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Sticky Buns Are the Perfect Mother’s Day Treat: Easy Shortcut Recipe

Learn how to cut your buns perfectly with dental floss!

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We all have those memories — waking up to the smell of warm, gooey pastries that Mom whipped up with love. This Mother’s Day, why not return the favor with one of our favorite nostalgic treats: sticky buns. Who wouldn’t want to start this special day with fluffy dough filled with cinnamon sugar and covered in a glistening caramel pecan glaze? And the best part: This shortcut recipe takes less than hour from start to finish with store-bought crescent roll dough. Plus, learn expert tips and fun topping ideas to get Mom’s seal of approval. Here’s how to make sticky buns.

What are sticky buns?

A type of breakfast sweet roll (though we love it any time of day), sticky buns consist of rolled pieces of leavened dough. Interestingly, German settlers who brought them to America in the 18th century called them Schnecken — or “snails” in German, referencing their spiral shape. These rolls, sometimes filled with cinnamon sugar, compress together in a baking dish to form a loaf. In fact, they gained popularity in Europe alongside the rise of cinnamon. A “sticky” glaze made from brown sugar or honey, nuts and butter lines the bottom of the dish before placing the dough. After baking, the buns invert (like a pineapple upside down cake) so the glaze becomes the topping. This baking style allows the buns to pull apart in individual servings.

Has your brown sugar hardened? We have a pro secret that softens it fast.

How are sticky buns different from cinnamon rolls?

Sticky buns and cinnamon rolls may be sweet cousins, but we should note a few key differences. First, sticky buns tend to be larger and flatter, with a more caramelized and gooey topping. They also often bake in a dish coated in this glaze.

On the other hand, cinnamon rolls are typically smaller with a more pronounced spiral shape. They also have a white frosting glaze drizzled on top after baking. Check out this TikTok video to see the gooey, sticky creation.

@bromabakery

caramel pecan sticky buns = the perfect way to start christmas morning. #stickybuns #caramelstickybuns #cinnamonrollsrecipe #cinnamonrolls

♬ original sound – Broma Bakery

The best pan to use

When it comes to sticky buns, the pan you use matters more than you might think. We recommend a metal pan for a few reasons. For one, metal pans transfer heat evenly, ensuring your buns bake consistently and get that perfect golden-brown color. Glass pans can sometimes cause uneven baking, leaving you with pale or burnt spots. Ceramic dishes, however, fall somewhere in between. While they can conduct heat decently, it’s not always as even as metal.

Additionally, you want that nice caramelization that make sticky buns so delicious. Metal pans allow the sugar to caramelize properly and create that signature gooey top layer. Ceramic dishes can achieve some caramelization but not as intensely. And if you want those gooey corners and edges that hug the sides of your buns, choose a square-shaped pan rather than a traditional baking sheet.

Tips for baking the best sticky buns

shaped and cut sticky bun pieces from log on work station
Mrs_2015/Getty

Even though this shortcut recipe preps easily, there are still ways to ensure bakery-worthy results. These helpful tips will help you achieve the perfect balance of soft, fluffy dough and rich extra-sticky glaze. 

1. Thaw your dough

Before anything else, let the crescent roll dough thaw completely according to package instructions. Cold dough will be difficult to roll out and won’t rise properly, resulting in dense buns. Aim for slightly cool dough to the touch but still pliable. This ensures even rolling and nice rise for fluffy, tender buns.

Don’t like kneading or waiting for dough to rise? Try our recipe for Crullers!

2. Cut dough like a pro

When it comes to cutting your dough log, using a sharp knife makes all the difference. A dull knife might tear the dough. Use a sawing motion and cut straight down with the seam side down to create uniform slices that will bake evenly. You can also use unflavored dental floss to avoid squishing your buns. Check out this video below for a tutorial.

3. Opt for this sugar

The key to making a decadent glaze lies in the ingredients. Most recipes call for brown sugar as the star ingredient. For a deeper flavor and thicker consistency, opt for dark brown sugar. Additionally, use real butter for richness and added stickiness. But if you want more luxurious results, consider adding heavy cream. Finally, a touch of vanilla extract goes a long way and rounds out the sweetness of the glaze.

4. Preheat your dish

For an extra gooey bottom layer, preheat your baking dish in the oven along with it. The creates a hot surface for the buns to bake on, caramelizing the sugar even more. While baking, keep an eye on them to prevent over-baking. You can also loosely cover them in foil halfway through.

Prevent dough discoloration with this simple concoction using pantry staples!

Shortcut sticky buns recipe

With this 40-minute recipe from I Am Baker, you can spend a little less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating Mother’s Day. With just 7 ingredients and no equipment needed, this makes the perfect pull-apart breakfast treat.

Easy Sticky Buns

sticky buns on wire rack after baking
JMichl/Getty

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 tubes (8-count each) crescent rolls
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • Active Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, then spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar. Pour it into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Then, top the butter and brown sugar mixture with the chopped pecans.
  3. Working on a clean work surface, roll out both tubes of dough. Position the second sheet of dough directly next to the first sheet, creating a large square. Then, combine the sheets so that no seams are seen.
  4. Next, spread the butter evenly over the dough. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top of the dough.
  5. Working on the long edge, roll the dough into a log. Then, slice into 12 equal pieces. Nestle each piece into the sticky topping in the pan.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. After removing, flip the baked rolls onto a large cookie sheet or sheet pan and serve warm.

Storage tips

Ideally, you should enjoy your sticky buns fresh, but any leftovers can still be stored. First, let the buns cool completely. “Leftover buns can be stored, covered with plastic wrap for up to 2 days on your countertop or covered and fresh in the fridge for up to a week,” says Kristyn Merkley, recipe developer and author of Lil Luna. “I wouldn’t recommend freezing this recipe.”

To reheat, wrap your buns in foil and place them in a 350°F oven until warmed through. Wrapping in foil prevents them from drying out.

Fun topping ideas for your sticky buns

While the classic pecan glaze hits the spot, you have a lot of room for creativity. Feel free to personalize your sticky buns with your favorite nuts, added spices or filling flavors. We also gathered some fun topping ideas to try.

1. Fruit

For added sweetness, drizzle warmed jams, preserves or dried fruit over the cooled buns. Raisins, apricot preserves or even an orange marmalade make great choices.

2. Chocolate

For the ultimate chocolate lovers, drizzle some melted chocolate or sprinkle chocolate chips. Dark chocolate adds a sophisticated, bitter touch, while milk chocolate adds creamy sweetness.

3. Maple syrup

Drizzle warmed maple syrup over the buns before baking for a subtle maple flavor that complements the cinnamon perfectly. 


For more sweet breakfast breads, you’ll love these recipes below:

Best-Ever Hot Cross Buns Recipe for Easter — Genius Shortcut Makes It Quick & Easy

You’ll Love ‘Lazy’ Cinnamon Rolls: They’re Sweet, Fluffy + Microwave in 2 Minutes

This Coconut Flour Banana Bread Recipe Is Sweet, Tropical + Packed With Protein

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