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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 (like pumpkin French toast casserole!)
  • 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

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 (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.

To round out your breakfast, this everything bagel breakfast casserole and spinach and bacon breakfast strata are also great make-ahead options.

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 1x
  • 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

Scale

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 (563g) 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
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling


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 glass or metal 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 2 minutes, 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 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. About halfway through the bake time, I recommend covering the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the centers can cook before the tops over-brown. Remove pan 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 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.

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I have made this recipe 3 times now. First time I cooked a little longer but like other reviews the first did not cook in the middle. The last couple times I cooked them in two pans and they were great!
    Thanks Sally for another great recipe.

  2. Sally, in the notes there is a special note about milk in the filling – but in the ingredient list I’m not seeing milk listed! I’m following the note and adding it – but wanted to say something if you needed to edit the recipe!

    1. Hi J.M, the note is about milk in the dough and the topping. No milk in the filling!

    1. Love these sticky buns!! Do to cook longer and in two pans. Still have an issue with some incomplete cooking in the very center.

  3. Hello! If I wanted to make a half recipe does the baking time need to be adjusted?

    1. Hi Melinda! Yes, the baking time will be shorter but we’re unsure of the exact time needed.

    1. Hi Annabel, Sure can! The rolls will be a little extra chewy

  4. Hi,

    I love your recipes! I would love to try this recipe unfortunately there is someone who’s allergic to maple syrup.
    Do you think I can change the maple syrup for something else?

    1. Hi Andreia, honey or light corn syrup would be the best options.

  5. Made these today and they are probably the best thing I’ve ever baked!

  6. Hi Sally, I would like to try making these for Easter. I am going on a very long car ride to visit family, and I was wondering if these need to be refrigerated. And would they still taste fresh after a few days of sitting out? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Natasha, these sticky buns are really best served warm. Is it possible to make them once you arrive? See recipe notes for a few different make ahead options. They will start to lose their freshness the longer they get from their initial bake. Let us know if you do give these a try!

      1. Yeah you were right. I made my sticky buns on Thursday, left Friday morning and served them on Easter Sunday. They were dry. But I’m glad I know for sure they need to be fresh! Anyone who reads this- eat them immediately! Lol

  7. I’ve made this recipe three times now and it’s fabulous!! I halved it the third time and that worked fine as well. I normally make these the day before but instead of leaving them out to proof before baking the next day I put them in the cold oven and turn it on to preheat. They proof while the oven heats up. Bake them around 20/25 mins and they come out perfect! Much quicker this way.

  8. Hello! So excited to try these tonight! Do you think I would be able to let the yeast activate and then use the dough setting on a bread machine? I have a really old hand-me-down mixer (poor college kid here lol) that wouldn’t handle dough very well!

    1. Hi Amy! We haven’t tested this recipe with a bread machine so we’re unsure of the results. Let us know if you do give it a try!

  9. I have been searching for a recipe for sticky buns since I cant seem to find any bakery in Mt Airy that makes them. These buns are buttery rich and the pecan topping is smooth and sweet, not gritty like some. Sally you are a genius to use maple syrup instead of corn syrup. I wonder, can you make this substitute in most recipes?

    1. Hi Marti! So glad to hear you enjoyed these sticky buns. It really depends on the recipe — sometimes maple syrup can be a find substitute for corn syrup, but that’s not always the case. We do successfully use the substitution in this maple pecan pie recipe as well. Let us know if you give it a try!

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