Pecan Sticky Buns Win Christmas Morning, Plus Four Other Breakfast Recipes

December 20, 2017

If there’s ever a time to go all in on a warm, cozy breakfast spread, it’s Christmas morning. Your family will be impressed.

Emily Balk
Christmas Day breakfast recipes

Nothing says “hygge” quite like gooey sticky buns, the cinnamon aroma wafting over the entire kitchen as they bake.

I based the dough on the simple to assemble and easy to roll dough from King Arthur Flour, but wanted the over-the-top gooey topping from Boston’s own Flour Bakery, with a few alterations to keep it from veering into tooth-achingly sweet territory. I would highly recommend using the overnight rise variation noted below in the instructions. That way the work is done the day before and all you need to do is bake the buns in the morning.

A final flourish of flaky sea salt adds balance.  


Christmas Day breakfast recipes

Pecan Sticky Buns

Sticky Bun Dough 

  • 17 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 ounces powdered dry milk 
  • 1 5/8 ounces potato flour, cornstarch, or instant potato flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 ounces granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces lukewarm water
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sticky Bun Filling

  • 1/3 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Sticky Bun Filling Directions:

  1. Mix sugars, cinnamon and pecans in a small bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a separate bowl and set aside until ready to roll the dough into a rectangle in stick bun instructions, step 5. 

Gooey Topping

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 170 grams, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (345 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 60 grams honey
  • 50 grams dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Plus 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans 
  • 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (optional) 

Gooey Topping Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, dark corn syrup, cream, water and salt.
  4. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar
  5. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.
  6. Mix in pecans

The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Dough and Sticky Bun Assembly Directions:

  1. To make the dough: Whisk the dry ingredients together, then stir in the water, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract. Mix and knead — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until you've have a very soft, smooth dough. 
  2. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray, play dough in the bowl and spray top of dough with non-stick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for about 1 to 2 hours. It will become slightly puffy, but won't double in bulk.
  3. While the dough is rising, prepare the pan(s): use a 9" x 13" pan, or two 9" round pans.
  4. Pour gooey topping evenly into prepared pans
  5. To assemble the buns: Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16" x 20" rectangle. Spread it with the cinnamon filling and evening pour the melted butter over the dough, leaving an uncovered strip about 1" wide along one short edge of the dough.
  6. Starting with the filling-covered short edge, roll the dough into a log, and slice it into 16 slices, each about 1" wide. This can be done with unwaxed dental floss or a sharp serrated knife. 
  7. Place the buns in the prepared pan(s), leaving about 1/2" between them. Cover the pan(s), and let the buns rise for 90 minutes; again, they won't rise much, they'll just seem to spread a bit. *Want to shape the buns, then refrigerate overnight and bake the next day? See note below. 
  8. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  9. To bake the buns: Bake the sticky buns for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting them lightly with aluminum foil for the final 5 minutes if they appear to be browning too quickly. The finished buns will be golden brown.
  10. Remove the buns from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Loosen their edges with a knife, and carefully turn them out onto a 10’ cast iron pan, if using a 9” pan to bake the buns, or parchment-covered sheet pan to cool, scraping any glaze that may have stuck to the pan onto the buns. 
  11. Sprinkle flaky sea salt evenly over the top of the buns at this point, if using. Use 1 teaspoon per 9” pan of sticky buns. 
  12. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Store leftovers at room temperature, well wrapped, for several days; freeze for longer storage.

*Note: Want to prep buns the night before and bake in the morning? Make the dough, shape the buns, and place them in the pan (with the topping); don't let them rise. Place the pan of buns in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours before you want to serve hot buns. Remove the buns from the fridge, and let them rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 minutes, until they're golden brown and the filling is bubbly.


Christmas Day breakfast recipes

Monkey Bread 

A close cousin to sticky buns, Monkey Bread is a perennial favorite for kids and adults alike. This version from Bon Appetit is nut-free. 


Christmas Day breakfast recipes


Crispy tortillas doused in a spicy chili sauce and topped with fried eggs. For those who prefer savory to sweet on their breakfast plate, give this recipe for chilaquiles verdes from Serious Eats a try.   


Christmas Day breakfast recipes

Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole 

Fortify yourself against the harsh winter cold with the richness of cream, Gruyere and a pound of croissants. Stratas and breakfast casseroles, like this one from The New York Times can be made in advance. 


Christmas Day breakfast recipes

Oatmeal with Fruit

Seasonal spices and tangy buttermilk make this porridge luxurious and will warm your family from the inside out. This creative recipe from Saveur benefits from a confetti of healthy dried fruit and nuts. 


  • December 20, 2017