Healthy Slow Cooker Sticky Pecan Buns
Yields: 12 sticky buns
These sticky pecan buns taste just as indulgent as the traditional ones! The buttery caramel is the best part; it’s so sweet and gooey. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat individual buns in the microwave for 12-18 seconds.
  1. Lightly coat the inside of a 5-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. If any lands on the rim where the lid rests, wipe clean with a paper towel.
  2. To prepare the dough, combine the milk, maple syrup, butter, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 20-second intervals, stirring for 1 minute after each one, until the butter melts. The mixture should feel warm but not hot (about 110°F). Add the yeast, and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes or until frothy.
  3. Mix in the flour, about ½ cup at a time, until it forms a dough and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for a few minutes, or until the dough mostly springs back when you gently press your index finger into it. Let the dough rest while preparing the caramel sauce and filling.
  4. To prepare the caramel sauce, combine the butter, milk, and syrup in a pot. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts. Continue stirring until the mixture darkens slightly in color and thickens a little. Pour into the prepared slow cooker. Sprinkle the pecans on top, leaving a ½” border around the rim.
  5. To prepare the filling, whisk together the maple syrup and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  6. On a clean, well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10x14” rectangle. Brush with the melted butter, followed by the cinnamon-maple syrup, leaving a ½” border on the two longer edges. Carefully roll up into a log from one long edge to the other. Slice into 12 rolls using unscented dental floss (as described here), immediately placing each roll into the caramel sauce in the slow cooker. If any cinnamon-maple syrup filling leaks, out, spoon it into the caramel sauce after fitting all of the rolls inside of the slow cooker.
  7. Fit the lid on snuggly, and place the setting on “Keep Warm” for 45 minutes, or until the rolls have risen and doubled in size. Switch the setting to “Low,” and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove the lid, and let the rolls cool for 10 minutes before carefully inverting onto a wire rack.
Notes: Do NOT let the rolls cool in the slow cooker for longer than 10 minutes. The caramel will harden, and the rolls will not slide out of the slow cooker.

You may use a 6-quart slow cooker instead. The rolls will be wider instead of taller, but they should still bake for the same amount of time.

Any milk may be substituted for the nonfat milk.

Honey or agave may be substituted for the pure maple syrup.

This is my favorite brand of yeast (both their quick rise yeast and regular active dry yeast work equally well!), and this is my favorite brand of whole wheat flour. When I use these two brands, my sticky buns always rise to double their original size. Other brands of yeast and flour don't always rise as well, so if using different brands (especially of flour!), I recommend replacing ½ cup of flour with all-purpose flour or bread flour to ensure your sticky buns rise properly.

White whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour may be substituted for the regular whole wheat flour. If using the first two, I recommend replacing ½ cup of flour with all-purpose flour or bread flour to ensure your sticky buns rise properly.

I haven't had good luck with gluten-free flours in this recipe. The sticky buns don't rise properly or have the correct moist and fluffy texture.

VEGAN VERSION: Substitute your favorite nondairy milk for the nonfat milk and stick-style vegan butter (this is my favorite!) for the butter. You can substitute coconut oil, but the yeast won't turn frothy in Step 2.

REGULAR OVEN METHOD: Coat a 9”-round springform pan (or two 6”-round cake pans) with cooking spray. Once the caramel sauce and rolls have been added in Step 6, cover the top of the pan(s) with a clean, dry towel. Place the pan(s) in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls have doubled in size. Bake at 350°F for 17-21 minutes or until the tops feel lightly firm to the touch. Cool in the pans for no more than 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.

{clean eating, low fat, vegan option}
Recipe by Amy's Healthy Baking at