Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

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.

overhead image of maple pecan sticky buns with pecan topping on a white serving tray

Why have basic cinnamon rolls when you can have brown sugar, butter-y, caramel-ish pecan sticky buns? There’s absolutely no comparison. They’re tastier than you could ever 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 sugared, 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
  • An extra special Christmas breakfast or Easter brunch recipe

maple pecan sticky buns on a white serving tray

overhead image of maple pecan sticky buns after baking

Three Parts to Pecan Sticky Buns

There are 3 parts to today’s maple pecan sticky buns:

  1. The dough.
  2. The filling.
  3. 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 us all completely 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.

overhead image of maple pecan sticky buns with pecan topping on a white serving tray

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:

  1. Make the sticky bun dough.
  2. 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.
  3. Make the topping, then pour it into a greased baking pan.
  4. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 12×18 inches. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
  5. Spread filling onto the dough.
  6. 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!)
  7. Let the rolls rise (2nd rise).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

maple pecan sticky bun on a silver plate with a fork

Overnight Instructions

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 (step 5), 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
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maple pecan sticky buns on a white serving tray

Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 buns
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk*
  • 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons active dry or instant yeast (2 standard packets)*
  • 1/2 cup (115g) 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 (558g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for work surface

Topping

  • 2 cups (250g) chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (135g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Heat milk to about 95°F (35°C)– use microwave or stovetop. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer OR no mixer, but a stand mixer is ideal). Manually whisk in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with active yeast. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. The butter won’t really be mixing into the mixture, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping: Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread 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 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, give it a quick whisk, then pour over pecans. Set aside.
  4. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
  5. Add the filling: Spread softened butter all over dough. Top evenly with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. Cut into 12 even rolls. Arrange them on top of the pecan topping.
  6. Cover the rolls with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment again for about 45-60 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake rolls for 25 minutes or until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don’t over-brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Using oven mitts, carefully invert the pan onto a large serving platter. The warm topping will deliciously melt down the sides. Serve warm.

Notes

  1. Overnight Instructions: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 5. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1-2 hours before continuing with step 7.
  2. Freezing Instructions: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 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 7 for only about 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C). Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Then, finish baking them right before serving.
  3. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer, 5qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl, Glass Mixing BowlsRolling Pin, Glass Baking Dish, and Melamine Serving Platter
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar is wonderful for extra flavor, but light brown sugar can work in a pinch.

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.

ball of dough

Cover the dough in a greased bowl, then let it rise until doubled in size, usually about 1 and 1/2 hours.

sticky bun dough after rising in a glass bowl

While it rises, prepare the maple pecan topping. Here’s what you need, plus some whole milk.

ingredients for maple pecan sticky buns

Spread pecans into a greased baking pan. Boil the rest of the ingredients on the stove, then pour over pecans.

pouring liquid topping ingredients onto layer of pecans in a glass baking dish

overhead image of maple pecan topping in a glass baking dish

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.

sticky bun dough rolled into a rectangle and topped with a layer of filling

Roll it up tightly, slice, then arrange the rolls on top of the maple pecan topping.

maple pecan sticky buns in a glass baking dish before rising and baking

Cover and let the rolls rest overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. They’ll get nice and puffy like this:

maple pecan sticky buns in a glass baking dish before baking

Bake them.

side view of maple pecan sticky buns in a glass baking dish after baking

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?

overhead image of maple pecan sticky buns with pecan topping on a white serving tray

Eat your heart out! Your work here is done.

182 Comments

  1. I love ALL your recipes. You’re godsend i swear.. quarantine life has forced me to get back into something I love and that’s baking! Fortunately I found your site when covid hit and I cannot put my wish and flour down.
    This recipe was hands down amazing – followed it very closely with a few substitutions:
    Subbed maple syrup with honey (1:1). Added a dash of allspice and nutmeg to the filling. Used 2% with a bit of leftover heavy cream because I didn’t have whole milk around. I took a chance on my yeast mixture which wasn’t fully foamy but the rolls still came out perfect. Baked it on convection 375° for 18 minutes, didn’t cover with foil and it came out 10/10. Perfect amount of golden edges and gooey inside. Be sure to pack these rolls right next to each other prior to baking because they’re fun to pull apart!
    I’ve yet to turn my baking dish over and have the pecans at the top – I don’t have the courage!!!

  2. Sally, I love all your recipes. I’m an avid fan and have probably baked half of the things on your blog. This recipe is the first time something ever went wrong – the topping seems to have split. It’s very grainy and smells a bit odd, and I can see the fat from the butter oozing out. I didn’t make any substitutions at all and I used whole milk, and measured everything with a scale. Only difference was I used light brown sugar instead of dark but I can’t imagine that being an issue.
    Any idea at all what could have gone wrong? My boyfriend has been asking for these for weeks and I will probably try again, but any thoughts on what to do next time would be really appreciated 🙂

    1. Hi Raluca! Thank you so much for trying this recipe. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed so many from my website! I’m glad to help out with this one. The topping may have been overheated (stove too hot) or perhaps there wasn’t enough stirring as it heated. If you try the recipe again, see if you can stir the mixture more often as it boils. Then give it a quick whisk before pouring over the pecans. Should stay together nicely.

      1. I am a huge fan of your recipes as well…nearly always turn out amazing. A few things I did to modify…I used bread flour instead of all purpose. I always use bread flour when making a brioche bread and this is a bit like a brioche. It made the dough light, feathery and amazing. Sadly, my topping seamed to have broken too. I whisked it considerably as I stirred it on the stovetop as it boiled for the 2 minutes per recipe. I did another vigorous whisk prior to pouring it into my pan. I baked at 375 per recipe and have an internal thermometer in my oven to make sure it’s accurate. I’m wondering if 2/3rd of a cup of dark brown sugar is too much? Thinking of reducing that to 1/2 cup for the next time I try? Definitively tented my rolls at 14 minutes in…otherwise they would be way too brown. What else would you recommend to get the topping to stop breaking? It came out party nice caramel and part clumpy. Hmmm?

  3. Hi Sally – I just made these for dessert tonight (because why wait until breakfast?) and they are oh so decadent and wonderful! Another winner from your site. I had made your cinnamon rolls once before so I was fairly confident about making the dough. I had to sub half and half for the milk since that’s all I had and that worked just fine. I made a note to toast the pecans (I use raw pecans) so that they will stand up to the liquid better and have a deeper flavor.

  4. These were so great! I made with almond milk instead of whole milk because it’s what I had and everything still turned out perfectly! It’s cold here right now so the dough took longer to rise, and I had to do the second rise in the oven with a shallow dish of boiled water, but besides that everything worked exactly as expected and they’re so yummy!

  5. Sally, Do you think I’d be able to do this recipe but in the shape of the Giant Cinnamon roll Cake??
    OR perhaps do the Giant Cinnamon Roll Cake recipe and then just add the pecan maple topping ???
    I want to make a cake for father in law and he loves cinnamon rolls, but I believe he prefers the sticky ones vs the ones with icing on top!

    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carissa, This recipe makes more dough, but you can assemble it as a giant roll for a larger cake. Or you can try cutting the pecan topping in half and using that with the Cinnamon Roll Cake. Let us know what you try!

      1. Are the units of measure for the yeast really tablespoons? It seems a lot. I usually see bread/roll yeast recipes use teaspoons or the number of yeast packets for measurement for yeast.

  6. Can you cut the recipe in half ?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sue, we haven’t tested it but you should be able to cut the recipe exactly in half and use a smaller pan. Let us know how they turn out!

  7. I made the recipe exactly as shown. There seems to be too much liquid for the topping. If I were to make this again, I would omit the milk or cut it in half.

    1. You are correct, I’ve been cooking for 50years. I had to put the baking dish in the fridge before placing the dough in. It was like soup. I baked it an extra ten minutes and when I flipped it , it was soggy. I put the sheet pan back in the oven nut side up to salvage it. 20 more minutes made it edible. Don’t really need the maple either not with the brown sugar and cinamin. Sorry will not make again.

  8. Awesome. Dough is very soft. I used the overnight method. I think I need to increase baking time by 3 minutes for my oven. Thanks for a great recipe

  9. Wanted to love this recipe! Followed it to the letter, but like other commenters, the topping mixture appeared to curdle when heating as per instructions. I thought it might just look a little funny, so went ahead with the recipe anyways. Unfortunately the topping was terrible, and almost smelt like cheese (no, my milk was not off!). Whole batch and Christmas morning breakfast ruined

    1. Hi Amelia, I can imagine your frustration here. I took some time reviewing and re-testing this recipe as the topping has give others some trouble as well. Reducing the milk down to 1/4 cup seems to be helping if you ever want to try this recipe again. I really appreciate your feedback.

  10. Hi Sally, Next time you make these, would you post a close up photo of what they look like right when they come out of the oven? Like how wet they should look? I thought mine weren’t done, so I popped them back in and ended up overcooking them.

  11. The amount of liquid for the topping seemed too much. I only used half of it. The tasted great and next time I will omit the milk in the topping all tighter.

  12. I followed the dough recipe and despite crappy, cold NW temperatures, the dough rose nicely a second time and I had fluffy cinnamon buns that were delicious! Awesome recipe as usual, Sally!

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