How to Make Fabulous Sticky Buns

What’s the secret to fabulous sticky buns?  It’s the goo.  You want caramelly, sticky goo all over your buns.

And what’s the secret to great goo?  Make the goo before you put the buns in the oven.  Pour the goo into the baking pan and then place the cinnamon buns in the goo.  Then bake it.  When you invert the hot buns, there should be goo everywhere.  Scrape it up.  Don’t lose a drop.

We’ve seen—and made—plenty of recipes that didn’t make the goo separately, that piled butter and brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and placed the buns on top.  It’s not the same.  The goo doesn’t form quite right and it tends to be gritty.

This method works.  Cook the goo first.

Think of sticky buns as cinnamon rolls in a pan of goo.  That’s what they are.  Load the baking pan with goo.  Form cinnamon rolls just like you’ve always done.  Put the cinnamon rolls in the goo, let them rise and then bake.

Invert the pan onto a cutting board or serving platter while it is still hot, within minutes of coming from the oven.  That way the buns will drop out and the goo will flow all over the buns.  Serve them warm.

Three Ways to Make Sticky Buns

#1.  Make them with a mix.  That’s the easiest, quickest way to make perfect sticky buns.  Our mix comes with both the cinnamon bun mix and the goo mix.

#2.  Make the buns from scratch and use our goo.  Sticky buns have two parts: the buns and the goo.  You can make the buns from any cinnamon bun mix or recipe.  You can use our goo mix.

#3.  Make them from scratch.  You’ll find the recipe below to make your sticky buns from scratch.

Variations of Sticky Buns

We made sticky buns for several days.  It was inevitable that we would start experimenting.  We’ve made cinnamon buns with pastry fillings before so that was an easy jump.  We made sticky buns with cherry filling, apple filling, raspberry filling, and pineapple filling.  The following three recipes are the ones we liked the best.

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

These were really yummy.  We used our mixes.  The mixes come with a cinnamon sugar packet for filling.  We used both the cinnamon sugar and an apple pastry filling.  It was okay but a little too sweet for my taste.

We omitted the cinnamon sugar and spread only the pastry filling over the dough.  We rolled it the same so that we had apple filling inside the pinwheel.  That was very good and very popular in the store.  About 2 1/2 cups of filing was right.

Pineapple Upside Down Sticky Buns

These were my favorites, absolutely delightful . . . and beautiful.

We rolled pineapple filling up in the dough pinwheel style just like we did the apple filling.  We cut the dough into twelve buns and then placed a maraschino cherry in the center of each.  We placed the cherries upside down in the pan so that we inverted the pan after baking, the cherries would be up and in the center of the buns.

Try these sticky buns.  Make them for guests and be a hero.

Pecan Sticky Buns

Make these exactly as the others only add pecans, either coarsely chopped or halves.  Place the nuts on top of the goo and buns on top of that.  Use one cup of nuts.

A Recipe for Sticky Buns

We have made this recipe in our test kitchen and it works fine.

For the dough:

1 cup water at 110 degrees
one 7 gram packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted,
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more if needed
3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. In your stand-type mixer, place the warm water and yeast.  Mix the sugar into the liquid. Whisk in the melted butter, egg, and vanilla.
  2. Add the flour and then the salt.  Mix on low speed with the dough hook until thick and slightly sticky. Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, 6 minutes.

If you are mixing by hand, you will need to knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.

You should have a soft dough that is moist and slightly sticky. You may adjust the dough if needed by adding another tablespoon of flour or a dribble of water.

The dough should be elastic (the gluten developed) and stretchy if you pinch and pull a bit of the dough. If the dough is not elastic, mix for another minute or two.

  1. Remove the dough to a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a proofing bag and let it rise until doubled in size and puffy.

For the goo:

While the dough is rising, make the sticky bun goo.

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the brown sugar, honey, milk, and salt.
  3. Cook while stirring until it comes to a boil.  Boil for seven minutes or until the goo reaches 210 degrees with a candy thermometer.
  4. Scrape the hot goo into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

To make and bake the rolls:

For the filling:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons good quality cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14 x 16-inch rectangle with the longer side facing you.
  2. Spread with the softened butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the far long edge. Mix the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the butter.
  3. Roll the dough away from you into a tight cylinder.  Pinch the open edges together to seal, the ends and the long side.  Compress or stretch the log to make it of uniform diameter.
  4. Cut the cylinder with a serrated knife to make 12 equal-sized buns.
  5. Place the rolls in the pan with the goo, three across by four long. Press the rolls with your hand until the rolls are the same height and the rolls cover nearly all the pan.
  6. Cover the pan and set it in a warm place to rise again. Let the rolls rise until they are soft and puffy.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for 18 to 20 minutes in a dark pan. (A light pan will take longer to bake.) The tops of the rolls should be lightly browned and the internal temperature should reach 190 degrees. If the rolls are browning too quickly, drape the pan loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to reflect heat.
  8. After removing the buns from the oven, set your timer for three minutes. After three minutes, turn the pan over onto a cutting board or a cookie sheet scraping all the sticky bun syrup onto the buns.

Serve your sticky buns while they are still warm.  Cover any leftovers but do not refrigerate.

To get more like this . . .

We’re baking in our test kitchen every day. If you would like the best recipes and methods from our test kitchen, just tell us where to send them.

Enter your email address here. You’ll get tested recipes and proven methods to make the very best desserts and treats.