Sticky Cinnamon Pecan Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

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Surprisingly, good cinnamon pecan rolls are hard to come across. Many are too dry, others too gooey and most too sweet. They always look good on the outside but end up being such a disappointment that I can’t bring myself to waste money or even calories on them anymore.

I’m so happy to share that I’ve discovered a wonderful recipe, one that is simple to make and that’s the perfect combination of moist dough, cinnamon pecan crunch and a lightly sweetened icing.

Can I use all purpose flour instead of bread flour to make cinnamon sticky rolls?

Yes – you can substitute all purpose flour for bread flour. However, please note that the cinnamon buns will be on the drier side. If you must use all purpose flour, be sure to increase the butter used in the filling AND baking time may need to be increased to a total of 25 minutes (watch carefully for doneness).

What is the best way to reheat cinnamon rolls?

These cinnamon pecan rolls are best reheated in the microwave. You can also use a toaster oven, however, toaster ovens tend to dry cinnamon rolls so that is not recommended.

Can I bake the cinnamon pecan rolls the same day?

Yes – the cinnamon pecan rolls can be baked the same day once allowed to fully rise.

Can I substitute walnuts instead of pecans when making sticky buns?

If you don’t have pecans on hand, you can substitute walnuts for the pecans. The flavor will change slightly. Be sure to chop the walnuts finely.

Do cinnamon pecan rolls need to be refrigerated?

Yes cinnamon pecan rolls need to be refrigerated as the icing contains cream cheese. If you are baking them the following day/morning, you will still need to refrigerate then overnight as the dough contains milk and eggs.

Key ingredients for making cinnamon pecan rolls

Milk – Use whole milk to add richness to the dough
Eggs – Make sure the eggs are room temperature.
Bread flour – As mentioned above, using bread flour is best in this recipe.
Brown sugar – Brown sugar does a great job caramelizing the topping.
Pecans – Nuts are optional but we prefer using pecans.
Cream cheese – Use full fat cream cheese, preferably a higher quality cream cheese.
Vanilla – Use genuine vanilla vs imitation.

How to make cinnamon pecan rolls

Cinnamon buns require a little bit of time to make. However, they’re simple. First you’ll want to make the dough which is a combination of milk, eggs, butter and flour. Use bread flour as that helps the cinnamon pecan rolls maintain moistness. The key step in making these cinnamon pecan rolls is allowing enough time for the rolls to rise to their fullest potential.

Once the dough rises the first time, roll it out into a rectangle and sprinkle part of the filling, a combination of brown sugar, pecans, sugar and butter, overtop. Allow the dough to rise again then roll the dough into a log and slice into rolls (best done with a serrated knife and in a back and forth motion vs up and down). Sprinkle the remaining filling on the bottom of a baking dish and then place rolls flat overtop the filling. Allow to rise one more time and either bake or refrigerate overnight.

Once baked, top with cream cheese icing (or serve icing alongside the pecan rolls).

hands spreading cream cheese icing on a sticky pecan roll
Yield: 12 servings

Sticky Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

Easy recipe for homemade sticky cinnamon pecan rolls with cream cheese icing.

Ingredients

PECAN ROLLS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 T salted butter
  • 7 T sugar
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour

FILLING

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4 T cinnamon
  • 5 1/2 T salted butter, softened

ICING

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and heat to 115 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix 4 cups flour and salt together.
  3. Sprinkle yeast overtop of milk/butter and add 1 T sugar. Mix and wait 5 minutes for yeast to foam. Then add remaining sugar and eggs. Mix well.
  4. Pour wet mixture down the side of mixing bowl while mixer is on. Knead dough well, adding last 1/2 c flour if dough is sticky. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.
  5. Cover and let dough rise in a warm place for 1.5 hours. Dough should almost triple in size.
  6. While dough is rising, mix brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  7. Once dough has risen, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 13x18 rectangle.
  8. Spread 4 1/2 T butter on dough and sprinkle with all but 1/3 cup of cinnamon/sugar mixture. Allow to rise for 10 minutes.
  9. Using remaining 1 T butter, grease bottom of 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with leftover 1/3 cup of cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  10. Roll up dough into a log shape and divide into 12 slices. Arrange slices cut side down in 9x13. Allow to rise for 30 minutes and refrigerate overnight. See notes if baking on the same day.
  11. Make cream cheese icing by combining cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Refrigerate.
  12. Remove pecan rolls from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour before baking.
  13. Bake at 400 F for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown on the top.
  14. Serve warm with cream cheese.

Notes

All purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour. However, baking time may need to be increased to a total of 25 minutes; be sure to watch rolls carefully.

When dividing the log into slices, use a serrated knife to maintain a clean slice.

If baking on the same day, allow rolls to rise a total of 30 minutes in pan before baking.

If you like cinnamon and pecans, you’ll want to try this cinnamon pecan coffee cake.

Grace

A travel photographer and writer with an insatiable desire to explore the world and inspire others to see it for themselves.

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