Easiest-Ever Sticky Buns

updated Jan 28, 2021
christmas
Easiest-Ever Sticky Buns

These easy buns start with store-bought pizza dough and are rolled, sliced, and snuggled into a cast-iron pan in a pool of brown sugar-caramel sauce with lots of chopped nuts.

Makes12 sticky buns

Prep15 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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Sticky buns
Credit: Grant Melton

There’s no way around it: Homemade sticky buns are quite the undertaking. It’s not the pecan-studded caramel sauce or the actual baking that takes time, but rather the pillowy enriched dough, which requires blooming, proofing, punching, and, in my experience, plenty of Googling.

Even as an experienced self-taught baker, I find yeast doughs as intimidating as they are elusive. Luckily, I’ve come up with a store-bought solution that makes sticky buns simpler without sacrificing any of their ooey-gooey glory. Instead of homemade dough, I use pre-made pizza dough. And if you’re at all skeptical about turning a savory-seeming dough into a luscious breakfast pastry, know that once it’s filled with a buttery cinnamon-sugar spread and served dripping in sugary syrup, you’ll never know the difference.

Credit: Photo: Grant Melton

Speedy One-Pan Sticky Buns

You’ll start by making the caramel sauce directly in the pan the buns bake in. To create a smooth, shiny sauce that lacquers the buns without totally soaking them (I’ve watched enough episodes of The Great British Baking Show to know a soggy bottom is never a good thing), you’ll swirl in a little heavy cream. Then, snuggle the buns into the sauce, bake them, and invert them onto a platter, like an upside-down cake. To prevent sticking, you’ll want to flip and serve them while they’re still warm. Naturally, some of the sauce and nuts may stubbornly cling to the pan (they are sticky buns, after all) but these bits can easily be spooned up and spread back over the buns. 

The toughest part about this recipe, and it is excruciatingly tough, is letting them cool for 10 minutes before serving. I always thought I could do anything for 10 minutes. This recipe is proof I cannot. But does the burnt roof of my mouth have any regrets? No, it does not. 

Credit: Photo: Grant Melton

Easiest-Ever Sticky Buns

These easy buns start with store-bought pizza dough and are rolled, sliced, and snuggled into a cast-iron pan in a pool of brown sugar-caramel sauce with lots of chopped nuts.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes 12 sticky buns

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    prepared pizza dough

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 cup

    pecan halves

  • 3/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar, divided

  • 1/3 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    flaky salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 1 pound pizza dough on the counter. Place 5 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a small bowl. Let both sit until room temperature.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce.

  3. Coarsely chop 1 cup pecans halves. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 packed cup of the light brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook until the consistency of caramel sauce, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans. Set aside while you assemble the buns.

  4. Add the remaining 1/2 packed cup of light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the bowl of butter. Mix with a rubber spatula until paste-like.

  5. Using a rolling pin, roll the pizza dough into a rough 4x16-inch rectangle with a longer side closer to you. With an offset spatula, evenly spread the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture to completely cover the dough. Starting at the long side closer to you, roll the dough up into a big log. Cut crosswise into 4 pieces, then cut each piece crosswise into 3 pieces to yield 12 buns. Nestle the buns cut-side up in a single layer into the pecan mixture in the pan.

  6. Bake until the rolls have doubled in size and the caramel mixture is bubbling around the sides, about 25 minute. Remove the pan from the oven. While still warm, invert a platter over the skillet. Using oven mitts, grasp the platter and skillet with both hands and flip over. Remove the skillet. Using a rubber spatula, spoon any pecans or caramel sauce left behind in the pan over the top of the buns. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store leftovers at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave before serving.