Gooey, soft, and loaded with pecans, this Small Batch Sticky Buns recipe is sure to satisfy your brunch cravings! Adapted from my larger batch version that has been tested and perfected over years, these small batch caramel pecan rolls are just right for 4-6 people.

A small batch of sticky buns on a white cake stand.


Table of Contents
  1. Why You Should Make Small Batch Sticky Buns
  2. Recipe Ingredients
  3. How to Make Small Batch Pecan Sticky Buns
  4. Recipe FAQ's
  5. Storage Instructions
  6. Freezing Instructions
  7. Tips for Small Batch Baking
  8. More Sweet Bread Recipes
  9. Small Batch Sticky Buns Recipe Recipe

I polled my audience on social media about whether they liked sticky buns or cinnamon rolls more and was surprised that the results were almost evenly split with only a slight advantage to cinnamon rolls, which I honestly thought would win by a landslide. At our house, we definitely like them both, but two of us prefer sticky buns, while my husband and oldest daughter like cinnamon rolls best.

So even though the pillowy soft dough and gooey filling are the same for both recipes, I'm giving these incredible small batch sticky buns the attention they deserve so you can get your sticky bun fix whenever you want without committing to a larger batch.

Keep reading for info on how to make these as overnight sticky buns or freezing unbaked sticky buns so you can enjoy these any time you want!

And if you want more small batch baking recipes, let me know in the comments below. I've already shared some of our favorites like Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies, Small Batch Muddy Buddies, Small Batch Brownies, and Small Batch Triple Chocolate Cookies.

Why You Should Make Small Batch Sticky Buns

  • Make Ahead Option. You can prep these the night before, stick them in the fridge, then pop them in the oven first thing in the morning.
  • Perfectly Balanced Flavors. I'm super picky about my sticky buns. These have just the right amount of cinnamon filling and plenty of chopped pecans and sticky caramel topping. Don't skimp on those pecans!
  • Make 6 or 4 sticky buns. I shape these into 6 normal-sized sticky buns, but you could easily do just 4 jumbo ones if you prefer.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Pecans - I prefer buying whole pecans and chopping them myself so they aren't too small. You could even use whole pecans, but I think sticky buns are much easier to eat when the pecans are chopped.
  • All-purpose Flour - I prefer using unbleached all-purpose flour. You can also use bread flour if you prefer chewier sticky buns.
  • Active Dry Yeast - This kind of yeast needs to be proofed in warm water until foamy before using. You can also use instant yeast and skip the proving step, if you prefer.
  • Warm Water - The water should be about 105°F to 110°F so it doesn't kill the yeast.
  • Milk - I recommend using whole milk for baking. You can warm it in the microwave for 20-25 seconds, but don't get it too hot.
  • Sugar - You will need granulated sugar for both the dough and the cinnamon sugar filling, as well as brown sugar for the caramel topping.
  • Egg - One large egg adds chewiness and richness to the dough.
  • Vanilla Extract - Adds flavor, body, and depth to the soft, enriched dough.
  • Ground Cinnamon - While not as prominent of a flavor in sticky buns as it is in cinnamon rolls, you still want some in the filling for warmth.
  • Salt
  • Cornstarch - I like adding a little cornstarch to my filling to help make it a little more gooey.
  • Salted Butter - You will need this for the dough, the filling, and the caramel pecan topping.
Ingredients for small batch sticky buns.

How to Make Small Batch Pecan Sticky Buns

  1. Proof the yeast. Start by combining the warm water in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast. Give it a little stir, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast gets foamy. If the yeast doesn't foam up and bubble a bit, it's probably old and you should get some new yeast and start over.

If you are using instant yeast, you can skip the part about proofing the yeast and just proceed with the rest of the recipe.

  1. Combine ingredients. Once the yeast is foamy, go ahead and add the rest of the sugar, warm milk, egg, salt, melted butter, vanilla extract, and about half of the flour. Stir or mix together well to combine. You can make this in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment for this part before switching to the dough hook to knead, but you can also do this by hand.
  1. Add remaining flour and knead. Dump the rest of the flour into the dough and continue to mix together until it forms a ball. Knead the ball with a dough hook for 3-5 minutes or turn it out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5-8 minutes until pretty smooth and not too sticky. You may need to add a little extra flour if kneading by hand to keep it from sticking too much to the surface you are kneading the dough on.
Adding more flour to cinnamon roll dough.
  1. Rise. Shape the dough into a ball then place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.
  1. Make caramel pecan topping. Whisk or stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl until combined. Add chopped pecans to an 8-inch round baking pan that has been sprayed with baking spray. Pour the caramel topping over the pecans. Set aside.
  1. Make filling. In another bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, ground cinnamon and cornstarch. Stir with a fork until evenly distributed and the texture of wet sand.
  2. Roll out dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle that is roughly 9x12-inches.
  1. Slice and roll up. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the dough. Slice into six even strips, then roll each strip up to make a cinnamon roll. You could also roll the whole thing into a log and then slice into 6 cinnamon rolls using a sharp serrated knife, unflavored dental floss, or a thread, but lately I have been enjoying this strip approach. Both work well.
  1. Rise. Transfer to shaped sweet rolls the pan with the caramel pecan topping, spacing them evenly around the pan with one in the center. (This is the point to cover the buns with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge overnight if you want to make them ahead.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes until puffy. Preheat the oven while the rolls are rising.
  2. Bake. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the sticky buns for 22 to 26 minutes in a 375 degrees F oven until golden brown. You may want to place a baking sheet lined with foil until the pan to catch any caramel filling that could bubble out the edges while the sticky buns bake.
  1. Invert and enjoy. After about 4-5 minutes, cover the pan of sticky buns with a serving plate, then invert both the plate and the pan to turn the rolls out. Carefully lift the pan off the rolls, letting the caramel and pecans ooze over the rolls. Serve warm.

PRO TIP: Don't wait too long to flip the sticky buns out onto a plate or the caramel will cool and harden. Ideally you should turn them out of the baking pan within 5 minutes of removing them from the oven.

A close up image of sticky buns that have been turned out of their pan with the chopped pecans and caramel sauce on top.

Recipe FAQ's

Can I use a different size pan?

I use an 8-inch cake pan, but a 9-inch pan, a pie pan, or a square baking pan will all work. You could even make these in a muffin pan, although you have to divide the pecans and caramel topping between each individual muffin cup.

Can these be made ahead the night before?

Yes, you can make this recipe through shaping the sticky buns into rolls, then stick them in the fridge for a slow rise overnight. Pull them out in the morning and let them sit on the counter for about an hour to come up to temperature and get puffy before baking like normal.

Can I use another type of nut instead of pecans?

Absolutely! I have also made macadamia nut sticky buns and they are absolutely incredible. Walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, or almonds would also work for wonderful sticky buns with a slightly different flavor profile and crunch from the iconic pecans.

Can I make this small batch sticky buns recipe without corn syrup?

Sure! Replace the corn syrup with an equal amount of honey or maple syrup if you don't have corn syrup on hand or prefer not to use it. The flavor will be similar although you might notice a subtle difference that you might actually love!

How can I make these sticky buns in under 1 hour?

If you want to speed up the process, you can increase the yeast to 1 Tablespoon. More yeast will mean a faster rise time and you can knead, then let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes while prepping the filling. It won't rise a ton in that time, but it gives the dough enough time to rest that you can roll it out and shape the rolls pretty well. Let the shaped rolls rise for another 15-20 minutes while preheating the oven, then bake like normal. They might not be quite as light and fluffy, but you'll have sticky buns in a lot less time!

Storage Instructions

If you have leftover sticky buns, let them cool completely then store in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm them in the microwave for a few seconds before enjoying to refresh them a bit.

Freezing Instructions

You can freeze leftover sticky buns for up to 2 months. Let thaw on the counter and warm in the microwave before enjoying.

You can also prepare the dough all the way through shaping the buns, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 3-4 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, prepare the topping and pecans, then place the frozen rolls into the pan and let thaw and rise covered loosely with plastic wrap for 4-6 hours until puffy before baking like normal.

A small batch of caramel pecan sticky buns on a white plate with one being pulled out.

Tips for Small Batch Baking

  • Make sure to measure your ingredients properly. I always give weights in addition to cups because you will get the most accurate results that way. But I'm also aware that most American bakers still use cups, which I why I always test and write my recipes both ways.
  • Don't overbake. If your sticky buns are coming out less sticky and more dry, the biggest culprit is usually overbaking, followed closely by adding too much flour to the dough.

More Sweet Bread Recipes

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Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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Small Batch Sticky Buns Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 22 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 6 sticky buns
Gooey, soft, and loaded with pecans, this Small Batch Sticky Buns recipe is sure to satisfy your brunch cravings! Adapted from my larger batch version that has been tested and perfected over years, these small batch caramel pecan rolls are just right for 4-6 people.

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • ¼ cup warm water (105°F to 110°F)
  • ¼ cup warm milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon for the yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (250g to 281g) + extra for rolling

Filling

  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Topping

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted
  • cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

Dough

  • Start by combining the warm water in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast. Give it a little stir, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast gets foamy. If the yeast doesn't foam up and bubble a bit, it's probably old and you should get some new yeast and start over.
  • Once the yeast is foamy, go ahead and add the rest of the sugar, warm milk, egg, salt, melted butter, vanilla extract, and about half of the flour. Stir or mix together well to combine. You can make this in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment for this part before switching to the dough hook to knead, but you can also do this by hand.
  • Dump the rest of the flour into the dough and continue to mix together until it forms a ball. Knead the ball with a dough hook for 3-5 minutes or turn it out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5-8 minutes until pretty smooth and not too sticky. You may need to add a little extra flour if kneading by hand to keep it from sticking too much to the surface you are kneading the dough on.
  • Shape the dough into a ball then place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.

Topping

  • Whisk or stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl until combined. Add chopped pecans to an 8-inch round baking pan that has been sprayed with baking spray. Pour the caramel topping over the pecans. Set aside.

Filling & Assembly

  • In another bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, ground cinnamon and cornstarch. Stir with a fork until evenly distributed and the texture of wet sand.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle that is roughly 9x12 inches.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the dough. Slice into six even strips, then roll each strip up to make a sticky bun. You could also roll the whole thing into a log and then slice into 6 sticky buns using a sharp serrated knife, unflavored dental floss, or a thread, but lately I have been enjoying this strip approach. Both work well.
  • Transfer to shaped sweet rolls to the pan with the caramel pecan topping, spacing them evenly around the pan with one in the center. (This is the point to cover the buns with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge overnight if you want to make them ahead.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes until puffy. Preheat the oven to 375°F while the rolls are rising.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and bake the sticky buns for 22 to 26 minutes until golden brown. You may want to place a baking sheet lined with foil until the pan to catch any caramel filling that could bubble out the edges while the sticky buns bake.
  • After about 4-5 minutes, cover the pan of sticky buns with a serving plate, then invert both the plate and the pan to turn the rolls out. Carefully lift the pan off the rolls, letting the caramel and pecans ooze over the rolls. Serve warm.

Notes

  • Storage: If you have leftover sticky buns, let them cool completely then store in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm them in the microwave for a few seconds before enjoying to refresh them a bit. 
  • Freezing: You can freeze leftover sticky buns for up to 2 months. Let thaw on the counter and warm in the microwave before enjoying.
  • Freezing Dough: You can also prepare the dough all the way through shaping the buns, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 3-4 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, prepare the topping and pecans, then place the frozen rolls into the pan and let thaw and rise covered loosely with plastic wrap for 4-6 hours until puffy before baking like normal.
  • Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe through shaping the sticky buns into rolls, then stick them in the fridge for a slow rise overnight. Pull them out in the morning and let them sit on the counter for about an hour to come up to temperature and get puffy before baking like normal.
  • Substitutions: Replace the corn syrup with an equal amount of honey or maple syrup if you don't have corn syrup on hand or prefer not to use it. You can use chopped walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or macadamia nuts instead of pecans.
  • One-Hour Sticky Buns: If you want to speed up the process, you can increase the yeast to 1 Tablespoon. More yeast will mean a faster rise time and you can knead, then let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes while prepping the filling. It won't rise a ton in that time, but it gives the dough enough time to rest that you can roll it out and shape the rolls pretty well. Let the shaped rolls rise for another 15-20 minutes while preheating the oven, then bake like normal. They might not be quite as light and fluffy, but you'll have sticky buns in a lot less time!

Nutrition

Calories: 626kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 457mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 705IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 69mg | 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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