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Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

These Caramel Cinnamon Rolls are completely made from scratch and will fill your house with the most delicious smells.

With oozy caramel, pecans and a soft, rich dough, this is the perfect recipe for anything from an indulgent breakfast, brunch or dessert.

close up of sticky caramel rolls viewed from above
Oozy sticky buns with pecans

Why you’ll love this recipe

If you’ve never baked with yeast, this is the recipe for you because the results are so worth it! I won’t lie – it’s not a quick recipe but most of the time allocated is waiting for the dough to rise. Just follow my step be step instructions.

Sweet yeast dough is not hard to master and opens up a whole new world of baking. Other similar recipes to try are sweet Portuguese Bread or make your own Chocolate Panettone.

Caramel Cinnamon Rolls are baked with gooey caramel and pecans underneath so that when you flip them out of the baking pan the caramel becomes the top and oozes down into the rolls. Yum!!

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for sweet yeast breads are mostly basic with a few varying flavors. I like to add lemon zest for the freshness and to cut through the sweetness.

  • sugar – brown and white
  • whole milk
  • dried active yeast
  • salt
  • flour
  • egg
  • butter
  • cinnamon
  • lemon zest
  • honey
  • pecans

Substitutions and variations

It’s easy to substitute or vary some ingredients in this recipe.

  • use regular white sugar or superfine (castor sugar)
  • substitute dark brown sugar for a more rich flavor
  • use buttermilk instead of whole milk
  • instant yeast instead of active dried yeast ( when I use instant, I still like to activate it in warm milk just to check it is still good)
  • I prefer all purpose flour but you could use bread flour
  • maple syrup or is a good substitute for honey
  • add 1/2 cup raisins
  • try different spices like ginger or mixed spice
  • use walnuts or chopped almonds instead of pecans
  • substitute orange zest instead of lemon zest
ingredients arranged on wooden board - white and brown sugar, milk, flour, salt, honey, butter, yeast, cinnamon, lemon zest, egg and pecans
Sticky bun ingredients

Instructions

Basic ingredients come together in this recipe to create magic. However, what you will need is patience, time and love because this recipe has 3 parts – dough, filling and caramel.

How to make the dough

4 image collage. image 1 is yeast proving in glass jug. image 2 dough in glass bowl. image 3 flattened dough partly folded. image 4 risen dough in bowl.
How to make sweet yeast dough
  1. Heat the milk and dissolve the sugar in the milk. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast, stir and wait until the mixture is frothy.
  2. Combine all the dough ingredients and knead by hand or use a stand mixer until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. Allow to rise.
  3. Fold the dough according to the recipe
  4. Let the dough rise a second time.

How to make the rolls

photo collage: image 1 caramel in saucepan and on spoon, image 2 pecans on caramel, image 3 scattering brown sugar over dough, image 4 rolling up dough, image 5 rolled up sticky bun dough and some slices cut, placing raw sticky buns in baking pan
How to make sticky buns
  1. Make the caramel by melting the butter and mixing in brown sugar, honey and salt.
  2. Pour caramel into prepared pan and scatter over pecans
  3. Roll out the dough, spread with butter and sprinkle on combined brown sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Start from the long edge and roll up the dough
  5. Cut into 12 pieces
  6. Arrange cut side up on the caramel and bake

Tips for success and FAQ’s

close up of sticky buns
Oozey sticky buns
  1. Allow the milk to cool because heat will kill the yeast
  2. Use room temperature ingredients
  3. Don’t add too much flour – the dough should be slightly sticky
  4. Be patient and allow the dough to rise. It may take longer if the room temperature is cold
  5. Roll up the dough tightly. This will make sure that the rolls hold their shape
  6. Finally, don’t over bake or the rolls will dry out
Why fold the dough?

Folding the dough releases some of the carbon dioxide (the gas built up in the dough), aligns and stretches gluten strands which creates strong dough and evens out the temperature of the dough to eliminate hot or cold spots

What is the best way to cut the dough into rolls?

My favorite way to cut uncooked caramel cinnamon rolls is to use unscented dental floss. Mark where you want to cut the dough. Then break off about 12in/30cm and slide the floss under the dough to where you want to cut. Wrap the floss up over the top and pull both ends in opposite directions in one quick motion.

Can this recipe be made ahead?

Just prepare and arrange rolls in the baking pan. Seal well with greased, plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately without rising. (The rolls rise the refrigerator.)
The next morning allow to stand at room temperature for an hour before baking as specified in the recipe below.

What is the best way to store and reheat these rolls?

These rolls are best eaten the day of baking. However if you have leftovers, store for one day at room temperature in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave for 15 seconds on high or until soft and warmed through.

Serving suggestion

Serve warm Cinnamon Caramel Rolls soon after baking with a cup of tea, strong coffee or glass of milk for breakfast or brunch.

a caramel cinnamon roll on white plate and whole bun in the background
Soft dough, oozy caramel and pecans. What’s not to love?

More recipes you’ll love

Ligurian Focaccia
Pizza Bread
Tear and Share Garlic Bread
Simple Doughnut Balls
Cinnamon Monkey Bread
Brioche Dinner Rolls from Food Voyageur
Cheese and Bacon Rolls from Kidgredients
Chelsea Buns from Mrs Jones Kitchen
Nutella Swirl Bread from ’til Golden Brown
Pizza Dough from the Cooking Collective

This updated recipe was first published on October 4, 2017.

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a sticky pecan bun on white plate and whole bun in the background

Caramel Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

A traditional cinnamon roll with oozey caramel and pecan topping
5 from 36 votes
Print Pin Review
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rising time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings:12 rolls
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast 1 x 7g sachet
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) unsalted butter very soft
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Filling

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams or ½ stick) unsalted butter melted or very soft

Caramel

  • 6 tablespoons (or 85 grams or ¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon light flavoured honey
  • 1 cup pecans coarsely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

To make the dough.

  • Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave in a small jug until heat through but not boiling. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cool until milk is just warm on your fingertips.
  • Stir yeast into just warm milk mixture and allow to stand 5-10 minutes until frothy.
  • In a stand mixer (or you can do this by hand) put flour into the bowl along with the milk mixture, egg, butter and lemon rind. Attach the dough hook and knead on low for 3 to 5 minutes. The dough will be soft, smooth and and slightly sticky.
  • Scrap the dough onto a lightly flour surface and form into a ball. Return to the mixing bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to prove in a warm place for 1 1/2 hour or until doubled.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl onto very lightly floured work surface. Flatten it into a rough rectangle. Fold it like a business letter. Then flatten again and repeat. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.
  • Butter the side only of a 13in x 9in x 2in (33cm x 22cm x 5cm) baking pan.

For the filling

  • Stir together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. The butter will be used later.

For the caramel

  • Melt the butter over low heat. Then stir in brown sugar, honey and salt. Whisk until sauce is smooth. Scrape this into the prepared pan and spread evenly. It will be thin. Sprinkle with pecans.

To assemble

  • Very lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and roll into 15in x 12in (38cm x 30cm) rectangle. Have the longest side nearest you.
  • Spread with the soft butter leaving a boarder at the far edge. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar mixture.
  • Roll up the dough starting from the long edge nearest you. Turn the seam side down and evenly cut the dough into 12 pieces. See notes for cutting tips.
  • Arrange the slices cut side up onto the topping. You should have 3 rows of 4. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC
  • Uncover the rolls and place the baking pan into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to release the rolls then place a tray over the pan. Invert onto the tray. Wait a minute or so to allow to unstick. If any topping remains in the baking pan, don't waste it, scrape it onto the rolls.

Notes

This delicious recipe is adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey.
Variations
Some ingredients in this recipe are easily be substituted.
  • use regular white sugar or superfine (castor sugar)
  • substitute dark brown sugar for a more rich flavor
  • try buttermilk instead of whole milk
  • instant yeast instead of active dried yeast ( when I use instant, I still like to activate it in warm milk)
  • I prefer all purpose flour but you could use bread flour
  • maple syrup or is a good substitute for honey
  • add 1/2 cup raisins
  • try different spices like ginger or mixed spice
  • use walnuts or chopped almonds instead of pecans
  • substitute orange zest for the lemon zest
Tips for success
  1. Allow the milk to cool because heat will kill the yeast
  2. Use room temperature ingredients
  3. The dough is meant to be sticky. Too much flour will make the rolls dry
  4. Be patient and allow the dough to rise. It may take longer if the room temperature is cold
  5. Roll up the dough tightly. This will make sure that the rolls hold their shape
  6. Finally, don’t over bake or the rolls will dry out
Cutting tips
  • My favorite way to cut caramel cinnamon rolls is to use unscented dental floss. Mark where you want to cut the dough. Then break off about 12inc/30cm. Slide the floss under the dough to where you want to cut. Wrap the floss up over the top and pull both ends in opposite directions in one quick motion. 
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 414kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 467IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My husband loves cinnamon rolls and I bet he would love these caramel ones even better. your instructions are very precise, thank you!

  2. I know that they are all separate little buns but I look upon that tray and the ultimate cinnamon bun in a rectangular shape! I could just dive straight in! 😀

  3. Boy, this looks good. I must admit that I like my cinnamon buns with the creamy white icing, but with the caramel underneath…that’s a whole other matter!