Gooey Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns With Orange Zest are a perfect breakfast or dessert treat. These delicious sticky buns are loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, and pecans throughout and are topped with a gooey caramel sauce. These sweet rolls are perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or even as dessert after dinner.
The gooey sauce on top of these cinnamon buns is what makes these not just buns, but sticky buns. These brown sugar, cinnamon and pecan swirled buns require several steps before popping them in the oven, but you will be glad you took the time to prepare them.
The best part about making these is when you get to invert them onto a plate and pull back the pan because that is when you get to reveal that gooey, caramel topping.
Your home will smell amazing as these are baking and they won't last long once you dig in because it is hard to have just one. Make a whole pan of these for Christmas morning...or any morning, really!
Why You Will Love These
- They are gooey. The ooey-gooey pecan caramel sauce that is spread in the bottom of the pan before placing the buns on top is perfectly sticky. It's got cinnamon, brown sugar and pecans, which makes it the perfect caramel pecan topping for cinnamon rolls.
- The filling. The dough is covered in a cinnamon, pecan and brown sugar filling. This is then perfectly rolled up to create the most delicious swirls of flavor throughout each bun.
- The dough. The super fluffy and soft sticky bun dough with orange zest is perfect for all the cinnamon, pecan and brown sugar flavors. The orange zest is sublte but pairs perfectly with the other ingredients.
Here are notes about some of the ingredients needed to make this sticky buns recipe. All ingredients can be found at your local grocery store or at an online retailer like Amazon.
- Unsalted butter: Unsalted butter is best to prevent this being too salty.
- Brown sugar: You could use light or dark brown sugar.
- Buttermilk: Use full fat or low fat buttermilk.
- Pecans: Coarse or finely chopped pecans are best.
- Sour cream: Full fat sour cream will be best for this recipe.
- Egg yolk
- Zest of an orange
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
Step by Step Instructions
These super good sticky buns require several steps and you will likely have a bit of a mess in your kitchen, but your hard work will pay off in the end! Here is how to make them.
Prepare your pan
STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
STEP 2: Spray the bottoms and the sides of your 9x13-inch baking dish. Set this aside.
Make the caramel pecan sauce
STEP 1: Melt the butter and the brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
STEP 2: Remove from the heat and add the buttermilk, pecans, and salt, stirring to combine.
STEP 3: Pour this caramel mixture into the prepared pan, making sure it coats the bottom evenly. Set aside.
Prepare the pecan filling
STEP 1: In a small bowl, mix together the pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set this aside.
Make the buns
STEP 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sour cream, buttermilk, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest (if using). Mix on medium speed, scraping the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula as need, until fully combined and smooth.
STEP 2: In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir this mixture with a whisk and then add it to the sour cream mixture.
STEP 3: Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, scraping the bottom and sides with a rubber spatula as needed. It will be quite soft and sticky!
STEP 4: Turn the dough onto a well floured surface. Be sure you have also floured your hands and then use your hands to form the dough into a smooth ball. (I think it's best to then pat it into a rectangle since that is the final shape you are aiming for!)
STEP 5: With a floured rolling pin, roll your dough into a 12x16-inch rectangle. Be sure to add flour as you go if you notice the dough sticking to the rolling pin.
STEP 6: Brush the dough with the remaining melted butter, brushing it all the way to the edges.
STEP 7: Sprinkle on the cinnamon filling evenly with your hands and lightly press it into the dough.
STEP 8: Using a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife, start on the shorter end of your dough rectangle and slice the dough into 1-inch strips. Working with one strip at a time, tightly roll each strip and place in prepared pan.
STEP 9: Bake in the 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes. They are done when they are golden brown and firm to touch.
STEP 10: Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen any thing that may be stuck. Invert onto serving platter (the most exciting part!!) and scrape anything that sticks onto the buns. You can also invert onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then place the buns on the parchment paper back into the pan. These are best served warm but are great warmed up for several days after baking them.
Here are some tips for how to make these homemade sticky buns:
- After rolling the dough into a large rectangle and sprinkling on the pecan brown sugar mixture, you could roll the entire thing into a log. Starting at the long side, roll dough tightly into one large log. Then cut with a serrated knife or use unflavored dental floss to cut into one-inch slices.
- Top baked sticky buns with more orange zest before serving.
- Swap the orange zest with lemon zest, if you prefer.
Yes. You can use cottage cheese instead and the dough will be just as good. I would mix the dough ingredients in a food processor, mixing the wet ingredients until smooth and combined. Then add the dry ingredients and pulse just until combined.
Sure! Walnuts would be a great substitute for the pecans.
Yes. You can prepare and bake these caramel pecan rolls in the same manner, but bake in a 9-inch round cake pan instead.
Storing and Freezing
Store leftover sticky buns in an airtight container, zip top bag or covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm them up before serving.
Alternatively, you could prepare and bake these ahead of time or store leftover buns in the freezer. Once they are baked and cooled, place them in an airtight zip top bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Other Recipes to Try
To use up any leftover buttermilk after making this sticky bun recipe, try one of these recipes:
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Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns With Orange Zest
Caramel Pecan Sauce
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup pecan pieces
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- zest of one orange
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray bottom and sides of 9x13-inch baking dish.
For the Caramel Pecan Sauce
- Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.6 tablespoons unsalted butter, ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- Remove from heat and add buttermilk, pecans, and salt. Stir to combine and pour the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Set pan aside.3 tablespoons buttermilk, 1 cup pecan pieces, ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Filling
- In a small bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside.½ cup pecan pieces, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt
For the Dough
- In the bowl of your mixer add the sour cream, buttermilk, sugar, yolk, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix on medium speed until smooth and fully combined, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.1 cup sour cream, ½ cup buttermilk, ⅓ cup sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, zest of one orange
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder,salt, and baking soda. Stir with a whisk to combine.3 ½ cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Add flour mixture to sour cream mixture and mix just until combined, scraping the bottom and sides with rubber spatula as needed.
- Turn dough onto well floured surface. With floured hands, form into a ball.
- With a floured rolling pin, roll into 12x16-inch rectangle, flouring surface as necessary.
- Brush the melted butter over the surface of the dough, brushing it all the way to the edges.4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Sprinkle on the pecan and brown sugar mixture, covering the melted butter. Use your hands to gently press the filling itno the dough.
- Using a pizza cutter, start on the shorter side or your dough rectangle and cut the dough into 1-inch strips. Working with one strip at a time, tightly roll each sttrip and place in the prepared pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to touch. Transfer to cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Invert onto serving platter, scraping anything that is stuck to the pan onto the buns. Enjoy while warm!