Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns


What makes these sticky buns so irresistibly delicious?

These caramel pecan sticky buns are the ultimate breakfast treat with their soft, pillowy dough, sweet cinnamon sugar filling, and topping of homemade maple caramel sauce and toasted pecans. The dough rises to airy perfection, then gets rolled up with melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon before being sliced and tucked into a pan. As the sliced buns proof, prepare the easy maple caramel sauce. Pour it over the sliced buns along with chopped pecans before baking. The pecan-studded caramel bubbles up around each bun, coating them in sweet stickiness. Enjoy this heavenly blend of flavors and textures!

What is the best way to get the caramel pecan topping on top?

After letting the finished sticky buns cool for 5-10 minutes, carefully invert the pan onto a serving platter. Letting them rest ensures the caramel has thickened up enough to nicely coat the tops of each bun as you flip it over. Resist digging in until you see those pecan studded tops!

How can I adapt this recipe to my liking?

This caramel pecan base makes the perfect canvas for creativity! Try swapping out the pecans for other nuts like almonds or walnuts. Or add extras to the filling like chocolate chips, coconut flakes, or chopped bacon. For a caramel apple twist, add apple pie filling to the rolled up dough. And to really gild the lily, use rum or whiskey instead of water to amp up the caramel sauce a notch!

How do sticky buns differ from cinnamon rolls?

While both rolls start with a richly spiced cinnamon sugar swirl inside, cinnamon rolls are typically topped with a sweet glaze or cream cheese frosting added after baking. The hallmark of a sticky bun is that ooey, gooey caramel, nut, and spice topped filling baked right inside the bun itself, chili then inverted after baking for the ultimate sticky sweet breakfast treat!

Where did sticky buns originate from?

These melt-in-your-mouth treats trace their origins back to the Pennsylvania Dutch in the American colonial era. German and Dutch settlers brought their culinary traditions with them to the U.S., which evolved into what we now know as cinnamon rolls and their even more decadent cousin, the caramel coated sticky bun!

Can I prep these the night before?

Absolutely! Prepare the dough up until slicing and placing them in the baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, then let rise in a warm spot for 1-2 hours before baking. The slow fermentation process allows the flavors to develop even more. Just be sure to make the caramel sauce fresh in the morning!

Any tips for newcomers working with yeast?

Beginners need not fear yeast! Just follow a few key guidelines. Proof your yeast by mixing it with warm milk and watching for bubbling activity before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Create a warm environment for rising by placing the covered dough in an oven with just the light turned on. Check for foam and full size when rising times are given. And remember, patience and close attention paid to the cues in the recipe will take you far!

Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns Recipe

Preparation and Cooking Time:

  • Preparation: 30 minutes
  • Cooking: 25 minutes
  • Rising: 3 hours
  • Total: 55 minutes


  • Yields 12 servings
  • Calories per serving: 542 kcal


  • Recipe by The Chunky Chef


For the Dough:

  • Whole Milk: 1 cup
  • Granulated Sugar: 2/3 cup
  • Active Dry or Instant Yeast: 1 1/2 Tbsp (about 2 packets)
  • Butter (softened, bite-sized pieces): 1/2 cup
  • Large Eggs: 2
  • Kosher Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • All-Purpose Flour: 4 1/2 cups

For the Filling:

  • Butter (softened): 1/3 – 1/2 cup
  • Light Brown Sugar: 1/2 cup
  • Ground Cinnamon: 1 1/2 tsp

For the Topping:

  • Butter: 1/2 cup
  • Packed Light Brown Sugar: 1 cup
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp
  • Maple Syrup (real): 1/4 cup
  • Heavy Cream: 3 Tbsp
  • Chopped Pecans: 1 1/2 cups


  1. Preparation:
    • Grease a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil.
  2. Dough Making:
    • Warm milk over medium heat, mix in sugar and yeast in a stand mixer bowl. Wait for the yeast to become foamy.
    • Using a dough hook, mix in butter, eggs, and salt on low speed. Gradually add flour. Increase to medium speed until a soft dough forms.
    • Adjust dough texture with extra flour or water if needed.
  3. Kneading:
    • Knead the dough on a floured surface, form a ball, and place it in the prepared mixing bowl.
  4. First Rise:
    • Cover and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled (about 2 hours).
  5. Rolling Dough:
    • Roll the dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle.
  6. Filling:
    • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread butter on the dough, then top with the sugar mixture.
  7. Shaping:
    • Roll the dough into a log, slice into 12 rolls.
  8. Making the Topping:
    • Combine butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla over medium heat. Stir in cream.
    • Pour caramel into a greased baking dish, add pecans.
  9. Second Rise:
    • Place rolls over caramel and pecans. Cover and let rise again (45 minutes to 1 hour).
  10. Baking:
    • Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  11. Cooling and Serving:
    • Let cool slightly, invert onto a serving tray. Serve warm.

Additional Tips:

  • No Stand Mixer? Use a bowl and wooden spoon, and knead by hand.
  • Yeast Check: Ensure yeast is frothy after mixing with warm milk.
  • Creating a Warm Spot: Use a slightly preheated oven for dough rising.
  • Slicing: Use a sharp serrated knife or unflavored dental floss for easy slicing.
  • Overnight Option: Prepare until the second rise and refrigerate overnight. Let rise before baking.

Enjoy this delicious, sticky, and sweet treat, perfect for a luxurious breakfast or brunch!