These heavenly Pecan Sticky Buns are going to be your new favorite recipe! We loved the caramelized pecan topping and perfectly cooked rolls. If you love sticky buns you may also like my homemade Apple Fritters, Glazed Cake Donuts, and Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole!
Pecan Sticky Buns
This recipe just happens to be based off The Pioneer Woman’s Sticky Buns recipe currently being served at her Mercantile! (I made some changes to the topping and method) But let me tell you, these sticky buns are BEYOND delicious and loaded with texture and sweetness. It seemed a bit intensive at first, but it is really just a few easy steps divided over a few hours. Make sure you knew when you want your sticky buns to be served so that you can plan accordingly.
Should you want to break up the steps a bit, you can chill the dough overnight. In #8 of the instructions, it says “Cover and chill for 1 hour.” Instead of chilling for 1-hour, you will chill overnight. Don’t prepare the filling or topping until the next morning.
How to Make Pecan Sticky Buns
First off I just have to apologize for how intense this blog post is! Not only were these sticky buns so fun to bake and take pictures of, but there are a lot of steps in the process so I want to make sure anyone that is wary of working with yeast feels comfortable.
There are three main components to this recipe:
- Dough Filling
The dough is a bit different than other recipes I have tried in that you heat milk, oil, and granulated sugar in a saucepan and then allow to cool. This adds 30 minutes to your prep time, so I will typically wake up in the morning, make this dough starter, and then enjoy a nice cup of coffee and check up on facebook. After the milk mixture has cooled, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for 1 minute.
In a large bowl (if you use a very large bowl you can knead the dough right in the bowl!) add 4 cups all-purpose flour. Pour the milk mixture over the flour and stir with a spatula. It will be warm and sticky. Cover the bowl with a dish towel (or two towels if your bowl is really big!) and let it sit for 1 hour. After the hour is up the dough will look the same, as in it should not have changed size at all.
Now add in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In the bowl (or on the counter if you don’t have a big bowl) use your hand to knead the ingredients together. (This took me about 2 minutes.) Once they are all incorporated, cover the bowl again and chill for 1 hour. Because my bowl was too big for the refrigerator, I set the covered bowl in the cool pantry (about 50°F) for the hour. The dough size should increase a bit, but it will not be doubled in size.
I prepare my topping while the dough is chilling. If you are doing the overnight method, do not prepare your topping until the next morning.
While the dough is in it’s last “chilling” phase, I prepare the topping. It looks like it has a lot of ingredients and steps but in reality, it comes together in minutes. Just melt your butter in a medium to a large microwave-safe bowl. (I used a 4-cup measuring cup) Add in the brown sugar, honey, salt, vanilla, and whiskey. Stir with a fork to make sure ingredients are fully combined.
Now find a large baking sheet and line it with foil. Place the 12-inch skillet on the baking sheet and pour your chopped pecans into the skillet. (I did not prepare the skillet in any way, but our skillets are stored properly and seasoned.) Pour the butter mixture over the pecans evenly and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the sugar is bubbling. While the skillet is in the oven, prepare the dough filling and make your rolls.
Three easy ingredients: butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Make sure your butter is very soft. Have the brown sugar and cinnamon measured and ready to be sprinkled.
Making the Sticky Buns
After the hour of “chilling” place dough on a floured surface and roll a large rectangle. It should be about 30×10 inches. Try to keep it as much of a rectangle as possible. When I roll out round dough into a rectangle I start by using my rolling pin to make a plus sign in the dough. Then starting at the first corner, roll that corner out and away from the center of the dough. Move to each corner of dough and press out and away from the center of the dough. This will get you a pretty darn even square and from there you just keep rolling from the center to increase the length. You may need to stop and check to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to your counter.
Spread the Filling Ingredients
One of the most fun steps! Once your dough is rolled out into the 30×10 rectangle, spread the butter over the dough. I like the butter very soft and use a clean hand to spread it over every nook and cranny of the dough. Now sprinkle your sugar over the entire surface of the dough. Now sprinkle the cinnamon. (You can also stir the brown sugar and cinnamon together before sprinkling, but I didn’t want to dirty another bowl.)
Starting with the longest side, roll up the dough in a tight log like you would a jelly roll. Once rolled, cut into 16 individual rolls. I use a very sharp knife, but you can also use the floss method, which is sliding the floss under the dough log and then crossing the floss and pulling through.
It is a fairly thin dough, so each individual roll will be tightly compact.
Now get your hot skillet out of the oven (you may have already removed it at this point) and start to carefully place the buns into the hot bubbling pecan and sugar mixture.
Sixteen rolls fit perfectly in the 12-inch skillet.
Cover the buns with a kitchen towel and let them sit for 20 minutes on the counter. (Not the oven!) They should rise a bit.
After 20 minutes, place the skillet back into the oven for 30-40 minutes. I placed a loose tent of foil on the buns for the first 15 minutes.
Once they are done baking, remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Place a large serving platter on top and quickly flip the platter and skillet over so that the buns are now right-side-up on the platter. Lift up the hot skillet and be sure to let all of the sugared bits and pieces fall onto the buns!
How to Serve Sticky Buns
I happen to have a large round serving platter that worked perfectly for these sticky buns. It is 16-inches in diameter which meant that glorious sweet pecan sauce could spill down over the rolls and not make a big mess!
Can you use a 9×13 dish for this recipe?
You can. Although I have not tested it (I love my skillet!) it will work. I would still use the foil-lined baking sheet underneath the 9×13 dish just in case there is spillage.
Can you Freeze Sticky Buns?
If you want to plan ahead and freeze the buns, you sure can. I prepare the rolls up to the point where they are cut into individual buns. Place them into a baking dish lined with parchment and then cover the buns with plastic wrap (pressing down gently to remove as much air as possible) and then covering the dish with foil. Place in freezer. When you are ready to use them, remove from the freezer and allow to warm up to room temperature, about 12 hours or overnight. Then prepare the topping and follow the rest of the instructions.
More amazing breakfast recipes:
Homemade sticky buns based on the Pioneer Woman's famous recipes. They are perfection in every way!
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (¼-oz. pkg.) active dry yeast
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ cup salted butter, very soft
- 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (200g) brown sugar
- 1 cup (226g) butter, melted
- 1½ cups (300g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon whiskey, optional (I used Wild Turkey)
- 2 cups pecan halves, roughly chopped
In a saucepan over medium heat, add milk, oil, and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Stir and heat mixture to a soft boil (just barely bubbling), or about 5 minutes.
Set aside; let cool 30 minutes.
Once the mixture has cooled, sprinkle yeast on top of milk mixture, and let it sit 1 minute.
In a large bowl, add 4 cups of flour. Pour the milk & yeast mixture over the flour and stir until just combined. It should be wet and sticky and warm in temperature.
Cover with a kitchen towel, and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour.
After the dough has rested for 1 hour, remove towel. It should look the same. Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining ½ cup flour.
Knead to combine. (If you use a large enough bowl, you can knead the ingredients together right in the bowl.)
Cover and chill 1 hour.
Melt butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Add in the brown sugar, honey, salt, vanilla, and whiskey (if adding). Stir well and make sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Roll dough into a 30×10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. (Such as a clean countertop)
Using a clean hand, spread the soft butter over the surface of dough, making sure spread evenly and covering all of the dough, right up to the edge. Sprinkle with 1 cup brown sugar and then sprinkle with cinnamon.
Starting on the long side, roll up dough, jelly-roll fashion. Cut roll crosswise into 16 equal slices, and set aside. (Cut in half at the center, now cut each new section in the center, then cut each new section in half. This should be 16 pieces.)
Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on top of a foil-lined and rimmed baking sheet. Place pecans in bottom of skillet, and pour the butter and brown sugar (the TOPPING) mixture on top.
Place skillet in oven until sugar mixture is slightly foamy and bubbling, about 10-15 minutes.
After the 10-15 minutes, remove from oven and place rolls, cut side up, on top of melted and bubbling sugar. (Place the rolls carefully around the edges making sure to not touch the hot skillet)
Cover and let rolls rise, about 20 minutes.(This is outside the oven! Do not place rolls back into oven until they have risen for about 20 minutes!)
Return skillet to oven, and bake at 325°F until rolls are golden brown and sugar is brown and sticky, 30 to 40 minutes. (I covered the rolls with a loose foil tent for the first 20 minutes. This is optional.)
Remove baking sheet with skillet on it from the oven and let cool 15 minutes. Invert rolls onto a large serving platter. Best served warm!