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pecan sticky bun on blue plate with fork
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4.95 from 18 votes

Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns Recipe

These caramel pecan sticky buns are so soft and fluffy, and absolutely dripping in a maple caramel sauce that is out of this world!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Rising Time3 hrs
Total Time55 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel rolls, sticky buns recipe
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 542kcal

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry or instant yeast (about 2 standard packets)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff!)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (I like a mixture of chopped and pieces)

Instructions

Prepare

  • Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with a drizzle of vegetable oil and set aside.

Make the dough

  • In a small saucepan, heat milk over MED heat until warmed. Pour warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir in the granulated sugar and yeast. Let mixture sit about 5 to 10 minutes. Yeast mixture should be foamy looking and smell “yeasty”. This step to to activate the yeast and make sure it’s still good.  If mixture doesn’t look foamy, discard and start over with new yeast.
  • Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and add butter, eggs and salt, then mix on LOW speed until combined. Gradually add in the flour, in about 1 cup increments. When all the flour has been added, increase mixer speed to about MED, and mix about 5 minutes, or until a soft dough forms.  
  • Dough should be soft and smooth, slightly tacky but not sticky.  If dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, and mix until it’s soft and smooth.  If dough is too stiff, add some water, about 1/4 tsp, and mix until dough is soft.

Knead the dough

  • Lightly flour your counter or other flat surface and transfer dough onto it. Dust your hands with flour and knead by hand about a minute or so, or until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to prepared mixing bowl. 

First rise

  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap, loosely, and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Roll dough

  • Once dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle, roughly 12x18 inches in size. Use the rolling pin to make sure the dough is an even thickness.

Make the filling

  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Spread dough rectangle with softened butter, then top with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Gently use your fingers to pat the sugar/cinnamon mixture to help it stay in place during the rolling process.
  • Starting with one of the longer sides of the rectangle, roll up tightly into a log shape.  I find starting to roll one side, rolling away from you once, then moving down the line a bit and doing the same thing, repeating until you’re all the way across gives you the most even rolling method.
  • Once you have an 18 inch long log, carefully slice the log in 12 evenly sized rolls.

Make the caramel pecan topping

  • In a small saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla over MED heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in cream.
  • Butter or grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Pour caramel sauce into bottom of baking dish, lifting and tilting dish to make sure caramel is evenly coating the bottom.  Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top of the caramel.  

Second rise

  • Arrange rolls on top of the caramel and pecans, cut side up, then cover tightly with foil and let rise again for about 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until larger and puffy.

Bake

  • While the second rise is happening, preheat the oven to 375°F degrees, and once fully heated, bake sticky buns about 25 minutes. If you find the tops of the rolls are getting TOO golden brown, cover loosely with foil during the second half of baking.

Cool and invert

  • Remove pan from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes, then place a large serving tray or sheet pan over the top of the baking dish.
  • Very carefully, and using oven safe gloves/mitts, hold onto both the tray and the dish and flip them both over together to invert the rolls. Lift up the baking dish and set aside.  
  • Serve rolls warm, with additional caramel sauce if desired.

Notes

No stand mixer:

  • If you have one, by all means use it!  But you don’t have to use one, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t own one.  You just use a bowl and wooden spoon, but you’ll have to knead by hand until the dough comes together.
 

Check your yeast:

  • After sitting with the warm milk, the yeast should be frothy and foamy looking.  If it doesn’t, then that yeast is likely dead and won’t work for this recipe.  Start over with a new batch of yeast.
 

Make your own warm spot for the dough:

Most people, myself included, don’t necessarily know where a naturally warm spot is in their kitchen… or maybe it’s the dead of winter and there’s no warmth anywhere.  No worries!
  • Preheat your oven to 200°F and let it preheat for about 3-4 minutes.  Then turn your oven OFF, don’t let it get all the way to 200°F. 
  • Place the bowl of dough in the oven to rise. 
  • Alternately, you can turn on the light in your cold oven and add the bowl of dough to the oven with the door shut.

Easy slicing:

  • Slicing the cinnamon roll dough into wheels can be tricky.  Use a very sharp serrated knife, or some unflavored dental floss (seriously, make sure it’s unflavored – no one wants spearmint flavored rolls!).
  • Slide the floss underneath the log, bring both sides up, cross them over each other, and pull tight.  Easy slices!

To make overnight sticky buns:

  • Complete steps up to the second rise (but don't do the second rise).  Place the rolls on the caramel/pecans in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate 8-18 hours.
  • Remove baking dish from refrigerator and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, then uncover and bake as directed.

Nutrition

Calories: 542kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 181mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 3mg