Overnight Sticky Buns

By Ann Fulton

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A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

 

 

 

 

 

The anticipation of waking up to a special breakfast always seems to heighten the holiday allure. In my family, these sticky buns are as eagerly anticipated as the Star Wars Millennium Falcon LEGO spaceship and Matchbox Car Wash once were. (Anyone remember those once “hot” items? Or Tickle Me Elmo, Guitar Hero, or Nintendo Game Boy for that matter?)

As a side note, it is fun to think back to all the popular Christmas and Hanukkah gifts of years gone by. For an entertaining walk down memory lane, you might enjoy this list of top holiday gifts dating back to 1970. Nerfball, the Apollo Moon Rocket, the board game Risk, and the Talking Viewmaster were apparently all the rage the year I was born!

In the early years, I’d assemble these sticky buns after the kids were nestled in their beds and before Santa had done his work. The clever shortcut and quick prep made the breakfast treat easy to accomplish on an otherwise busy night. 

The recipe may seem a bit bizarre both in method and ingredients. To start, frozen bread dough is topped with a simple dry mixture and left to rise on the counter overnight. In the morning, the risen dough gets popped in the oven, and voila! Sticky buns that taste-and smell-like they came from the corner bakery.

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

A wonderful woman who babysat my young boys years ago passed along this sticky bun recipe. I pull her hand-written card out of my recipe box when time is short but I want to serve a crowd-pleasing coffee cake.

 

So let’s see how easy it is!

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

The short list of ingredients is added to a greased Bundt pan at night and left to sit on the counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight. In the morning, the dough will have thawed and risen, and all that’s left to do is bake. 

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

Once baked, I let the cake set for a few minutes before carefully flipping onto a cake plate. If you let it sit too long, the syrupy  topping will firm up and the cake will be harder to remove. (Pot holders are helpful. My hands withstand a lot of heat!)

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

With a spatula, scrape out any nuts and glaze that remain in the pan after flipping, drizzling over the sticky buns. (Above, you can see a good bit remaining in the bottom of my pan.)

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

Perfect for a holiday breakfast or special brunch…or even an unexpected weekend treat. If you’re cooking for one or two and a whole cake seems like too much, consider slicing the warm sticky buns in half and delivering to a neighbor for a surprise treat!

 

Troubleshooting…

This recipe is rather foolproof, but there are a few helpful hints I can share:

  1. I can only find a three-pound bag of frozen dough: In this case, use 24 of the rolls. You will have 12 leftover, which can be thawed and baked as dinner rolls another day, used for homemade pizza or stromboli dough, or paired with additional rolls for more sticky buns in the future.
  2. I bought frozen rolls, not dough: A friend of mine mistakenly bought already-baked rolls years ago, and she tried the recipe anyway. It didn’t work! If that is all you have to work with,  I’d warm the rolls, cut them in half or break open, spread the insides with butter, and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for a variation on the ever-delicious cinnamon toast.
  3. My dough sat on the counter a little too long: See photo and solution, below. 
    A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

    This is an old photo that shows dough that has risen a bit too far, but it’s really not a problem. If the dough has risen above the top edge of the pan, gently push it down with flat hands. You don’t want to tamp it too far down-just to the rim of the Bundt pan.

     

    4. I had a few drips in the oven: (see below)

    A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

    On rare occasions, I’ve had some of the brown sugar glaze seep over and down through the hole of the Bundt pan while baking. To avoid potential drips in your oven, you may cover the hole with a piece of foil and/or place the Bundt pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

5. I need a gluten-free recipe: This is one of the few recipes on the blog for which I have been unable to provide a viable gluten-free adaptation to date. For those seeking an equally delicious breakfast or brunch treat, I highly recommend this cinnamon coffee cake or this apple crumb cake. Both require only a simple substitution of a cup-for cup gluten-free flour blend. Baked oatmeals like this Overnight Crunchy Top Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal offer other good options. To see the many other baked oatmeal offerings on this site, simply type “baked oatmeal” in the search bar and scroll back through the recipes.

 

 

How to complete the meal:

Any fruit is a lovely addition, and this Winter Fruit Salad is especially so. My family enjoys the sticky buns with my grandmother’s tried-and-true Sausage and Egg Casserole (another prep-ahead recipe, pictured below), although a frittata, omelet, or eggs cooked your favorite way are delightful, too. Smoked salmon offers a protein-rich alternative to eggs. Finally, Greek yogurt served with assorted toppings like berries, granola, nuts, and shredded coconut provides a menu addition that people can customize to taste. 

This tried-and-true casserole can be prepared in advance and is perfect for holidays and special brunches. A smaller batch option follows the main recipe and is ideal for more intimate gatherings and the occasional breakfast for dinner!  

 

Make it a gift!

Gifts of food

For a thoughtful gift, mix the pudding, sugar, and cinnamon in a quart-size, zip-top bag. Put pecans and/or raisins in a separate bag. Place both in a gift bag with the frozen dough and instructions. Deliver to friends, family, and neighbors who may enjoy. (Make sure someone is home to transfer the dough to the freezer until ready to use.) I have included a set of instructions below the recipe so that you may copy, paste, and print to include with a gift.

A clever shortcut and prep-ahead convenience make these tried-and-true sticky buns as easy as they are delicious. The recipe has long been a family favorite on holidays and special occasions. As an added bonus, the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of the corner bakery!

These homemade sticky buns are shockingly easy, yet the end result tastes just like a good sticky bun should. And the aroma wafting from your kitchen will remind you of your favorite bakery! My family often enjoys them alongside my grandmother’s tried-and-true sausage and egg casserole, both of which can be fully prepped in advance. 

 

Overnight Sticky Buns
The original recipe calls for one cup of raisins. We enjoy the crunch and flavor of pecans, and I think a half cup is the perfect amount. Feel free to use either one or a mix of the two. The recipe should be prepared before you go to bed and baked upon rising.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or raisins (or a mix)
  • 1 (3-ounce) package vanilla pudding (Cook and Serve type; NOT instant)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (2-pound) package frozen dinner rolls (or 24 rolls from a 3-pound bag Rhodes or Rich’s brand, for example; you want to purchase the DOUGH, not precooked rolls)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
Instructions
  1. Before you go to bed, sprinkle the pecans and/or raisins in a greased Bundt pan, and evenly arrange the frozen dough balls on top.
  2. Combine the pudding mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon; sprinkle over the dough.
  3. Cut the butter into pieces and dot over all.
  4. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise overnight on counter. (Yes, really! Not in the fridge.)
  5. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350℉. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the sticky buns are cooked through and a bit crusty on top. I like to place the Bundt pan on a baking sheet just in case there are any drips over the side. Baking time may be longer if you are using a light-colored, non-stick pan.
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Place your serving plate on top of the Bundt pan and invert, holding the platter and Bundt pan together, so that the sticky buns come out nicely onto your platter. With a spatula, scrape any of the syrupy mixture that remains in the Bundt pan onto the sticky buns. (Helpful hint: if the sticky buns cool too long in the pan, they will be harder to remove. In that case, use a dinner knife to loosen the edges. At this point, if the syrupy topping that remains in the pan is too firm to drizzle, set the now-empty pan in the oven for a few minutes to remelt the mixture. That will make it easier to remove.)
Notes

If you don’t seal the plastic wrap to the side of the Bundt pan before going to bed, the dough may rise above the top of the pan by the time you wake. The same thing can happen if the kitchen is warm. Not to worry, simply press down on the wrap-covered surface until the dough is at the same level as the top edge of the pan and proceed.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Originally posted on December 21, 2012

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Comments

  1. Terra

    Wow, your recipe sounds so similar to the one my mom makes every Christmas morning:-) I love all the butter you have…..but then again I do love butter:-) They do look wonderful, Have a very merry Christmas my friend! Hugs, Terra

    Reply
  2. Audra

    This looks soOoooOoo good! I just did all my grocery shopping and now I want to go back and get frozen rolls 🙂 Thank you for including my blog on “Other Recipe Sites”, I am truly honored. Wishing you and your family a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Best wishes for a joyful Christmas to you, Audra, and I hope you make it back to the store! It is truly my pleasure to include your blog on my site. You have so much to offer, in terms of food and beyond!

      Reply
  3. Margot

    The factory that made the Rhodes frozen dinner rolls apparently burnt down a few years ago and we haven’t been able to get the frozen dinner rolls here in Ottawa since 🙁

    Reply
    1. Ann

      That is interesting, Margot…and certainly unfortunate! We still have Rhodes so I wish I could share! An alternative I might experiment with would be to use the equivalent amount of purchased bread dough and roll it into small balls. I think I would cover and refrigerate overnight (since it wouldn’t be frozen), and then allow to sit on the counter for an hour or so before baking. You just want the dough to be at about the same level as the top of the pan. Perhaps I will try this one day, too!

      Reply
  4. Katherine Meredith

    I made these last night for Christmas morning breakfast…my family loved them! Thanks for the great recipe and quick breakfast…Blessings!

    Reply
  5. Lynette

    I made these but it was too much for my bundt pan and as they baked thy rolled off the top of the pan and landed all over my oven. Baking them 25 minutes was not nearly enough which left them quite doughy in the middle. I’m sure this idea is a winner though and will make some adjustments and try again!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Oh Lynette, I am sorry that happened! Coincidently, I was at a friend’s house the day before Christmas and she showed me her Bundt pan which is much smaller than mine. I am going to make a note on the recipe as, apparently, there are two different size pans. One of the challenges of writing these recipes is the baking time as ovens vary so much. I will continue to make notes to help everyone have success with the recipes and truly appreciate your feedback!

      Reply
  6. Amy

    The grocery store ran out of the Rhodes large package of dough/rolls (I wonder why??). So, I used Sister Schubert dinner rolls. Two 12-packs worked well and the dish was a major hit at our brunch. Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Coincidently, someone else told me the same thing! Also, I happened to be at the grocery store yesterday and bumped into a friend who literally had a pack of frozen dough in her hands. She showed me that they only had 2-pound packs, which I had never seen before. This size would be perfect for those with smaller Bundt pans. Conversely, for those with smaller pans and the 3-pound package of rolls, removing 10-12 dough balls would avoid overflowing the pan. Thanks so much for your comment, Amy!

      Reply
  7. Gloria

    I made it to accompany sweet ham! GONE! And got requests to make again and again! My son called me the next morning to see if I had a little piece left! Told him I ate it!! Loved the recipe! Family favorite already!!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Thank you very much for letting me know, Gloria! I am so glad this was a hit and I am laughing at your comment. As the head chef, I think you earned the last piece: )

      Reply
    1. Ann

      I haven’t tried it this way, Carol, but I think it would work just fine. The dough balls are rather small when frozen, but they will expand a lot overnight. The hole in the middle of the Bundt pan allows the center to bake through a bit more quickly. So, just make sure you have a dish that is not too narrow despite what seems like not a lot of dough at first. And check a little early as the proportions of the pan could alter the suggested cooking time in either direction. Hope this is helpful!

      Reply
      1. Carol

        Since we did gifts, etc last week when our daughter and son-in-law were in from Oregon, this Christmas morning was relaxed and low key-perfect leisurely breakfast opportunity. Having no Bundt pan, and mindful of the benefit of a pan with an open center, I used an angel food pan. These are VERY sweet and sticky-my 24 year-old son awarded them a “perfect Christmas morning breakfast” title-and then noted that they really should be a “very seldom to preserve waistlines” dish. Probably sad but true-but we enjoyed them this morning!

        Reply
  8. Beverley Press

    Ann this is a fab idea and looks so simple to make I just need to find a bundt tin big enough. Or I could buy one when we go to SF in January. xoxo

    Reply
  9. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Overnight Oven-Baked French Toast

  10. mary

    I won’t say how long I have been making these for Christmas morning; we use dark brown sugar and butterscotch pudding. So glad to have another recipe to use; light brown sugar and vanilla pudding. one batch is never enough for my family of 7. my brother has made them flat to take to work as everyone wants some of the “gooy” stuff! I also cut the rolls in half before putting them in the pan.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Hi Mary,
      I have made a butterscotch version, too, although this is my original which I make most often. Your suggestion to cut the rolls in half is so smart. What a great way to get the gooey stuff all mixed in!

      Reply
  11. Elizabeth Lorch

    It appears Rhodes is not in business. Try Bridgeford. I find them at Stater Bros. In Ridgecrest, California. They are dough balls. They are with other frozen bread dough. We take it to church on Sunday. It’s great for coffee hour.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Elizabeth, They seem to still be available in at least some stores (I’m on the east coast) and I found them online, but a similar frozen dough can absolutely be used. Thank you for your recommendation. This recipe is a perfect way to start a Sunday morning, and I’m sure it’s a hit at your church coffee hour!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’ve always made it with the cook and serve variety so can’t say for sure what the outcome would be. If you try, I’d love to know how you make out.

      Reply
        1. Ann Post author

          I’m sorry to read this, Donna. I’ve always had “NOT instant” noted next to the ingredient in the recipe because those were the instructions I received when the recipe was given to me–and caps are persuasive. That said, sometimes substitutions work. I appreciate that you took the time to reply to Kim’s earlier question.

          Reply
      1. Trudy

        I have a similar recipe which we call Monkey Balls. The problem with the angel food pan is that the syrup will run out of the bottom of the pan. Beware!

        Reply
  12. Pat Ritter

    These overnight sticky buns sound yummy. This is what my family will be eating Christmas morning. Only problem now is I can’t get this to print. My printer is trying to save me the calories!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      That’s too funny, Pat! I hope your printer cooperates and that your family enjoys these as much as mine does!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Jessica, Butterscotch pudding definitely works, albeit with a slightly different flavor. Just make sure to still use the cook & serve variety (not instant) and enjoy!

      Reply
  13. Jane Link

    This brings to mind the time my friend and I made sticky buns for the entire staff at Bucher School for Teacher Appreciation Day. Between the 2 of us , we made 6 pans of buns (9×13) and delivered them to the school for the start of the day. They were homemade from start to finish.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      What a wonderful memory, Jane…and what an undertaking! I can only imagine how thrilled everyone was. Such a thoughtful treat for the people who work hard for our children every day.

      Reply
        1. Ann Post author

          Hi Arleen, I’ve also made the sticky buns with butterscotch pudding, although the vanilla has been the favorite in our house. If you try, I hope you find it to be a worthy option!

          Reply
  14. lori

    Id like to try this recipie but where I live I dont have access to frozen dough balls Not sure if I could just make dinner roll dough and procede?

    Reply