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
When I flipped the pan over, a lot of the pecans and sauce stayed in the bottom of the pan. So I had to scrape off and spread on buns. What would cause this, not enough butter used to butter pan? Something else?
Hi Laurie! More butter would help to prevent sticking! If you try making these rolls again, try inverting once they come out of the oven. If any sticks, we usually just grab a spoon and spoon it back on top of the rolls. Regardless, sorry you had trouble here!
I was a little bit nervous about making the overnight version of this because of a previous review saying it was too cold and didn’t cook evenly, but it came out PERFECT for me so I wanted to encourage anyone who was hesitant to make it! As soon as I took them out of the fridge I allowed them to rise the second time on the stovetop for 2 hrs with the oven preheating, hoping that the warm stove prevented the issue a previous reviewer had with it not rising/cooking evenly due to being cold. It worked splendidly!
These are amazing. Made them for Christmas breakfast amazing,I would suggest everyone to try this
This is my second time making. I did the overnight method and it was nearly a fail. Pulled them out in the morning and let them rise 2.5 hours.. couldn’t wait any longer. When I pulled them out of the oven and flipped them out of the pan the bottoms were raw. I figure it’s because everything was so cold from the fridge. Popped them back into the oven with the nut side up and baked a few mins longer until cooked through. I wouldn’t recommend or ever do the overnight method again.
For those who are having trouble with soggy middles – I use two round cake pans to bake these instead of a 9×13 dish and they turn out perfectly. This also allows me to make a half recipe of cinnamon rolls and a half recipe of sticky buns so I can please everyone! 🙂 (The dough/filling is basically the same, so I just halve the topping/icing and bake in separate cake pans and boom!
It was good! I noticed a lot of people complaining about soggy middles so I was a bit worried, but mine came out perfectly cooked. When I covered the buns in foil midway, I also cut out a circle in it so the middle part would cook more. No problems whatsoever!
I always have that issue with cinnamon rolls, too, and was thinking about doing this. I’m glad to see your comment and I’ll try it next time! Thanks!
Ive made this once and they were very nice.
but i want to ask Sally if i can use maybe half of the topping
with the easy sweet rolls (only 1 time rise dough)?!
Hi Lily, you can halve the topping and use on other sweet roll recipes. Enjoy!
Can yo make these rolls in 2 round pans? I don’t have a serving platter that is big enough for a 9 by 13 pan.
Would that change the cooking time or the temperature?
Hi Jill, yes you definitely can! Bake time will be slightly shorter (same temperature) so keep an eye on them in the oven. Enjoy!
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.
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!
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?
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.
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!!!
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!
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.”
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.
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…
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.
Could these be parbaked the night before and then finished off the next morning?
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
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.
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?
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.
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?
Hi Tanya, you can keep the rolls covered during that rise. Enjoy!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Kathy I don’t know if you tried this recipe again. I had the same trouble (January 2023) and figured out on my third try that the sugar quantity needs to be divided into 2 Tbsp and 1/2 cup. I commented on this and it was finally published, and Sally’s team made the change to the recipe. Also, I recommend heating the milk to more than 95… take it up to 100 degrees. These changes made it all work out for me.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
Does it have to be pure maple syrup? I only have light syrup.
Can walnuts be used instead of pecans
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!
Made these for the girls and it turned out lovely. Not too much sweet to make you tired of it.
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.
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.
Agree-the topping recipe had too much liquid and will never set. I used another recipe’s topping instead.
I had this problem too. Going to make them again soon and alter the recipe I think unless anyone else has any fixes for them? They taste great though – around the edges they were cooked (I’m not out here eating raw dough).
I needed about 5 extra minutes uncovered, but I used an instant read thermometer to make sure that the interior was 200F inside before taking it out of the oven.
use 2 pans- 8 or 9 inch rounds. i always cut this recipe by half abd bake for 21 minutes-perfection
try using 2 8 or 9 inch round pans instead. bake evenly at 21 minutes for me