Honey Bun Cake

12 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Honey Bun Cake tastes like the classic yellow honey bun cake with brown sugar filling, topped with rich icing made famous by Betty Crocker.

This cake is winning the contest for best Easter Cake out there against the other heavy contenders including Ultimate Carrot Cake (with Carrot Cake Jam), the yummy Classic Coconut Cake and the dark horse non-cake but still “cake” Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Honey Bun Cake slice on plate from top view

Honey Bun Cake with no cake mix tastes like the classic honey buns you loved as a kid, and like your favorite yellow cake growing up. It is perfect for brunch and holiday parties. 

Honey Bun Cake will remind you of the classic American convenience store honey bun pastries that were like Cinnamon Rolls in a pinch. Those little cakes were a staple in the diet of many American teenagers, readily available at the school snack counter. The flavors are so nostalgic they’ll make you want to recreate other childhood favorites, like Frito Pie, which is even better than the nostalgia you remember as a kid! 

Most Honey Bun Cake pins on Pinterest use a cake mix as the main ingredient. While we love a good Boxed Cake Mix Hack: Tastes like you paid $6 a slice! for this recipe we wanted to use a cake from scratch. With extra egg yolks in the cake to help bring out that classic yellow cake color, this cake has the most amazing flavor. Perfect for breakfast or dessert at any holiday!

The thick glaze recipe you’ll top this cake with provides that same texture and consistency found on the classic Honey Bun pastry. The brown sugar filling is another important part of this cake you absolutely cannot skip. Whether or not you make this homemade version below or the classic boxed mix version, you have to make sure there is a delicious molten brown sugar filling through the middle of your buttery cake. 

Honey Bun Cake Collage of batter steps

How to Make Honey Bun Cake

The process for putting this tasty cake is easy, and the prep time for this moist cake is pretty painless. Check it out! 

  • Step One: In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar pecan filling. Set to the side. 
  • Step Two: Mix the yellow cake mix together. Divide in half. Pour half a layer of batter into a 9×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray and/or lined with parchment paper. Layer the brown sugar mixture on top of that. Finally, layer the rest of the yellow cake batter on top. Bake until ready. 
  • Step Three: In a separate bowl, while the cake is baking, mix together the vanilla icing. 
  • Step Four: When the cake is done, pour the icing on top and enjoy your yummy and delicious cake! 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of cake mix can I use if I don’t make Honey Bun Cake from scratch?

If using a cake mix make sure to use yellow cake, the extra egg adds richness to the cake.

How can I make a healthier Honey Bun Cake?

You can replace half the vegetable oil with applesauce, but try not to replace too much of the vegetable oil with applesauce in this cake or the texture will become too fluffy and unlike the classic Honey Bun texture. You can also use light sour cream as an acceptable swap to reduce fat and calories in the cake.

How do I make the classic cake mix Honey Bun Cake?

Cake Mix Honey Bun Cake Recipe:
1 box Betty Crocker yellow cake mix
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
⅓ cup pecans, chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray.
2. Using an electric mixer, mix together the cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream until well combined, then pour half of it into the pan.
3. Whisk together the pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle the sugar mixture all over the cake batter then gently spoon over the remaining batter evenly and bake for 45 minutes.
4. When the cake comes out prick the top with a fork 15 or so times, then whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and pour it over the warm cake.

How do I get just the yellow egg yolk by itself? 

Here’s an easy hack you can use to harvest the egg yolk. It’s super easy and takes no time. To get an egg yolk by itself, you can use an empty water bottle! Crack your eggs into a bowl. Make sure the water bottle is clean first, then lightly squeeze the bottle – just a little bit – and place the opening over the egg yolk. Release the bottle and the egg yolk will get sucked up into the bottle all by itself! 

Does this recipe actually contain real honey? 

Technically, it does not since the honey is a liquid and would change the texture during the baking process. But don’t let that stop you from drizzling some real honey across the top when you go to serve it on the plate. The golden drizzle will look great atop the white glaze and will impress your guests!

How do you make powdered sugar?

This is easy. You just need granulated sugar, some cornstarch, and a blender. You’ll want to ratio 1 cup granulated sugar to 1 tablespoon cornstarch and blend on high for a couple of minutes. Voilá! Powdered sugar!

Honey Bun Cake Collage of baking and frosting steps

Key Ingredients in Honey Bun Cake 

This recipe is a cake, and so it has all the classic cake ingredients – all easily found in the baking section of your favorite supermarket. 

  • Flour: All-purpose flour is what we’re using here and is great, as is cake flour, or even the boxed kind in a pinch.  
  • Sugar: Brown sugar is a critical ingredient in this. If you don’t have it, you’ll have to make your own by adding a tablespoon of dark molasses to white sugar and mixing until coated. 
  • Vanilla: Real vanilla extract takes the cake over artificially flavored vanillin. Your tastebuds will thank you!
  • Pecans: These are not walnuts. You can find bags of chopped pecans in the baking section of your closest grocery store. 
  • Milk: The three tablespoons milk is important as it helps to dissolve the ingredients together. Whole milk adds the yummy flavor not found in skim or 2%. 
  • Eggs: Large brown eggs taste amazing, but regular white ones are just as good too! 
  • Sour Cream: This adds a creamy goodness that makes the cake worthy. 
  • Vegetable oil: You can use canola oil or another commonly preferred cooking oil.

Pan Size Ratios for Honey Bun Cake

We’re using a 9×9 square baking pan. But you can use another style if preferred. Check it out!

  • 9×13 Square: If you’d like to use a 9×13 pan, you’ll want to double the recipe and add 5 minutes to the bake time.
  • 10in Round: You can use a 10 inch round pan without adjusting the measurements.
  • Doubled: Depending on the type of pan you’ll be using you’ll want to base the bake time on the pan. If you’re making two cakes in two separate pans at the same time, you may need at add 5-10 mins more to the cooking time.
Honey Bun Cake slice being lifted from baking dish with spatula

How to Serve Honey Bun Cake

The world is waiting for your Honey Bun Cake. You can serve it anytime, anywhere, for any reason. But, here’s some more specific ideas.

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How to Store Honey Bun Cake

  • Serve: Once completely cooled, slice and serve Honey Bun Cake at room temperature.
  • Store: Sealed tightly, Honey Bun Cake will keep on the countertop for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freeze: This cake freezes well because the thick glaze and brown sugar filling keep the yellow cake moist. Freeze the whole cake, or individual slices, wrapped well in plastic then foil in the freezer for 2-3 months, and thaw completely at room temperature before serving.
Honey Bun Cake slice on plate from side view

Pin this recipe now to remember it later

Pin Recipe

Honey Bun Cake (No Cake Mix!)

Honey Bun Cake tastes like the classic yellow honey bun cake with brown sugar filling, topped with rich icing made famous by Betty Crocker!
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


Yellow Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

Brown Sugar Pecan Filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 1/3 cup pecans , chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Vanilla Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with baking spray.
  • In your stand mixer, mix the softened butter, sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs and egg yolks until fully combined and lightened then add in the flour, sugar, and baking powder on low speed.
  • Pour ½ of the batter in the bottom of the baking pan and spread.
  • In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans and sprinkle over the cake batter in the baking pan.
  • Add in the remaining half of the batter carefully and bake for 45 minutes until the top is just golden brown.
  • Combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, poke the cake with a fork 10-15 times and and pour over the cake then let cool completely.



Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 36mg | Potassium: 207mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 63g | Vitamin A: 210IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 1.6mg
slice of Honey Bun Cake Pin 1

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Honey Bun Cake Collage

Honey Bun Cake

Easy Honey Bun Cake
Homemade Honey Bun Cake
Classic Honey Bun Cake

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I love these more than words can describe my mouth is watering the entire time I am making this cake. I want to hide it from my kiddos every time I make it, or it’ll be one within the hour, not to mention my husband. This cake has started some tiffs in our kitchen, trying to get the last piece of this delicious cake.

  2. This looks so simple yet it tasted soooo good and delicious! Kids love it! Can’t wait to make this again for Easter.

  3. Looks fantastic and what a plus not to have to use a cake mix.
    I also wondered about the 9X9 pan suggestion verses the 9X13. 4 1/2 cups flour seems an awful lot as does the other ingredients when doubled. It’s rare I would use this much flour for a 9X13.

    1. Perhaps try doing 1 1/2 times rather than double the recipe? How deep is your 9 x 13? 2 inches? Let us know how it turned out!

  4. I did the butter over oil substitute, which tasted really good I don’t know if that took the HB Flavor away?, It didn’t taste like a Honey bun, it was more like Coffee Cake. I baked at 350 for 40 minutes next time I think 30 or 35 would be better. Regardless it was a hit at my house. Thank you..

  5. Hi! I made this recipe once before with a few of my own substitutions and it came out amazing!

    I was just curious though, am I able to freeze this and ship to a friend? Or would it ruin the cake after it thaws?

    1. You can freeze this cake for up to 3 months. My only recommendation is to wait to add the icing until after it thaws. I hope this helps!

  6. I’ve made this twice now, it’s amazing! I absolutely love honey bun cake, what I don’t like is the artificial taste of them when you buy them at the grocery store.
    I baked mine for 35 minutes ( I think it’s time to have the oven calibrated).
    I did find the frosting to be rather thick so I thinned mine out.
    The first cake was for work, this one is going to Lighthouse Ministries, they feed people in need three times a day, and who couldn’t use some extra comfort? The last cake went to the AA meeting hall, I’ve been trying to find a way to give back to the community and I’ve found it in baking amazing recipes like this and sharing!
    Thanks so much for the great recipe!

    1. Wow, I’m happy that my recipes are part of the great work you are doing. Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work!

  7. Is it supposed to be 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks or just 2 egg yolks? Ingredients are different from instructions.

  8. Can’t wait to make this for our Sunday school class. So glad no cake mix is used. Everything I bake is from scratch. So much better for us without all the artificial stuff.

  9. Delicious and EASY to make… however next time I make I’m going to pur half of the cake mixture and maybe swirl the brown sugar into the cake mix… my brown sugar middle kind of sunk and toward the bottom of the pan and less cake mixture.. And for the icing only use 1tsp of vanilla extract unless you like vanilla!!! But other than this this is great…. Will definitely make this again…

  10. This looks so good! Does elevation play into this? I’m finding many recipes don’t turn out right regardless of following the recipe to the T.

    1. Yes, it will be fine for a bundt pan but you’ll want to follow the traditional cook time using that pan. No need to double it.

  11. I made this last night for my kids. They liked it a lot. The icing was a little too thin so next time I’ll only do 2 tbsp of milk instead of 3. It had a coffee cake texture and was very tasty. I’ll make this again. Thank you.

  12. Absolutely wonderful. I didn’t have powdered sugar for the icing so had to substitute. 1 tsp of cornstarch for each cup of sugar blended in a bullet blender. Can’t use a food processor for this. It turned out great. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Did you change any of the ingredients or methods? If you would like to troubleshoot I would be happy to discuss it further. Email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert.com

    1. If you’d like to use a 9×13 pan, you’ll want to double the recipe and add 5 minutes to the bake time. Enjoy!! 🙂

  13. Another fantastic recipe Sabrina, I just made this last night and it was amazing. I don’t have any vegetable oil so I used canola oil and it turned out great. I have your website bookmarked because your site is so awesome. No more wondering what’s for dinner thanks again!!!!! 

  14. So parchment paper should be in the ingredient list. I CANNOT get this cake out of the pan. My family loved it anyway. Baked it twice in one day.

    1. I’m so sorry you had trouble getting it out of the pan 🙁 I do recommend spraying the pan down with baking spray but depending on what type of pan is used, parchment paper can never hurt! Glad you were still able to enjoy it! Twice in one day sounds like a perfect way to spend the day!!

  15. HI, I remember my gramma making this, when I was a child……here in BC Canada the stores don’t get butter or margarine in “sticks”
    what are the measurements for a “stick of butter” in tablespoon ?
    I purchase tubs of margarine

    1. A stick of butter is equivalent to 1/2 cup. So glad you found this recipe! Nostalgic treats are the best!

  16. How much vegetable oil? Not given in list of ingredients. And the butter is confusing–how much. I have ingredients out to make this but realized recipe is incomplete. HELP–ASAP

    1. So sorry, looks like there was a glitch in my recipe plug in. It’s 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and 1 stick of butter (softened). I edited so hopefully it shows up correctly now. Thanks for letting me know.

  17. I’m uncertain what you mean by this? “1 1/2 sticks butter 1/2 cup, softened” Do you mean 4oz (1/2 cup) or 6oz (1 & 1/2 sticks here in the US) of butter? I’m assuming all the butter is softened, based on the directions. Or is some of the butter softened and some not? Please help!

    1. So sorry about the confusion. There was a glitch in the recipe plug in. It should read 1 stick of butter, softened.

  18. the instruction call for vegetable oil but the indigents don’t call for any vegetable oil, how much is needed.

    1. I’m so sorry about the confusion. It seems my recipe plug in had a glitch. It should read 1/4 cup vegetable oil. I edited it so hopefully it shows up correctly now.

  19. what size pan did you use? You say in tools used 9×13 pan but then in the instructions you say 9×9 pan – which is it?

    1. Sorry about that. A 9×9 pan is what I used. I updated it as to clear up the confusion. Thank you for letting me know!

  20. You list a 9×13 pan for the “tools used” for this recipe, but in the directions, you say to use a 9×9 pan. Which one should I use? Thanks!

    1. Sorry about that, I would stick to the 9×9, I will update the tools used section. 🙂 Thank you for letting me know!

      1. If I doubled this recipe…how much longer would I bake it? I plan on using my family as Guinea pigs lol. I love it but never made it.

        1. It depends on the type of pan you’ll be using because you’ll want to base the bake time on the pan. If you’re making two cakes in two separate pans at the same time, you may need at add 5-10 mins more. Hope this helps!

  21. With a recipe as easy and delicious looking as this, there is no need for a cake mix hack. This looks fantastic!

    1. Ugh, your comment was stuck in my spam folder 🙁 Sorry about the delay. I corrected the recipe plug in. You should use 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.