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.
- 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). Just 45 minutes to an hour this time.
- 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.
To round out your breakfast, this everything bagel breakfast casserole and spinach and bacon breakfast strata are also great make-ahead options.Print
Maple Pecan Sticky Buns
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
- Yield: 12 buns
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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 (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 or bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for hands/work surface
- 2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil for bowl (or use nonstick spray)
- 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
- 1/4 cup (57g) 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/rubber 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 rubber spatula is a better choice.*
- On medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar (which should be 1/2 cup) 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 on low speed for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
- 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 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 with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment again for about 45–60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake rolls for 25–30 minutes or until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan 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.
- 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. 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 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 9 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 for 15–20 minutes right before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rolling Pin | Glass Baking Dish | 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 1 and 1/2 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 45–60 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.
Reader Comments & Reviews
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
I was reading through this recipe (considering making it for a neighbor) and noticed that she just updated it (2021) and reduced the milk to 1/4 cup in the topping.
Can you cut the recipe in half ?
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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 🙂
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.
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?
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!!!
I made these and the entire family loved them! We even shared them with our neighbours in the attached unit of our duplex. The only question I have is about the caramel sauce. I followed the instructions but I found the caramel sauces wasn’t creamy or sticky enough. If anything it was kind of crumbly with the pecans. Where did I go wrong? I was expecting to have it run down a little over the sides but it didn’t. It was more of a solid topping.
Hi Lori! It sounds like the caramel could have been over-cooked to the point that it partially solidified. It will thicken as it sits before using– did you make it far in advance by chance or change any ingredients/quantity of ingredients? If desired for next time, try adding a few more Tbsp of whole milk to help keep it thinner.
I didn’t change any of the ingredients. After I made the topping and poured it into the baking dish over the pecans, I let it rest for 30-40 minutes to cool enough to put the buns on top and let them rise again for another hour before baking. The second time I made them I placed the glass baking dish on a cookie sheet to see if that would distribute the heat more and maybe the topping wouldn’t separate but that didn’t help either.
I just made these using the overnight fridge method. I was nervous, as I’m super new to baking with yeast, but they turned out wonderfully! I halved the recipe (since it’s just me and my husband), and I had to use a bigger dish than I wanted to, but it turned out to be a good thing – those bad boys expanded a lot in the fridge and oven, and filled the whole dish. I’m saving this recipe for the next time I host a brunch!
I made this today and it looked promising. I had read comments that the middle bun tended to be undercooked so I was watching for that, did end up having to tent with aluminum foil for last half of cooking and didn’t pull until the middle also felt cooked and not doughy/springy. I cooled my pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. When I inverted the baking pan, all the yummy caramel sauce, and the middle part of the roll, stayed stuck to the pan. What did I do wrong?
Hi Jodie! Thank you so much for trying these sticky buns. Tenting cinnamon/sweet rolls with foil always helps promote even baking– I always make sure to do it when the rolls are baking. For the topping sticking to the pan after inverting– was your pan greased? Do you think you over-baked or under-baked the rolls? If you try making these rolls again, try inverting once they come out of the oven. If any sticks, I usually just grab a spoon and spoon it back on top of the rolls. Regardless, sorry you had trouble here!
These are the best! I tried making these a couple months ago but was having problems with the yeast, or so I thought. Despite this I Still thought they were really good. It turns out the yeast was fine, I was just not being patient enough with the rising. I would recommend you triple or quadruple the rising times if you’re using regular active yeast. The second batch I made today was phenomenal, the dough was unbelievably soft. Same yeast, the only difference was I let them rise longer . Thank you for this recipe!
My wife and I have never had much luck with yeast bread dough recipes. Decided to try this recipe and it turned out fantastically. My daughter is a chef and she thought they were amazing! Will be sharing this with friends.
I had the same problem a few people have mentioned where the middle buns didn’t cook through, so I tried again and made them in 2 separate pie plates (as someone suggested in their comment. I still found the middle bun came out very doughy. The flavor is good though.
Hi Jennifer, Try moving your oven rack lower so that it’s further away from the heat source and you can cover the pan with aluminum foil if the outside is browning before the center.
LOVE THIS RECIPE! I just wanted to say that I make these in two separate pie dishes (6 in each) and it really helps to cook the buns evenly!
These were amazing Sally! I just baked them this morning after preparing them last night using your instructions and my whole family was raving. The dough was so amazingly light and fluffy and the topping was delicious! I haven’t ever tried it with maple and the flavor was perfect! Thanks for another perfect recipe!
What temperature should you reheat thawed buns and for how long?
Hi Theresa, I recommend that you keep them covered and heat them at 300 degrees F to your liking! Enjoy!
Sally, every recipe of yours that I have tried has turned out amazingly, and this one is no exception. This dough is the best I’ve ever made, I was a bit sceptical when I saw it in my mixer but when I pulled it out to rise, wow! I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into getting it right. And I love that you include the metric measurements too, which is just another detail that helps us readers get a consistently great outcome. Thanks for making such an awesome blog 🙂
Can I sub in bread flour for AP flour in this recipe?
Sure can! The rolls will be a little extra chewy 🙂
The dough was so fluffy. the maple pecan adds great flavour and while warm they are to die for! We ate half the pan while warm between 2 people
I made your maple pecan sticky buns yesterday & oh my gosh how great they taste. I love the simple form you put the recipe in as it was easy to read & follow. The rolls are great even without the topping. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
This was an excellent recipe! I will definitely be making again. I may try doubling the filling next time though. I felt like it needed my cinnamon sugar. I loved the maple pecan topping and the bread was great!
Made these this morning and added two tablespoons of bourbon to the caramel sauce. Yum! This was my first successful (read:”perfect”) cinnamon roll recipe as I always bake with whole wheat and it makes it trickier for proper texture for the bread. I think its was combo of your recipe, making sure the dough was adaquately moist and added vital wheat gluten that lead to a good bun. Thanks so much for the recipe! Im in love!
These are delicious. I made them for easter.
This week I turned them into pineapple upside down sticky buns . I made the same dough but used honey in the caramel sauce instead of maple and used fresh diced pineapple instead of pecans.
They are delicious!