This pecan sticky buns recipe is one of my favorite recipes to bake, whether I’m in America or France. There’s nothing like an ooey, gooey bun made with delicious caramel sauce and crunchy pecans nestled inside pillow-y soft dough to make you a baker for life!
Easy Sticky Buns
I’ve had pecan sticky buns on my must-bake list for many years now. I had some of the best sticky buns at a place called the Tavern in Brentwood, California.
I had stopped in the cafe for some coffee with my mom and sister, having spent the day shopping in L.A., and we shared a few different pastries with our drinks. One of those pastries was a tantalizing caramel pecan sticky bun.
I found out later that most people in L.A. agree with my sentiment and have listed the Tavern as one of the best places in L.A. for a sticky bun. Regardless, I left that day with a need to recreate the ooey, gooey perfection I had just tasted.
But you know how these things go…or maybe you don’t. You see, my must-bake list is about as long as the Constitution, and as I continuously bake items off the list, the list proportionately grows as I add more and more items.
But after I passed a jumbo size bag of pecan halves in the market, I instantly thought of the sticky pecan buns I had in L.A. and made it a priority to whip these up. I used Joy the Baker‘s dough recipe and paired that with Deb’s (from Smitten Kitchen) recipe for the filling and caramel topping.
The goal was to have a foolproof, easy pecan sticky buns recipe that you we could all turn to whenever the craving for these beauties hit. I can happily say that I’ve achieved that with this recipe.
This pecan sticky buns recipe will yield cinnamon-flavored buns that are just as much cake-y as they are bread-like, a contradiction that only makes sense once you take a bite of one of these.
And that’s all thanks to a filling that is a wonderfully fragrant, sweet combination of white and brown sugar, married with ground cinnamon.
The star of the whole dessert, however, is the gooey caramel topping and toasted pecans. If you have impatient family and friends like I do, they will be begging to just eat the caramel sauce on its own.
And when these sticky pecan rolls are baking in the oven, you yourself might just have the urge to open up that oven door and eat them unfinished off of the baking dish; they smell that good.
Once again, however, patience proves to be a virtue worth having, as these finished babies are mouthwatering. The caramel looks absolutely luscious when you flip the buns out of the pan, it’s juices running down the sides of the buns. These sticky pecan buns are simply every baker’s fantasy.
What is the difference between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls?
The difference lies in the caramel sauce that the sticky buns are baked in. Cinnamon rolls are typically topped with white icing, be it cream cheese frosting or just a powdered sugar icing. Sticky buns, on the other hand, have a gooey caramel sauce that coats them when they’re flipped out of the pan.
Are honey buns the same as sticky buns?
They’re pretty much the same thing as they’re also baked in the caramel sauce and flipped upside down after baking.
Can you make pecan sticky buns ahead of time?
Yes, you definitely can! You can assemble everything one day in advance and cover the rolls with a sheet of plastic wrap. The next day, let the shaped rolls thaw until they’re room temperature again and then place the pan in the oven to bake as instructed.
for the dough
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out, divided
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
for the filling
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped & divided
for the caramel
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- First you’re going to get started on the dough. Begin by adding the milk, oil, and granulated sugar to a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. Heat over medium heat just until it comes to a slight boil. Then turn off the heat and move the pot off to the side to slightly cool.
- Once the milk mixture is warm and no longer hot (needs to be about 110°F), drop your yeast into the mixture and let it rest for 1 minute (don't stir!). At this point, go ahead and turn on your oven’s warm/hold setting for 30 seconds, before turning the oven back off.
- Stir the 4 cups of flour into the milk mixture and combine to create a wet, sticky dough. Cover the pot with the lid and stick the pot into your slightly warm, turned off oven. Close the oven door and let the dough rest for 1 hour, or until it’s nearly doubled in size (make sure your oven is off!).
- While your dough rises, get started on the caramel sauce. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add the brown sugar, heavy cream, honey, and salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and continue to let the mixture simmer (stirring occasionally) for another 5 minutes until the liquid is golden brown.
- Pour this caramel sauce into a 9 x 13 inch deep, casserole-type dish. Gently tip the pan from side to side to get the caramel sauce up the sides of the pan and evenly distributed along the bottom. Place in the refrigerator to cool and somewhat set.
- Next, create your filling by simply combining the brown and white sugar together with the ground cinnamon and salt. Toast your pecans if you haven't done so and/or chop if you haven't done so.
- After your dough has risen, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Take out your caramel sauce from the fridge and set on the counter. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously flour your work surface and roll out your dough into a rectangle that measures about 12 by 10 inches. The dough should be rolled out somewhat thin.
- Brush your dough with the melted butter, then evenly sprinkle the sugar filling all over the dough. Add 1/2 a cup of the toasted and chopped pecans all over. Now, in a typewriter-like motion, grab the long side of the rectangle that is furthest from you and begin rolling towards you. You should end up with a log who's seam is face down. Use a sharp knife, dusted with flour, to cut 1 inch slices from the log.
- Evenly sprinkle the remaining pecans over the cooled caramel sauce. Place the bun slices on top of the nut-covered caramel and let rest for 15 minutes. Then bake the buns for approximately 30 minutes, or until the buns have somewhat browned on the top and centers read 180°F on a thermometer. Place the pan of sticky buns on a wire cooling rack for a few minutes before inverting the pan onto a large serving plate. Use a spoon to scoop up any extra caramel sauce in the pan and pour onto the buns.