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Dr. Knutson’s Cinnamon Sticky Buns Recipe

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  • Written By: Dr. Zakary Knutson
Dr. Knutson’s Cinnamon Sticky Buns Recipe

I love to bake. My wife and I started baking a few years ago after watching the Great British Baking Show while cooped up in the house on a cold winter day. That sparked a new interest in baking, and we’ve been learning and experimenting in the kitchen ever since.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a real baker or chef. My creations start with a recipe from the internet or a cookbook. Then I play around with the ingredients to put my own spin on it.

This recipe comes from Elsie Bauer on the Simply Recipes website. My adaptations/comments/suggestions are listed in bold italics next to the original. This recipe makes about 15 buns. Enjoy!



  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest - I’ve had mixed reviews on the orange zest. It definitely adds to the complexity of flavor. Leaving it out gives more of a traditional cinnamon roll flavor.
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling: (I end up doubling this because my family loves the filling)

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar - I also double this, but that may make it too gooey for some.
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans - Optional


Step 1 - Make the dough.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Don’t add the flour yet.  I got too excited once and did this. It’s hard to salvage.

Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, salt and 3 cups flour. Mix on low speed until blended.

Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour. You don’t want the dough too wet. If it looks runny, add just a tiny bit of extra flour. Too dry, just a few teaspoons of milk at a time.

Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Don’t forget the butter! Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place).

After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.

Step 2 - Make the filling.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.

Step 3 - Roll out the dough, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, roll into a cylinder, make crosswise cuts.

Roll dough out into a 12" x 18" rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices.

Step 4 - Make the topping.

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey and corn syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan and sprinkle pecans on top. This recipe is going to put the topping on the bottom and then flip it over after baking while it is hot. That is tricky and possibly a burn risk for the baking impaired such as myself. So I have just make the topping and keep it separate. I pour it on top right before baking, which may be a baking no-no, but it hasn’t seemed to affect the outcome so far.

Step 5 - Place dough rounds, flat side down, on top of prepared topping.

Crowd them so they touch. You want them together so the topping can’t escape to the bottom. It’s sad. Trust me. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight. All right, so full disclosure, I have never really done it this way because in the words of Oklahoma/internet legend Sweet Brown “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Step 6 - Bake.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while the oven pre-heats. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. I pour the topping on just before going in the oven. Cooking time is oven dependent. Mine took more like 25 minutes. Watch closely as it is harder to tell when it’s done with the topping on during baking.

Step 7 - Remove from oven and invert.

Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.

stick buns

The above pics are from the creator of this recipe. See my #NailedIt pics below. Not pretty… but tasty. I’m keeping my day job.

sticky buns from oven