Sticky Buns

Sticky buns are the ultimate in sweet gooeyness. These cinnamon-filled, caramel-pecan topped lovelies are no exception. Perfect warm or at room temperature.

A sticky bun topped with caramel and pecans on a plate, with more sticky buns in the background.

These gooey, dark gold buns feature thick cinnamon filling and a topping of rich brown sugar sauce sprinkled liberally with pecans. We guarantee these will rival (or surpass!) any bakery sticky buns you’ve ever enjoyed.–King Arthur Baking Company

How long do sticky buns last?

Well, it all depends on how fast you can stuff them into your cake-hole. If you happen to be one of those elusive eaters who can be trusted to not overindulge around anything sweet, then you can look forward to these sticky buns lasting at least a couple of days. They’ll still be fine after that but will turn a touch dry and lose some of their doughy lushness.

Sticky Buns

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 16 H, 30 M
  • Makes 12 buns
Print RecipeBuy the The King Arthur Baking Company’s All-Purpose Baker’s Companion cookbook

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Ingredients

  • For the starter
  • For the dough
  • For the filling
  • For the glaze

Directions

Make the starter

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, water, and yeast, stirring until fairly smooth. Cover the bowl and let the mixture rest at room temperature (cooler than 75°F [24°C]) overnight, or for 12 to 16 hours. The starter should be puffy and bubbly.

Make the dough

If using a mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the overnight starter with all the dough ingredients and knead until the dough is soft and smooth, 2 to 5 minutes.

If kneading by hand, in a large bowl, mix the overnight starter with all the dough ingredients and knead until the dough is soft and smooth, about 7 minutes.

Cover and let the dough rise for about 1 hour; it will become slightly puffy but won’t double in bulk.

While the dough is rising, prepare the pans: two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans or a 9-by-13-inch (23-by 33-cm) pan. Spray with nonstick pan spray or lightly grease with vegetable shortening or butter.

Make the filling

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Make the glaze

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the syrup, rum, if using, and melted butter. Pour the glaze into the pan, or divide it evenly between the pans if you’re using 2 pans. Sprinkle the brown sugar and pecans on top of the glaze.

Tester tip: Lining your pan(s) with parchment paper will make for easier removal of your sticky buns.
Assemble

Lightly slick your work surface with butter. Move the dough to the work surface and roll it into a rectangle approximately 14-by 20-inches (35-by 50-cm).

Spread it with the prepared filling, leaving an uncovered strip about 1 inch (25 mm) wide along one short end of the dough. Starting with the short end without the filling, roll the dough into a log and slice it into 12 slices, each about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (25 to 31 mm) wide.

Place the buns in the prepared pan(s), leaving about 1/2 inch (12-mm) between them. Cover the pan(s), and let the buns rise for 90 minutes; again, they won’t rise much, they’ll just seem to spread a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

Bake the buns, tenting them lightly with aluminum foil for the final 5 minutes if they appear to be browning too quickly, until golden brown, 22 to 35 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the buns with a knife, then carefully (the sugar is hot!) turn them out (upside down) onto a wire rack placed over a parchment-covered baking sheet to cool, scraping any glaze that may have stuck to the pan onto the warm buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Print RecipeBuy the The King Arthur Baking Company’s All-Purpose Baker’s Companion cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

OMG - these are delicious! And yes, they are now officially a favorite. I really liked the dough; so pillowy and aromatic. Overall, the recipe is pretty easy and it all come together nicely.

These sticky buns really are terrific. And don't just take my word for it—I made these to take to coffee with friends and their comment was “better that any bakery sticky bun they have ever had.”

Dang, these sticky buns deserve every decadent adjective that comes to mind. They're over-the-top indulgent and insanely sweet and gooey. Picture tons of sticky caramel and chopped pecans twisted inside tender dough. To eat, I found myself methodically uncoiling the rolled dough, bite after bite, savoring this extravagance. How could I rationalize eating a second bun? I couldn’t. I ate another one the same way. I knew these buns needed careful monitoring and allocation or I'd have family conflict. There could be no sneaking or casual nibbling.

These days, I find myself avoiding baking recipes that require precision and more planning than I have bandwidth. This wasn't the case here. The recipe was approachable and forgiving—especially during the assembly phase. The steps were super easy for this beginning baker to execute. I felt quite accomplished with my results. And they looked just gorgeous!

These are excellent sticky buns. They're beautiful spirals of cinnamon surrounded by very tender dough. They aren't a “bread” type bun. The dough I’ve been searching for is a soft, flavorful dough and then baked in lots of goo and pecans. You need not look any further for your forever sticky bun recipe.

I particularly liked that you make the sponge the night before or even in the morning. You can set the rolls up completely in the evening so all you have to do is pop them in the oven in the a.m.

I think that two 9” pans are your best choice for baking as it's easy to flip them out on a pretty platter and you can make a batch without nuts for people that just don’t know what they are missing. I think they will appeal to anyone who loves gooey rolls.

I would suggest you use a good toss of flour on your counter and rolling pin when you roll them out. Smear a little bit of butter on the top of the dough before you sprinkle with filling. A 14 x 20 rectangle gives you lots of circles of flavor as you roll them rather tightly.

They bake up in 35 minutes, filling the kitchen with wonderful smells, bringing everyone in looking for a big gooey roll, a tall glass of cold milk. Or better yet, a hot cup of steamy coffee.

No matter how old you are, it’s important to learn new lessons or relearn old ones. That was the message to me after doing this recipe. The lessons for me: Cooking is not something to do when you are in a hurry, and always read through the whole recipe, maybe twice, before getting started. I failed both and ended up mixing the brown sugar into the syrup-butter mixture. The recipe is forgiving enough that I don’t think it affected the end result, but I will have to try it again and do it the right way. All in all, a pretty simple, if time consuming, sticky bun recipe that results in buns that are so good you just want to keep eating them.

About that end result – luscious, light and immensely tasty sticky buns. I was particularly impressed with the dough. It was easy to put together and very easy to work with. And when baked became soft and light, which was a nice surprise. Sticky buns can often be pretty dense but not these.

The one argument I had with the recipe was the filling – just granulated sugar and cinnamon. When I was rolling up the dough, the filling was not cooperating and I ended up with gaps in the swirls. And when I cut the rolls to put them in the pan, a good deal of the filling spilled out. Rather than just spreading the filling, perhaps the recipe could say press the filling into the dough. And as for the gaps…They pretty much closed up in the final proof and baking, which was nice because I’ve done other buns where the gaps only got bigger. I was skeptical that the buns would drop out of the pan but that fear was misplaced.

And I found the best way to flip them out was to put the rack on the pan with the buns and flip the whole thing over into the parchment-lined baking sheet.

These sticky buns are good. They're soft and airy and my family enjoyed them.

That said, there are a few things that I'll do differently the next time I make them. I'd start these sticky buns first thing in the morning the day before I want to serve them. I know that's a long time to plan ahead, but I think it'll save time and you'll not have to get up in the dark to have them for breakfast. I'd make the starter first thing in the morning on day 1 and let it sit for 12 hours.  I'd make the dough, let it rise for an hour while I prepare the pans and make the filing and the glaze. Once the dough has risen for an hour, I'd cover the sticky buns and put them in the refrigerator overnight to do the final rise. That way I could get up in the morning, set them on the counter to come to room temperature and finish rising while I heat the oven.

The other adjustments I would make is to cut the filling down by 1/2 - we all agreed they were a little too sweet, and I'd use pecan halves for more pecan taste and a prettier presentation. The directions say that after the filling is on the dough, start to roll the dough at the short end without the filling. I think it would be better to start at the end with the filling so that when you finished rolling the dough, you could use the end without the filling to seal it. These changes would make this a super recipe.

BTW, since there are only two of us in the house, I used two round cake pans to make the sticky buns. Before the final rise, I put one pan in the freezer to finish preparing on another day.

This recipe lives up to its name. If it is not your favorite sticky bun, it will be after one bite. This will be part of my regular repertoire. I am partial to a good sticky bun and this recipe with its pecan rum glaze was very enticing.

The dough was easy to make. I prepared the starter at 6 pm on the day prior to mixing the dough. I had some interruptions and the starter rested for 20 hours before I was able to mix the dough. It seems to be very forgiving. I checked the starter first thing in the morning and it was bubbly and had doubled in size. At the time of mixing, it retained a bubbly stretch quality.

I combined the starter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mixed it using the dough hook. The dough was soft and smooth and the butter was fully incorporated after 4-5 minutes. I think using the dough hook, in this instance, is easier than mixing the dough by hand.

I left the dough to rise for an hour as directed. At the end of the hour, the dough was elastic and fluffy. I prepared two nine-inch cake pans. I rolled out the dough and placed the individual pieces in the prepared pans. I noticed that a lot of the cinnamon sugar fell out of the buns when I transferred them to the pan. I scooped it up and sprinkled it over the pan. Adding a might be a thin layer of butter on the dough before adding the cinnamon sugar might help avoid the sugar slippage.

I wanted to bake the buns on Sunday morning. As an alternative to the 90-minute rise, I placed the pans into the fridge overnight. Placing the dough in the fridge will slow the rising process. On Sunday morning, I took one pan out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours and then set it over a bowl of hot water for 10-15 minutes. I usually do this when making cinnamon buns during the holidays. I prepare the buns a day ahead and place in the fridge. I allow additional time for rising with an assist from a bowl of warm water and then bake as directed. Those wishing to prepare the buns for the next morning can do this and it has no impact on the quality of the final product.

I baked the buns at 350°F (180°C) for 25 minutes. I checked at 25 minutes and baked for a total of 35 minutes. I did not need to cover the buns with foil, they were golden brown at the 35-minute mark. The buns slipped out of the pan onto the wire rack with ease. The rum glaze was sweet but not too sweet. Yes, they did melt in the mouth. My husband loved them. These sticky buns deserve a place at any upcoming Easter or Mother’s Day Brunch.

I reheated the buns the next day and they had lost none of their deliciousness. There was a lot of glaze drizzled onto the parchment paper after removing the buns from the pan. I took this and added it back to the leftovers and it melted right into the remaining buns.

I froze the second pan and will let it defrost overnight before baking. I do not think freezing the dough will impact the product.

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