Sweet Rolls like Gluten Free Sticky Buns and Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls are one of my favorite breakfast treats. The gluten free sweet dough is filled with brown sugar and cinnamon and baked on top of a delicious brown sugar pecan caramel sauce. Once ready the gluten free caramel rolls are turned upside down on a platter and the caramel sauce and pecans will create a luscious topping that is impossible to resist!
- Recipe Ingredient Notes
- How to make dough for Gluten Free Sticky Buns
- How to prepare Gluten Free Sticky Bun Dough for rolling Buns
- Caramel Pecan Topping
- How to roll, shape and bake Gluten Free Sticky Buns
- Storage & Freezing
- Making Gluten Free Sticky Buns Ahead
- What is psyllium husk and what does it do in gluten free baking?
- Ingredient Substitutions to make Sticky Buns
- FAQ about Gluten Free Caramel Rolls
- Baking in grams
- Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
- Substitutions and Modifications
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Gluten Free Flour: I have tested this recipe for Gluten Free Sticky Buns with almost every gluten-free flour blend available on the US Market as well as my own gluten-free flour blend. The one blend that works the best in this application is Cup4Cup. The addition of the cornstarch gives the gluten free sweet roll dough a lighter crumb. Combined with the Whole Psyllium Husks and baking powder this results in a higher rise of the dough.
Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix: This may seem like an unusual ingredient but the instant pudding helps with the texture, moisture, and flavor of the sticky rolls. I use the Instant Vanilla Pudding found at Aldi (it is Gluten Free) but have used Jello Instant Pudding in the past (which is gluten-free as well). One can use Cook & Serve Pudding as a substitution.
Whole Psyllium Husks: This ingredient helps to reduce the crumbly structure often found in gluten-free baked goods. It also gives the dough a wheat-like texture. I have only tested this recipe with Whole Psyllium Husks. This product can be found in your local health food store as well. If you only have psyllium husk POWDER, use 2.5 grams instead of the 5 grams of whole psyllium husk.
Milk: I have successfully made this recipe with dairy and non-dairy milk. I recommend using a product with a slightly higher fat content such as whole milk or cashew milk.
Raw Pecans: Raw, unsalted pecan halves or pecan pieces work to make gluten-free caramel rolls. If Pecans are not your thing, walnuts work as well or nuts can be left out completely.
How to make dough for Gluten Free Sticky Buns
I highly recommend using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or a hand mixer fitted with dough hooks for this recipe. Mixing the recipe by hand may be possible but a workout for sure.
Step 1: In a small bowl or pitcher combine the whole milk and vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar). Give it a quick stir and allow it to sit for 10 minutes until it appears to be curdled. (If you have buttermilk on hand you may use it instead. But combining milk and vinegar works perfectly in this recipe)
Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, or medium bowl, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients: Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour (I recommend Cup4Cup for best result), powdered sugar, instant vanilla pudding powder, baking powder, psyllium husk, and kosher salt.
Step 3: Turn the mixer to a low speed and add the milk/vinegar mixture and very soft butter and mix for 1 minute until all the liquid is absorbed. I recommend cutting butter into smaller pieces while bringing it to room temperature so it will incorporate easier.
Step 4: Once a dough has formed, add the room-temperature eggs, one by one. The gluten-free sweet dough may look like it has been separated/curdled but it's totally normal. Once you have both eggs added, turn off the mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Make sure to get the bottom of your mixing bowl as well.
Step 5: When all the wet ingredients have been added, turn the mixer to a medium speed, and mix the dough for 5 minutes. It should turn from a lumpy mess, into a soft dough that looks like it could use a LOT more flour. DO NOT add any flour!
Step 6: After 5 minutes of mixing, the gluten-free cinnamon roll dough should be soft and smooth. If you still see little lumps of butter, do not worry about it. Leave the dough in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle with 20 grams of additional gluten-free flour. The added flour will make removing the dough from the bowl a lot easier. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. During this time the gluten-free dough absorbs some of the liquids and will start to build the structure.
How to prepare Gluten Free Sticky Bun Dough for rolling Buns
Step 1: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with some additional gluten free flour. The flour will help the dough from sticking to the parchment paper.
Step 2: Using a flexible spatula, give the gluten-free sweet dough a quick stir and then transfer it to the parchment line baking sheet. The dough will look very soft.
Step 3: Gently, with your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle - around 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20cm). It should be around 1.5cm/0.5 inches tall. Only use as little flour as possible. The more flour you add, the tougher and denser your cinnamon rolls will become. So please trust me here and only use as little flour as possible.
For best results place the rectangular gluten-free cinnamon dough in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Skipping this step will make rolling the cinnamon rolls a challenge. Resting the dough is mandatory.
Step 4: After allowing the dough to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, it is time to flip the dough over (which might be the scariest part of this recipe).
Step 5: Using a pastry brush, gently brush off all the extra flour on top of your dough. Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper and flip it over. You can use a second sheet tray for this. Whatever you choose, be careful not to drop the dough. Carefully remove the parchment paper which might stick to the dough. Remove any extra flour with the pastry brush.
Return the dough to the fridge while you prepare the Caramel Pecan Topping.
At this point, you can refrigerate the Gluten Free Sweet Dough for up to 24hrs or freeze it for 7 days. Leave it on the sheet tray to ensure it will stay flat and even. I like to use a Plastic Lid especially made for half-sheet trays. Freezing the dough for Gluten Free Sticky Buns for an extended period of time is not recommended since the Baking Powder will loose it strength.
Caramel Pecan Topping
The Caramel Topping for the Gluten Free Sticky Buns is super easy to make. You can make it in advance and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you choose to make it in advance I recommend already placing it in the bottom of the 9" cake pan, covering it and then refrigerating it.
Step 1: Melt the butter in a small pot on the stove or a microwave-safe bowl. Add the brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and kosher salt and whisk until no brown sugar lumps remain.
Step 2: Lightly butter the 9-inch round cake pan or an 8" square pan. Transfer the caramel sauce with a flexible spatula and spread it out even. Top with an even layer of chopped pecans.
How to roll, shape and bake Gluten Free Sticky Buns
Just like my Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls, the gluten free sticky buns are rolled individually.
Step 1: Before you start shaping the sticky buns, make sure to preheat your oven to 400F. This can take up to 20 minutes.
Step 2: Melt the 20 grams of butter using a pastry brush, and spread the melted butter over the gluten-free dough using a pastry brush. Combine the ground cinnamon and brown sugar in a separate bowl and sprinkle it over the butter leaving about ½" inch on the top and bottom of the dough (wide size facing you). Using your hands, press the sugar into the dough.
Step 3: Using a sharp knife, cut the sweet dough into 8 strips using a sharp knife. Make sure the wide side is facing you. I recommend using a ruler for this to make sure you have even wide cinnamon rolls (which all will bake at the same time). Should the dough stick to the knife, pop the dough in the freezer for a few minutes. If you use a square pan, I recommend cutting the dough into 9 strips.
Step 4: Using some egg wash, brush both ends of each dough stripe. Carefully roll them into rolls (not too tight) and place them on top of the caramel pecan topping. One roll in the center and 7 rolls around the edges. (3 rows of 3 sticky buns if using a square pan).
Step 5: Once your oven is fully preheated, it is time to finally bake out gluten-free sticky buns. Place them in the oven and bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Carefully tent the pan with some foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes. The foil will avoid further browning and give the buns time to bake fully without the sugar burning. After 40 minutes of baking time, carefully remove the foil and bake the buns for an additional 5-7 minutes. This allows them to get some more color. The gluten free caramel rolls are ready when they are golden brown and have an internal temperature of at least 200F. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.
Step 6: While the gluten free caramel rolls are cooling, get a serving platter ready. Make sure it is bigger than the 9" cake pan.
Step 7: Run a knife along the edges of the pan. Carefully invert the caramel rolls onto a serving dish and serve warm. Should any of the caramel sauce stick to the bottom of the pan, just use a spoon and top the sticky buns with it.
Serve and Enjoy!
Storage & Freezing
Just like Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls, Gluten Free Sticky Buns are the best the day they have been baked. They will store well at room temperature for 2-3 days. You may freeze fully baked and cooled caramel rolls in an airtight container up to one month. I like to wrap each roll in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container. Thaw at room temperature and if you like, carefully nuke them in the microwave for 20-30 to remelt the pecan caramel topping.
Making Gluten Free Sticky Buns Ahead
I understand no one wants to spend hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, Christmas Morning, or any other day making Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls or Sticky Buns.
Since brown sugar tends to absorb the moisture in the fridge or freezer after some time, I do not recommend rolling the buns and refrigerating/freezing ahead of time (up to 4hr of refrigeration is fine). The brown sugar may melt and dissolve.
To make sticky buns ahead of time, I recommend making the dough as directed. Shape it into a rectangle, refrigerate, flip, remove all the flour with a pastry brush, COVER IT and then refrigerate it for up to 24hrs. You may also freeze it for 7 days. Leave it on the sheet tray to ensure it will stay flat and even. I like to use a Plastic Lid especially made for half-sheet trays. Freezing the dough for Gluten Free Sticky Buns for an extended period of time is not recommended since the Baking Powder will lose its strength.
Once ready to bake, fill, roll and bake the caramel rolls as directed. Should your dough be frozen, make sure to allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge. If your kitchen is very warm, you may also thaw it at room temperature.
What is psyllium husk and what does it do in gluten free baking?
Psyllium husks come from the seed of the Plantago plant, a native of India and Pakistan. It is naturally gluten free. It is known as a source of soluble fiber which loves to absorb moisture. This ingredient helps reduce the crumbly structure often found in gluten-free baked goods. It gives the dough elasticity and flexibility and makes it workable. This is why the dough for Gluten Free Caramel Rolls has to rest twice (once for 10 minutes and once for 15-30 minutes). The Psyllium husk will absorb some of the liquid used and makes the dough workable.
Psyllium husk is especially useful in gluten-free recipes which rely on the structure gluten provides. Psyllium interacts strongly with the proteins in gluten-free flours, creating a sturdy enough structure to support highly leavened bread once the bread cools.
Ingredient Substitutions to make Sticky Buns
Please be aware that changing several components of this recipe will most likely cause a different result when it comes to the taste and looks of Gluten-Free Sticky Buns. It took me 17 tests and tweaks to have this solid recipe for yeast-free sweet roll dough to make gluten free cinnamon rolls and gluten free sticky buns.
Gluten Free Flour Substitution
If you are using a product like King Arthur Measure for Measure, Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1, or my Gluten-Free Flour Blend: Please reduce the amount used to 320 grams of flour mix and add 80 grams of cornstarch to get even 400 grams of flour. I also recommend adding 2 Tablespoons of Dry Milk Powder to your dry ingredients IF your blend does not contain it.
IF you live outside the US and do not have access to any of the mentioned brands above, here are a few brands I recommend using: Schaer Mix C (Kekse), Aldi Australia - White Mill Plain Gluten Free Flour.
I also recommend adding 2 Tablespoons of Dry Milk Powder to your dry ingredients IF your blend does not contain it. (So your total will be: 320grams flour, 80 grams cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of milk powder)
IF your blend does NOT contain xanthan gum already, please add 4 grams to the recipe.
Dairy-Free Gluten Free Caramel Rolls
The milk and the butter used to make this recipe can be replaced with dairy-free alternatives. Please be aware that the casein, the protein found in dairy products, will promote not only structure but also the browning of baked goods.
If you have a cornstarch allergy, please substitute the cornstarch in the flour mix with tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour) or potato starch (or a mix of both).
Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix Substitute
To replace the Instant Pudding Mix please add an additional 10 grams of gluten free flour, 10 grams of powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding is vegan. So if you are dairy free, you can use this product to make Gluten Free Caramel Rolls.
Egg Free Gluten Free Sticky Buns
I have not tested this recipe with any egg substitutions. The eggs give this dough its richness and also help with the rise.
FAQ about Gluten Free Caramel Rolls
Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls and Gluten Free Sticky Buns are made from the same gluten free sweet dough and are using the same brown sugar cinnamon filling. Cinnamon Rolls are baked and then frosted with Cream Cheese Frosting while Sticky buns are baked on top of a simple pecan caramel sauce and then inverted before serving. The caramel sauce tends to make sticky buns dense than cinnamon rolls (they are also baked longer since the caramel sauce adds more moisture to the dough)
Which flour did you use? Did you follow my recommendations? Have you added baking powder? Did you add a lot of flour when patting out your dough and shaping it into a rectangle? The more flour you add and the more you work this dough, the tougher and denser the cinnamon rolls will become. There is a lot to consider why your caramel rolls may turned out dense. Also - please make sure to check your baking powder. If it is expired, the buns will be flat.
Please refer to this chapter about how to make gluten free sticky buns ahead of time.
Baking in grams
I share my recipes in grams and by weight since baking by weight is the most accurate way to bake. Digital Scales are very affordable and easy to use. You can purchase them on Amazon for less than a set of measuring cups. Measuring cups are very inaccurate and can cause significant errors when it comes to gluten-free baking or baking in general. Especially since I bake with gluten-free flours which weigh differently than “regular” flours. I do provide some ingredients like spices and leavening agents in measuring spoons. To learn more about Baking with a digital scale, make sure to check out my post about Baking by weight.
Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
All my recipes are tested and developed with a conventional oven. I always bake my baked goods on the rack placed in the MIDDLE of my oven. This way the heat coming from the bottom will not burn my baked goods.
If you are baking with convection (fan-forced), please adjust the recipes accordingly. Be also prepared that the convection oven can cause your baked goods to dry out quickly and still be raw inside. Be aware that it takes at least 15-20 minutes for a standard American Oven to be fully preheated. I highly recommend investing in an Oven Thermometer.
Substitutions and Modifications
Any dietary or ingredient modifications/substitutions to this recipe may alter the end result in appearance and taste. I test my recipes several times as published in this post and The Gluten Free Austrian Blog is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe you find on our website.
For the Gluten Free Sweet Dough
- 400 grams Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour (I recommend Cup4Cup for best result)
- 60 grams Powdered Sugar
- 25 grams Instant Vanilla Pudding Powder
- 17 grams baking powder
- 5 grams psyllium husk (3.5 teaspoons!)
- 3 grams kosher salt
- 275 grams whole milk
- 15 grams white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 70 grams unsalted butter, soft
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 40 grams Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour
For the Filling
- 20 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 140 grams light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the Egg Wash
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoons milk
For the pecan caramel sauce
- 80 grams light brown sugar
- 55 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 30 grams honey (can be replaced with maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 100 grams raw pecan halves, roughly chopped
How to make Gluten Free Sweet Dough
- Combine the milk and the vinegar, give it a quick stir and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. The milk will curdle.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, or medium-sized mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Turn your mixer to a low speed and add the milk/vinegar mixture and soft butter and mix for 1 minute until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Once a dough has formed, add the room-temperature eggs, one by one. Once you have both eggs added, turn off the mixer, and scrape down the sides. Make sure to get the bottom of your mixing bowl as well.
- At medium speed, mix the dough for 5 minutes. It should turn from a lumpy mess, into a soft dough.
- Leave the dough in the bowl and sprinkle with 10 grams of additional gluten-free flour. Allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes. THIS IS MANDATORY!
- Once the dough has rested for the first time, transfer it to a parchment-lined sheet tray, which is lightly dusted with some gluten free flour (I use around 15 grams of flour for this)
- Gently, with your hands, pat the dough into a rectangular shape – around 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20cm). It should be around 1.5cm/0.5 inches tall.
- Place the rectangular gluten-free cinnamon dough in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Skipping this step will make rolling the sticky buns a challenge. Resting the dough is mandatory
How to make Pecan Caramel Topping
- Melt the butter in a small pot on the stove or a microwave-safe bowl. Add the brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and kosher salt and whisk until no brown sugar lumps remain.
- Lightly butter the 9-inch round cake pan or an 8" square pan. Transfer the caramel sauce with a flexible spatula and spread it out evenly. Top with an even layer of chopped pecans.
How to roll, shape and bake Gluten Free Sticky Buns
- After allowing the dough to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, it is time to shape the sticky buns.
- With a pastry brush gently brush off all the extra flour on the surface of the sweet roll dough.
- Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper and flip it over. Carefully remove the parchment paper which might stick to the dough. Remove any extra flour with the pastry brush.
- Lightly brush the dough with the melted, cooled butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter and with your hands press the sugar into the dough.
- To roll the caramel rolls, cut the dough into 8 equal wide strips. Make sure the wide side is facing you. A sharp, clean knife works the best for this (if the dough is too warm it will stick to the knife. you may stick it in the freezer for a few minutes)
- To make the egg wash, combine the egg yolk and milk and whisk together with a fork.
- Using some egg wash, brush both ends of each dough stripe. Carefully roll them into rolls and place them on top of the caramel pecan topping. One roll in the center and 7 rolls around the edges. (3 rows of 3 sticky buns if using a square pan).
- Place the pan of Sticky Buns in the oven and bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Carefully tent the pan with some foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes. After 40 minutes of baking time, carefully remove the foil and bake the buns for an additional 5-7 minutes. This allows them to get some more color. The gluten-free caramel rolls are ready when they are golden brown and have an internal temperature of at least 200F.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.
- While the gluten free caramel rolls are cooling, get a serving platter ready. Make sure it is bigger than the 9" cake pan.
- Run a knife along the edges of the pan. Carefully invert the caramel rolls onto a serving dish and serve warm. Should any of the caramel sauce stick to the bottom of the pan, just use a spoon and top the sticky buns with it.
Serve and Enjoy!
Gluten Free Flour: Please make sure to read the section about substitutions regarding gluten free flours in the blog post.
Psyllium Husk: 5 grams equals 3.5 teaspoons
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450
It's cinnamon rolls.... who cares about calories?