Sticky Buns

I had never tried sticky buns before I made these….I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT.

I am in love with sticky buns now, they’re so soft and fluffy and extremely gooey. The flavour is amazing too.

I’m a little mad at myself for taking so long to try these, no one had told me how good they were. I will constantly be making these from now on!

1 sticky bun being help up.

Video Tutorial

What are sticky buns?

If you’ve never had sticky buns before, they’re essentially cinnamon rolls but take away the cream cheese icing and add caramel and pecans instead.

Personally, I didn’t think this would happen, but I think I like sticky buns more then regular degular cinnamon rolls; they’re just so much more gooier.

They do take some time to make, because you need to wait for the dough to rise, but the process is pretty easy.

You just need to make the cinnamon rolls, then make a quick caramel. Pour the caramel into a baking dish, add some pecans, and then the cinnamon rolls.

Bake everything together then once baked, flip the baking dish over and now you got a warm, fluffy, gooey dessert!

Milk bread cinnamon rolls

The first thing you are going to do is make the dough for the cinnamon rolls….or the sticky buns.

I don’t really know what to call it, so I’m just going to refer to them as cinnamon rolls, then once the caramel is added, I’m calling them sticky buns.

Anyway for my cinnamon rolls, I always use a Japanese milk bread dough. Which is essentially a white bread dough that uses milk instead of water, and it also uses a tangzhong.

I love using milk bread for cinnamon rolls, and also all my doughnuts, it’s just so fluffy and has great flavour.

What is tangzhong?

Tangzhong is just a mixture of water and flour that has been heated until it turns into a thick paste.

This mixture makes the bread so much more moist, tender and fluffy. Ever since I learnt about this, I’ve been adding it to every kind of bread I make; it makes a huge difference.

It is an extra step, but it doesn’t take long at all, so don’t be trying to skip it!

The sticky buns inside of a baking dish, before being baked.

Ingredients for the dough

The ingredients for the dough are your basic ingredients that you might already have. But there are 2 I wanted to talk about:

The flour 

When it comes to milk bread recipes or even just cinnamon roll recipes, a lot of them use bread flour.

Bread flour is usually better for doughs like this, just because it has more protein, so when the dough is kneaded, more gluten is formed. Giving you fluffier bread.

However, I don’t ever have bread flour in my house, I feel like most people don’t

So I always just use plain flour/all-purpose flour. I’ve found that if you knead the dough for long enough, the difference isn’t that big, so regular flour is good for this recipe!

The yeast

I always use instant yeast. I just think it’s easier to use because you can just add it your bowl with all the other ingredients, you don’t need to activate it first.

But if you are using active yeast, make sure to activate it.

Just mix it into the warm milk, leave this aside for 10 minutes, then add it into your bowl with everything else.

The dough inside of a bowl, before being left to rise.

Common questions

Here are a few questions I’ve gotten about my cinnamon rolls:

Why was my dough sticky?

My milk bread dough is a little sticky, this is ok don’t be alarmed.

If you feel like it is way too sticky for you to handle, you can add some more flour. But a little bit of stickiness is fine.

Just flour your surface well before rolling the dough out!

Can I make this dough by hand?

I use a stand mixer to knead my dough, but yes you can make it by hand.

Your arms might get tired though, because you need to knead if for around 15 minutes, but maybe just call it a workout.

Side note, if you are kneading it by hand, keep some flour next to you. Again the dough is a little sticky; when you knead it with a mixer it doesn’t really matter but when kneading it by hand you will need some extra flour to help.

Can I leave the tangzhong out?

NO…don’t do this.

They do work without the tangzhong but they just won’t be very fluffy and soft. They’ll also go dry out much quicker so don’t leave it out!

The sticky buns inside of a baking dish, before the 2nd rise.
The sticky buns inside of a baking dish, after the 2nd rise.

Making the dough ahead of time

Imagine this, you want sticky bun for breakfast….I don’t really know if it’s a breakfast food but just hear me out.

These need to be left to rise twice, so if you want to serve these for breakfast, you need to wake up a 5 am. No one wants to do that. 

So instead there are 2 ways you can make the dough ahead of time:

Option 1

You can either get to the point where the dough has been kneaded, then instead of leaving it in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours, just cover it and place it in the fridge overnight.

Then the next day, just take it out of the fridge and roll the dough out.

Option 2

Or you could also get to the point where you have added the caramel, pecans and cinnamon rolls into your baking dish.

Now instead of covering them and leaving them somewhere warm, put them in your fridge. 

The next morning, pre-heat your oven, then bake the sticky buns straight out of the fridge.

Both ways work fine, I usually always do option 1 when making milk bread dough. I just think it’s easier to do the process over 2 days. Just because I feel like I’m not waiting around for the dough to rise, instead I’m just sleeping.

The baked sticky buns, before being flipped over.

The caramel

The caramel used for this is not your typical caramel sauce.

First of all, it’s made with brown sugar but also, all you are doing is throwing all the ingredients into a pot and melting them together.

It’s very easy to make, these are the ingredients you’ll need for it:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Golden syrup

The unsalted butter

You don’t need to use unsalted butter. Salted butter will work great too, just make sure not to add the extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt that the recipe says to add.

The golden syrup

This ingredient is what is going to give the caramel sauce the stickiness we’re looking for.

If you don’t have golden syrup or live in a place that doesn’t sell it, you can use corn syrup, honey, maple syrup or even liquid glucose. They all work!

A close up of 1 of the sticky bun in the baking dish, before being flipped over.

The pecans

I just wanted to say that you don’t have to use pecans.

Every sticky bun I see is made with pecans. But I’m pretty sure any kind of nut would taste good, or even a mixture of a few different ones would be good too.

Use whatever you want!

Here are few more recipes that I think you might like:

Sticky Buns

5.0 from 2 votes


  • For the tangzhong:
  • 40g plain flour

  • 200ml water

  • For the dough:
  • 680g plain flour

  • 60g granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 16g instant yeast

  • 2 eggs

  • The tangzhong

  • 220ml warm milk

  • 50g unsalted butter, softened

  • For the caramel topping:
  • 140g unsalted butter

  • 200g brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 100g golden syrup

  • 200g pecans, coarsely chopped

  • For the cinnamon filling:
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted

  • 200g brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon


  • Making the tangzhong:
  • Add the flour and water into a pot, mix these together.
  • Place this over medium heat and heat the mixture, whiles stirring, until it turns into a thick paste. This doesn't take long so don't walk away from it. Leave this mixture to cool in your fridge for 10 minutes.
  • Making the dough:
  • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients except the butter. Make sure to remember to add the tangzhong you just made.
  • Mix all this together until a dough forms, then add in the softened butter and knead for 15 minutes. This dough is slightly sticky, this is ok. But if you feel like it is too sticky to handle, you can add a little more flour.
  • Place this into a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, just until the dough has doubled in volume.
  • Making the caramel:
  • About 10 minutes before your dough has done rising, make the caramel.
  • In a pot, add all the ingredients for the caramel, except the pecans. Place this onto medium heat and heat just until all the butter has melted and you get a smooth mixutre.
  • Pour this into a 9x12 inch baking dish, spread it out and then sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of this. Leave this aside.
  • Making the cinnamon rolls:
  • First make the cinnamon filling by just mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Leave this aside.
  • Get your risen dough and roll it out on a floured surface, into a large rectangle that is about 1 cm thick. Spread your melted butter over the dough, then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon sugar on top of this. Now tightly roll this up, starting from the long end of the rectangle.
  • Cut this into 9 pieces, the best way to do this is with some floss, but a knife works too. Add these rolls into your tin, on top of the caramel/pecan layer.
  • Cover and leave these to rest in a warm place for about 40 minutes. You don't need them to double in size at this point, you just want them to look slightly puffier and feel softer when you touch them.
  • Baking the sticky buns:
  • 10 minutes before the rolls have finished resting, pre-heat your oven to 180c/350f.
  • Once they have rested, bake them for around 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  • Once baked, leave them to cool for about 10 minutes, then flip them over onto a tray.
  • Now you can dig in, enjoy!


  1. Gabi
    February 4, 2023 / 7:06 pm

    Best thing ever

  2. marsi
    February 26, 2023 / 10:47 am