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 (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.

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 (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

  • 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 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.

78 Comments

  1. I made these last night and took them out of the fridge to bake this morning and they looked amazing and tasted great but they were undercooked 🙂 The buns in the middle were very undercooked. I baked for 25 minutes as suggested.

    1. I followed the recipe and ended up with soggy and undercooked buns in the center I tried to get them back in the oven still it was not cooked. Too much liquid I noticed. A little disappointed as I put a lot of time and effort into this.

      1. Karen Sharpnack says:

        Agree-the topping recipe had too much liquid and will never set. I used another recipe’s topping instead.

  2. Today I made these sticky buns. I honestly have to say that these are the best baked good I have ever eaten in my life. They are rich, soft and sooooo gooey. The pecan topping is seriously perfection. The flavors are heavenly. Is it a calorie BOMB? Yes. And it is worth every single calorie!

  3. Can walnuts be used instead of pecans

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You bet!

  4. Does it have to be pure maple syrup? I only have light syrup.

  5. Re topping: Is it possible to add the sauce last?
    Place rolls on dry pecans let dough rise. Add the sauce (pouring from the side of pan) before baking?

    I did: putting topping in the fridge before adding rolls. After rolls rise, I flip rolls upside down (soggy side on top) before baking. It’s working for me.

    My oven heat source is on the top, which means the bottom of rolls will not cook properly.

    1. Hi Linda, you know– I’ve never tried the recipe that way before. I fear any of the sauce that lingers on top of the rolls will quickly burn since it’s so sugar heavy. Let us know if you ever try it though.

      1. Hi Sally,
        I added enough of the sauce to just barely covered the pecan and refrigerate. Once it’s harden I add the rolls (I made smaller rolls 24 rolls. Also use tangzhong method for the rolls) and let it rise. Right before baking I added the rest of the sauce; pouring it on the side and gaps but not directly on the rolls. The rolls came out perfect. No more soggy dough! Been baking this way 4 times now. Thank you so much!

  6. Delicious! I did have a bit of trouble getting the center rolls to fully cook (they were raw and sunken after I took them out). The outer ones were getting darker and more dry when I threw them back in the oven, so I eventually put the center 6 rolls in a smaller pan and cooked them 20 minutes longer. Don’t know if you have any added tips to help with a more even bake in the future?

  7. Mikell Worley says:

    I used 1/4 cup water instead of 1/4 cup milk and it was sublime. Perfect! I’ve been making sticky buns for years and these are the best I’ve ever made! Thank you.

  8. I have attempted to rise my yeast twice for these buns.
    It’s not happening.
    Milk is 95degreesF, sugar 2/3 cup mixed into milk, yeast sprinkled on top.
    Help!! I’m half way through recipe.

    Ps, I love your website and lots of your recipes are bookmarked. Artisan bread is being baked at the moment, it’sa Regular.

  9. Maggie Medjuck says:

    I’m reading through your Baking Addiction book, tagging every recipe I want to make- might as well just start on page 1 as almost every page so far is tagged.
    Question re: rolls- Would you recommend adding the yeast to dry ingredients, then adding warmed liquids, OR add yeast to warm liquid with sugar, wait till it foams, then continue?
    I’ve used the latter method on the recipes I’ve made from your website, so wondering if I should stick to that method. Oh, my yeast always activates.
    Thanks- I cannot wait to make your Grandma’s Sticky Pecan Rolls!
    Maggie Medjuck

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maggie, If used before the expiration date, proofing the yeast in warm liquid isn’t really necessary with modern active dry or instant yeast. We definitely do it alot (as with this recipe), just to be extra certain the yeast is alive. But for the recipe in the book we don’t find that step necessary. You can use whichever method you are comfortable with!

    2. Maggie Medjuck says:

      Thank you so much for responding. I can’t wait to get started on more new recipes, and I’ll let you know how they turn out.
      Maggie Medjuck

  10. These cinnamon rolls were awesome. I had to bake them about 15 min longer than the recommended time bc the middle rolls were way undercooked and doughy. This recipe is definitely worth the time and effort.

  11. Betin Santos says:

    I just made sourdough version of these cinnamon rolls. I already had my starter and was making my dough, but needed a good topping recipe. I didn’t have pecans, so I used sliced almonds instead. The sticky topping for this recipe was amazing. I also used Sally’s tips for proofing overnight with slight warm up in the morning before baking and it was perfect. I didn’t have to keep them out as long to rise as the heat from the topping (still a bit warm) the night before helped the overnight rise in the fridge. Yummy!

  12. Hi!! This recipe looks delicious! I’m making it tonight to be baked in the morning and I’m wondering when I take out of the fridge to let it rise should I leave it covered or uncover it?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tanya, you can keep the rolls covered during that rise. Enjoy!

  13. Lovell your recipes! Have tried so many in the past year and learnt so much, so thank you!
    Question – Do you think we can use your homemade salted caramel instead of maple syrup?

    1. Hi Ami, thank you so much! I haven’t tested that swap but I fear the butter/cream in the caramel would turn this topping into a greasy mess. I recommend sticking to pure maple syrup.

  14. This is not it. I baked the original favourite cinnamon roll a few weeks ago for Mother’s Day and it was 10/10. This recipe didn’t work as well. My topping was soupy and the buns over proofed making them hard to bake…For both rolls I did the overnight option.
    This is the first time a recipe on your site was a thumbs down for me.

  15. Followed the directions as is and the end result was awesome. Topping was perfect, rolls were soft and big, sweetness was just right. I’ve yet to be disappointed by your recipes

  16. Hi! Does the dough form a ball on the hook? Mine is still sticking to bottom of bowl and I don’t know if I should add more flour…

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Myriam! Yes, you want the dough to come together in the mixer. Feel free to add a little more flour to make a soft, yet workable dough.

    2. Could these be parbaked the night before and then finished off the next morning?

  17. This recipe was a big hit! I was making them in a few days in advance so opted for the par-bake then freeze option and it worked out great. The morning of, I took them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter to take off the chill as I pre-heated the oven, then popped them in covered for close to 25 mins. I also made the dough by hand with a wooden spoon and my hands, not a stand mixer, and it came together super super easily with just a few minutes of kneading.

  18. Roberto Bostoni (Bob Boston) says:

    Grandma Boston helped me bake a coffee cake when I was nine years old. Since then I’ve baked a lot of bread, but this only the third sweet thing I’ve baked since. And I’m sure glad I did! My dough never did come together as I expected, but the finished product is still delicious. As Bob Hope used to sing, “Thanks for the recipe.”

  19. Hello! I had two questions to ask about your sticky buns, firstly, do you have to make any adjustments to the quantities or cook time if you decide to cook it WITHOUT the pecans? And secondly, same question of any changes in quantities and cook time if I use this sticky bun sauce on your giant cinnamon bun recipe that makes only 8 buns?

    Thanks so much!!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shelby, no changes necessary when omitting the pecans. And it should be the same quantity when using this sticky bun sauce on the big giant cinnamon rolls, too. Enjoy!

  20. Can these be left in the fridge UNBAKED for 36 hours before baking and/or can i freeze them UNBAKED then bake them a few days later?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shannon, we don’t recommend leaving them in the fridge unbaked for that long, but see recipe notes for how to freeze the unbaked rolls.

  21. The dough is amazing, so smooth and lovely to work with. I didn’t get much rise on the two raises (1.5 hrs and 1 hr), but still had great texture and oven spring when they baked, I think they tripled in size in the oven! I’m not sure why that happened. Maybe I will knead more or let them raise longer next time? I was a little impatient this time.

    I took one star off for the topping, I knew from previous sticky bun experience that the overcooking the topping just a tiny bit can make the final product go from smooth and delicious caramel to a rock candy texture (and I noticed some people in the comments here had that issue too). So I only cooked the sauce until the sugar and butter were fully dissolved, I didn’t simmer it past that. I also used heavy cream in the topping rather than milk, as it tends to stay emulsified better when heated. And the topping was just right after cooking them! Perfectly smooth caramel texture, and didn’t harden to a rock even after the sticky buns cooled.

    I also used honey instead of maple syrup, since its easy to get local honey near me but hard to get real maple syrup. The flavor definitely comes through, so I recommend getting a good quality honey or maple syrup!

  22. I’ve tried to make this on multiple occasions and it was always either undercooked or too soggy about an inch inward from the sides. Upon further research of the ingredients for the topping, I determined there was nearly a third a cup of water from both the milk and maple syrup. If all we do is simmer it for a minute, you’ll never drive off that excess water. So I tried it over low medium heat for north of five minutes with constant sitting with a whisk. It came out so much better and not nearly as soggy.

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