Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns are grandma's, old fashioned, sticky buns with caramel and it is the best, soft, moist and gooey cinnamon buns recipe around!
Caramel Sticky Buns
Wow! Just woke up to lots of snow. Looks so beautiful but all I am thinking is how bad the roads are and all of the stuff I have to get done today.
All of a sudden, from around the corner, my husband appears with his beautiful soft moist and gooey cinnamon buns recipe and a big cup of tea!
I start to speak and he cuts me off and says "don't worry, I took pictures of the buns for the website". He knows I have been wanting to post this recipe for these old fashioned Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns for so long!
I love it, on mornings like this, when he knows exactly what I am going to say. Sometimes though, I have to admit, it drives me crazy! This is not one of those times. I have actually been trying to get a picture of Grandma's Sticky Buns for a very long time. They just disappear so fast!
At least finally, today, I am able to share this soft moist and gooey cinnamon buns recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Grandma's Sticky Buns Toppings
As you would expect, any buns referred to as Grandma's Sticky Buns are going to be a soft moist and gooey cinnamon buns recipe! This recipe only calls for a caramel topping but there are many other options for you to try. Some traditional and some not so much.
First, let's talk about the most common topping and that is chopped nuts. When it comes to nuts you have a variety that you can use. These include but are not limited to:
- macadamia nuts
Another popular topping is raisins. Soft and squishy and oh so good. Even though raisins are used in the middle of the sticky buns, they're a great addition to the top.
Chocolate and caramel are a tasty combination and that's why many people top the buns with chocolate chips of all sorts. You can use milk chocolate, semi-sweet or even white chocolate if you like. The world is your oyster, so to speak.
Shredded coconut is not a traditional topping but if you're in the mood for something different, it's a delicious treat.
The last topping I'm going to mention is best for kids and kids at heart and that is sprinkles. I wouldn't normally think of using sprinkles (or sparkles) to top sticky buns with but then again, my childhood is long past me.
Caramel Sticky Buns Fillings
When it comes to making filling for sticky cinnamon buns there are so many choices out there. Just like with the toppings, just as diverse.
If you want to make them super sticky then add extra brown sugar (I have included some measurements down below for that). My son Patrick loves the ooey gooey, delicious mess that drips out with every bite.
I myself prefer to add extra raisins. I'm a total raisin fanatic and munch on them as often as I can which is why I like to add more. Ken loves peanuts so I chop them up and fill the buns with them for him.
You can go outside the box and smear peanut butter or Nutella or both on the dough before you sprinkle on the brown sugar and cinnamon.
If you're in the mood for something fruity then add some apple or blueberry pie filling. Or better yet, check out my wonderful Best Blueberry Sweet Rolls recipe (coming soon).
Also, you can add chocolate chips of your choosing or you can add caramel, butterscotch or peanut butter chips if that's what you prefer.
So as you can see, this recipe is extremely versatile and you can create to your heart's content!
Best Sticky Buns
Grandma's Sticky Buns in my opinion are always the best kind of sticky buns. I've often been asked for her soft moist and gooey cinnamon buns recipe but I want to keep it in the family and hand it down.
Also like to keep the recipe a secret so that the buns will be quite popular when I bring them to brunch with the girls. I always make sure to bring extra as we devour them completely. These cinnamon buns are just that good!
I used to work as a Sunday school teacher and I would even bring these caramel sticky buns in for the class I was teaching. They loved them too and I could never make enough.
Besides breakfast or brunch, you can also serve these delicious buns as a dessert or as just a snack. Patrick asked once if I would make them for dinner and even though I thought about it, I had to say no. I felt so bad for him. He was only 5 years old at the time.
Now he's old enough to make them whenever he wants and he's perfectly happy about it!
What is the difference between a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun?
Although they start start off the same, using the same kind of dough, the filling is basically the same and that is where the similarities end.
The main difference between cinnamon rolls and sticky buns is that with Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns, the topping, usually caramel sauce is added to the bottom of the baking dish, then the cinnamon rolls are baked on top.
You invert or flip the pan after baking which gives them their glorious topping, from the bottom of the pan, and you get to watch it all drip down all over forming a sticky sauce that covers your buns.
With cinnamon rolls, they can be baked on a rimmed baking sheet individually or nestled in a group or bunch, touching each other in a pan and the topping is added after the rolls have been baked.
Usually the topping is, but not limited to, a cream cheese or vanilla icing kind of glaze.
Ingredients in Grandma's Sticky Buns
- active dry yeast
- brown sugar
- cooking spray
- brown sugar
How to make Soft Moist and Gooey Cinnamon Buns Recipe
First, you need to warm the bowl. Grab a big metal mixing bowl and run hot water in it until it overflows. Let it sit, full of hot water, in the sink for a moment or two.
Fill your measuring cup with really hot water from the tap.
Dump and dry your metal bowl. Pour in your hot water and dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar. Give it a stir.
Next, sprinkle yeast over the top of the water and let stand for 10 minutes.
While you are waiting on the yeast you are going to have to scald your milk.
Pour your milk in to a small saucepan.
Heat until almost boiling and then remove from heat. Stir constantly.
Add butter, sugar and salt to milk and stir until butter is totally melted, if it is not already.
Next, add milk mixture and egg to yeast mixture in your large metal bowl.
Add 2 cups flour and stir continuously with a big wooden spoon until mixed.
Add 1 ½ - 2 cups more flour, stirring until incorporated.
Lastly, knead your dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until your dough is soft and springy, not sticky. Add more flour if necessary to achieve this consistency.
The First Rise
Place dough in a bowl and cover with a clean, damp towel.
Let rise until the dough has doubled in size. About an hour and a half or so. Keep in mind you have to keep this dough in a warm place or the dough will not rise.
Our home is kept at a cool temperature so we turn our oven on to warm or 175 degrees, which is our lowest temperature setting. Once warm we turn the oven off and place the dough inside, usually with the light on.
Prepare two 9x13 inch pans lightly coated in cooking spray.
Combine ¼ cup melted butter and ½ cup brown sugar.
Stir until blended.
Pour onto the bottom of each of your prepared pans. You have to do this before putting the buns in. Set aside.
Punch down the center of the dough and divide it roughly in half.
Roll out one half of the dough at a time into a rectangle about 9x12 inches in size.
In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, melt ½ cup of butter.
Using a brush, coat the top of your rolled out dough.
In a small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
Sprinkle half, as evenly as possible, on top of the melted butter and dough.
Sprinkle with half of the raisins.
Rolling and Slicing
Roll up from the narrow end, pinch the edges to seal and slice with a sharp knife into between 6 and 9 pieces. It is up to you. Make them as thin or thick as you want.
Repeat with the remaining dough, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins.
Place sliced rolls into your prepared pans, between 6 and 9 per pan, on top of the sugar butter mixture. Make sure to leave enough space for them to expand.
The Second Rise
Cover the pans with clean, damp cloths and place either on the counter or in the oven, depending on the temperature of your home.
Set your timer for 1 hour and keep a close mind on the time. You don't want the buns to over rise.
Time to Bake
Remove pans from oven when you are ready to bake.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for between 20 and 25 minutes.
Buns should be a nice brown color.
Allow to rest in pan for 10 minutes before you serve them.
Flip over to serve and watch the warm caramel topping melt down the sides.
Serve Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns warm and enjoy!
Can you make Sticky Cinnamon Buns Overnight or Ahead of Time?
Overnight or Make Ahead
We often make these sticky cinnamon buns and get them to the point of the second rise, when they are rolled, sliced, unbaked, sitting on the topping, and put in the pan they will be baked in.
Cover tightly and refrigerate until morning, between 8-12 hours but I have known them to last for a few hours longer in your fridge.
The dough will continue to rise a small amount in your fridge so don't worry if it looks a little bit bigger when you pull it out.
The next morning, remove the buns from your refrigerator and depending on how warm your kitchen naturally is, loosen the plastic wrap and leave on your counter for about an hour or two until they double in size.
If your kitchen is on the cooler side, leave buns on your counter for about an hour to get to room temperature and in the meantime turn your oven on to 175 degrees.
Next, turn your oven off and place buns inside your oven to rise, with the light on, for about an 1 hour before baking, until they have doubled their size.
Continue to bake as directed.
Caramel sticky buns are best served fresh and warm, whenever possible. Unfortunately the will become stale quickly.
That being said, if you have leftovers you can store them at room temperature overnight, in an airtight container, but I recommend reheating servings in your microwave for 15 seconds or so or inside your oven, on 250 degrees for 15 minutes, until heated through for best results.
You can refrigerate the baked buns up to 4 or 5 days in your fridge, even though they never last that long!
Can you freeze Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Bun dough?
You bet you can! Follow the recipe until you get to the start of the second rise when they are rolled, sliced and unbaked. NOT sitting on the topping, in the pan they will be baked in.
Place sliced rolls on a parchment covered cookie sheet or equivalent, not touching each other and place inside your freezer for an hour or two.
Once frozen, place buns in a resealable freezer bag with as much air removed as possible and/or into an airtight container and into your freezer.
You can freeze them for up to 1 month and defrost buns overnight in your refrigerator, the day before you want to bake them.
When you’re ready to bake, remove buns from your fridge and place on your counter in hopes of achieving room temperature or as close to it as possible.
In the meantime, prepare the pan or dish you intend on baking your sticky buns in with the sticky butter brown sugar bottom.
Next, place buns in your pan or dish, spread out and apart. Allow them to do their second rise, on your counter or in your oven with it turned off, until they have doubled in size, less than 2 hours total time.
Once doubled in size, continue to bake as directed.
Freezing and Reheating Caramel Sticky Buns
I want to mention that you can freeze the baked sticky cinnamon buns, wrapped in parchment paper and in a resealable freezer bag with as much air sucked out as possible for up to about a month.
You can reheat them gently in your oven on 250 degrees for about 15 minutes or heated through.
You can freeze the totally prepared pan of unbaked cinnamon sticky buns for up to a month, but I actually can't recommend this method because I’ve never found the end result to be as good, definitely edible, but definitely not as satisfying.
If you choose to try it, please let me know your thoughts, as always I would be grateful. Regardless, remove pan from your freezer and place in your fridge covered the night before you want to bake.
Next morning, place on your counter so your sticky buns can achieve room temperature, or close to it, and then allow them to rise until doubled in size on your counter or in your oven for up to 2 hours total.
Once doubled, continue to bake Grandma's Sticky Buns as directed.
Tips for making Grandma's Caramel Sticky Buns
- Different brands of yeast call for different proofing methods, even slight differences, so please have a look at your yeast packet to see what temperature your milk should be at
- In order to obtain a light, airy, fluffy dough, that rises well, you want to make sure that your water isn’t too warm or too cold, or the yeast won’t activate.
- If your yeast doesn't activate your dough will be dense, dry and not rise and all of your effort will be for not so this step is very important.
- You need to check to see if your yeast is activated BEFORE you add it to your dough. If it doesn’t bubble up and look frothy, then you need to start over with a new packet of yeast.
Adding Flour while Kneading
- The trick here is to only add as much flour as your dough can handle incorporating without it totally sticking to your fingers and being a big mess to use, knead and manipulate.
- Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns dough should be soft and springy, maybe a little sticky, but definitely not too sticky, and should pull away from the sides of your bowl easily leaving the bowl reasonably clean, same with your fingers.
- It’s better to start with dough that is too sticky and add more flour, then to add too much flour and wind up with dense, dry buns instead of light and fluffy ones.
- If the dough feels too sticky, continue kneading and add flour a couple tablespoons at a time until the dough achieves that somewhat sticky, soft and springy texture.
- Accurate rising times will depend on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen but you will know when your dough has risen enough when you notice that it has doubled in size for both the first and second rise.
- Remember to set a timer or watch your clock to give you an idea of when your dough will be ready and you should start checking it.
The First Rise
- The first rise takes up to 90 minutes or an hour and a half in order to see your dough double in size.
- The best way to tell if your dough has risen enough to punch down and shape is to perform the "ripe test". Gently press two fingers into the risen dough, up to your second knuckle and then pull them out.
- If the indentations remain the dough is “ripe” and ready for punch down and forming. If not, cover and let the dough rise until the dents have disappeared and try the test again.
Rolling Out Dough
- Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. This makes the dough easy to roll out and it won't stick to your work surface.
- We used to add more butter, brown sugar and raisins to this recipe, and create a messier, stickier bun, when we were younger, but now we seem to be finding that less is more. Feel free to add some more of each if you desire.
Rolling Up Dough
- Roll your Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Bun dough until it is nice and tight so as you roll up your dough, pull and stretch it towards you and keep rolling, over and over until done. Leave the seam side down at your workstation to keep all of the filling inside.
Sticky Ingredients on Pan Bottom
- Over the years we have gradually reduced the amount of sticky in our sticky bun down to ¼ cup butter and ½ cup brown sugar but feel free to use ⅓ cup butter and ⅔ cup brown sugar or even ½ cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar if you want to.
- Remember that the amounts listed are split between 2 pans and we started years ago with this recipe at 1 cup sugar and ½ cup butter.
Cutting the Roll
- You can slice these buns, ideally using your sharpest knife and if necessary use a serrated knife, remembering to use long sawing motions rather than small, short ones so your slices are nicer and your roll doesn't get crushed or squeezed.
- To get evenly sized pieces make little, shallow slices into the dough with your knife for either a total of 6 or 9 buns, which means either 5 or 8 slices into your dough and possibly slicing a little off each end for a consistent shape and thickness.
- Repeat the process with your remaining Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Bun roll.
The Second Rise
- You have to remember to leave some space between the rolls so they have space to double in size after you leave them for another hour to rise, for the last time.
- Watch the time or set a timer like I do, so they do not over rise or you won't be impressed by the end result. They can lose their soft, fluffy texture, develop large air pockets, have an undesirable shape, will bake unevenly, and the list goes on.
- You don’t want to rush the rise time either. I place my dough, covered with a damp towel, in the oven with the light on. It provides the perfect environment for dough to rise.
- If my kitchen is on the colder side I turn my oven on to 175 degrees or warm and then once temperature is achieved turn the oven off and leave Grandma's Sticky Buns inside to rise, setting a timer of course!
- If you can resist the temptation, allow your buns cool in their pan for about 10 minutes before cutting into them. As always, they’ll continue baking even after they’ve been removed from the oven and is a way to prevent the sticky bottom from running away and not totally covering your buns.
- The best way to serve these buns is flipped over or upside down. You can either flip your entire pan onto a cutting board, tray or platter or you can cut into them and serve them individually from your pan.
- If serving individual portions from your baking pan have a spatula ready to scrape out some of the gooey goodness at the bottom of the pan to the top of your bun when serving.
Our Best Buns
If you love cinnamon buns and sticky buns then be sure to check out my other completely delicious and slightly different bun recipes. I'd love to hear which one's your favorite.
Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns Video
Homemade Sticky Cinnamon Buns
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
Activate the Yeast
- First, we need to warm the bowl. Grab a big metal mixing bowl and run hot water in it until it overflows. Let it sit, full of hot water, in the sink for a moment or two.
- Fill your measuring cup with really hot water from the tap.
- Dump and dry your metal bowl. Pour in your hot water and dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar. Give it a stir.
- Next, sprinkle yeast over the top of the water and let stand for 10 minutes.
- While you are waiting on the yeast you are going to have to scald your milk.
Scald your milk
- Pour your milk in to a small saucepan.
- Heat until almost boiling and then remove from heat. Stir continuously.
Making your Dough
- Add butter, sugar and salt to milk and stir until butter is totally melted, if it is not already.
- Add milk mixture and egg to yeast mixture in your large metal bowl.
- Next, add 2 cups flour and stir continuously with a big wooden spoon until mixed.
- Add 1 ½ - 2 cups more flour, stirring until incorporated.
- Lastly, knead your dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until your dough is soft and springy, not sticky. Add more flour if necessary.
- Place dough in a bowl and cover with a clean, damp towel. Let rise until the dough has doubled in size. About an hour and a half or so.
- Keep in mind you have to keep this dough in a warm place or the dough will not rise. My home is kept at a cool temperature so we turn our oven on to warm or about 175 degrees, which is our lowest temperature setting. Once warm we turn the oven off and place the dough inside and leave it.
Making Sticky Buns
- Prepare two 9x13 inch pans lightly coated in cooking spray.
- Combine ¼ cup melted butter and ½ cup brown sugar. Stir until blended.
- Pour onto the bottom of each of your prepared pans. You have to do this before putting the buns in. Set aside.
- Punch down the center of the dough and divide it roughly in half.
- Roll out one half of the dough at a time into a rectangle about 9x12 inches.
- In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, melt ½ cup of butter.
- Using a brush, coat the top of your rolled out dough.
- In a small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Sprinkle half, as evenly as possible, on top of the melted butter and dough.
- Sprinkle with half of the raisins.
- Roll up from the narrow end, pinch the edges to seal and slice with a sharp knife into between 6 and 9 pieces. It is up to you. Make them as thin or thick as you want.
- Repeat with the remaining dough, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins.
- Place rolls into your prepared pans, between 6 and 9 per pan, well spaced, on top of the sugar butter mixture.
- Cover the pans with warm cloths and place either in the oven or on the counter for the second rise, depending on the temperature of your home.
- Set timer for 1 hour and be aware of the time as you don't want them to over rise.
- Remove pans from oven or counter when ready to bake.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake for between 20 and 25 minutes. Buns should be a nice brown color.
- After 10 minutes flip over to serve.
- Serve warm and enjoy!