“My family has made these schnecken for most every holiday for as long as I can remember,” explains Seattle chef Tom Douglas. “Schnecken, which means “snails” in German, are basically pecan cinnamon buns. Once the schnecken were turned out hot from the pan and the top of the buns covered with gooey pecan caramel, the real struggle began—fighting my seven siblings for first crack at our favorite piece. It might have been the first time I realized that my rotundness and arm length gave me a distinct advantage over my sisters as I groped for the warm center of this classic pull-apart bun with cinnamon. After the center pieces were gone, I went for the ultra-caramelized golden brown corners.” We suspect you’ll be fighting for these as well given how tender and fluffy the buns, how ooey and gooey the caramel coating, and how decidedly and devilishly decadent the resulting schnecken or, if you will sticky buns. Trust us when we say you may just be surprised at how your loved ones lose a little of their decorum when going after these. And it’d be understandable.–Renee Schettler

When The Schnecken Beckons…

If you’ve yet to see the comedy flick The Birdcage, the phrase “When the schnecken beckons” will mean nothing to you. If, on the other hand, you’re quite well versed in the cult classic, the following video clip will require no introduction or explanation.

12 schnecken, pecan cinnamon buns, covered with pecan-caramel topping, and chopped pecans on a wire rack

Schnecken ~ Pecan Cinnamon Buns

5 / 9 votes
These schnecken, or pecan cinnamon buns or sticky buns, are ooey and gooey with caramel and chopped pecans. They've been in my family for years and I still make them to this day.
David Leite
Servings12 to 14 schnecken
Calories563 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Resting Time3 hours
Total Time4 hours


For the dough

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the bowl and pan
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, (or substitute 3/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface

For the pecan topping

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

For the cinnamon sugar filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


Make the dough

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the milk and sugar and heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, just until the mixture is lukewarm [about 110°F (43°C)]. Pour the warm milk mixture into a bowl and stir in the yeast. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Stir the salt into the yeast mixture. Beat the whole egg and egg yolk together and add it to the yeast mixture. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until you have a nice, smooth dough. Butter a large bowl and gently plop the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to allow the dough to rise for 2 hours, until tripled in volume.
  • Meanwhile, brush a 9-by-13-inch (23-by 33-cm) baking pan with some melted butter.

Make the pecan topping

  • Melt the butter with the brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture in the bottom of the pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

Make the cinnamon sugar filling and assemble the rolls

  • Gently punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 1 minute. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 15 by 12 inches (38 by 30 cm) and an 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let it cool slightly and then brush the butter over the surface of the dough. In a bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture evenly over the melted butter. Roll the rectangle up like a jelly roll, beginning at one long edge.
  • Slice the rolled dough into 1-inch (24-mm) thick slices and arrange them in the prepared pan, laying the slices flat on a cut side. Cover the pan with a piece of plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for about 40 minutes. (To make the rolls ahead of time, place the covered rolls in the refrigerator overnight. Let them set in a warm place for about an hour and then proceed.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • Bake the schnecken until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Check the rolls occasionally during the baking time, and if they seem to be browning too quickly, loosely cover them with aluminum foil.
  • Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. While the rolls are still warm, invert the pan onto a large platter or baking sheet. If any of the ooey gooey pecan caramel topping sticks to the pan, simply scrape it onto the tops of the rolls. Serve warm.
The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Adapted From

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 bunCalories: 563 kcalCarbohydrates: 71 gProtein: 6 gFat: 30 gSaturated Fat: 16 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 94 mgSodium: 318 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 42 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Tom Douglas. Photo © 2012 Ed Anderson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Every now and again you come across a recipe that you know will be with you for life, one to be enjoyed over the years and then taught to your kids before they leave home. These schnecken is just such a recipe. This is a crave-worthy treat.

When the schnecken beckons, this is the recipe I’ll go to. These pecan cinnamon buns are buttery, tender, and very rich and cinnamony—everything one could want in a cinnamon bun. I was transported back to my mum’s own cinnamon raisin buns when eating these (I cheated somewhat and subbed raisins into the filling instead of using pecans in the topping).

The overnight rise in the fridge really helped not only with time, but also with flavor, as the buns had a more complex depth of flavor than buns that are made immediately tend to have. As I eat gluten-free, I used a gluten-free flour blend, and this recipe still worked quite well. I’m planning on making this on Christmas Eve to have for Christmas morning.

I make cinnamon buns quite often in my house, but never with the sugary pecan topping, so I thought I’d make these schnecken (pecan cinnamon buns). That, and the fact that I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to say, “When the schnecken beckons.” The dough is absolutely beautiful. It’s soft and supple and bakes up fluffy and rich. The topping comes together with ease and clings perfectly to the buns when they’re unmolded.

As the recipe suggested, I made the buns and the topping, assembled them all in the pan, and left it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I let it proof on the counter while the oven preheated and with barely any effort we had beautiful, fresh sticky buns.

These are so far superior to anything one could buy. They’re well worth the effort.

These pecan cinnamon buns, as with any yeast product, do require a certain investment of time. However, a lot of that is hands-off time, and if you’ve some experience working with dough, these come together quite easily in between bouts of resting and rising. The end result is *very* gooey and extraordinarily sweet—next time I might knock back the amount of pecan caramel, but that is just my own preference.

We served them warm with cream and ate them with a spoon, which sidelined the problem (benefit?) of getting covered in caramel. This is down to your own discretion.

The next time I make these schnecken, I’m going to try and get some apple in there somewhere—maybe slices in between the rolls, or maybe grated and pressed dry and then rolled right up inside.

At my house, we all love cinnamon buns. Who doesn’t? This recipe for schnecken (pecan cinnamon buns) is another delicious addition to my repertoire. Decidedly buttery, almost brioche-like, the schnecken were as tender as could be, yet rich and substantial enough to hold up to the gooey caramel.

The only slight issue is that they’re best eaten warm, as the caramel got just a little too firm when the schnecken cooled to room temperature. I find that is a common problem with sticky buns; rewarming the schnecken softened it up again. All the neighbors were delighted to taste test this recipe for me. Everyone gave it a thumbs up.

The schnecken beckoned at my house yesterday. It was my mom’s 90th birthday and although most would love a cake filled with frosting, her favorite is a pecan cinnamon bun. These didn’t disappoint.

Everything about this recipe was spot on. I prepared the dough the evening before using instant yeast and my Kitchen Aid for kneading the dough. I left it in the fridge overnight and served them warm for dessert at dinner the following day. The aroma in my house was intoxicating and the results were Instagram-worthy and incredibly delicious.

They came out of the pan perfectly with all of their sticky goodness intact. Twelve hours later, they didn’t have that “right out of the oven taste” as they had when I first served them, but they were still soft and incredible. I stored them overnight wrapped in parchment and then a layer of foil. These appear more challenging to make than they actually are and should be tried by anyone who loves this type of sweet…be forewarned…they serve a crowd!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Egg Salad Without Mayo

Don’t let those leftover Easter eggs go to waste. This easy egg salad with caramelized onions is so lovely, you won’t even notice that there’s no mayo.

45 mins

Cheese Danish with Fruit Filling

A startlingly spectacular made-from-scratch cheese Danish that is going to forever change your notion of what a cheese Danish ought to be.

1 hr

Sweet Noodle Kugel

If you haven’t tried sweet kugel yet, you’ve been missing out. See why this creamy noodle casserole is a perennial holiday favorite.

1 hr

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Tamiko Lagerwaard, a recipe tester, used a gluten-free flour blend to create this recipe, and she stated it worked out fine and that they were lovely. I am new to the world of gluten-free and would really love to have more information from her as to the actual gluten-free flour blend she used (there are so many) and to her technique as GF doughs are much softer than Gluten doughs.

    We have a recipe we have used for 25 years on Christmas morning for overnight butterscotch rolls that actually has zero yeast. First one up takes them out of the refrig and then pops them into the oven to devour with coffee (or champagne). This is my first year of being gluten-free and would love to create a similar holiday experience. Thank Tamiko for me for helping my family out.

    1. Hello Suzi,
      I make my own blend, and it varies from time. I often add in other flours such as Cassava, Teff, or Buckwheat (unrefined absorbs more fluid than “white” buckwheat flour), or I’ll just use this as is. I live at high altitude, so you may need to experiment with your recipes to see how they work out as a ratio of substitution. You may find that adding in more almond flour will help if the baking is not of comparable quality to your former baking with wheat. The almond flour really makes a difference in stability and in texture.

      18 oz Sorghum flour
      18 oz Brown Rice flour
      12 oz Potato starch (not flour!)
      10 oz Almond flour
      4 oz Sweet White Rice flour
      4 oz Tapioca Starch
      4 oz Amaranth flour
      4 oz Quinoa flour

      Sift and then use a whisk to thoroughly blend and combine. I store this in a cold room, but if you don’t have one and you will use it quickly, you shouldn’t need to worry about it spoiling.
      Good luck with your new gluten free lifestyle! You’ll figure out the texture quickly and will be a dab hand at it in no time!

  2. 5 stars
    This is a divinely inspired recipe. You guys are gods among men. I do need to admit upfront I changed the “pecan topping” of this divinely inspired recipe. I substituted half and half for part for the butter and added orange zest. Otherwise I followed the recipe as directed.

    I just took a pan of the smaller rolls out of the oven. (the more narrow parts of the roll, baked at 350 for 27 mins) The 3 of us devoured 6 of them on the spot emphatically declaring, “THESE ARE SO UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING!!!!! SOOOO GOOD!!!!! THEY’RE THE BEST ONES YOU’VE EVER MADE!!!!!!” And they are.

    This pan of rolls we just ate was a test run for tomorrow. The pan of larger rolls are covered and in the fridge waiting for morning. I am excited to share them.

    Again, I just need to share how fantastic these rolls were. The dough on thesewas the prize. It was so soft and melt in your mouth lusciously delicious. I was so wanting and craving for rolls like this. Thank you, soooooo sooo, much!!!!! Your recipes are superb!!!!! You’re making me look so good!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

    1. Laughs. Jeanne, you have risen to deity status as far as we’re concerned for gilding that already rich and gooey topping with half and half. (Genuflects) Love that trick! Greatly appreciate you sharing that with us! And we’re thrilled that you, like us, find these to be the best darn sticky buns you’ve ever made! Rest assured, we test each recipe over and over again before we share it on our site to ensure it’s spectacular enough to elicit this sorta response. (And truth be told, close to half the recipes we test never make it to the site because they’re just not worthy.) But we’re not making you look good. Or rather, we’re only helping to do that. You’re doing that all on your own! We SO appreciate you taking the time to share your kind enthusiasm!!!

      1. 5 stars
        Renee, I loved your response!! The pleasure of its humor and kindliness wrapped in your way with words was truly a gift. Thank you very much!! This site is a treasure trove for me. I’ve been studying the recipes and I’d so love to make each and every one!!! Thank you, again, very much for the generosity and excellence of sharing so much of yourselves in this website. The love and joy you all put into your recipes is shared by those who enjoy something made from it! Truly!!!

    1. Just wait’ll you taste them, Natalie! The taste completely delivers on that amazing gooey appearance!