The best ooey-gooey Vegan Carrot Cake Sticky Buns are here. These dairy-free sticky buns use fresh carrots and yeast for the fluffiest vegan sticky buns topped with pecans and the most delicious vegan maple sticky bun syrup.
*Recipe originally shared April 2018 and updated March 2020*
If you didn't know, I have an obsession with making vegan cinnamon rolls from scratch. Just check out my Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls for my tried & true cinnamon roll recipe. Over time, this love has spread into making more unusual flavors like my Matcha Black Sesame Cinnamon Rolls and Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls.
This leads us to today's recipe which is essentially a homemade vegan carrot cinnamon roll recipe topped with a drool-worthy pecan sticky sauce. YUM!
I know pecan sticky buns can seem intimidating, but I'm here to give you all my fail-proof tips and tricks so you can make homemade sticky buns that are fluffy, gooey, & delicious!
How to make vegan sticky buns
First, make the carrot cake dough
The first step to making any vegan sticky bun recipe is to make the dough. Since sticky bun dough uses yeast to rise, there is actually no need for eggs or an egg replacement in this recipe!
As a first step, add the yeast, sugar, and warm milk to a mixing bowl. Warmed milk is important because it helps to activate the yeast as does the sugar.
Once you're sure the yeast is active, add in the melted butter, grated carrot, and vanilla and whisk together. Carrot added an additional challenge to bake with as the fresh carrots added in a lot of moisture, but this really just requires a bit more flour.
Next, gradually add in the flour and mix until a dough forms.
At this point, add the bread hook to a standing mixer and knead the dough for 5+ minutes. I always use my KitchenAid Mixer for making bread dough.
If you don't have a standing mixer with a bread hook, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it by hand on a well-floured surface for 5-10 minutes. The dough is ready what it is elastic and tacky but no longer sticky (see below).
Add dough to bowl for first rise
After that, it's time for the first rise. Place the dough into a well-oiled bowl, cover tightly, and place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This usually takes about 1 hour, but time will vary based on the temperature.
How do you know the dough is ready?
You will know the first rise is complete when the dough has doubled in size. Also, if pressing into the dough leaves an indent without the dough springing back, the dough has proofed enough. YAY!
Making the sticky bun syrup
While the dough is rising make the syrup by adding the butter and sugar to a pan and mixing on low heat until combined. It can also be melted in a microwave safe bowl. Either way, whisk together until all the sugar has dissolved.
Then, pour the sticky sauce into a 9* 13-inch pan, add in pecans, and set aside for later.
Roll out the carrot cake cinnamon rolls & add filling
Once that dough is proofed, turn it out onto a well-floured surface.
Roll it into a ¼-1/2 inch thick rectangle (as you can see below, it doesn't have to be perfect!). Make sure to flour your rolling pin as well so the dough doesn't stick. I always use my marble pastry board for any sticky bun or cinnamon roll recipe on SGTO as it keeps the dough cold.
Then, add on the cinnamon sugar filling that is filled with a secret ingredient- more fresh shredded carrots!
My best tip? Don't use melted butter here or the filling will fall out. Room temperature butter that is whipped/mashed together with the rest of the ingredients is best! It's a little harder to spread onto the dough but leads to a perfect end product.
Roll & slice the cinnamon rolls
Once all the filling is on, roll the dough into a long log, pinch the seams together to seal the dough, and slice it into 10-12 evenly sized carrot cinnamon rolls.
The second rise & making the syrup
Yes, vegan sticky buns DO need a second rise. It helps the dough develop more flavor and allows the dough to develop a better flavor.
Just add the sticky buns to a large pan filled with the sticky bun syrup and the chopped pecans. Then, let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes-1 hour and preheat the oven.
The pictures below show you the buns before their second rise and after being baked!
Bake the sticky buns!
Finally- it's time to bake the sticky buns!
Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes until cooked through and browned on top, but still soft. The cooking time will vary based on the size of your sticky buns, so check at the 30-minute mark.
Invert onto a large baking pan
The very last step of making vegan carrot cake sticky buns is to invert the pan onto a large baking sheet so the buns come out with the sticky syrup & pecans on top.
Do this very carefully and make sure to invert while the buns are still warm or else the syrup will not slide off easily.
FAQ & Substitutions
For SURE! If you're not into the idea of sticky syrup, just omit that from the recipe.
If you are baking these are cinnamon rolls without the syrup, I really recommend baking these in a smaller pan (10.5-inch cast iron skillet is my recommended pan).
Since there's no sticky syrup, you don't need as much space in the pan.
Yes, however, you'll need to adjust the ingredients slightly.
If you omit carrots from this recipe, I recommend increasing the butter in the bun bread dough from ¼-1/2 cup and increasing the butter in the filling from ¼ cup to ½ cup.
Yes! just omit the pecans altogether and use nut-free plant-based milk in the recipe like oat milk. Also, make sure to check that the vegan butter you are using is nut-free too.
Unfortunately, this recipe does not work with gluten-free flour substitutes.
Because we need gluten to develop to hold the dough together, this is one of those recipes that you can't adapt to be gluten-free very easily.
Yep! Just sub the sugar for coconut sugar, maple sugar, or any refined sugar-free granulated sugar 1:1.
I don't recommend maple syrup or honey as the texture changes the entire recipe.
I really hope you enjoy these decadent, gooey, and fluffy Vegan Carrot Cake Sticky Buns! In honor of Sir Mix A Lot I even made you all some song lyrics to sing while baking these. “My Brunch Table Don’t Want None Unless You Got Buns Hun!”. Judge me for my lame sense of humor if you must, but don't let it stop you from making these vegan sticky buns!
More vegan sweet roll recipes & sweet bread recipes you will love:
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Vegan Carrot Cake Sticky Buns
Carrot Cake Dough
- ¼ cup grated carrots about ½ medium carrot peeled and grated
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup cold vegan butter
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup melted vegan butter
- ½ cup chopped pecans add more depending on preference
Making the Dough
- Begin by warming your milk and add to the mixing bowl. Add in your dry yeast packet and sugar and let sit about 10 minutes. You will know the yeast is working if the mixture begins to form bubbles on top.
- While waiting to see if the yeast is active, peel and grate your carrots and set aside.
- Next, add the melted vegan butter, grated carrots, and vanilla to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Then, add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl ½ cup at a time and mix. Once a dough forms, switch a standing mixer to the bread hook and knead for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, remove the dough and knead on a well-floured surface for 5-10 minutes until an elastic dough forms.
- Lightly spray a large bowl with oil, form the dough into a ball, and add the dough to the bowl. Oil the top of the dough so it does not dry out. Then, cover the bowl and let the dough rise 1-1.5 hours until it has doubled in size. You will know the dough is done by pushing your finger into the dough and the dough will not spring back.
Making the Sticky Syrup
- While the dough is rising make the syrup by adding the butter and sugar to a pan and mixing on low heat until combined. Add the syrup and chopped pecans to the pan you plan to bake the buns in (I recommend a 9*13 inch baking dish for sticky buns. Store the syrup filled pan in the fridge until the buns are ready (it's okay if it solidifies).
Rolling the buns
- Once your dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. You will need to flour the rolling pin too or else the dough will stick. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is ¼-1/2 inch thick in height.
- In a small bowl or blender blend the bun filling ingredients together. Spread the filling evenly over the dough leaving a ½ inch border without any filling.
- Beginning with the longer side of the rectangle, tightly roll up the dough into a log. Lightly flour the dough as you go to help if it gets a bit sticky. Make sure to seal the roll by pinching the edges together. Then, flip the dough over so the pinched seal is facing down.
- Once the dough is rolled, trim the ends and discard. Cut the remaining dough into 10-12 evenly sized rolls. Remove the pan containing the syrup from the fridge and arrange all the rolls in the pan. Cover the pan and leave in the fridge overnight (or 30 minutes in a warm place) before baking.
Baking the rolls
- Remove the rolls from the fridge or warm place after the second rise and preheat the oven to 350F. Once the oven is preheated, add in the buns and bake for 30-35 minutes until the dough in lightly browned on top. Remove the buns from the oven and immediately invert onto a serving platter.
- Let cool slightly and serve!
- Store leftover sticky buns in a closed container between sheets of parchment paper so they do not stick together. Buns will keep in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- To reheat bake in an oven at 200F for 10+ minutes or for 30 seconds+ in the microwave until warmed throughout.