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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
30 mins
cook:
35 mins
additional:
2 hrs
total:
3 hrs 5 mins
Servings:
12
Yield:
12 sticky buns
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Ingredients

12
Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
For the Dough:
For the Sticky Topping:
Sugar Filling:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Combine warm water and milk in a mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.

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  • 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.

  • While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Generously butter a 9x13-inch metal baking pan.

  • 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.

  • Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl for filling; mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside until needed.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

449 calories; protein 6.6g; carbohydrates 63g; fat 19.8g; cholesterol 47.1mg; sodium 324.7mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (42)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 4 stars
03/23/2020
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 make the dough as I'm a walk away type of baker. The most difficult part of this recipe for me is that my brown sugar was hard so I had to get it out of the container and soften it in the microwave; otherwise, pretty easy. I didn't oil the pan but didn't need to; the topping, which has butter in it, helped the buns come out easily. I didn't even notice until after I baked this, served this, and we ate it that the recipe called for a 375 degree oven. This is where it's handy to know your oven. Mine always bakes bread and sweets (unless it's pizza or baguettes) on 350, so that's what I set it on. Perfectly done at 45 minutes. This is a good recipe, but the dough is a bit plain for us. I'd maybe add vanilla or cinnamon, but we like a tad more flavor. Most people would like this as is, I think. Thanks for the recipe! Read More
(7)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
06/18/2020
Sorry Chef John but wasn't crazy about the buns; hubby asked me to go back to the old recipe: his Grandma's. Dough 100 %, sweetness 100%, ease of making and baking, 100%...taste far too bland. But I love 99% of the recipes from you!! Read More
48 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 41
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
03/23/2020
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 make the dough as I'm a walk away type of baker. The most difficult part of this recipe for me is that my brown sugar was hard so I had to get it out of the container and soften it in the microwave; otherwise, pretty easy. I didn't oil the pan but didn't need to; the topping, which has butter in it, helped the buns come out easily. I didn't even notice until after I baked this, served this, and we ate it that the recipe called for a 375 degree oven. This is where it's handy to know your oven. Mine always bakes bread and sweets (unless it's pizza or baguettes) on 350, so that's what I set it on. Perfectly done at 45 minutes. This is a good recipe, but the dough is a bit plain for us. I'd maybe add vanilla or cinnamon, but we like a tad more flavor. Most people would like this as is, I think. Thanks for the recipe! Read More
(7)
Rating: 5 stars
05/09/2020
Love this one! It seemed too sticky but it works out just fine.Ive made this twice,second time I halved the dough.One half as recipe directs.The second half,I put butter,garlic powder and parsley flakes for the saucy bottom that becomes the top when flipped.Chedder cheese rolled inside.Awesomeness!Similar to the famous restaurant’s Cheddar Buscuit..Yummy! Read More
(7)
Rating: 5 stars
03/16/2020
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 have heated the milk and water a little too much in the beginning of the process and stunted the growth of the used a little bit, if that is a thing. I also did not have a suitable metal pan and used stone bakeware. To top it off I somehow made eight rolls instead of 12 and used no pecans. The finished product did not last long enough for a photo to be taken. The whole family love them. Great recipe chef John! Read More
(5)
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Rating: 5 stars
03/15/2020
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 at 200F. Thank you for another amazingly delicious recipe, Chef John! As my husband said: Chef John did it again!" Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
03/23/2020
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 out everywhere. But in the end. The sticky buns can out victorious. I just substitute somethings because my beautiful wife is vegan. So good. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
03/16/2020
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. Read More
(2)
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Rating: 5 stars
04/25/2020
Excellent. Chef John recipes are always easy to understand and follow. Not having a Stand Mixer- made the dough with a wooden spoon and it still turned out great. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
08/09/2020
I wish I had a picture of them post flip.. but this was an AMAZING bun recipe! They were so tender and delicious. Highly recommend. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
03/23/2020
YUM! Not being able to leave home due to the corona virus, I decided to spend the day baking. I was low on flour so I halved the recipe. I replaced the pecans with raisins and maraschino cherries that I chopped as that was what I had on hand. I used an 8" square glass dish. This was another wonderful recipe! Thank you Chef John you never let me down! Read More
(1)
Rating: 3 stars
06/18/2020
Sorry Chef John but wasn't crazy about the buns; hubby asked me to go back to the old recipe: his Grandma's. Dough 100 %, sweetness 100%, ease of making and baking, 100%...taste far too bland. But I love 99% of the recipes from you!! Read More
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