Honey Bun Cake

Our all-time favorite coffee cake. The boys prefer this Honey Bun Cake without the pecans, but I love the texture of the nuts as part of the filling.
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Our all-time favorite coffee cake. The boys prefer this Honey Bun Cake without the pecans, but I love the texture of the nuts as part of the filling. Either way, it’s a wonderful, moist and luscious cake that your family will constantly beg you to make.  #HoneyBun #CoffeeCake #Moist #9×13 #cakemix

The Best Coffee Cake in the History of Ever:  Honey Bun Cake

Up close photo of a pan of honey bun cake where a piece has been lifted out.

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What’s so GREAT About Honey Bun Cake??

Honey Bun Cake is lusciously moist cake, swirled with cinnamon, sugar, and pecans then smothered with a powdered-sugar glaze…..it tastes like a honey bun, but in the form of cake.

Honey Bun Cake transforms a yellow cake into a magnificent experience. A few basic ingredients and a brown sugar pecan-spice center makes this cake anything but ordinary. When I make this coffee cake for my family on Saturday or Sunday morning, I’m lucky if it lasts past noon!

What’s the Secret to Delicious Honey Bun Cake? Just ONE little thing!

Making sure to cover your cake with foil right after you smother it in icing, then letting it cool with the foil in place will ensure your cake is UBER moist.  The foil forces all the heat and condensation down into your cake – a trick my Grandma Lucille taught me.

The Easy Steps to Making This Moist Coffee Cake:

  1.  There are three basic components of this recipe to prepare – the batter, the filling, and the icing.
  2. Prepare your batter and pour half of it into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.
  3. Top the batter with all of your prepared filling.  I really like the filling with pecans, but if your family doesn’t like nuts (or they THINK they don’t, like mine does) you can leave those out, no worries.
  4. Use your artistic talents and a butter knife to swirl the filling around into the batter.
  5. Pour the remaining half of the batter over the filling. Pop your cake into the preheated oven and bake.
  6. As soon as your cake is done, pour the prepared icing over the top to smother it, then immediately cover your honey bun cake with foil, letting it cool covered in the foil.

What Ingredients Will I Need for Making This Honey Bun Cake?

  • Standard Yellow Cake Mix

I typically use Duncan Hines cake mixes, but any brand will actually work just fine in the recipe since you are including so many added ingredients to make it really yummy.  I usually stock up on cake mixes when they are on sale, throwing the overflow (that won’t fit in my pantryi) into my downstairs freezer for use later.  I love it when I can hit a $.99 cake mix sale!! Also, I really like the cake mixes that are sold at Aldi’s, too.

  • Eggs, Water, Oil, Sour Cream

Here’s where you added yummy-ness for this cake comes in.  These ingredients come together to make this classic coffee cake so very moist.

  • Dark Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Chopped Pecans

These ingredients comprise the coffee cake filling.  I love the deep molasses flavors of dark brown sugar, especially when you add in the cinnamon and the chopped pecans for this filling.

  • Powdered Sugar, Milk, Vanilla, Salt

Every good coffee cake needs a sweet, thick glaze drizzled over the top, correct?

A pan of coffee cake with a plate in the fore ground that has a slice of cake on it. There's also a glass of milk included.

Easy and Helpful Tips for Making This Classic Coffee Cake Recipe

  • I don’t have a glass 9 x 13 baking pan.  Can I use a metal 9 x 13 pan instead when baking this coffee cake?

You can use whichever 9 x 13 pan that you have on hand! I think I just use a glass one because my Grandmas did, but any stainless steel or aluminum pan will work just as well.  No worries.

  • Why do the directions say to reduce the baking temperature to 325 degrees F. if using a glass baking pan?

Glass is a super great conductor of heat, causing things to cook quicker on the exterior, but often leaving the interior under-baked.  Reducing the temperature from 350 degrees F. to 325 degrees F. when using a glass 9 x 13 pan lets the cake baked clear to the very interior, without the outside of the cake getting too browned in the process.

  • Can I use a white cake mix if I don’t have a yellow cake mix on hand?

You sure can.  I’ve done this lots of times and it will work just fine – no one will even notice except you.  Your cake will be a bit lighter in color, but still super yummy.

  • Can I serve this coffee cake warm from the oven?

Yes, you sure can, though it’s better in the long run to let the cake rest for a while, covered with aluminum foil. (See below to learn why!) But if your family is anything like mine, you likely won’t get away with that.  My gang is always hungry and as soon as they smell this cake baking, they are clamoring for a piece…..as soon as it’s out of the oven! Just know that when you serve this coffee cake warm, it’s a bit more crumbly than when you slice it after it has completely cooled.

  • The recipe says to cover the cake with foil as soon as it comes out of the oven, after it’s been glazed.  Why do I need to cover the cake with foil while it’s still hot?

This step is important for nearly any cake you bake.  Always cover the cake with foil right after you remove it from the oven so all the heat is contained beneath the foil, forcing the warm condensation right down in the your cake, making it very, very moist and luscious. My Grandma Lucille shared this tip with me when she was teaching me to bake when I was in elementary school and I’ve used this trick for years and years!  I also do the same thing with baked quick breads like Lemon Poppy Seed Bread and Banana Bread.

  • If I don’t have chopped pecans on hand, can I substitute chopped walnuts instead?

Yes, and I’ve done this often.  The nuts give the filling a really good texture so be sure to include them, whether they are pecans or walnuts, either one.

  • Most cake recipes seem to advise that the cake be fully cooled before trying to glaze or frost it.  Why does this cake recipe instruct to pour the glaze over the cake straight from the oven?

Well, there’s actually two ways to go about topping this coffee cake with the glaze.  I prefer to do so when the cake is piping hot, since this will allow the glaze to seep down into the cake and all around the edges, too. Doing it this way, though, the glaze doesn’t really show up on top of the cake because it actually melts into the coffee cake.  If you want the icing to show on the cake, you could do so once the cake is fully cooled so that it doesn’t seep into the top of the cake as much.  Try both ways and see which one you prefer and go from there. 🙂

Other Baked Treats to Enjoy –

Printable Directions for Making and Baking Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake

Our all-time favorite coffee cake. The boys prefer it without the pecans, but I love the texture of the nuts as part of the filling. Either way, it's a wonderful, moist and luscious cake.

Course Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword baked, Coffee, Coffee Cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings


Coffee Cake

  • 1 standard yellow cake mix, 18 oz.
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup sour cream


  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tbs. milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • tiny pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (325 degrees F. if using a glass baking pan).

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix ingredients using an electric mixer to beat the ingredients for 2 minutes, scraping bowl half way through. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients and reserve.

  3. Pour half of the prepared cake batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the prepared filling mixture over the batter, then use a butter knife to swirl the filling into the batter. Now, pour the remaining cake batter over the top of the filling. 

  4. Bake the cake, uncovered, on the center rack of the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  5. While the cake is baking, combine the icing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.

  6. When the cake is removed from the oven, immediately pour the prepared icing over the hot cake, then cover the cake pan tightly with foil, letting the cake cool completely while covered.

Recipe Notes


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Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Please Note: This recipe was happily shared on The Country Cook’s Weekend Potluck and Southern Bite’s Meal Plan Monday!



Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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I just found my recipe for our next MOPS meeting in Abilene!

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