Pecan Sticky Buns

Classic sticky buns are some of the best sweet breakfast rolls ever invented.  It consists of a basic cinnamon bun but has the element of an upside-down cake along with it.

The sticky caramel sauce with pecans bakes on the bottom of the pan with the cinnamon roll on top, after it bakes it is then inverted onto a tray and the sticky caramel pecans becomes the top of the bun.

What you will love about these pecan sticky buns

These delicious caramel pecan sticky buns are served hot out of the oven with the perfect balance of sweetness and nuttiness.

The pecans give it a beautiful crunch and the cinnamon buns are fluffy, chewy and delicious all at the same time.

Tips

When baking with yeast, it is always important to check the expiration date on your yeast.  If yeast expires, it can die and not rise like active yeast should.  I always buy yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer.  It should last beyond the expiration date if it is kept frozen.

If your yeast doesn’t foam and becomes fragrant when you add it to warm water, it may have expired and lost its potency.  If this happens, you should go out and get new yeast and try it again.  If you use yeast that is dead in a recipe, you will end up with very dense and hard rolls.

Ingredients

One of the things I love about this recipe is that I make these pecan sticky buns without corn syrup.  I prefer not to use corn syrup if I don’t have to, and guess what?  We don’t have to in this recipe! We are using all-natural honey when we make the caramel pecan sauce (along with brown sugar).

Honey is so much healthier than processed corn syrup or even other sweeteners like sugar or stevia.  When it comes to buying honey, I recommend finding someone local.  It is said that local honey can help with allergies, but when you buy honey from someone locally, you know what you are getting.  Sometimes store-bought honey can be inflated with other additives, which completely takes away the “all-natural” goal we are striving for.

Another sweetener in this recipe we will be using is brown sugar.  I tend to use light brown sugar in almost all of my recipes that call for brown sugar.  Some people argue that sticky buns should only be made with dark brown sugar, but I think it’s really up to your own preferences.  If you use dark brown sugar in this recipe, your caramel sauce and sticky bun filling will turn out slightly chewier, and that’s ok.  Use whichever one you prefer or have on hand.

These are the ingredients for pecan sticky buns:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Active dry yeast
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Pecans

How to make pecan sticky buns

We are going to begin by making the sweet buns which are basically a cinnamon roll dough.  In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add ¼ cup of warm water and 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast (one packet).  Let the yeast and water sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast blooms and becomes fragrant.

Add ½ cup of the flour, the granulated sugar, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and salt.  Mix it on a low speed until it is just incorporated.  While the mixer is still on low speed, slowly mix in the rest of the 2 cups of flour.  Turn the speed up just a little higher after the flour has incorporated into the dough.  Let the dough knead together for 3-4 minutes.

If the dough seems very sticky and is not pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl, add another ¼ cup of flour and knead it again. As soon as the dough has been kneaded for several minutes and it becomes very elastic you can stop kneading it.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise for 90 minutes.  I like to proof my bread and rolls in a cool oven with the oven light on.  It is just warm enough to provide a great proofing area for dough.

Before the dough has risen completely, it’s time to start on the sticky pecan caramel sauce.  In a medium size saucepan add 1 cup of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter and ¼ cup honey.  Bring it to a boil so that some of the sugar dissolves then remove it from the heat.  You don’t want to boil it for more than 20 seconds or so.

Pour the hot caramel sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking pan and sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly on the syrup.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

After the sticky bun dough has doubled in size, roll it out onto a well-floured surface into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle.

With a pastry brush, brush 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the rolled-out dough.

Mix 1/3 cup brown sugar with 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon and evenly sprinkle this over the melted butter.

Carefully roll the dough up lengthwise into a long roll.

Cut it up into 8 rolls.

Place the rolls on top of the pecan caramel sauce in the pan.

Bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes until the rolls are golden brown and the caramel sauce is bubbling around it.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.  Carefully invert the rolls from the baking pan, onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easier cleanup).  They should come out of the pan easily while they are still hot.

All of that lovely sticky pecan sauce will be oozing off the top of the sticky buns.  Eat while they are hot and enjoy!

Variations

While I don’t take the extra step of toasting the pecans, it’s really not a bad idea.  If you want a little bit richer, nuttier flavor added to your recipe, toast the pecans in the oven before adding them to the recipe.

Equipment

  • Electric stand mixer with dough hook attachment
  • 13×9” baking pan

FAQ’s

What’s the difference between a sticky bun and a cinnamon roll?

Cinnamon rolls are baked without the sticky caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan and after they are baked, they are frosted with buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Sticky buns are basically cinnamon rolls baked on top of a caramel sauce with pecans, then turned upside down at the end so the sticky caramel sauce is on top.  Sticky buns are not frosted with traditional frosting.

Why are they named sticky buns?

Well, sticky buns are appropriately named because they are very sticky and slightly chewy.  The brown sugar and caramel sauce turns into delicious stickiness all over the top and inside of the sticky bun.

Pecan Sticky Buns

Print Recipe
Course Appetizer, Breakfast
Keyword bread, Buns, Pecan Sticky Buns
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Electric stand mixer with dough hook attachment
  • 13x9” baking pan

Ingredients

For the pecan caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cups honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans

For the cinnamon buns:

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast 1 packet
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter melted
  • For the filling
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the warm water and yeast. Let it sit until the yeast blooms and becomes fragrant.
  • Add ½ cup of the flour, granulated sugar, milk eggs, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Knead it on low speed until combined.
  • While the mixer is still running, slowly add the rest of the flour and let the mixer knead for 5-6 minutes.
  • If the dough is still sticking to the sides, add ¼ cup more of the flour and knead it for another minute. The dough should be elastic, but not stick to the bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 90 minutes in a warm place.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Before the dough is done rising, make the caramel sauce by adding the brown sugar, butter, honey and salt to a medium size saucepan. Bring it to a boil and boil it for no more than 20 seconds.
  • Remove it from the heat and pour the hot caramel sauce into the bottom of a 13x9” baking pan. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly on the caramel sauce.
  • After the dough has risen, dump it out onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a ~16x12” rectangle.
  • Brush the dough rectangle with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle it evenly all over the top of the melted butter.
  • Tightly roll the dough into a long cylinder shape and cut it evenly into 8 rolls.
  • Place the rolls on top of the caramel pecan sauce in the pan.
  • Bake it in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown and the caramel sauce is bubbling around them.
  • Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Carefully invert the pecan sticky buns upside-down onto a large platter lined with parchment paper (for easier cleanup). All of the delicious caramel pecan sauce should come out of the pan easily while it is hot and end up on top of the sticky buns. Enjoy!