Pecan Roll Recipe (with Caramel Sauce!)

When I tell you that this recipe for sticky buns is an heirloom recipe, I am not kidding.

Pecan Sticky Buns are the best hot sticky bun recipe out there, made just the way grandma on the farm made them with a caramel pecan sauce. #stickybuns #stickybunrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

Old Fashioned Pecan Sticky Bun Recipe

It has been handed down through generations of farm works and gone by many names: Butterscotch Sticky Rolls, Caramel Sticky Buns, Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls, plain old Sticky Buns and many more.

A close up of text on a white background


 

Here, the on the weathered index card, you can see my great Aunt Beverly referred to them as Butterscotch Pecan Rolls. I’ve modified the name to Pecan Sticky Buns. There is no cutting corners here.

You will make the sticky roll bread from scratch, as well as the caramel sauce. Make sure you have time to allow it to rise.

By the end, you will swear to never make another homemade sticky roll recipe, but then you will have one magical bite and realize it was all worth it.

Pecan Sticky Buns are the best hot sticky bun recipe out there, made just the way grandma on the farm made them with a caramel pecan sauce. #stickybuns #stickybunrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

Pecan Sticky Buns aren’t an “everyday” kind of breakfast, even for farm life. My mother and aunt have fond memories of eating sticky buns fresh from the oven nearly every weekend, when there was no guilt associated with a breakfast of bacon, eggs and sugar.

Keep in mind, they were actually working a farm. Hard core manual labor. You needed to carbohydrate load every single day just to make it through.

Nowadays, they are reserved for holidays and special occassions. Not only does making them the old fashioned way take extra time and TLC, Pecan Sticky Rolls aren’t something you should indulge in everyday.

I generally pair mine with a fruit salad, just to feel a little better about myself.

Pecan Sticky Buns are the best hot sticky bun recipe out there, made just the way grandma on the farm made them with a caramel pecan sauce. #stickybuns #stickybunrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

What are Sticky Buns?

What are sticky rolls? Well, they aren’t cinnamon rolls, that is for sure, although they could be cousins.

The basic differences between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are that sticky buns generally have a butterscotch or caramel sauce along with nuts and cinnamon rolls are without nuts and have a glaze or frosting.

The two are commonly mistaken for each other, but both delicious.

Old Fashioned Sticky Buns ingredients

  • Active yeast – For fluffy rolls! Yeast creates little air pockets and makes baked goods fluffy and soft.
  • Whole milk– for the best results, whole milk with full fat makes the best rolls. This is not the time to watch calories.
  • Sugar and Brown Sugar- These are sweet rolls and they use a lot of sugar. It calls for light brown sugar but for more molasses, go for dark brown sugar.
  • Coarse sea salt– to help balance all of the sugar and brighten other flavors. If you are use fine sea salt, reduce the salt by half for smaller grains.
  • Eggs– For structure and binder in the dough.
  • Flour- For structure and loft.
  • Vegetable shortening– For the fat. This recipe does use shortening instead of butter.
  • Butter – I use unsalted and salted. You can use one or the other.
  • Light corn syrup– To build the topping and help dissolve sugar. It’s what helps to make it sticky!
  • Pecans – Sticky buns generally use crunchy nuts. Walnuts work too. If you don’t enjoy nuts, omit them.
  • Cinnamon– This recipe just uses cinnamon- things were basic on the farm! But you can swap this out for pumpkin spice or apple spice or even just add a few sprinkles of nutmeg or allspice.

How to Make Pecan Rolls

  1. Heat the whole milk in the microwave for 1 minute (scalded milk), but not over 112°F. Don’t let it go over 112°F or it can kill the yeast and it won’t rise. Proofing yeast is a step to make sure the yeast is active and alive.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook, or a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and salt.
  3. Add the hot milk and allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until yeast has activated, bloomed and smells fragrant. If yeast does not bloom, start over again.
  4. Stir in the whisked eggs and then half of the the flour. Mix with the bread hook until mixture is fully incorporated and dough drapes off of the hook. You can also use a large wooden mixing spoon and work those arm muscles!
  5. Stir in the melted shortening and remaining flour. Continue to knead with the bread hook or hands until dough is smooth and elastic, approximately 3-5 minutes. This helps to activate the gluten strands, making them long and stretchy.
  6. Roll the dough into a ball and place into a large, well greased mixing bowl. Turn once to cover all exterior. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes. Dough will double in size.
  7. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup over low heat. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved and fully incorporated and remove from heat. Do not overheat, or it will burn fast!
  8. Spray a 9×13 baking dish or two 9-inch circular pie plates with cooking spray. Pour the melted brown sugar mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish(es). Sprinkle with the pecans. Allow the topping to cool while you roll the dough.
  9. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  10. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle, approximately 14×22 inches, it doesn’t have to be exact. Brush the melted butter over dough and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  11. Roll the dough tightly from the short end. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 equal slices. Place slices directly on top of the pecan topping (either all 12 in the 9×13 or 6 and 6 in pie plates).
  12. Cover the rolls with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  13. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. If the tops start to brown, loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over top.
  14. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Now is the tricky part, you have to flip this bad boy onto a large platter. Choose a serving dish that is larger than your cookware and be careful not to burn yourself. Invert and serve warm.

How to Store this Sticky Bun Recipe

Sticky buns are best stored in an airtight container and at room temperature. I also like to microwave mine for 10-15 seconds to get them good and gooey again. They will last at room temperature for up to 5 days, but will start to dry out the longer they chill on your counter.

How to Reheat Sticky Buns

A large batch of sticky buns can be reheated in the oven at 300°F for 5 minutes. But you can also heat just one or two in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Pecan Roll Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls?

Sticky buns use a caramel or butterscotch topping with nuts instead of an icing or frosting, like cinnamon buns.

Why are my sticky buns soggy?

They might be soggy if the topping didn’t cook down enough, allowing the mixture to evaporate enough water or if the dough is undercooked.

How do you know when sticky buns are done?

Sticky buns are done when the tops are golden brown.

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Pecan Sticky Buns are the best hot sticky bun recipe out there, made just the way grandma on the farm made them with a caramel pecan sauce. #stickybuns #stickybunrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com
Pecan Sticky Buns are the best hot sticky bun recipe out there, made just the way grandma on the farm made them with a caramel pecan sauce. #stickybuns #stickybunrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

Pecan Rolls Recipe

4.47 from 52 votes
Pecan Sticky Buns are the best hot sticky bun recipe out there, made just the way grandma on the farm made them with a caramel pecan sauce. 
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients

Bread Dough:

Caramel Pecan Topping:

Cinnamon Filling:

Instructions

Rolls:

  • Heat the whole milk in the microwave for 1 minute (scalded milk), but not over 112°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook, or a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and salt.
  • Add the hot milk and allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until yeast has activated, bloomed and smells fragrant.
  • Stir in the whisked eggs and then half of the the flour.
  • Mix with the bread hook until mixture is fully incorporated and dough drapes off of the hook. You can also use a large wooden mixing spoon and work those arm muscles!
  • Stir in the melted shortening and remaining flour. Continue to knead with the bread hook or hands until dough is smooth and elastic, approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a ball and place into a large, well greased mixing bowl. Turn once to cover all exterior. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes. Dough will double in size.

Pecan Topping:

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup over low heat. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved and fully incorporated and remove from heat.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish or two 9-inch circular pie plates with cooking spray. Pour the melted brown sugar mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish(es). Sprinkle with the pecans. Allow the topping to cool while you roll the dough.

Make The Filling:

  • Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Form Rolls:

  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle, approximately 14×22 inches. Brush the melted butter over dough and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • Roll the dough tightly from the short end. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 equal slices. Place slices directly on top of the pecan topping (either all 12 in the 9×13 or 6 and 6 in pie plates).
  • Cover the rolls with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. If the tops start to brown, loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over top.
  • Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Now is the tricky part, you have to flip this bad boy onto a large platter. Choose a serving dish that is larger than your cookware and be careful not to burn yourself. Invert and serve warm.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how they were in the comments or star ratings.

Video

Notes

Notes: If you get the butterscotch topping on your counter tops, floor, etc, allow to cool and you should be able to easily peel it off.  Not that I know from experience or anything….
You can use walnuts instead of pecans or omit nuts.
Adding a grate or two of fresh nutmeg to the cinnamon mixture is wonderful!
You can make your buns the night before all the way up until baking, cover and put in the refrigerator. On the morning of, resume at the point of baking, allowing the dough to come to room temperture while the oven preheats.

Nutrition

Calories: 513 kcal, Carbohydrates: 82 g, Protein: 7 g, Fat: 18 g, Saturated Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 44 mg, Sodium: 284 mg, Potassium: 190 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 52 g, Vitamin A: 255 IU, Vitamin C: 0.1 mg, Calcium: 80 mg, Iron: 2.4 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 513
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sticky buns
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.47 from 52 votes (37 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 3 stars
    Next time I’ll be doubling the sugar cinnamon filling and the butterscotch ‘goo’. It’s just not enough for 12 buns. Too much dough not enough ooey gooey buttery sugary-ness. The dough is great though, perfect base for cinnamon buns.

  2. 5 stars
    My husband has to try sticky buns wherever we go, it’s his favorite. I made your recipe last night and he said they were the “perfect” sticky bun. I’m not even allowed to share this batch with our neighbors ( as I usually do) because he’s hoarding them. I sure hope they freeze well!

    1. Jill, thank you for swinging through to let us know! I think they are pretty perfect, too! I’ve never tried freezing them because there are never any leftovers, but I would imagine they’d freeze just fine if packaged correctly.

  3. 5 stars
    have you (or anyone else) done any of these steps the night prior? can the final rise be in the fridge overnight? thanks in advance!

    1. I have! Just make sure to cover them tightly so the dough doesn’t dry out. It has a tendency to do so. Or lightly mist it in the morning before putting in the oven.

  4. Do you really mean 3 Tablespoons of yeast for this recipe? A packet is usually 2 – 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast. I have baked a lot of bread and never had a recipe call for 3 Tablespoons.

    1. Trying out your recipe. Why are you adding salt to the sugar and yeast? Wont this slow down or stop the fermenting process??

      1. Hi Jennifer, I honestly don’t have a reason for “why”. This was a family recipe that has been passed down through generations and it is always the way we’ve done it. You can certianly add it after if you’d prefer.

  5. I really can’t wait to make this, I’m sure my dad will like it because he’s always telling me to add nuts to everything!

  6. These look very good and kind of similar to a recipe my mom uses! Looking forward to trying it out sometime! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. These look amazingly delicious! I just made old-fashioned cake this past week…it’s just that kind of month!