Skip to Content

“Discard” Sourdough Pecan Sticky Buns

Sharing is caring!

Soft, gooey, loaded with pecans, and a not-too-sweet flavor, this is quite possibly the only sticky bun recipe you'll ever need!

If you need a reason to create and maintain a sourdough starter, let this be it. Even if you never make sourdough bread, this recipe will be one you make again and again for holidays, treat days, family and friends and it will sound all the more impressive because you made it with your own sourdough starter. After the initial cultivation days, it’s rather easy to maintain, and you have “discarded” sourdough as early as the first starter “feeding” so you don’t have to wait to make these pecan buns.

For full details on how to make and maintain sourdough starter, I’d like to refer your to the King Arthur Flour website. They have quite a few articles devoted to the subject and can cover it in better detail than I can as more of a sourdough “hobbyist”. Open it in a new tab to read after you get all the delicious, ooey, gooey, pecan bun details here.

Soft, gooey, loaded with pecans, and a not-too-sweet flavor, this is quite possibly the only sticky bun recipe you'll ever need!

These are most definitely not the packaged sticky buns in the store, and I’d like to think the extra nuts make them rival any bakery product. But the real secret, what makes these really special for me, is the fact that they’re not too sweet. Yes, they’re totally loaded with a lovely pecan-flecked caramel sauce, filled with cinnamon sugar and even more pecans, but the sourdough keeps it all from feeling like one giant bite of sugar, which is exactly what I want in a “breakfast” pastry. I’m all for indulgences, but I don’t want to feel like I’m going to be in a sugar coma at 7:30 in the morning, there’s just too much to do!

Soft, gooey, loaded with pecans, and a not-too-sweet flavor, this is quite possibly the only sticky bun recipe you'll ever need!

Now call some friends, make plans for coffee and sticky buns, and we’ll just pretend the weekend starts tomorrow.

Soft, gooey, loaded with pecans, and a not-too-sweet flavor, this is quite possibly the only sticky bun recipe you'll ever need!

"Discard" Sourdough Pecan Sticky Buns

Yield: 12 buns
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 50 minutes

These sourdough discard pecan sticky buns are quite possibly the only reason you really need a sourdough starter.


  • 1 cup unfed sourdough starter (what you would typically throw out when feeding your starter)
  • 1/4 c warm whole milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 lb unsalted butter (1 stick melted for dough, 1 stick melted for filling, 2 softened for caramel sauce)
  • 1 c unpacked light brown sugar, divided (1/3 c dough, 2/3 c filling)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 c chopped pecans, divided
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon


  1. Combine the milk, yeast, and 1/2 tsp sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer** and let sit for 10 minutes until it looks foamy.
  2. Stir in the sourdough starter, 1/3 c brown sugar, 1 stick butter, salt, vanilla extract, egg, and avocado oil. Switch to the dough hook attachment.
  3. Add the flour in three increments: 1 cup, 1 cup, and a 1/2 cup. If your dough is still sticky, add additional flour 1 tbsp at a time.
  4. Knead 5-8 minutes until smooth, then remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a ball, spray the bowl lightly with nonstick spray, place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm draft free spot for about 1 1/2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  5. While the dough is rising, make the caramel sauce by bringing 1 cup dark brown sugar and 2 sticks of butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has melted and then pour into a 9 x 13" baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped pecans over the caramel. Set aside.
  6. Make the filling by combining the remaining stick of melted butter with 2/3 cup light brown sugar, and the cinnamon.
  7. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll the dough into a large rectangle (about 10"x18"). Spread the filling mixture over the dough, leaving about a 1/2" margin at the top long edge, and sprinkle the remaining cup of chopped pecans over the filling.
  8. Roll the dough into a tube starting with the long end closest to you. Cut into 12 equal portions using kitchen twine or unwaxed dental floss (it makes a cleaner cut than a knife) and arrange in the baking dish over the caramel.
  9. Cover and allow to rise for another hour at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight***.
  10. Preheat your oven to 350 F, bake the rolls for 30 minutes until a rich golden brown, then remove from the oven and allow to set in the pan for 5 minutes before inverting onto a large cutting board or serving tray. Best served warm.


**This recipe is very easy to make without a stand mixer. Just use a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough gets too thick, then just knead by hand.
*** If you do allow these to rise in the refrigerator overnight, remove about 20 minutes prior to baking to bring to room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Saveur.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 834Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 128mgCarbohydrates: 96gFiber: 6gSugar: 30gProtein: 12g

These nutrition values are estimates. Exact values will vary depending on the ingredients, brands, and quantities used.

Did this recipe inspire you?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


Love it? Pin it!Soft, gooey, loaded with pecans, and a not-too-sweet flavor, this is quite possibly the only sticky bun recipe you'll ever need!




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Saturday 26th of December 2020

Mary, thank you so much for this recipe! I made it once in November and the sticky buns turned out perfectly! It was just what I was looking for with that bakery taste. So much so that I made a batch and divided it into 3 square pans and gave it to friends ready for the refrigerator rise on Christmas Eve to bake in the morning. I've had nothing but raves and I think it will become a holiday gifting tradition. What a great recipe!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Sunday 24th of January 2021

That is such a beautiful gift idea, Cathy! I'm so glad to hear how much you enjoyed the recipe.


Monday 10th of August 2020

Hi, thanks so much for the recipe, it sounds amazing. I was wondering a few you need to add the yeast to make it work? Did you use discard straight from the fridge or room temp? Do you think I could use 100% hydration starter? I looked at the King Arthur starter and it must be a lower hydration I think-- (I'm fairly new to this and don't totally understand the hydration levels yet:). Thanks so much!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Hi Trish! You do need to add the yeast because the starter hasn't been fed, so the naturally occurring yeast isn't quite strong enough. I use mine straight from the fridge after feeding my starter. My starter is 100% hydration (fed at a 1:1 ratio most of the time), so you can absolutely use it. I hope you enjoy the recipe!


Sunday 10th of May 2020

Followed the recipe almost identically (I did add more filling matter, because that’s how I roll), but they turned out PERFECTLY. The dough was light and soft and airy, the sticky bun was decadent and exactly what I was hoping for. Saving this recipe for sure! Sticky buns were my moms fave, and we’ve bought them from a local bakery she enjoyed since her passing- I’m so grateful to be able to make them for my family now!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Thank you for sharing, Jessica! I'm so glad you loved the recipe and that it reminds you of your mom. <3 <3 <3

Hanna Rudzinsky

Friday 22nd of November 2019

Everyone I have made this recipe for ends up asking for some starter to maintain so they can make some of their own! They are so good with and without pecans and I can’t thank you enough for the delicious recipe! These are definitely going to be in my regular baking rotation for life!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Tuesday 26th of November 2019

<3 Thank you for sharing! I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying the recipe.

Saundra Whitney

Tuesday 19th of November 2019

Kate, Made this twice now. It is as close to a sticky bun I used to get at a bakery when I was younger. I have never found a replace and am often disappointed in the lack of richness and caramel. I will make these now, when I need to be taken back to those days. Thanks

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

This comment warms my heart! I love when one of my recipes bakes someone a memory. <3

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe