Honey Bun Cake

Incredibly soft and buttery honey bun cake with a spiced sugar filling and a shiny glaze. This all-time classic is really easy to make and takes only minutes to prepare. 

angled shot of slice of honey bun cake on plate


Although desserts of all shapes and flavors are amazing, sometimes the heart wants a good old classic. Honey bun cake is one of my favorite recipes because it’s so simple to make and tastes like a warm hug! 

This spiced cake is ideal as a last-minute dessert for gatherings, bake sales or sweet treat on coffee breaks. Made with yellow cake mix, this recipe is so easy and completely foolproof.  And did I mention it tastes just like a honey bun in cake form?! That brings back my childhood.

overhead shot of honey bun cake in pan

Why This Honey Bun Cake is Great

A moist yellow cake with a cinnamon sugar layer and sweet vanilla glaze on top- what’s not to love!

  • Incredibly soft: This is hands down one of the softest cakes I’ve ever tried. It’s buttery, fluffy and melts in your mouth. 
  • Chewy, sticky goodness: This honey bun cake has a chewy and sticky caramelized filling, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The honey glaze on top is literally the icing on the cake, because it makes this dessert incredibly delicious! 
  • Semi-Homemade: This recipe uses yellow cake mix, and the remaining ingredients can be found in most kitchens. 
  • Uses REAL Honey– So many of the honey bun cake recipes out there don’t even use actual honey. If you look on the ingredient list of a Little Debbie confection, it clears states honey and we wanted ours to be as close to the real deal as possible.
  • Double Icing– Listen, the icing is the best part, so I double it and no one complained!
straight on shot of slice of cake on plate


Apart from the cake mix, all ingredients used in this recipe can be found in most pantries. Let’s have a look at what you need: 

  • Boxed yellow cake mix – any boxed cake mix will work, and one box is needed. You can also use your favorite vanilla cake recipe to make it from scratch. 
  • Eggs – I recommend using large, organic eggs. Ensure they are at room temperature. 
  • Vegetable oil – any type of oil will work, as long as it’s flavorless and odorless. My favorite are canola or sunflower seed.
  • Sour cream – makes the honey bun cake extra soft and moist. Can also be replaced with heavy cream. 
  • Vanilla extract – optional, but highly recommended for a subtle vanilla flavor. 
  • Brown sugar – you can use light brown or dark brown sugar (or muscovado). I like to mix the two for a more interesting flavor, but feel free to use only one. 
  • Spices – ground cinnamon and nutmeg. You can get creative and try other spices like ginger, allspice and cardamom. Alternatively, feel free to leave out spices. 
  • Powdered sugar – used to make the sugar glaze on top. 
  • Milk – needed to turn the sugar into a glaze. You can also use lemon juice instead of the milk for a tangy flavor. 
  • Honey – gives a wonderful floral flavor to the glaze. I recommend using pure, raw honey in runny form. 
overhead close up shot of honey bun cake in pan

How to Make Honey Bun Cake

You are going to love how easy this delicious honey bun cake is to make.

  1. Mix ingredients. Combine all the ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. Use a whisk, spatula, electric mixer or hand mixer to combine everything into a smooth paste. 
  2. Add to cake pan. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. 
  3. Make filling. Combine the ingredients for the filling, then sprinkle them evenly over the batter.
  4. Thin rest of batter. Add a splash of milk into the rest of the cake batter and mix. Pour the batter over the brown sugar layer and spread evenly. Bake until golden-brown. 
  5. Make sweet glaze. Lastly, prepare and pour glaze over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let the honey bun cake cool, slice and enjoy! 

Tips & Tricks 

Check out my tips for the best way to ensure your honeybun cake recipe turns out perfectly.

  • Ignore cake mix instructions: although the recipe uses yellow cake mix, when making this honey bun cake you should ignore what the box says. Only use the ingredients in this recipe and follow the steps exactly. 
  • Thin out the remaining batter: The bottom layer cake batter is thicker in consistency, as it needs to hold its shape and support the sugar filling. For the top layer of batter, use ¼ cup of warm milk to thin out the mixture. This will make it easier to spread evenly, without clumping up or sticking to the sugar layer.  
  • Don’t overdo the icing: This yellow cake mix is already sweet and there’s a layer of pure brown sugar inside this cake. The glazing on top should be quite thin, so it doesn’t make the final cake sickly sweet. Replace the milk with lemon juice in the glaze to cut through some of the sweetness.  
  • Don’t overbake: This honey cake needs to be soft and extra buttery. Overbaking can make it dry and brittle. As soon as the cake looks golden-brown on top, do the toothpick test. There should be a few cake crumbs on the toothpick for the ultimate softness. 
  • Variation: Replace the sugar glaze with cream cheese frosting for extra tanginess and creaminess. I’ve tried it and it’s amazing! 
overhead shot of slice of honey bun cake on plate


There are plenty of ways you can make this moist cake your own.

  • Glaze – Replace the sugar glaze with cream cheese frosting for extra tanginess and creaminess. I’ve tried it and it’s amazing!
  • Swirl of cinnamon – Instead of making this cake in layers, you can add a cinnamon swirl throughout the batter with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Ice cream – To take this homemade honey bun cake to the next level, serve a slice of cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Add ins – You can always add something like walnuts or pecans to the batter or on top to give it a little crunch.

What to Serve with This Easy Honey Bun Cake

As with most rich desserts, I like to serve nine with a tall glass of milk. You can also serve it with a hot cup of coffee.

Other sweet treats that this cake would pair well with would be chocolate depression cake, cinnamon coffee cake, homemade cinnamon rolls or sweet rolls. Sometimes it’s nice to offer multiple dessert options as a party.

straight on shot of fork digging into slice of honey bun cake on plate

Storage and Freezing

You can easily store and freeze this delicious cake recipe.

How to Store Honey Bun Cake

This honey bun cake recipe is great because it stores really well. The cake will stay fresh for up to 4-5 days, so you can prepare it ahead of time. To store, place in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Can I Freeze Honey Bun Cake?

For longer storage, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3-4 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat if needed. 

overhead shot of icing in bowl

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angled shot of slice of honey bun cake on plate with text overlay
angled shot of slice of honey bun cake on plate

Honey Bun Cake Recipe

3.91 from 22 votes
A soft and buttery Honey Bun Cake recipe with a spiced sugar filling and a shiny glaze. This classic is EASY to make in under an hour!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12


Honey Bun Cake




Honey Bun Cake

  • Pre-heat oven to 350F and line a 9 x 13 inches baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl add the yellow cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and sour cream. Mix everything with a whisk until combined.
  • Separately, in a small bowl combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.
  • Pour half of the cake batter into the baking dish, leveling it with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle the sugar mixture on top, covering the cake batter evenly.
  • Add ¼ cup warm milk into the remaining batter and mix well. This thins out the batter and makes it easier to pour.
  • Pour the remaining cake batter over the sugar. Use a spatula to spread it evenly, covering the sugar entirely.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden-brown in color.


  • Prepare the icing a few minutes before removing the cake from the oven. In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and honey.
  • Mix the ingredients well into a smooth, lump-free paste.
  • Pour the icing over the hot cake as soon as it’s removed from the oven. Spread it evenly with a spatula.
  • Let cool down for 20-30 minutes, cut into single servings and enjoy!
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.


* Choose a flavorless vegetable oil like canola or sunflower.


Calories: 452 kcal, Carbohydrates: 66 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 20 g, Saturated Fat: 5 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0.2 g, Cholesterol: 66 mg, Sodium: 346 mg, Potassium: 93 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 48 g, Vitamin A: 201 IU, Vitamin C: 0.2 mg, Calcium: 137 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Calories: 452
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: honey bun cake
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of honey bun cake
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for showing how to layer the brown sugar, I always wondered how that was done. Looks delightful!