Best Sticky Buns Ever

sticky buns

Hyperbole on a food blog? Well I never! Look: I’ve eaten many a sticky bun in my day (that sounded dirty) and the best sticky buns I’ve ever experienced were the ones that I ate in my kitchen just two days ago when I made the Sticky Sticky Buns from Joanne Chang’s essential Flour cookbook. But, to quote Reading Rainbow, don’t take my word for it. When Joanne Chang went on Beat Bobby Flay in Battle Sticky Bun, these buns went home with the trophy. They’re as much a Boston landmark as Faneuil Hall — I ate one when I visited Craig last summer. But nothing can compete with eating them warm out of your own oven. They really are the best sticky buns ever.

You Oughta Dough

There’s one hiccup to this recipe: you have to make another recipe to make it.

No, don’t click away! That other recipe — Joanne Chang’s recipe for Brioche dough — is such a pleasure to make and, if you have a KitchenAid mixer, a total piece of cake…err, brioche. If you do what I did and divide the dough in half, you can leave this experience with a loaf of professional-grade brioche (for French Toast, for grilled cheese, for croutons) PLUS a batch of the best sticky buns you’ll ever eat.

As you can see, the first step for making sticky buns is to roll out the brioche into a rectangle 16 X 12 inches wide. You might notice that my rectangle wasn’t a perfect rectangle and that was a mistake because when you roll it up, the curved in parts short-shrift that person’s sticky bun experience. You want each sticky bun to have as many layers as you can manage.

Dust It, Roll It, Slice It

If you watch a lot of The Great British Baking Show, as I do, you’ll have seen those bakers roll up a jelly roll for Paul Hollywood to ridicule. This one, though, was a pleasure to roll up. After dusting with sugar, cinnamon, and toasted chopped pecans (don’t skip toasting them! It draws out the flavor), you roll from the far end towards yourself. Because the brioche is so well developed (see brioche recipe), it’s firm and pliant and easier to deal with than a sleeping bag.

Once rolled, you slice off the ends and then slice into eight equal-sized pieces.

Isn’t that pretty? Even Paul Hollywood would shake my hand. Now let’s make goo.

For Gooey Sticky Buns, You Need Goo

I live in a goo-oriented household. As in, if I make pasta with tomato sauce or a salad with lots of bits and I bring Craig his portion, he’ll almost always say: “Needs more goo.” Then he’ll go spoon on more tomatoes, more bits, etc. That’s why I love that Joanne Chang just comes right out and calls this stuff what it is: the goo.

You make the goo with brown sugar, butter, honey, heavy cream, water, and salt, you pour it into a 9X13 baking dish, you dust it with the rest of the pecans, and then top with your sliced up buns. I made these the night before and refrigerated so I could just bring to room temperature the next morning before baking.

Rise Up and Get Baked

That’s what the sticky buns looked like the next morning when I took them out of the refrigerator and let them rise for two hours. They’re supposed to touch, but because I cut off too much of the ends when it was a log, they weren’t equally sized.

Turns out, that didn’t matter because once I baked them for 35 minutes in a 350 oven, they baked up beautiful and golden.

If you could scratch and sniff the screen, you’d want to do that right now. These made the apartment smell so good.

Sticky Buns Ready to Go

You have to let these cool for 25 minutes and then you flip them out and spoon on all of the extra goo. Sometimes a picture just speaks for itself, so I’ll let you gaze upon these sticky buns and see if you agree that they’re the best ever. And once you’ve realized that they’re the pillowiest, stickiest, most complex and satisfying sticky buns you’re likely to encounter, you can make the recipe!


Best Sticky Buns Ever! The ultimate recipe from Chef Joanne Chang. Get the whole thing on #food #buns #stickybuns #baking #foodtok #foryou #cooking

♬ I’m Into Something Good (feat. Peter Noone) – Herman’s Hermits

Related: Brioche for Beginners

sticky buns

Best Sticky Buns Ever

The undisputed best sticky buns ever from Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook.
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword baking, breakfast, sticky buns
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 buns


For the goo:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks of butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the buns:

  • 1/2 batch Basic Brioche dough The recipe is in my post "Brioche for Beginners," linked above
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped


  • Start by making the goo. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook until it dissolves. Off the heat, whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  • On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 16 by 12 inches and 1/4-inch thick. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle it over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Roll it tightly so you have a nice round spiral. Slice off 1/4 inch from both ends to even things out.
  • Using a bench scraper or a chef's knife, cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. (I did this by cutting it in half, cutting each half in half, and then once again.)
  • Pour the goo into a 9X13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the surface. Place the buns, cut-side down and evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for two hours, or until the dough is puffy and the buns are touching.
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the buns for 35. to 45 minutes or until they're golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip them out on to a serving platter one at a time. Spoon any extra goo on top. They're best right away or within 4 hours of baking.

Let's dish!

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