Add a dose of nostalgia to your next dessert. Honey bun cake has swirls of brown sugar and cinnamon, and a delicious honey glaze (similar to the popular namesake pastry!)

slice of honey bun cake on a plate showing layers of cinnamon brown sugar inside.

If you like cinnamon rolls and classic yellow cake, then this recipe is for you! Honey bun cake has a rich buttery flavor and layers of cinnamon sugar in every bite. It’s so easy to make and has the most delicious honey glaze on top. This dessert would be a delicious addition to your Easter menu or Mother’s Day celebrations!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Nostalgic recipe. Not only are honey buns a delicious breakfast pastry, they are also a popular Little Debbie’s dessert. This cake recipe will have you thinking back on that popular snack!
  • Quick and easy to make. This recipe is quite simple and the batter comes together in a matter of minutes!
  • Layers of flavor. Inside the tender, moist cake there are swirls of cinnamon brown sugar swirl that makes every bite tasty (just like monkey bread).
  • Delicious glaze. The honey glaze on top adds a unique and flavorful twist (similar to the one I use on my pear muffins).
  • Perfect for any occasion. When I think of honey, my mind goes to spring (bees buzzing, birds chirping), but honestly you could make this cake any time of year!

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to make honey bun cake from scratch.
  • Eggs: This recipe calls for two eggs and two egg yolks. They help bind the ingredients and make a rich taste.
  • Sour cream: For a moist texture, add full-fat sour cream to the batter. Greek yogurt is a good substitution.
  • Butter: Use room temperature unsalted butter. Different brands of salted butter have different amounts of salt added. It’s best to add it separately so you have control over the measurement.
  • Baking powder: This leavening agent helps the cake rise. Check that it is fresh and not expired for best results.
  • Brown sugar: A classic honey bun cake has swirls of cinnamon and brown sugar. You can use light or dark brown sugar.
  • Cinnamon: Check that the cinnamon is fresh for the best flavor.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this sweetener is used for the glaze.
  • Honey: Use a good quality honey since this will provide a lot of flavor for the glaze. I prefer using local honey.

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

Recipe Variations

Add some mix-ins. A popular addition to honey bun cake is chopped pecans. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. You can also try walnuts or chocolate chips!

Make a small batch. Cut the recipe in half and bake it in an 8×8-inch baking pan.

Add more spices. When making the cinnamon brown sugar mixture, whisk in 1 teaspoon ground ginger or ground cardamom. A 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg would also taste delicious.

Use a different pan. This recipe also works in a 10-cup bundt pan and a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Baking time for both will be longer, about 45 to 55 minutes.

How to Make Honey Bun Cake

photo collage demonstrating how to make honey bun cake in a mixing bowl and a 9x13 pan.
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. One at a time, mix in eggs and egg yolks, then the vanilla.
  3. Add half the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix just until combined. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Mix in remaining flour mixture.
  4. Transfer half the batter to a 9×13 baking dish. Spread into an even layer. Whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of it over the bottom layer of batter.
photo collage demonstrating how to swirl cinnamon brown sugar into cake batter and how to make and add glaze to baked honey bun cake.
  1. Repeat layers of batter then brown sugar and cinnamon. Use a knife or skewer to swirl the top layer together. Bake at 350℉ for 30 to 35 minutes.
  2. For the glaze, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk, honey and vanilla. Pour over warm cake. Cool completely so the glaze hardens before serving.

Expert Tips

Use room temperature ingredients. They are easier to mix and create a consistent smooth batter. As a result, the cake will have a better texture!

For the second layer of batter, drop the batter in scattered large drops. It makes it easier to spread without disrupting the brown sugar cinnamon underneath.

Add the glaze while the cake is still warm. It will get thin and soak into the top layer of the cake. It will harden as the cake cools making a deliciously sweet topping.

tops of square honey bun cake slices with honey glaze.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Make ahead the cake and serve the next day. The glaze adds a protective layer that locks in the flavor and moisture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap to help it keep fresh.

Store lightly covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Freeze cake for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil to prevent freeze burn. Store in the freezer, then defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and serving. Keep in mind the texture of the glaze may be affected and melt into the cake as it defrosts.

Recipe FAQ

What is a honey bun?

A honey bun is a sweet pastry made from dough rolled out and filled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. It is baked until golden brown and topped with a honey glaze, making it a popular breakfast or snack.

Can I make this recipe with boxed yellow cake mix?

Yes, for a semi-homemade recipe, prepare the boxed cake mix according to the instructions on the back of the box. Layer with cinnamon brown sugar and add the glaze as instructed in the recipe card below.

slice of moist honey bun cake on a plate with a fork holding a slice.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

slice of honey bun cake on a plate showing layers of cinnamon brown sugar inside.

Get the Recipe: Moist Honey Bun Cake

With swirls of cinnamon sugar inside and out, honey bun cake is a moist and tender yellow cake topped with a sweet honey glaze.
5 from 1 rating



  • 1 Tablespoon butter, for greasing pan
  • 2 ½ cups (312 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup (150 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 g) sour cream, room temperature

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • ¾ cup (150 g) light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon


  • 1 ½ cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease a 9×13 cake pan with butter and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add half the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Mix in the sour cream. Add remaining flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • To assemble, transfer half the cake batter to the cake pan. Spread into an even layer. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the batter. Repeat with remaining cake batter (it helps to drop in dollops). Spread into an even layer, then sprinkle remaining brown sugar cinnamon mixture on top. Use a knife to swirl with a knife.
  • Bake cake at 350℉ for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs.
  • For the glaze, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk, honey and vanilla. Pour over the warm cake. Cool completely and allow glaze to harden before slicing and serving.


Sour cream may be substituted by full-fat Greek yogurt.
Store covered at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerated for 5 days.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 254kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 79mg, Potassium: 83mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 25g, Vitamin A: 351IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 1mg

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