Pecan Sweet Potato Sticky Buns

Updated March 20, 2023
Pecan Sweet Potato Sticky Buns
This image courtesy of Peter Frank Edwards

I'm a sucker for sweet potatoes and welcome them at all times of the day (perhaps this is what landed me a seat as an advising chef to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission). For these breakfast buns, the potato is folded into the dough and dressed with bourbon, brown sugar and chopped pecans.

Cooking MethodBaking


Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes


Recipe CourseDessert

Dietary ConsiderationHalal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Vegetarian

MealBreakfast, Brunch


Taste and TextureButtery, Rich, Sweet

Type of DishBread, Dessert, Rolls


  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (substitute: apple juice)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans


  1. For the Dough: Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the milk and scald. (For the rolls to rise properly, you really must scald the milk, heating it just below the boiling point until it slightly bubbles around the edges.) Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. Dissolve the yeast and remaining sugar in warm water and set aside in a warm place, until frothy, about 5 minutes. Lightly grease a large bowl with vegetable oil and set aside.

  3. Whisk the egg and sweet potato together in a large bowl until smooth and well combined.

  4. When the milk mixture has cooled, add the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add this to the egg mixture and stir to mix.

  5. Slowly add 3 cups of the flour and mix until incorporated. If needed, add more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, to make a soft, sticky dough. (The dough will be very sticky at this point but after refrigerated it will become firm enough to work.)

  6. With lightly floured hands remove the dough from the bowl, place in the oiled bowl, cover and set aside in a warm area to rise until doubled in size, or refrigerate overnight.

  7. For the Buns: Combine the raisins and bourbon in a bowl and set aside to soak until plumped, about 20 minutes.

  8. Grease a deep, 9-inch round baking dish with the softened butter and set aside.

  9. Stir together 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon in a separate bowl and set aside.

  10. In another bowl, mix together the remaining brown sugar, honey and pecans. Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking dish and set aside.

  11. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough about 1/8 inch thick to form a 12 x 6-inch rectangle. Spread the brown sugar-butter mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of exposed dough all the way around the edges. Sprinkle the raisins and bourbon evenly over the top of the dough. Roll up the dough lengthwise into a 12-inch-long log.

  12. Place the log, seam side down, on the work surface and use a sharp knife to cut the log crosswise into about 12 slices. Place the slices in the baking dish, cut side down, on top of the pecan mixture. (The slices should touch one another and should fit snugly in the dish.) Set aside in a warm place to rise until puffy, 15 to 20 minutes.

  13. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.

  14. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the buns are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

  15. Remove from the oven and cool, 5 to 10 minutes. While still warm, run a knife around the inside edge of the dish to loosen the buns. Place a platter or plate on top of the baking dish, and turn the dish over to unmold the sticky buns onto the platter, scraping out all the excess pecans and sugar from the bottom. Serve warm.

  16. In the Kitchen: For ease--especially if making this recipe for guests--you can prepare this dough ahead of time and refrigerate for up to several days. Before using, remove the dough from the refrigerator and punch down and let rest in a warm place before rolling out, about 20 minutes.


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