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Chef John's Sticky Buns

Rated as 4.78 out of 5 Stars

"The first recipe I made for my family after my first semester of culinary school was sticky buns. Ever since then, they've had a special place in my heart. It's been my experience with baking that the harder a dough is to work with, the better it comes out and this is no exception--the contrast between this beautifully tender, airy dough and the sweet, crunchy, sticky topping is just otherworldly."
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3 h 5 m servings 448
Original recipe yields 12 servings (12 sticky buns)


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  1. Combine warm water and milk in a mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add sugar, egg, and melted butter for dough to the yeast mixture. Mix with a whisk before adding 75% of the flour with the salt. Mix, adding more flour, until a very soft and sticky dough is formed. Let knead in the mixer for about 5 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Generously butter a 9x13-inch metal baking pan.
  4. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, salt, melted butter, and water for topping in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly to cover the bottom. Scatter pecans evenly over the top. Set aside until needed.
  5. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl for filling; mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside until needed.
  6. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour your hands and press and stretch the dough to form a 18x15-inch rectangle. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the dough to the edges, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Lightly press the sugar mixture into the dough with your hands.
  7. Roll the dough into a cylinder with lightly floured hands starting with the edge closest to you; try not to roll too tightly. Finish shaping the cylinder as uniformly as possible, seam-side down. Lightly score the roll with the edge of a knife to indicate 12 equal portions.
  8. Slide a piece of string or floss under the dough, lining it up at the first knife mark. Cross the ends of the string over the top and pull in opposite directions to cut through the dough. Continue with remaining dough.
  9. Transfer buns into the pan with topping, making 3 rows of 4 buns. If one side of a bun has more dough than another, place with the doughier side up in the pan. Tent the pan loosely with foil and let rise until buns have almost doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Save foil in case you need it towards the end of baking time.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a bun reaches 200 degrees F (93 degrees C), about 35 minutes. If the tops are getting too browned, loosely tent the pan with foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking time.
  11. Remove from the oven onto a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn pan over carefully onto a serving platter. Use a spoon to transfer any sticky topping that has remained in the pan. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.


  • Chef's Notes:
  • I have used a glass pan for the topping, but try to use metal, because it seems to work a little better. You can use walnuts, or any other nut that you want for the topping; I think the sweeter, richer pecans work better here.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 448 calories; 19.8 63 6.6 47 325 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 19
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Nice sticky buns. I haven't baked in a while, and this was a good recipe with which to bake again. The dough is very nice; a little tacky, but easily worked with. I used the bread machine to ...

This is a fantastic recipe. I followed the recipe as closely as I could and I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it as well as it could have been done and the results were phenomenal nonetheless. I may h...

Did not have pecans and admittedly forgot to butter my glass baking dish, but otherwise these came out deliciously! These are sweet and fluffy and I cannot wait to make it again.

I had to make it twice, because the first time I used almond flour instead of regular all purpose flour. The second time I made then I used wheat flour because all the All Purpose Flour was sold...

These were absolutely amazing! I've never had a sticky bun with such a soft and delicate dough, but it made all the difference! I only had to bake them for about 25 minutes as they were already ...

Will make it again. Used almonds not pecans.

So delicious! I added 1 tsp of vanilla to the dough and they came out amazing! I've already made them twice this month.

Such an easy recipe and turned out perfect! The only thing I will do different next time is use fewer pecans and double the topping. My family loved them but wanted them even more sticky.

Awesome recipe, easy to follow and make. Turned out great.