Breakfast has never been more indulgent! These are my glorious make-ahead maple pecan sticky buns. This homemade sticky buns recipe will convert even the purist of cinnamon roll lovers. For best results, read through all of my instructions before beginning.
Why have basic cinnamon rolls when you can have brown sugary, butter-y, maple-y pecan sticky buns? There’s absolutely no comparison. They’re tastier than you could even imagine and give regular ol’ cinnamon rolls a run for their money. If you’re on team cinnamon roll, I guarantee this recipe will change your mind.
You’ll be on the big buns side in no time. And consequently, your buns may even get bigger.
Sticky buns > cinnamon rolls.
These Maple Pecan Sticky Buns Are:
- Rich and decadent
- Maple-y and nutty
- Packed with warm cinnamon spice
- Made with pure maple syrup
- Piled high with a sticky, brown sugary, caramel-y, buttery, maple pecan topping
- A make-ahead or overnight breakfast recipe, perfect for holiday entertaining
- Simple to prepare and can be started the night before (like pumpkin French toast casserole!)
- An extra special Christmas breakfast or Easter brunch recipe
3 Parts to Pecan Sticky Buns
There are 3 parts to today’s maple pecan sticky buns:
- The dough.
- The filling.
- The maple pecan topping.
Let’s quickly walk through each.
Dough: This is the same trusty dough I use for my overnight cinnamon rolls and maple cinnamon rolls. Which means (1) it’s dependable—I’ve used this dough at least 30x in the past couple years and am extremely confident with it—(2) it’s a make-ahead recipe, but doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can begin prepping these maple pecan sticky buns the night before OR you can completely prepare them in the morning. Choose which is best for your schedule. And (3) it’s loved. There’s a reason I turn to this dough recipe time and time again. The dough is buttery and soft—the softest, richest dough on my website.
Filling: Let’s grab dark brown sugar for the filling instead of granulated sugar. Why? Intense flavor! If you don’t have a bag of dark brown sugar, you can use light brown. We’ll combine the sugar with soft butter and cinnamon to fill the rolls.
Topping: Maple and pecan, you make me weak at the knees. I decided to introduce maple into the traditional pecan sticky bun topping because I wanted to avoid using corn syrup—and because I often crave maple in the morning! Corn syrup is typically used to make that gooey caramel topping, but there’s no reason why pure maple syrup can’t be subbed in. We’d be missing out on so much flavor.
How to Make Maple Pecan Sticky Buns
I have a lot of step photos to walk you through the process—you can find them below the written recipe. (Just keep scrolling down.) I include these step shots because I feel working with yeast intimidates most. And I don’t want you afraid of the stuff. Sticky buns aren’t scary!
Let’s review the basics of making sticky buns:
- Make the sticky bun dough. If you need extra help kneading the dough, my How to Knead Dough video tutorial will walk you through it.
- Let the dough rise (1st rise). Transfer the dough onto a floured surface, knead it, then place it in a lightly greased bowl. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1–2 hours.
- Make the topping, then pour it into a greased baking pan.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 12×18 inches. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
- Spread filling onto the dough.
- Tightly roll dough & cut into rolls. This should form an 18-inch log. Cut into 12 even rolls. Arrange them in the baking pan on top of the topping. (These rolls bake upside down!)
- Let the rolls rise (2nd rise). About 90 minutes, until puffy.
- Bake. The rolls take about 25 minutes to bake. Tip: halfway through the bake time, cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don’t over-brown.
- Flip rolls & serve. Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes. Using oven mitts, invert the pan onto a large serving platter. The warm topping will deliciously melt down the sides! Serve warm.
Baking with Yeast Guide
Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.
These maple pecan sticky buns are a great choice for holiday entertaining because they can be prepared the night before serving. To prepare the night before serving, simply place the shaped (unbaked) rolls on top of the pecan topping as instructed, cover the rolls tightly, then refrigerate for 8–12 hours. The next morning, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow them to rise on the counter for 1–2 hours before baking.Print
Breakfast and brunch have never been more indulgent and delicious than with these make-ahead maple pecan sticky buns! For step-by-step photos, scroll down below the recipe.
- 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 100°F (38°C)
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (14g) active dry or instant yeast (2 standard size packets)
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 and 1/2 cups (563g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil for bowl (or use nonstick spray)
- 2 cups (250g) chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup (135g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
- 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 56g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and the yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top. *If you do not own a mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/silicone spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula is a better choice.*
- On medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar (which should be 1/2 cup, or 100g) and the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Add the eggs and salt and beat on medium speed until combined. The butter won’t really be mixing into the mixture, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. Switch the mixer down to low speed and with it running, add 1 cup of flour at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated before adding the next. After 4 cups have been added, add the last 1/2 cup and beat until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Dough will be soft.
- Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 5 full minutes, or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 5 full minutes. (If you’re new to bread-baking, my How to Knead Dough video tutorial can help here.) If the dough becomes too sticky during the kneading process, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of flour at a time on the dough or on the work surface/in the bowl to make a soft, slightly tacky dough. Do not add more flour than you need because you do not want a dry dough. After kneading, the dough should still feel a little soft. Poke it with your finger—if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. You can also do a “windowpane test” to see if your dough has been kneaded long enough: tear off a small (roughly golfball-size) piece of dough and gently stretch it out until it’s thin enough for light to pass through it. Hold it up to a window or light. Does light pass through the stretched dough without the dough tearing first? If so, your dough has been kneaded long enough and is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading until it passes the windowpane test.
- 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter and it takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
- Meanwhile, make the topping: Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch glass baking dish or metal baking dish. Spread chopped pecans in an even layer in the pan. Set aside. Combine the rest of the topping ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted, then bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, give it a quick whisk, then pour over pecans. Set aside.
- Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick. If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier.
- For the filling: Spread the softened butter all over the dough. The softer the butter is, the easier it is to spread in this step. (Microwave it for a few seconds to soften if needed.) In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle evenly over the butter. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. If some filling spills out, sprinkle it on top of the roll. With an extra sharp knife, cut into 12 even rolls, about 1.5 inches each. Arrange in the prepared baking pan, on top of the pecan topping.
- 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until puffy, about 90 minutes. (Or use the overnight option in the Notes below.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake for about 25–28 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. About halfway through the bake time, loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the tops from browning too quickly. Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Using oven mitts, carefully invert the pan onto a large serving platter. The warm topping will melt down the sides. Serve warm.
- Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 7. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8–12 hours. (16 hours max. 8–12 hours is best, but 16 hours is OK if absolutely needed. Do not exceed 16 hours.) The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1–2 hours before continuing with step 9.
- Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 15–20 minutes.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | 9×13-Inch Glass Baking Dish | Rolling Pin | Cooling Rack | Melamine Serving Platter
- Milk: Whole milk or 2% is best for this rich dough and topping. Update to the recipe in 2021: I reduced the amount of milk in the topping from 3/4 cup to 1/4 cup to help avoid any separation issues. The topping stays together much better now with only 1/4 cup (60ml) of milk.
- Yeast: If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be slightly longer. I always use an instant yeast. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
- Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar is wonderful for extra flavor, but light brown sugar works too.
Keywords: maple pecan sticky buns, maple sticky buns
First, prepare the dough. You need yeast, warm milk, sugar, eggs, butter, flour, and salt. This is a very soft dough.
Cover the dough in a greased bowl, then let it rise until doubled in size, usually about 2 hours.
While it rises, prepare the maple pecan topping. Here’s what you need, plus some whole milk.
Spread pecans into a greased baking pan. Boil the rest of the ingredients on the stove, then pour over pecans.
Topping is all set. Now back to the risen dough. Punch it down to release air bubbles. Roll it out in a large rectangle. Spread softened butter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll it up tightly, slice, then arrange the rolls on top of the maple pecan topping.
Cover and let the rolls rest overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 90 minutes. They’ll get nice and puffy, like this:
Flip the entire pan over onto a serving plate and that hot, sticky, brown sugared, caramel-y, buttery, maple pecan topping is revealed. And man, does this smell divine! Who needs cream cheese icing when you have THIS?
Eat your heart out! Your work here is done.