Honey Bun Cake is a moist breakfast cake made with yellow cake mix, cinnamon, sugar, and pecans, and smothered with a powdered sugar glaze.
It is our all-time favorite coffee cake.
Honey Bun Coffee Cake Recipe
This Honey Bun Cake transforms a Duncan Hines Moist Yellow Cake, brown sugar, and a pecan-spice center into a magnificent experience.
It reminds me of the old-time Duncan Hines Honey Bun Cake recipe because it tastes like a honey bun but in the form of cake.
The boys prefer this Honey Bun Cake without the pecans. I love the texture of the nuts as part of the filling.
Either way, it’s a wonderful, moist, luscious cake that your family will constantly beg you to make.
When I make this coffee cake for my family on Saturday or Sunday morning, I’m lucky if it lasts past noon!
Honey bun cake recipe ingredients
Standard Yellow Cake Mix: I typically use Duncan Hines cake mixes, but any brand will work. Also, I like the cake mixes that are sold at Aldi’s, too.
Eggs, Water, Oil, Sour Cream: These ingredients 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 adding cinnamon and chopped pecans for this filling.
Powdered Sugar, Melted Butter, Vanilla, Salt, Milk: Every good coffee cake needs a sweet, thick glaze drizzled over the top, right? You’ll get that when you combine powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, a bit of salt, and just enough milk to make the frosting easy to pour.
How to make moist coffee cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (325 degrees F. if using a glass baking pan).
Into a large mixing bowl, place the cake mix, eggs, water, oil, and sour cream.
Combine the cake mix ingredients using an electric mixer to beat the ingredients for 1 minute, scraping the bowl halfway through.
Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients and reserve.
Pour 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 topping down into the batter a bit.
Bake the cake, uncovered, on the center rack of the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While baking the cake, combine the icing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
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 entirely while covered.
To serve, cut the cooled cake into 12 pieces and serve. Cake can be reheated in the microwave if you’d prefer to eat it warm.
What’s the Secret to Delicious Honey Bun Cake?
Make sure to cover your cake with foil right after you smother it in icing. Let 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.
My Grandma Lucille shared this tip with me when she taught me to bake in elementary school. 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.
Easy and Helpful Tips for Making This Classic Coffee Cake Recipe
I don’t have a glass 9×13 baking pan. Can I use a metal pan instead when baking this coffee cake?
You can use whichever 9 x 13 pan that you have on hand! I use a glass because my grandma did. But any stainless steel or aluminum pan will work as well. No worries.
Why do the recipe 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. This causes things to cook quicker on the exterior, but often leaves 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 bake clear to the very interior. It cooks without the outside of the cake getting too browned in the process.
If I don’t have a yellow cake mix on hand, can I use a white cake mix instead?
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, but it’s better to let the cake fully cool once it’s been frosted and covered with aluminum foil.
However, if your family is anything like mine, you likely won’t get away with that.
My gang is always hungry. As soon as they smell this cake they are clamoring for a piece right out of the oven!
When you serve this coffee cake warm, it’s a bit more crumbly than when you slice it after it has completely cooled.
Can I substitute chopped walnuts if I don’t have chopped pecans?
Yes, and I’ve done this often. The nuts give the filling a really good texture. Be sure to include them, whether they are pecans or walnuts, either one.
Why does this recipe instruct to glaze the cake right after it comes out of the oven?
Frosting the cake while it’s hot out of the oven allows the glaze to seep into the cake. And all around the edges.
I think the frosting helps seal in the cake’s moisture, too, but I have no scientific proof. 🙂
Other Favorite Breakfast Recipes to Enjoy –
- Glazed Cherry Coffee Cake
- Super Moist Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Muffins
- Orange Brunch Crescents
- Cherry Cream Cheese Danish
- Country-Style Cinnamon Roll Bake
- Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts
Honey Bun 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
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- tiny pinch of salt
- milk, as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (325 degrees F. if using a glass baking pan).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix ingredients using an electric mixer to beat the ingredients for 1 minute, scraping the bowl half way through. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients and reserve.
- Pour 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 topping down into the batter a bit.
- Bake the cake, uncovered, on the center rack of the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, combine the icing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
- 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.
- To serve, cut the cooled cake into 12 pieces and serve. Cake can be reheated in the microwave if you'd prefer to eat it warm.
- If you are using a glass baking dish to make this recipe, reduce the heat from 350 degrees F. to 325 degree F.
- Covering the cake with foil after it’s removed from the oven and frosting will ensure that the cooled cake turns out very very moist. In this case, the frosting also seals in heat and make the cake moist, too.
- If you don’t have chopped pecans on hand, you may substitute walnuts. Sometimes I leave out the nuts entirely (when I have picky sons bugging me) but this cake is definitely better with the nuts included.