These Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns are made with lots of brown sugar; plenty of nuts; a hint of cinnamon; and a rich, gooey caramel sauce that coats each delicious roll. Everybody RAVES about them! If you are a fan of nuts, these are the breakfast pastries for you!

An image of a caramel pecan roll on a plate.

When it comes to breakfast pastries, there is nothing I love more than a good sticky bun. Cinnamon rolls are delicious and all, but I'll take a gooey, nutty, sticky bun over a cinnamon roll any day.

I love to serve these sticky buns with my green chili egg casserole, fresh fruit, and cold milk for a complete breakfast, especially if I'm entertaining a crowd. These caramel pecan sticky buns are perfect for holidays and special occasions, weekends, and brunches!

One batch of this sticky buns recipe will make 12 good-size buns, but leftover buns can be frozen and reheated. Or, you can make them in two smaller pans and plan on giving one away to friends. They will love you for it!

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Make the dough: Start by proofing yeast in a bowl with warm milk and a little sugar. Then, add eggs, butter, salt, flour, and more sugar. I like to beat using the paddle attachment until the first 2 cups of flour are worked in—then, I switch to the dough hook and add in the rest of the flour from there to make a nice, soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Bread dough rising in a glass bowl.
  1. Make the caramel pecan topping: Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan and heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Boil for one minute. Then, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and heavy cream. Sprinkle chopped Fisher pecans over the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Then, pour the hot sauce over the nuts and set aside.
  2. Make the filling: The filling in these sticky buns is just a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon that I like to stir together before sprinkling over softened butter.
  3. Shape the rolls: When the dough has doubled in size, roll it out into a 12x18-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread with softened butter, and then sprinkle with the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Roll up from the long side into a tight log. Then, slice into 12 equal-sized rolls with a sharp knife or use a piece of thread or floss to cut them. 
  4. Rise and bake: Arrange the sliced rolls on top of the caramel pecan topping, and then cover and let rise for another 30-45 minutes before baking in a 375 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes. You may want to cover the baked rolls with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes of baking so they don't get too dark on top.
  1. Flip and serve: Once the sticky buns are done, let them sit for 4-5 minutes before covering with a serving plate that is larger than the baking dish and quickly (but carefully!) flipping the pan and serving plate over. You might need to jiggle the pan a time or two, but the sticky buns should drop right out and the caramel and pecans will ooze over the top.
An inverted glass baking dish with caramel pecan sticky buns inside.

What is the difference between a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun?

Cinnamon rolls and sticky buns are both sweet breakfast treats that are typically made from a rich yeast dough that is rolled out, spread with butter, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar before being rolled up, cut into rounds, and baked. But sticky buns are notably different from cinnamon rolls in a couple of ways:

  • Sticky buns are laden with walnuts or pecans while cinnamon rolls either have raisins (no thank you) or nothing at all. 
  • Also, while sticky buns do have a hint of cinnamon—it's a lot less prevalent than the amount of cinnamon in most cinnamon roll recipes.
  • Finally, instead of being topped with cream cheese frosting, sticky buns are cooked in a buttery caramel sauce, then inverted after baking so the sauce can coat each roll in sticky, gooey glory.

I love them both, but sticky buns are my hands down favorite and I'll take one over a cinnamon roll anytime.

An image of caramel pecan sticky buns that have been turned over onto a serving plate so that the pecans are showing on top.

How do you store sticky buns?

Sticky buns are best the day they are made, but they keep fairly well when stored in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature for 1-2 days. Or, cover leftover rolls and stick them in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Can you freeze sticky buns?

Sticky buns can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just wrap them well with plastic wrap and thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating and serving.

How do you reheat sticky buns?

I like to reheat leftover caramel pecan sticky buns by covering them with foil and warming in a 200-degree F oven for about 10 minutes until warmed through. Or, you can microwave individual rolls on high power for about 18-20 seconds.

Recipe Tips

  • The corn syrup and heavy cream keep the caramel nice and soft, but you can substitute honey or even maple syrup in place of the corn syrup. The flavor will be slightly different, but it's subtle and both are good options if you don't like using corn syrup. 
  • Evaporated milk or half-and-half can be used in place of the heavy cream.
  • To use the thread or floss approach, slide the floss under the rolled up dough, crossing the ends over the top of the dough, and pulling them through to create a clean slice. I get even rolls by first slicing the rolled dough in half in the middle, then into quarters, and then slicing each quarter into three pieces, rather than starting at one end and eyeballing my way down. 
An image of pecan sticky buns.

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Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

5 from 1 vote
Amy Nash
Prep Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 12 sticky buns
These Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns are made with lots of brown sugar, plenty of nuts, a hint of cinnamon, and a rich, gooey caramel sauce that coats each delicious roll. Everybody RAVES about them! If you are a fan of nuts, these are the breakfast pastries for you!

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons active dry or instant yeast 2 packets
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • cup salted butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping

  • 2 cups pecans coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • cup corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup salted butter melted

Instructions
 

  • Warm the milk to about 95 degrees F by microwaving for 30-60 seconds or heating on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the milk to the bowl of a stand mixer, along with the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir, and then let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has proofed and the mixture is foamy on top.
  • Add the remaining sugar, eggs, softened butter, and salt, along with 1 cup of the flour. Mix well using the paddle attachment. Add another cup of flour and mix again.
  • Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour ½ cup at a time with the mixer on low speed until a soft, sticky dough comes together on the hook. I almost always stop at just 3 ½ total cups of flour but if the dough is extremely sticky, then use all 4 cups. Increase the speed to the medium setting and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. This can be done by hand, but it's easier with a stand mixer.
  • Scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl and transfer to a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth, and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  • While the dough is rising, spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Roughly chop the pecans and sprinkle evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat, stirring frequently until the butter is melted. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the cream and vanilla. Pour over the chopped Fisher pecans and set aside while you shape the rolls.
  • When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface and roll out using a rolling pin into an approximately 12x18-inch rectangle.
  • Spread the melted butter over the dough. Then, sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll the dough up from the long edge into a tight log, pinching the seams together to seal the dough. Slice into 12 evenly-sized rolls using either a sharp knife or a piece of string (my preferred method). Slide the string underneath the roll, cross over top, then pull tight to make a clean slice.
  • Place the rolls on top of the caramel and pecans. Then, cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and let rise for another 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the sticky buns for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. You may want to cover the rolls with aluminum foil if they look like they are browning too quickly on top.
  • Remove from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then, cover the rolls with a large serving platter or baking sheet and invert the dish to release the rolls. The caramel and pecans will drip down the sides of the sticky buns! Serve warm.

Notes

  • Honey or maple syrup can be used in place of corn syrup. There are subtle flavor differences but otherwise no noticeable difference in the caramel sauce.
  • Walnuts can be used in place of pecans.
MAKE-AHEAD OPTION: These sticky buns can be made the night before. Prepare the recipe through step 9 where the shaped rolls are place on top of the caramel and pecans, except do not let them do the second rise. Instead, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning, remove the sticky buns from the fridge and let them come to room temperature and finish rising (about 1-2 hours). Bake as directed.
FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS: Baked rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge, and then warm in a 200 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1roll | Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 426mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 692IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Amy, I just made these and they turned out so good! I used dark corn syrup because that is what I had on hand, and coconut milk in place of the heavy cream. When I flipped the pan over, they came out perfectly. Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed them, Erica! We love to make them for conference too! Good to know that dark corn syrup and coconut milk worked as good substitutions for you.

  2. These look absolutely delicious!!! I had sticky buns the other day while out for brunch and have been hankering them so much more ever since. While I'm nowhere near as talented as the chefs at the restaurant I went to in Charleston, I wanted to learn how to make them from scratch!! Cannot wait to try this later this week!