Pecan Sticky Buns

Pecan Sticky Buns |
  • Pecan Sticky Buns
  • Pecan Sticky Buns
Posted on November 19, 2014

Last month I talked about how I wanted to get more comfortable baking with yeast. So far, I’m making a fairly solid effort on that front. And I have a flour-coated kitchen to prove it!

One thing I was especially excited to tackle was my Grandmother’s famous Pecan Sticky Buns.

These sticky buns have a firm seat in my memory. My Grandmother always served them at Holiday gatherings. It was her signature thing. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter you could look forward to enjoying these ooey-gooey sticky buns for breakfast. And even when we weren’t spending the Holidays with her (we lived 800 miles apart), we were still able to enjoy them because inevitably we had a package tucked away in our freezer that my mom would pull out for special occasions. Grandma always made sure we were well stocked.

But in the years since my Grandmother’s passing, there have been no sticky buns. And then this occurred to me: I should make them.

I started asking around to see if anyone in the family had the recipe. It took a few weeks, but my Aunt eventually uncovered it. The paper it’s written on is worn and stained. And there are hand scribbled notes in the margins. All of which are tell tale signs that this most certainly is the recipe she used over and over again. And lo and behold, the dough recipe is straight out of her trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Upon learning this, my first emotion was disappointment. THAT was the special recipe. Something out of Betty Crocker. Something millions of people have probably made. I guess I was expecting some secret family recipe. Maybe some new and magical way to combine flour, water and yeast. But no. It’s just from Betty Crocker.

Then I got over myself. Because it doesn’t matter where the recipe came from. It doesn’t cheapen my memories. The important thing is that my Grandmother made them and shared them with us. It was a gift from her kitchen to her family. And that is what made them special. And I’m glad that I can proudly make them for my family and friends today.

I say this next sentence with nothing but love: my Grandmother was a little stingy with the pecans. Most of the sticky buns would have only 1 or 2 pecans on top. The few that ended up with 3 pecans (or 4 if you were really lucky that day) would be highly sought after, because the sticky, nutty topping is easily everyone’s favorite part of these pastries. With that in mind, I increased the number of pecans to make sure there would be no fighting this Holiday season (well, at least not over breakfast).



Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

Pecan Sticky Buns

Yield: Makes 15

Pecan Sticky Buns


  • For the Dough
  • 3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 egg

  • For the Filling
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

  • For the Topping
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole pecans


  1. Make the dough. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine 2 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Warm the milk to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the warmed milk, butter and egg. Beat on medium speed 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the mixture is well combined, start slowly adding in more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is soft, easy to handle and easily leaves the side of the bowl. I used an additional 1 1/4 cups of flour. You shouldn’t need more than 1 1/2 cups of flour.
  2. Mix the dough on low-medium speed for about 5 minutes, pulling the dough down off the hook as needed. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured countertop. Gather up the dough with your hands, shape it into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it with the oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a thin kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Once the dough has risen, gently punch down the dough to deflate it. Remove it from the bowl and transfer it to a floured countertop. Shape it with your hands into a small rectangle. Then using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 15 X 10-inch rectangle. This may take a couple minutes, as the dough is fairly elastic.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and the cinnamon for the filling. Spread the softened butter all over the surface of the dough, leaving about 1/2-inch boarder around the edges. Sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough. Beginning at one of the 15-inch sides, tightly roll up the dough. Pinch the long edge of the dough together to seal it (I find wetting my fingers helps with this). Using a serrated knife, slice the roll into 15 equal sized pieces.
  5. Make the topping. Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1/2 cup of butter over low-medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until it’s well mixed. Pour this mixture into your prepared baking pan, spreading it out so it evenly covers the bottom of the pan. Scatter the pecans on top.
  6. Place the dough slices in your baking pan on top of the pecans, spacing them out evenly. Cover the pan loosely with a thin kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Position an oven rack in the middle position. Remove the towel from the dough slices and transfer the baking pan to your pre-heated oven. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Remove from the oven and set the baking pan on a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes. Do not let the sticky buns sit in the pan for longer than 10 minutes, or the topping will start to become too hard, making the sticky buns difficult to remove.
  8. To remove the sticky buns, place a wire rack on top of the baking pan. Then flip the whole thing over (I like to do this over a baking sheet so my counter doesn’t get too messy). If any of the pecans stick to the bottom of the pan, carefully remove them and place them back on top of the sticky buns. Serve while still warm.
  9. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Re-warm them slightly before eating. They can also be frozen for later.


1. You want the butter to be really soft when making the dough and the filling. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, your “room temperature” butter could be too firm. If this is the case, just pop it in your microwave for a few seconds.


  • Yum! These are right up my alley and I agree, doesn’t matter where the recipe came from, but the memories 🙂


    • Thanks, Jennifer. That is very true!

  • Yay for conquering your yeast fears! It’s really not that hard once you dig your hands in and just do it. Your sticky buns look fabulous! I’m sure your grandmother would be proud.


    • Thanks, Joanne!

  • Wow, these look incredible, Liz! I totally wish I had this for breakfast right now. I love the glaze and pecans on top…delish!


    • Thanks, Gayle. I wish I had some right now too. They were gobbled up fast!

  • Mmmmmmm! I would eat way too many of these. They look so yummy!


    • Yes, that is definitely a problem!

  • Awww, Grandma <3! The thing is, even though it's from the BC cookbook, I'm sure she made them her own. There's nothing like a grandmother's cooking no matter where the recipe originated. I'm telling you, grandmas have magic coming out of their fingers or something.
    I'm making sticky buns soon, too! Idk if I can top these though 🙂


    • Thanks, Sarah. Grandmas are certainly magical! If history is any indication, I bet you can totally top these. You got more baking chops than me, that’s for sure!

  • These look great! You don’t look like a novice at all! You mastered yeast 🙂


    • Thanks, girlfriend!

  • Bring on them pecans!! I feel like the more nuts the better. Some of my mom’s best baking recipes were taken straight from her red Betty Crocker binder cookbook. I have to say, BC knows what the eff’s up! These buns need to stick it to my face! P.S. Teach me your yeastly ways…I must learn!


    • I know, BC really is like the bible for baking. So no wonder my Grandma used it so much!

  • Liz, what a sweet story! And no, it doesn’t matter at all where the recipe came from!!! And millions of people cook from the Betty Crocker cookbook .. there’s a reason for that! Your grandmother was smart!!! 🙂 Love that you shared this sticky bun recipe today! Pinned!!!


    • She certainly was a smart lady! Thanks for pinning! XO

  • What an awesome recipe and such a sweet story. These would be perfect for a holiday morning, Liz.


    • Thank you, Matt!

  • Liz, the pecan rolls look wonderful, the story is great and I know that Mom is looking down on this very pleased. You did good.
    Thank you!


    • Thank you, Sue! And thanks to you and Aunt Barb for uncovering the recipe mystery! XO

  • Sticky buns!! This was one of the things I had to bake at my home economics class in middle school! I love that your granny’s family recipe actually came from Betty Crocker. Yay for keeping the tradition alive with these sticky buns!


    • Thanks, Lisa!

  • I’m sorry about your grandmother, Liz, but that’s great that you’ve decided to carry on the sticky bun tradition! These look unbelievably good — great job on the yeast bread front! 🙂


    • Thanks, Marcie! Baked goods are the best traditions!

  • Yum! I saw your photo on Instagram and couldn’t wait to check out your recipe! Delicious!


    • Thank you so much, Annie! Glad you came on over!

  • I love sticky buns!! And yeast is not as daunting as it is.


    • Who doesn’t love sticky buns? No friend of mine, that’s for sure!

  • These sticky buns look fantastic! I want one for breakfast right now!!!


    • Me too, Amanda! Sadly they are gone…guess I better get back in the kitchen!

  • Yummy! They look so soft and delicious, I can bet they just melt in your mouth! I love the combination!


    • Yes, they are way too easy to eat!! Thanks, Valentina!

  • Love these buns … and with pecans, so delicious!


    • They are the best. Thanks!

  • Grandmas! They are the best! Mine also used the Betty Crocker cookbook a tonnnn. Love these sticky buns – so fluffy! I’ll take one for dessert right now!


    • Thanks, Ashley! I guess our Grandma’s are pretty smart…they know BC is the best!

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