These honey buns are perfectly fluffy with a cinnamon sugar interior and a sticky, sweet topping. They are irresistible when served warm right out of the oven!
The store-bought ones, like Little Debbie [paid link]‘s version, are typically closer to fried donuts with a honey glaze.
I much prefer my tender, bready version. It’s very similar to cinnamon rolls, but instead of topping the rolls with a glaze, they are topped with a honey caramel sauce and lots of chopped pecans.
How to Make Honey Buns
The dough itself is a buttery enriched yeast dough similar to what you might use for a star bread, pull-apart bread or monkey bread. If you don’t want to make it from scratch, you could use a store-bought crescent roll dough.
Once you’ve prepared the dough, roll out the dough to a large rectangle. You can do it on a large silicone mat [paid link] or on a lightly floured surface.
Then, brush the surface with butter and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
Roll the dough into a long log.
Slice off any uneven ends and then slice into twelve equally-sized pieces.
This recipe is made using the same technique as upside-down cake – putting the topping at the bottom of the pan and the cake on top. After the bake, you invert everything!
Place the topping of melted butter, brown sugar, honey, and pecans at the bottom of the baking pan.
Then, arrange the buns in the pan.
There will be lots of room between them at this point, but as they rise, they will grow and touch each other.
By the time they are out of the oven, they will be attached but easy to separate – very much like monkey bread.
When the pan comes out of the oven, let it cool for just a few minutes so the topping sets a bit and then invert onto a serving plate. The buns will slide right out of the pan with the honey caramel on the top. If you let the pan cool too much, the honey buns will be impossible to remove!
Honey buns are best served warm out of the oven.
You can store them in an airtight container for several days and pop them in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.
These tips for working with yeast will help you get the best results from this recipe.
- Use a rapid-rise or instant yeast for this recipe. You could use regular active dry yeast, but the rise time will be longer. If you are buying yeast specifically for this recipe, I suggest using Red Star’s Platinum yeast. Platinum yeast has dough enhancers that increase the spring on the finished product and improve dough tolerance to variations in kneading, rising, and flour quality. In short, it makes your bread rise and bake like a pro made it.
- Use warm milk – between 110 and 115 F. But, you don’t have to use a thermometer – simply make sure that it feels warm yet still totally comfortable to touch. If the milk is too hot, over 140 F, it will kill the yeast! (Did you know that you can bake bread with cold water? It will take much longer for the bread to rise, but it will still rise. So, it’s better to err on the side of having your liquids too cold rather than too hot.)
- Let the dough rise in a warm place. If your house is cold, it will take a long time for the buns to rise. My oven has a bread proofing setting that works perfectly for this; if yours doesn’t have a bread proofing function, you can put dough in the oven with the oven light on (the light provides a little heat), set the dough on a heat vent in your house, place the dough in front of a sunny window, or put the dough in a big plastic bag with a mug of boiling water next to it in the bag.
- I’ve done extensive testing on baking with honey using my honey cookies and I’ve found that once you bake with it, all of the honey varieties basically taste the same. This is true with my honey cupcakes, honey pie, and honey cake as well as these honey buns.
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast one 1/4 ounce package
- 1 cup whole milk slightly warmed, but not burning hot
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together flour, salt, and yeast.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix for about four minutes on high speed until dough starts to slap the side of the bowl as it moves around. It will be a little wet and sticky.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand until it comes together into a smooth ball. Add a tablespoon more flour at a time only if needed to make the dough come together.
- Grease a large bowl (I clean the mixer bowl that I just used). Place the dough ball into the greased bowl, cover it, and set it in a warm place to rise until doubled in size - about one hour.
- While the dough is rising, place the honey, brown sugar, and butter into a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir until the butter and sugar are melted and dissolved into the honey.
- Pour the topping into the bottom of a greased 9x13" baking dish.
- Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over the topping.
- Mix sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl.
- Punch risen dough down and roll out on a lightly-floured surface or large silicone mat to a rectangle about 12x18".
- Brush rolled out dough with melted butter, leaving a small border around the edges of the dough.
- Sprinkle the spiced sugar mixture evenly over the butter.
- Roll dough from the long side to make a log.
- Cut off the ends of the log if they aren't even. Then, cut the log into twelve even slices.
- Place the slices cut side down on the topping in the baking pan, evenly spacing them. There will be space between the buns at this point since they haven't risen yet.
- Cover the pan and let the buns rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until the buns are golden brown.
- Let the pan sit on a cooling rack for for five minutes and then invert onto a serving plate.
- Serve warm.
- I use a Rapid Rise/Instant yeast for this recipe. You could use regular active dry yeast, but the rise time will be longer. If you are buying yeast specifically for this recipe, I suggest using Red Star's Platinum yeast.
- This recipe calls for warm milk. Ideally, you want it to be between 110 and 115 F. But, you don't have to use a thermometer - just make sure that it feels warm yet still totally comfortable to touch. If the milk is too hot, over 140 F, it will kill the yeast!
- Let the dough rise in a warm place. If your house is cold, it will take a long time for the buns to rise. You can put dough in the oven with the oven light on (the light provides a little heat), set the dough on a heat vent in your house, place the dough in front of a sunny window, or put the dough in a big plastic bag with a mug of boiling water.
- Be sure to flip the pan while it is still hot. If you let it cool completely first, it will be impossible to remove the honey buns!
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