Pecan Sticky Buns (no yeast)

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Homemade pecan sticky buns ready in under an hour! This recipe has no yeast, so the process is quick and easy. Treat your family to a decadent breakfast bun topped with crunchy nuts and a sweet coating of gooey caramel sauce.

pecan sticky buns on a baking sheet
Table of Contents
  1. Make the caramel topping
  2. Add nuts to the topping 
  3. Pan selection
  4. Make the dough
  5. Roll out and portion
  6. Bake at elevated temperatures
  7. Removing from the pan
  8. Flavor compared to yeast-leavened buns
  9. Pecan Sticky Buns (no yeast) Recipe

If you’re looking for a quicker alternative to my classic sticky buns, this no-proof version is the way to go. Instead of using yeast to help the dough rise, I use baking soda and baking powder as the leavening agents. This method yields similar tasting results but without a long fermentation wait time.

The recipe uses a clever hybrid of two techniques; sweetened biscuits and cinnamon roll filling. The process entails flattening the dough, layering on the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then rolling it into a cylinder shape, and slicing it up. Fill each muffin cup’s bottoms with a buttery sweetened pecan topping that caramelizes as it bakes.

Make the caramel topping

To create a thick and syrupy caramel sauce that coats the buns’ surface, simply combine melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup (or corn syrup), and a little bit of salt to enhance the sweet taste. Melting the fat makes it easier to mix and spoon into the bottom of each tin. 

The butter adds richness to the caramel and helps prevent some sticking to the pan once the buns are removed. As the sucrose heats up in the hot 425-degree oven, it will deepen in flavor and caramelize when it reaches between 320 to 350ºF (160 to 177ºC). 

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Add nuts to the topping 

I like to mix coarsely chopped pecans into the topping. The smaller chunks allow for even distribution with the sauce as it bakes in the oven. You’ll notice that as the nuts cool, they get candied for a delightful crunchy texture. If you prefer, you can use other nut types like walnuts, peanuts, or coarsely chopped almonds.

Pan selection

I find it the easiest to use a muffin pan that can hold twelve servings. The nonstick pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray or vegetable oil helps release each pastry and the sticky topping. Add about 1 tablespoon of the nut topping mixture to the bottom of each cup, and spread it out. This step ensures it will coat the dough and stick on top.

Make the dough

If you can whip up homemade biscuits, this recipe is even easier! Instead of using solidified butter broken into small pieces, I melt it because we don’t want the texture to be crumbly or flaky. This process efficiently coats the wheat flour proteins to keep the buns soft and tender. 

I also add buttermilk. The extra fat provides richness and a slight tangy taste to boost the sugar’s sweetness in the dough. The sour lactic acid is a natural flavor enhancer, but don’t worry, it won’t taste tart. The flour, salt, granulated sugar, baking powder, and baking soda mix with the liquids, then briefly kneaded to encourage some bread elasticity.

Roll out and portion

Very similar to making cinnamon rolls, whereby you roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Brush melted butter on top to keep the layers from sticking together. Then sprinkle on a mixture of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar, which dissolve together to create warm spiced notes. 

I also add chopped pecans to provide a nice crunchy texture inside and on top. Roll into a tight cigar shape using the long side to get the most slices. I cut them into roughly 1-inch thick pieces. Press each piece into the muffin tin and ensure direct contact with the topping to stick better during baking.

Bake at elevated temperatures

To quickly activate the chemical leavening agents for a softer crumb, turn the oven up to 425-degrees. The heat creates faster development of carbon dioxide bubbles as it reacts with the moisture and acids in the dough, causing the buns to grow in size. 

The elevated temperature also encourages caramelization of the butter-sugar mixture on the bottom. It takes under 20 minutes for the dough to rise and the sauce to thicken. Don’t overbake. Otherwise, the caramel will have a burnt flavor.

Removing from the pan

The easiest way to remove the buns from the warm pan is to run a knife along the edges, then place a parchment paper-lined sheet pan on top. Swifty, flip it over, but don’t remove the pan! Let it sit for about 5 minutes. 

Gravity will release the nuts and sauce onto the surface. Don’t let the sticky buns cool in the pan. Otherwise, it will make the exterior too crisp, and the caramel will harden and make it difficult to remove.

Flavor compared to yeast-leavened buns

The chemical leavened bun layers are thinner and slightly crisp on the edges and get more tender towards the center than a traditional sticky bun. It’s like layers of biscuit, but since you mix the dough longer, more gluten bond formation occurs, so it still has a chew that doesn’t crumble apart. 

Yeast-leavened buns have a bread-like texture, bouncing back more when pressed. Both are delicious in unique ways! If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth quickly, the baking soda approach is a winning option. 

sticky bun on a white plate

The benefits of adding buttermilk to the dough

Cultured buttermilk has a strong sour taste, which can complement a basic biscuit dough. The lactic acid develops the tart flavor in the milk. It’s a natural flavor enhancer, increasing the sweet and savory notes of the other ingredients. The increase in acid also enhances the baking soda’s reaction to create more carbon dioxide to help the dough rise. This results in a sticky bun that’s soft and tender without hours of fermentation.

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Pecan Sticky Buns (no yeast)

Homemade pecan sticky buns in under an hour! Crunchy pecans are coated in gooey caramel sauce to top the tender cinnamon nut pastry.
Pin Print Review
4.27 from 26 votes
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings 12 buns
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Topping

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup, or dark corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup pecans, roughly chopped

Dough

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ground
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ cup pecans, chopped

Instructions 

Topping

  • Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat to 425°F (218ºC). Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil, set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Evenly spread the mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup, about 1 tablespoon each. Evenly sprinkle the chopped pecans on top. Set aside.

Dough

  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk and ¼ cup melted butter, mix with a spoon until a shaggy dough forms, and the liquid absorbs. Knead dough in the bowl by hand until just smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Lightly sprinkle flour on a large piece of parchment paper. This will make rolling easier. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch by 9-inch rectangle.

Filling

  • Brush the surface of the dough with 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of melted butter.
  • In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Evenly spread the mixture across the dough's surface, leaving about a ½-inch border along the edges. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly on top and lightly press them down.
  • Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a cigar shape, seam-side down. Use the parchment paper to help lift and roll the dough. Cut into 12 equal portions. Place into each muffin cup, lightly pressing down into the pan.
  • Place the muffin tin on the parchment paper-lined sheet pan, bake until the rolls have puffed up, dry to the touch, and golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Do not over bake, as the caramel topping can become burnt in flavor.
  • Gently run a knife along the sides of each bun to make it easier to remove. Immediately place a parchment paper-lined sheet pan on top of the muffin tin, then quickly invert. Let the tin sit on top for 5 minutes, then slowly lift to release the buns from the pan. Scoop out any remaining nuts and sauce and place them on top of the buns. Cool for about 5 minutes, then serve warm.

Notes

  • Storing: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
  • Reheating: Microwave individual pieces on high power in 10 to 15-second intervals until warmed through.

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Nutrition Facts
Pecan Sticky Buns (no yeast)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 431 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 8g40%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 32mg11%
Sodium 220mg9%
Potassium 184mg5%
Carbohydrates 58g19%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 36g40%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 392IU8%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 79mg8%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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15 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Clay says

    Dear Jessica,
    Haven’t got to try your sticky buns yet but they look Delilah. I am very interested in your friends wedding Celebration Cake in the Dominican. I went to a wedding years ago in Puerto Rico and had the most delicious wedding cake infused with a sweet somewhat Anise liquor I think…was wondering have you come across a cake like this in your travels? it was fabulous. The wedding was north of Ponce in a coffee town.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Clay! I haven’t heard or tried the anise cake, but looking online there is a famous bread pudding from puerto rico called Budin, would that be it? We had lots of coconut flavored cake and cookies during our travels!

  2. Claudia | The Brick Kitchen says

    Ohhh my mouth is watering over that gorgeous caramel pecan-ness hidden under the sticky buns. Such a fantastic idea, and love the sound of a no-rise bread! Will be saving the recipe for these summer holidays and those mornings when cinnamon-buns are what you need to get out of bed!! <3

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Marylee- Yes, do all of the steps but just don’t bake. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I would take it out about an hour before you are ready to bake and let sit at room temperature. Let me know hot it turns out!

  3. Audrey Trauner says

    Sounds good but biscuits do not have the same texture as yeast dough–and that, to my mind, is essential for sticky buns.

  4. Jay Tee says

    I just made these, but I ended up adding more flour, too. Maybe an extra cup, just to make the dough firm enough to handle. The dough was quite sticky even after that, but I didn’t want to make it too firm! Since I spread it out between two parchment papers, I didn’t add any more flour while shaping and rolling.

    The rolls were cut about 2cm wide and put side by side on the topping in a 9″x9″ pan; I don’t have any muffin tins at present. The rolls barely filled the pan, and there were some small gaps. Hmm. I dropped the temperature to about 400F degrees (180C) and cooked them about 20 minutes so they would cook through. (I also went with mixed unsalted nuts, chopped.)

    Once done, I flipped the whole 9×9 over onto a flat pan with a square of large parchment paper which had the edges folded up 2cm and the corners twisted. That would catch the lovely sauce and keep it from escaping too far.. made sure it was a little larger than my 9×9 so I didn’t have trouble later.

    Initially, I thought the dough amount too small for my 9×9 (the gapping I mentioned), but once the rolls expanded while cooking, the amount turned out to be perfect!

    No, biscuits are normally not “sticky” but this recipe uses a very soft dough; it IS somewhat sticky. Combined with the tasty caramel nut sauce, this makes an excellent (and much easier/faster to make) roll than a yeast dough roll. Try it!

    They are very buttery and very tasty!

  5. Bill Essling says

    I would agree with the recipe being out of order and somewhat confusing. Additionally, there is waaaay too much sugar in these. Followed the directions to the letter. The topping had so much sugar that you could see it piled up on top of the bun.

    1/2 cup brown, 1/2 cup white AND 1/4 cup corn syrup!! You almost couldn’t taste the pecans or the dough because of all the sugar. Like taking a spoon of sugar with every bite. Ate a few and threw the rest out. 🙁

    I looked at other recipes and found they used about 1/2 the sugar overall. If I try this again, I will cut the topping sugar in half and the filling sugar to 1/4 cup.

    Bill

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Bill- Thank you for making the recipe, and I appreciate your feedback. You can absolutely adjust the amount of topping to your sweetness liking. Looking forward to hearing how the next batch turns out for you.

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