Sweet rolls? Take the fast track: no-yeast caramel buns.

Sweet rolls.

Soft, tender (keep reading), gooey, buttery (keep reading), lick-your-fingers (keep reading), crunchy with nuts (or not) –

…and ready for breakfast in under 45 minutes.

How can that be?


No kidding!

When you think sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, you think yeast dough, right? That’s the usual path we all take. Yet think of those Doughboy buns you pop out of a can; no yeast in those.

And, remember those cinnamon rolls you made in home ec. class (if you’re old enough that you took home ec., while the boys were in shop) – no yeast in those, right?

The secret to super-fast leavening? Baking powder and baking soda, those little white powders bakers simply can’t live without.

Yeast, with the long, slow rise it demands, adds inimitable flavor to breads of all kinds. But sometimes it’s just not necessary.

Sweet rolls are potentially one of those times. With their over-the-top crown of gooey syrup, a sweet tide that seeps into the interior to meet a spiral of brown sugar, the bread part of these rolls is strictly an afterthought. It’s a great base for everything else; but on its own… meh, whatever.

So let’s not be yeast purists here. Yeast baking has its place. And I DO love it.

But when I want something sweet and gooey and hot on the table, FAST – baking powder, you rock my world.

The following recipe comes from our Baking Education Center. As employee-owners here at King Arthur Flour, we’re invited to take any of the classes offered at our education center, free (so long as there’s an opening).

We’re also required to take a certain number of classes per year – and that’s everyone, from the CEO, to accounting, to forklift drivers.

You work at King Arthur – you learn to bake.

I recently took a class on sweet breakfast breads, and one of the treats we made were these baking powder caramel buns. Here Hillary and Emily  enjoy the “fruits” of our labors… well, more like simple carbs, but heck, that’s why we have Weight Watchers on site.

Ready to save yourself some time in the morning? Hankering after a sweet roll that goes from “hmmm…” to “WOW” in under 40 minutes?

Take a class in Quick & Easy Sticky Caramel Buns.

First step: preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9″ square pan (first choice, to make absolutely sure the hot syrup doesn’t bubble over the sides); or a 9″ x 2″ round cake pan (which should work fine so long as it’s a true 2″ deep: not 1 1/2″, not 1 3/4″).

To make the topping: Combine 1/4 cup melted butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Stir to combine.

Add 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup or maple syrup.

Stir to combine.

Spread the syrup in the prepared pan, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts.

Can you leave the nuts out? Of course.

Set the pan aside while you make the dough.

Stir together the following:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Next, warm 1 cup buttermilk just to lukewarm.

Can you substitute buttermilk powder for fresh buttermilk? Sure. Stir 1/4 cup buttermilk powder into the dry ingredients.

If you’re using fresh buttermilk, simply pour it atop the dry ingredients, along with 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted butter. If you’ve used buttermilk powder, substitute lukewarm water for the fresh buttermilk.

For added flavor, stir in 1/2 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Stir to combine. The dough will look very shaggy.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface; a rolling mat works well here. Knead it very briefly, just to smooth it out a bit.

Gently roll the dough into a 9” x 12” rectangle. Eyeball it; don’t make yourself crazy.

Brush the dough with water…

…and sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Spread the sugar evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough into a log, starting with a longer edge. Pinch the seam closed as well as you can; it’ll be a bit messy, with sugar spilling out. That’s OK.

Notice there’s no cinnamon in these buns. That’s why they’re caramel buns, not cinnamon rolls.

But hey, no Baking Police – sprinkle the brown sugar with cinnamon, if you like.

How much? Up to you, cassia fan.

Now, make your life easy by scoring the dough in 1” increments – if you’re baking in a 9″ round pan.

If you’re baking in a 9″ square pan, you’ll divide the dough into 16 pieces.

Then use a serrated knife – or a piece of plain dental floss, as I’m doing here – to cut twelve 1” slices.

Like this.

Lay the slices in the prepared pan, atop the topping.

Here they are in a 9″ square pan.

OK, here comes the good part – no rising! Stick those buns right into the oven.

Bake the buns for 26 to 28 minutes…

…until they’re golden brown, and the topping is bubbling up around the edges.

Remove from the oven.

The anticipation builds…

See that hot syrup, bubbling up around the edges? This is going to be GOOD.

Immediately invert the pan onto a serving plate. Or onto a piece of parchment, as I’ve done here.

Let the buns sit for about 15 seconds, then remove the pan.

Scrape out any topping that’s stuck in the pan, and spread it back onto the buns.

Enjoy warm.

Liz did!

Ah, taking classes, baking, eating – it’s SO tough to work here at King Arthur Flour…

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Quick & Easy Sticky Caramel Buns.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Terri A

    wow, those look amazing! when does your October calendar come out for the baking education center? I might take a long weekend and drive up and visit!It should be available by mid-July. Mary@ KAF

  2. SarahH

    Perfect! I was looking for a recipe to serve to friends for breakfast on Saturday. I’m thinking I’ll use the maple syrup in the glaze, grade B, and a little cinnamon in the filling. Our friends are bringing chocolate chip muffins. With those, scrambled eggs, bacon and fresh fruit the menu is set! I can’t wait!

    Sounds like a (good) plan, Sarah – enjoy! PJH

  3. Janene

    Well that recipe went straight into my recipe box! I can’t wait to try them. I have that same sculptured Pyrex bowl, they are useful for everything!

  4. Ana Maria

    …Hi…Just wanted to say gorgeous pictures, and the instructions for the buns read out like a novel; I was hooked and read the recipe until the very end…will try and make them this week…

  5. Allie

    Yum! These look great. Do they freeze well, do you think? Before or after baking?

    Allie, they’re SO fast to make, not sure why you’d freeze them. But if you need to – freeze before baking, then let thaw (overnight in fridge if possible) before baking. PJH

  6. DessertForTwo

    Why didn’t I think of this?! You’re so right–the flavor of yeast is not necessary for these beauties! You can bet I’m headin’ to the kitchen now to make these! Thanks a million!

    Love how fast they are – instant gratification! PJH

  7. Megan

    I am so jealous! This class looks like so much fun. I make sticky buns pretty often at the bakery where I work, but I’ve never made a caramel bun. It sounds like something I’ll have to try.

  8. Wei-Wei

    OH MY GOD. I think I just had a heart attack. The deliciousness sort of killed me a little inside. Man, I am hungry. And… I haven’t had breakfast yet! O_O So so so so sooooooo good. I love things that are sticky and gooey and buttery and delicious. Man. I could rave about this for as long as it takes to eat them… then I’d rave some more when my hands automatically start making the second batch. 😀


  9. christine

    Can i prep these the night before and bake them the next morning? or would the baking soda fizzle out?
    As long as you keep the overnight timing around 8 hours or so, you should be fine. ~ MaryJane

  10. Lish

    These look so good and remind me of one of my first baking successes, when I was just 11. I found this great recipe for orange sweet rolls, made just like this, except the syrup mixture was brown sugar and orange juice with a little zest in it, and the filling had a touch of cinnamon in it. I made these often until I went to college. Haven’t thought of them in a long time. Now I think we will have to have a sweet roll buffet this weekend when we have guests over. These awesome looking caramel buns, my old recipe for orange buns, and maybe some just plain cinnamon buns. YUM YUM!!!

  11. Jackie

    If you leave them in your fridge overnight, should they set out before baking or how much would the baking time increase? How about the oven temperature–same or a bit more? I have to get up really early to get to work, but would love to bake these as I get ready and bring them into work.
    If you are doing the overnight rise, take the buns out and place on the counter while you preheat the oven. That’s usually enough time to take the chill off, 15 minutes or so. Keep the same temp, and the timing should be pretty close, maybe a few minutes longer. ~ MaryJane

  12. Pat Eyler

    Wow, these look great *and* easy enough to do in a dutch oven on a scout camping trip. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Michael

    I wonder if moistening the dough with melted butter, rather than water, would add to the richness and make a better caramel?
    Too much fat will cause the dough to unravel rather than stay nicely rolled up. I’d stick with the water.
    ~ MaryJane

  14. alice

    looks delicious! will these get really hard the next day? my mom used to make these but they would get hard once they cooled down.
    They will firm up some as they cool. A quick pop in the microwave will soften and warm them. ~ MaryJane

  15. Sherri

    These look *amazing*, and I bet our kids would gobble them up too! My husband and I are keeping careful track of our calories; do you have the caloric info for a 1 bun serving? That way we’ll know how much we’ll need to budget the rest of the day if we enjoy one for breakfast. 🙂 Thanks as always for the great recipe!
    Sorry we don’t have the nutritionals for these, but there are some great recipe calculators out on the web for free! I like the one at Sparkpeople.com ~ MaryJane

  16. McCandace

    As for prepping the night before, you said to keep the overnight timing down to about 8 hours? So you make them at midnight to bake at 8 a.m.??
    Oh, how I wish I could sleep in til 8 am! I usually make things up before bedtime (10 pm) and bake in the am around 6. ~ MaryJane

  17. Christina

    That is too cool!

    I am busily trying to see if I can get the dairy out of the recipe so I can make them because they look too fabulous! I am thinking that doing the tried and true buttermilk sub of vinegar in the non-dairy beverage and using dairy free “butter” should do the trick.

    We’re cinnamon/sticky bun monsters here!

  18. Allie

    Thanks for the freezing information. My husband does not like anything but chocolate brownies and chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake. 😉 Most stuff I make needs to be single-serving or keep well in the freezer–in single servings. Many of the recipes you do here adapt well to freezing, even though I have no idea what I am doing. 😉

  19. Sue E. Conrad

    Oh, my, so-o-o-o yummylicious………..and, yes, Home Ec was definitely a part of my school years (7th grade)!!! I remember learning how to make baking powder biscuits and cutting in the shortening with two knives held scissor fashion (no such thing as a pastry blender). At any rate, this recipe will be added to my collection; however, my husband doesn’t like walnuts, so I’m thinking of substituting toasted pine nuts. We’ll be making our annual pilgrimage to KAF in July and bringing along our youngest daughter who **gasp!!!** has yet to visit the Shrine of Baking!!! I’ve already begun compiling my list of must-haves.

  20. Nikki Pals

    I have a suggestion for Allie: add a bit of cocoa to the brown sugar in the center of the rolls and maybe a hand full of chocolate chips to the topping mixture.
    These remind me of a cinnamon roll I made as a kid with a brand name box of biscuit mix. (They have changed the formula or my taste has greatly improved and I no longer like the prepared mixes) I will have to try this recipe this weekend. I know my grandson will love them.
    Thank You again for another winner.

  21. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - BRAZIL

    Another masterpiece from KAF´s staff!!

    Superb in all the ways. I´d made these buns and recomend a LOT!!!!!!

  22. Katrina

    I just made these this morning and they were wonderful! The recipe easily doubled, so I made one pan w/nuts and one without. My kids had friends here overnight and the buns quickly disappeared. Like a previous poster, someone suggested I try orange zest & orange juice. Instead of cinnamon use cardamom? Ohhh….the possibilities!

  23. Erin in PA

    To those who want to make them the night before I would recommend that they go with a once rise yeast dough and the topping – that is the only way I make my sticky buns. I mix up the dough (a recipe from an old Pilsbury cookbook) and put in on the topping, then refrigerate overnight. In the morning, as I preheat the oven, I take the rolls out. Pop them in the oven, and they rise right up! This recipe will be a great one to try with my 4 year old sous chef!

  24. Taya

    Could I get the best of both worlds if I used and Angel Biscuit dough? How much would I need for this amount of flour?

    Not sure I understand your question. But sure, make Angel Biscuits and use the filling/topping as shown in the blog. That should work fine. PJH

  25. Aaron Frank

    Very cool.

    Can I put parchment in the bottom of the cake pan? Will that make them come out eaiser? Is it overkill?

    Also, if I want to try a gluten free version of these, if your powdered buttermilk GF? I know I can just use fresh buttermilk but the people I bake for don’t like the taste.


    Aaron Frank

    Aaron, parchment is always appropriate -not overkill at all. Our powdered buttermilk is packed here, and thus can’t be certified gluten-free. Hope this works out well for you – PJH

  26. Taya

    Sorry, PJ. A senior moment, I guess. Angel Biscuits contain yeast and my question is: how much yeast would you recommend for the amount of flour used in this recipe?

    Ah! 2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry should do it, Taya. As for senior moments – I’m with you! 🙂 PJH

  27. Christine

    My two boys and myself declare this recipe a KEEPER! The dough was easy to work with despite my 95 degree kitchen… so rich and tasty… we think a scoop of vanilla ice cream with the hot out the oven would be a good idea too!

    Loving the ice cream on top, Christine – thanks for sharing. PJH

  28. AJ

    Okaaay. I ordered a mat-helps with the floury residue on our much-to-small counterspace-It’ll be here Monday. Checked to make sure I’ve got enough buttermilk powder-I do. For the wonderful suggestion of ice cream-have a half gallon of my favorite brand of cinnamon in the big freezer. I can’t wait. Ain’t it FUN?!

    Sure is, AJ – FUN. And I know you’re going to love the mat. Just don’t cut on it! 🙂 PJH

  29. Cath

    The timing of this recipe is perfect! My daughter has a college friend visiting for the weekend and I’d like to treat them to something fresh baked, but easy. Later on there will be roughly 25 teenagers hanging out at my house for the day. I need to save all the energy I can!

    25 teenagers… WOW. I think you might be spending a lot of time in the kitchen today, Cath! PJH

  30. Paula

    You weren’t kidding when you said that these were quick! My 7 year old grand-daughter and I made them on Saturday morning. See post http://wp.me/pQwn1-ji She thoroughly enjoyed her first attempt at making rolls and we enjoyed making a memory together. Thanks for posting.

  31. liz

    have to admit i was skeptical…i’m originally from Philadelphia – the sticky bun capital of the whole world – and i’ve baked genuine, homemade cinnamon buns, from a recipe published years ago in the long-gone Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper…..i really didn’t expect much from a recipe this simple, but you can now put me in the “believer” column…..a little different than the yeast type buns, but very good and so quick!…and yes, of course, i mixed a teaspoon of cinnamon in with the brown sugar filling!
    thanks kaf….this is a keeper!

  32. Cyn

    I have a very happy boyfriend this morning! Made these for brunch along with bacon and scrambled eggs…this recipe is yummy. I did something a bit different; I baked the rolls in a 7″ by 11″ Pyrex dish and lowered the baking temperature to 350 degrees because of the glass dish. I served them directly from the dish rather than inverting it onto a serving plate. Amazingly, we do have leftovers — so I am keeping them in the Pyrex dish and then can heat them up in the microwave or the oven for a few minutes. I was thinking that would be also a good option if you were taking them anywhere — might travel better.

    Glad your boyfriend had a good breakfast, Cyn! And thanks for the great suggestion about leaving them in the pan for travleing – PJH

  33. Kathy

    I have to admit I was a skeptic when I saw this recipe. I grew up on my Grandmothers yeasted sticky buns which I have never been able to recreate. But…..these are wonderful!!!! Made them Saturday and the only complaint was they were gone in a flash. I have guests coming next weekend and I am going to try freezing some for the busy weekend. Great recipe, thanks.

    Kathy, I’d advise freezing unbaked; then put in fridge to thaw overnight, and bake the next morning. I think that’ll be your best bet. Enjoy! PJH

  34. chris

    Finally!!! I knew that my favorite baking site would come thru! I have seen so many recipes for sweet rolls and was so intimidated at the thought of having to use yeast and knead the dough so I never attemped any recipes. This one is great. It said just knead the dough briefly, (I can do that.) I am thinking a little bit of cashews on the top, as I am not much of a nut fan, and someone had mentioned a little sprinkle of chocolate chips. I can not wait to try this! Thanks!

    Warning, Chris – cashews become quite soggy and rubbery when baked. I’d suggest baking buns, turning them out, then sprinkling cashews on top just before serving. Glad you’re able to bypass your “fear of yeast” and try these! PJH

  35. 2 Old Ladies and an Oven

    My baking partner and I are doing a weekly stint at a farmers’market, and we sell our breads, cakes and pies. These sticky buns would be ideal. We would sell them still in the disposable aluminum baking pans that we use–cake pans. We would want to bake them the morning of, but make them 8 hours before and keep in the refrigerator. What is the best way for the customer to reheat and turn out the rolls? You mentioned popping them in the microwave to reheat. How long? I do not want to ruin the integrity of the rolls and sometimes microwaving will make breads hard. Will these rolls be too hard to eat if they sit at the market for several hours before being purchased? Is re-heating a necessity, or will they still be soft and gooey after say three or four hours? They look so delicious and I am sure our customers would like them!

    First, don’t refrigerate – that’ll make them stale very quickly. If you must bake the day before (rather than refrigerate overnight, and bake the next morning), just cool thoroughly and wrap well. The longer they sit, the harder they get; you say “3 or 4 hours,” but also say you’d bake them the day before – longer than 3 or 4 hours before the sale… Anyway, reheating refreshes them just fine. Customers should cover with foil, and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Enjoy – PJH

  36. Tricia

    How fantastic! I love cinnamon rolls, but my husband despises cinnamon! Such a dilemma, since I would eat the whole batch if I made them anyway! These are going to be excellent to replace them and he’ll love them too!

    Glad we could find a bun for you both, Tricia! PJH

  37. Tricia

    I want to try these this weekend! My question is, since buttermilk usually goes bad in my house because I don’t use if often, can I substitute skim milk? I never use whole milk either and only keep skim!


    Tricia, you can substitute 1 cup skim milk mixed with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice; let it sit for 5 minutes before using. OR you can use buttermilk, and take the leftover to make this gooey buttermilk-pecan cake – just tested it yesterday, it’s unbelievable! Cheers – PJH

  38. mike

    I just tried to make these rolls and the dough was like soup. I check my quantities and so far as I can tell everything was as the recipe indicated. I had just opened a new bag of flour and turned the sack into a glass jar. I noticed the flour was very light and airy. How much more flour should I have used. I was able to save the topping so I will try again in a couple of days. I look forward to a more successful result next time.

    Mike, someone from our bakers’ hotline will be in touch to figure this out with you, OK? Hold onto that filling! 🙂 PJH

  39. Janice

    I took my Mom to the Baking Education Center as a part of her Christmas gift two years ago and we took the Sticky Bun class — it was just great. We had a wonderful time and truly enjoyed the folks at KAF. My mother, a gifted baker herself, even learned a few tricks from them. I highly recommend both the recipe and the classes!

  40. AmericanGirlinQuebec

    I did something crazy last night, I modified this recipe to make butternut squash no-yeast sweet rolls. I ended up filling them with nutella, so I didn’t use your topping recipe (it looks delicious, just too sweet to put with the butternut squash and chocolate). I was nervous that my modifications would ruin the recipe, but boy was I wrong! They turned out fantastic, and I can’t wait to make them again. Next time I’ll probably try pumpkin instead of butternut squash and maybe some pumpkin pie spices. Not because the butternut squash and nutella weren’t good (they got my husband’s stamp of approval for sure), I just like to switch things up sometimes. Thanks so much for such a great, no-fail recipe! 🙂

  41. scnuhib

    Quick & Easy Sticky Caramel Buns, yes they are quick and easy and very sticky. Love the caramel flavor but they do over flow. Used a round pan 2″ deep, of course on a lined cookie sheet and carmael came oozing out. OK, the oozing was yummy. Next time I will try a little less sticky and if I can find a slightly bigger pan it might work. I will let you know.
    Still good tasting.

  42. gllock

    Would be nice if there was a printable version.

    Here’s the printable version of the recipe, which you can always find linked from the end of the blog post. It would be difficult to provide a printable version of the blog itself, given the platform it’s on and how many pictures it includes… Hope this helps.

  43. sharon

    How to increase the servings… just multiply?
    I want to make 6 to 7 dozen
    To double the recipe, double all of the ingredients. If you want to go with larger batches, we would suggest using baker’s percentage to accurately increase the recipe. ~ MaryJane

  44. Richard Stern

    Thank you. This is going to be fun & guilty!

    No guilt, Richard! So long as you don’t make a habit of eating them every day, enjoying an occasional (guilt free) treat is fine. Enjoy – PJH

  45. Alison

    I just made a veganified version of these by using earth balance and almond-buttermilk (almond milk curdled with lemon juice), and they are deadly. This recipe is fantastic and super easy, thank you!!

  46. Melissa

    I made this last night, and I have a question.

    I realized I didn’t have brown sugar when I started making this, so I made brown sugar by combining 1 c of granulated sugar and 1 T of molasses. I used that as the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and in the filling.

    Everything went together fine. They baked really well, but when I flipped the buns out of the pan after waiting 15 minutes, the sugar on the top of the buns was still granular. Three buns in the middle of the pan had the sugar melted and looked glazed like the pictures, but all the buns around the outside of the pan had granular sugar stuck to them. There was also a lot of granular sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan. There weren’t any problems with the brown sugar in the filling, but the didn’t turn out great.

    Do you have any idea what could cause the topping not to melt to make the caramel-y glaze? I would love some suggestions. The buns themselves taste amazing!


    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Melissa, since the topping is very syrupy to begin with, even before baking, not sure how it could have ended up with granular sugar so evident. Are you sure you added half a stick of butter, and the syrup? Did it look like the blog pictures, when you poured it into the pan? Was your oven hot enough? Those are the possibilities that come immediately to mind; for additional brainstorming, you might want to contact our baker’s hotline, 855-371-2253. Glad you enjoyed their taste, anyway – PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Sure, the baking time would be about 18 minutes or so in the individual size. ~ MJ

  47. Sandra

    This recipe was not at all easy to follow. I had to throw out the entire batter. Nothing was coming out right. Also, it was backwards… Filling and topping first??

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Sandra, the finished rolls are inverted, so the topping is put into the bottom of the pan – just like an upside-down pineapple cake. I am sorry you had trouble following the recipe.~Jaydl@KAF

  48. Debra

    This recipe is nearly identical to one in a beloved old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook that I’ve been eyeballing for years but never got around to making (because there were no step-by-step directions, maybe?). I used pecans and the lemon-juice-with-milk buttermilk substitute trick, and the came out incredible, just perfect, although mine were ready at closer to 23 minutes than the 26-28 suggested, so I recommend watching them carefully.

  49. Litie

    Three Boston blizzards, around 4ft. of snow, = hours of shoveling.
    Searching for Sticky Bun recipe = all day.
    Whipping these up in no time = best gift we gave to two guys who started plowing at 4AM And got home at 6PM.
    *We loved them, perfect size, great doughy consistency, melt in your mouth caramel, added vanilla, left off the nuts (but wil try next time),used maple syrup, can be eaten with fingers and no real mess.

  50. Alex

    These were really good, so yummy! Here in Australia ‘caramel buns’ aren’t really a big thing, and it was not until I was reading a book that I realised how many of you Americans know and love some kind of recipe like this. It was a pleasure to make and of course eat these 🙂 Thanks

  51. Lin

    While I will forever not understand the need of so many to have instructions describing each baby step of recipes nowadays, I have to say that these “instant” sticky buns are terrific. I even left the dough a bit moist like for drop biscuits, swirled the sticky stuff through and it was great also.
    People need to learn to have fun playing with their food. It’s totally relaxing. Just let your inner self be guided by grandma who had to cook on a wood stove and new what a hot oven is.


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