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Top of a caramel pecan sticky roll

Grandma’s Caramel Pecan Rolls

Soft and sweet yeast rolls swirled with white & brown sugars and finished with a gloriously chewy caramel and pecan topping. These rolls require two rises – one after forming the dough and a second time after they are formed into rolls. Plan to make these when you have time to be in and out of the kitchen. You will be rewarded for your efforts! 

I grew up with my grandma Arlette making a variety of breakfast pastries – different types of Danish, cinnamon rolls, breads, strudels…she made it all. My favorite though were her caramel pecan rolls. I’ve continued to follow her recipe for the dough and have stayed pretty faithful to her topping, with some small  modifications to improve the chewiness and texture of the caramel. Read on for some tips for making this recipe!

This recipe for caramel pecan rolls will make you the most popular family member at brunch, and for good reason!

Tips for Making Caramel Pecan Rolls -
The Dough!

A bowl with proofed yeast

Proofed yeast

Dough forming

Combine wet & dry

Ready for rising

A bowl with dough for caramel pecan rolls

Too sticky!

Rise 1-2 hours

Yeast – This recipe calls for two packages of active dry yeast. You will proof the yeast before adding it to the flour. This requires adding a pinch of sugar and warm, not hot, water to the yeast. I use my digital thermometer and aim for water that is around 110 degrees. If you use hot water, you could kill the yeast and then your dough won’t rise. Proofing takes about five minutes. You are on the right track if the mixture starts to thicken and bubble!

Flour – I use all-purpose flour in this recipe. Start with 5 1/2 cups and mix on low to incorporate the dry & wet ingredients. It will not form a cohesive ball yet. Gradually add more flour and mix on low speed. The dough will start to form, and some of it may still stick to the sides of the bowl. Continue to slowly add flour, up to 7 cups, until dough is only sticking to the bottom of the bowl and not the sides. To me, it kind of resembles a tornado with the dough twisting around the bowl on a medium-low speed, no longer sticking to the sides but still sticking to the bottom. It is ok if the dough is still a little sticky to the touch. It is best to avoid adding too much flour. This can contribute to the rolls being dry. 

First Dough Rise – Place the dough in a greased bowl. My grandma always used a little vegetable oil and spread it around the bowl using a paper towel. Place the dough in the greased bowl, then turn it over so greased bottom is now on top. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled. This can take 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of your room. Check the dough after an hour, and then every 20 minutes. My grandma always used a large Tupperware bowl for rising dough. Whenever I saw that bowl on the counter, I knew we were in for something delicious! My uncle Greg gifted me my large Tupperware bowl so I could continue her tradition for rising yeasted doughs.  

Tips for Making Caramel Pecan Rolls - The Rolls!

Doubled dough

Roll & cut

Ready to roll

Make the topping

Add the filling

Rise 1-2 hours

Baking Pans – I like to use three round 9″ cake pans for this recipe. You could use a 9×13 pan and 8×8 pan instead. Grease the pan well. I also recommend lining with parchment paper so that none of the topping sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Forming the Rolls – First, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 12″ wide x 24″ long. Sprinkle with sugar mixture and roll on the long edge. 

Make the topping by heating everything but the pecans in a saucepan until bubbling. Pour an equal amount into 3 greased 8″ or 9″ round pans. Equally distribute the chopped pecans amongst the pans. 

Then, return to the dough. Cut into 21-24 slices, about 1″ wide. Use a gentle, back & forth, sawing motion to avoid damaging the dough. Place 7 or 8 rolls per pan, on top of the pecan topping. Cover & let rise again for another 1-2 hours or until about doubled in size. Begin preheating your oven to 350 degrees towards the end of the rise time. 

Baking the Pecan Caramel Rolls

Finally, place the pans in your preheated oven. Arrange your oven racks so that they are on the upper and lower third.

Place two pans on the upper rack and one on the lower rack. Back 10 minutes and then rotate, top to bottom rack and front to back. Bake another 10 minutes. Rotate again if the rolls aren’t done. Check after 2-3 minutes to see if they are done. The rolls should be a light golden color. A digital thermometer inserted into the middle of the roll will register ~180 degrees when they are done. 

After baking, let cool for about 5 minutes and then turn upside down onto a cookie sheet or large plate. Scrape any remaining pecans or caramel topping onto the rolls. Let cool to room temperature and enjoy! If not eating right away, store in a covered container. You can warm the rolls in the microwave for 10-20 seconds or place in a 225 degree oven for a few minutes. 

Grandma's Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

Recipe by Katie SchultzDifficulty: Intermediate


Prep time


Cooking time


Resting Time



Soft and sweet yeast rolls swirled with white & brown sugars and finished with a gloriously chewy caramel and pecan topping.


  • Dough
  • 2 packages active dry yeast

  • 1/2 cup warm water (~110 degrees)

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 5 1/2 - 7 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 1 cup milk, room temperature

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Filling
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons half & half

  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup

  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  • Dissolve yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Set aside for about 5 minutes for the yeast to proof.
  • In bowl of a stand mixer, combine remaining dough ingredients (flour, sugar, melted butter, eggs, milk). Start with 5 1/2 cups of flour - you can add flour 1/2 cup at a time if the dough is too sticky.
  • Use a dough hook and mix on low speed to combine. Mix until a soft dough forms. Increase to medium-low speed for a couple minutes. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is still sticking to sides of the bowl, add 1/2 cup of flour at a time and mix between additions. The dough will be very soft, but not overly sticky. It should not stick to the sides of the bowl, but it should slightly stick to the bottom. Avoid adding too much flour or the baked rolls will be tough.
  • Once the dough is at the correct consistency, beat on medium-low speed for an additional three minutes.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl with vegetable oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours or until double in size. I recommend letting it rise in a warmer environment, if possible.
  • Grease the bottom and sides of three 8" or 9" cake pans with nonstick spray. I recommend also lining the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Parchment paper will ensure that the beautiful caramel topping won't get stuck to the bottom of the pans. Unroll the parchment paper and trace the bottom of the pan on the paper. Cut out and lay flat in the pan.
  • Near the end of the rising time, make the topping. Melt the butter in a sauce pan on low heat, and then add the brown sugar, corn syrup and half & half. Bring to boil over medium-low heat and ensure the brown sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans. Place 1/3 of the topping in each greased pan.
  • After the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to a 12" x 24" rectangle.
  • Mix the filling ingredients together - the brown and white sugars. Spread the 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the dough rectangle. Use a knife to spread the butter in an even layer over the dough. Sprinkle with the sugar mixture.
  • Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long log. If some filling spills out, sprinkle it on top of the roll. With an extra sharp knife, cut into 21-24 even rolls. Use a light back & forth sawing motion when cutting to avoid damaging the dough. Arrange on top of the pecan topping in the prepared baking pans, with 7 or 8 rolls in each pan.
  • Cover each pan with plastic wrap, a clean kitchen towel or aluminum foil. Let the dough rise for a second time, until doubled, about 1.5 - 2 hours.
  • Near the end of the second rise, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the oven racks to the lower third and upper third. Once the rolls have doubled in size, arrange in the preheated oven with two pans on top racks and one pan on the bottom rack.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pans from front to back and upper rack to lower rack. Bake for another 10 minutes. The rolls are done when they are lightly browned on the top or an instant-read thermometer registers 180 degrees in the center of the dough. If they are not done after 20 minutes, rotate pans again and check rolls every two minutes to prevent over-baking.
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the rolls. Turn upside down onto a cooling rack, so that the caramel pecan topping is upright. Let cool until room temperature. Serve & enjoy!
  • Leftover rolls can be stored in a covered container and warmed in the microwave to enjoy the next day. Leftover rolls can also be frozen.

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