the sticky buns through step 8 then cover them very tightly with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Do not exceed 16 hours or they will overproof and collapse due to weakened gluten and excess gas in the dough. When you're ready to bake the next morning, remove them from the fridge and allow them to sit in a warm dry place for 1-2 hours before baking.
To store: allow leftover sticky buns to cool completely then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or follow the steps below to freeze them.
Freezer: freeze baked sticky buns for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm in the oven before frosting. You can also freeze the dough. Follow the steps to make the dough and partially bake the rolls for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool completely then cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and continue baking the next day for 20-25 minutes.
Reheat: To warm them up, place them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F and put them in the oven for 20 minutes or until they're warm and gooey all the way through.
This post is sponsored by Ohio Poultry. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to brands like theirs who believe in me and my recipes and allow us to continue to share free recipes with you.
Visit www.OhioEggs.com and follow the Ohio Poultry Association on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for more egg recipes and to learn about egg nutrition and egg safety tips.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Egg-Filled Recipes
- Cheesy breakfast sliders
- Breakfast quesadillas
- Pumpkin cinnamon rolls
- Overnight blueberry waffle casserole
- Easy vegetable frittata
- ¾ cup warm whole milk (115-125°F) (non-dairy milk or 2% will work too)
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Instant Yeast*
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup (1 stick) very soft unsalted butter
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup light brown sugar packed
- ⅔ cup heavy cream (whole milk will work too)
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
- ½ teaspoon salt
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- ½ cup (1 stick) very soft unsalted buttere
- ¾ cup light brown sugar packed
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Stand Mixer
- Large bowl
- Rolling Pin
- 9x13 inch baking dish
Make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm milk, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, butter, 3 cups of bread flour, and 1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed then turn it up to medium-high speed and mix until the flour is completely incorporated 4-5 minutes.
- If the dough seems too sticky, add ¾ cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to slap the sides of the bowl. You’ll know it’s ready when the dough just barely sticks to the bottom of the bowl and the dough slaps the sides of the bowl while it mixes. It’s better to have a sticky dough than a dry dough, so be careful not to add too much flour.
- 1st rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil or nonstick spray then transfer the dough to the bowl and turn it a few times to cover the dough in oil. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1- 2 hours. See recipe notes for a warm rising option.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter and brown sugar. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, 10-15 minutes, and whisk in the maple syrup, heavy cream, chopped pecans, and salt. Set aside
Roll, cut, and bake
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it into a 12x18 inch rectangle, about ¼ an inch thick, making sure the dough is even in thickness throughout.
- Spread the softened butter on top using a butter knife or the back of a spoon. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the butter, making sure it goes all the way to the edges of the dough.
- Roll the dough into a log lengthwise, pinching its edges to seal. Use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into 12 pieces (about 1 ½ inches). Unflavored dental floss is another great option to cut the cinnamon rolls neatly.
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and pour the prepared pecan caramel sauce into the bottom of the pan, spreading it evenly to the corners. Place the rolls on top then cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes to one hour or place overnight in the fridge to bake in the morning. Rising overnight is ideal, if possible. If you do this, allow the rolls to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to finish rising before baking.
- Position the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the sticky buns for 24-28 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the middle buns reach an internal temp of 175°F. Allow them to cool slightly then invert them onto a cooling rack or serving platter so the sticky pecan topping covers the top of the buns.
Debbie McNaull says
These are so amazing! They were fairly simple to make and by adding the maple syrup to the pecan topping the flavor is so delicious. They literally melt in your mouth! Molly you are a genius!!
Molly Thompson says
Thank you, Debbie! My mom sent me a picture of your finished sticky buns and they looked awesome!
Molly, can you use salted butter instead of unsalted? I am getting ready to make a new batch of these and only have salted butter !!! Ahhhhh!!! I don't want to go to the store.