Sourdough Sticky Buns

Sourdough cinnamon rolls are so fun to make although they certainly a labor of love! This variation of my classic cinnamon roll recipe is a Southern favorite— Sourdough sticky buns with pecans (aka sourdough caramel rolls). These sweet rolls use sourdough starter rather than rapid yeast. Don’t worry though, these do not come out sour. Rather, they have a very subtle tang that creates a delightful contrast to the sweetness from the caramel pecan topping. This sourdough sticky bun recipe uses a modified brioche dough and will be a favorite among friends and families. 

sourdough sticky buns in a baking pan.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

My goal for all my recipes is to make them as simple as possible while still maintaining great results. Many recipes require a long initial bulk rise before rolling out the cinnamon roll dough and filling them. I have tried doing this and actually found that my rolls tool longer to finish and did not result in as fluffy of rolls. 

Instead, I decided to perform a short first rise to really just get the process started. This means that after 2 hours, you will roll out your dough, fill and cut them. The primary proofing stage comes after you have rolled out the rolls. This results in a faster finishing time because you aren’t rolling out all of the air from the bulk ferment stage. 

How to Use Sourdough Starter

Most sourdough starters are 100% hydration. This means that you feed your starter equal parts water and flour by weight.

This recipe uses a 100% hydration starter rather than a stiff starter, which is sometimes used in sourdough cinnamon buns and other enriched dough recipes. Stiff starters can have some benefits but I have not found that it makes enough of a difference. I prefer to use my 100% hydration starter as that is what I already have on hand and it simplifies the process and still creates great cinnamon buns.

 You want your starter to be active, but you do not need it to be at its peak rise. As long as it has been fed within the past day or two and is bubbly, it should be good to go for this recipe.  

Ingredients and Substitutions

Dough Ingredients

sourdough sticky buns dough ingredients.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter for this recipe. You can use salted but I would cut the salt in the dough by half. 
  • Brown Sugar
  • Milk: You can either use whole milk or a milk alternative such as oat milk to make this recipe. 
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Active Sourdough Starter: This recipe does not have any added leavening agents and relies only on the sourdough starter. Make sure your sourdough starter is active and bubble before using it in this recipe. 
  • All Purpose Flour: This recipe uses all purpose flour. If you only have bread flour, that is fine, but the rolls will be slightly chewier. 

Filling Ingredients

  • Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar

Topping Ingredients

sourdough sticky bun topping ingredients.
  • Maple Syrup
  • Pecans: I highly recommend toasting the pecans for this recipe. This really intensifies the flavor. You can do this by heating them in a skillet over low-medium heat until they develop a nutty aroma and appear slightly darker in color. Make sure you stir them often and remove from the pan when they are finished. The pecans can burn quickly if left in the pan. 
  • Salt
  • Brown Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Butter

How To Make Sourdough Sticky Buns

Make the Dough 

Step 1: Melt the butter. 

Step 2: Add the brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk.

melted butter and wet ingredients for sourdough sticky buns in small saucepan.

Step 3: Use the dough hook attachment to stir the mixture along with flour and active sourdough starter in the bowl of a stand mixer until a shaggy dough forms. Rest 30 minutes.

shaggy sourdough cinnamon roll dough in bowl of stand mixer with dough hook attachment.

Step 4: Knead dough for 5-7 minutes. 

Step 5: First proof (aka bulk fermentation) for 2 hours in a lightly oiled large bowl.

Cinnamon roll dough in large bowl for first proof.

Roll Out the Dough

Step 1: Make the sticky bun filling.

Step 2: Make the sticky bun topping. Spread evenly across 9×13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with pecans. 

sourdough sticky bunn filling spread evenly in 9x13 inch baking pan.

Step 3: On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough with a rolling pin until the dough is approximately 13×21 inches. 

Step 4: Spread the cinnamon sugar filling over the top of the dough.

Large rectangle of sourdough cinnamon roll dough spread with cinnamon sugar filling.

Step 5: Roll the cinnamon roll dough toward you, rolling the long edge of the dough. This dough doesn’t typically stick to the work surface but if it does, gently loosen it using bench scraper. 

Two hands rolling the filled cinnamon roll dough along the long edge.

Step 6: Cut the dough into 12 equal slices using unflavored dental floss or a sharp knife. I find that a knife works better but others swear by the dental floss method. 

Hands using a piece of dental floss that is threaded underneath and  crossed over the opposite sides of the cinnamon roll dough just before cutting it.

Step 7: Transfer to baking, placing over the pecan topping. 

Step 8: Second rise until fluffy and increased in size by 60%. The process will be faster if you place in the baking dish in a warm place and slower if it is cold. Now you can either bake immediately or refrigerate overnight and bake the next morning. 

sourdough sticky buns after second proof appear fluffy in baking pan and are just touching each other.


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F.

Step 2: Brush the tops of the rolls with remaining 2 tablespoons milk. 

Step 3: Bake. Internal temperature should reach 195F and the tops will appear golden brown. 

Step 4: Cool 10 minutes before flipping the baking pan onto a large serving tray or baking sheet to serve. 

sourdough pecan sticky bun on plate.

How to Store

Store the rolls in an airtight container or in a baking pan covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Sample Baker’s Schedule:

  • 9:00 am – Make the dough
  • 9:15 am – Rest 30 minutes
  • ​9:45 am – Knead dough
  • 10:00 am – First rise for 2 hours
  • 11:45 pm – Make filling and topping
  • 12:00 pm – Roll, fill, and cut the cinnamon rolls. 
  • 12:30 pm – Second rise (variable rise time but usually 6-8 hours or until increased in size by 60%)
  • 8:00 pm – Bake or refrigerate overnight


  • ​8:00 am – Brush rolls with milk and bake. 

For more sourdough recipes straight to your inbox, consider joining our mailing list. Otherwise, check out these sourdough recipes:

Sourdough Cinnamon Roll Recipe with Sourdough Starter (Vegan)

​Flaky Sourdough Pie Crust

Sourdough Goldfish Crackers

Rich and Fudgy Sourdough Discard Brownies

sourdough sticky buns in a baking pan.

Sourdough Sticky Buns

Sourdough sticky buns are nutty take on classic cinnamon rolls. Made with active sourdough starter, these rolls take a little longer to make than regular sticky buns, but the flavor of these with their pecan caramel topping is unmatched.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Proof Time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 25 minutes
Course Breakfast, brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 566 kcal


For the Dough

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar packed
  • cup +2 tablespoons whole milk
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • cup sourdough starter bubble and active
  • 4 cups all purpose flour

For the Filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • cup brown sugar packed

For the Pecan Topping

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar packed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cup pecans chopped and toasted

For Brushing the Rolls Before Baking

  • 2 tablespoons whole milk


  • Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and milk until smooth.
  • Add the butter mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the flour and sourdough starter. Use dough hook attachment to mix until on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and knead the dough with the dough hook attachment on low speed for 5-7 minutes or until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours.

Make the Filling

  • Make the filling by microwaving 4 tablespoons butter for 15-20 seconds. Add the 1½ tablespoons cinnamon and ⅔ cup brown sugar. Stir until fully combined.

Make the Topping

  • Melt butter in microwave for about 30 seconds in a small bowl. Add topping ingredients (brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract) except for the pecans, and mix until smooth.
  • Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to spread the topping evenly in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the topping.

Roll Out the Sticky Bun Dough and Fill

  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough in an approximate 12×21 inch (32.5×53 cm) rectangle. Try to make the corners as sharp as possible and feel free to use your hands if needed to shape the rectangle.
  • Spread the filling evenly over the dough with a spoon. You may need to work the filling a bit by gently scraping up thicker areas and transferring it to areas with less filling.
  • Somewhat loosely roll the long edge of dough towards you, forming a long cylinder.
  • Use a sharp kitchen knife or unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls into 12 evenly sized rolls.
  • Transfer the rolls to the prepared baking pan, placing the rolls on top of the filling and pecans, evenly spaced.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until the rolls are puffy and starting to touch each other (about 6-8 hours). When the rolls are fully proofed, you can either bake immediately or refrigerate overnight and bake the next day (see baker's schedule above).

When Ready to Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Brush rolls with 2 tablespoons milk. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes if not refrigerated or 40-45 minutes if rolls were refrigerated overnight. When done, the rolls should appear slightly golden on top and reach an internal temperature of 195℉. I highly recommend using a thermometer to check for doneness.
  • Allow to cool in pan at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Place a large baking sheet or serving tray on top of the pan. Flip the buns onto the serving tray and serve warm.


Calories: 566kcalCarbohydrates: 73gProtein: 7gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 412mgPotassium: 202mgFiber: 3gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 640IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 99mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Sourdough
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  1. I’ve looked for a sourdough sticky bun recipe in the past with no luck. So I was excited when this popped up in my feed. This recipe is unbelievably delicious and so easy as most the work is completed in the first ~3 hours. Thanks so much for sharing.

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