Honey Bun Cake

Y’all my homemade Honey Bun Cake recipe is about to take you on a trip down memory lane. It’s a simple and buttery sheet cake with a cinnamon spiced swirl and sweet glaze that stays hittin!  This honey bun cake tastes even better than that classic treat you used to snag out of the gas station! Now you can relive the nostalgia with a twist that’s just as delish.

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A slice of honey bun cake with a fork going into it to eat a piece on a white plate

I can’t be the only person who has fond childhood memories of the corner store y’all. That’s right, the bodega, the drugstore, the deli or whatever else you may have called it back in the day. My neighborhood market was filled with all my fave goodies: candy bars, chips, ice pops and best of all, honey buns. 

On warm days after school, I would grab one, along with a fruit punch, and get down. This honeybun cake gives you all those vibes without a lot of fuss. You can throw this together when you get a craving, and it tastes just as bomb, or maybe even better, than the real thang!

A slice of honey bun cake recipe on a white plate with a yellow napkin in the background

What is a Honey Bun Cake?

A Honeybun Cake is basically a doctored cake mix with a cinnamon swirl that’s topped off with an easy sticky glaze. It has all of the components of a honey bun but in cake form. It’s super moist, sweet and delish, not to mention easy to pull off.

The Lowdown on this Homemade Honey Bun Cake Recipe

Cuisine Inspiration: Nostalgic Southern Comfort
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: For my boos with restricted diets, you need to sit this one out.
Key Flavor: Sweet, Sticky, Buttery, Cinnamon Notes
Skill Level: Easy! (No Sweat Fam!)

  1. Moist and Flavorful: This cake gives moisture and a perfect crumb. Honey, ain’t a dry bite in sight!
  2. Breakfast or Dessert: You can serve this for coffee in the morning or for dessert after dinner.
  3. Entertaining: Everyone will love this easy cake you can throw together in minutes. The adults go just as crazy for a slice as the kids do! Trust!
  4. No Equipment Needed: No stand mixer or fancy gadgets required.
ingredients to make a honeybun cake like brown sugar, eggs, cake mix, oil and spices in white bowls

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make this Easy Honeybun Cake Recipe

  • Yellow Cake Mix: This cuts the work in half y’all. And don’t frown on this easy hack. We doctor it up making the flavor pop even more like in this gooey butter cake! Plus the fluffy texture can’t be beat.
  • Sour Cream: This keeps the honey bun cake moist and soft with every bite y’all. The tang adds additional flavor too.
  • Vegetable Oil: Everyone knows that oil cakes stay super tender even if you happen to slightly overbake them. It just gives us extra insurance which I love.
  • Eggs: These are our binders that give structure and richness.
  • Vanilla Extract: This provides warm aromatic vibes in the cake and glaze.
  • Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Nutmeg: I love the warmth and molasses style sweetness this provides.
  • Powdered Sugar: This is gonna give our glaze that perfect sticky sweet texture.
  • Milk: Just enough to get us to a creamy and smooth consistency.

How to Make Honey Bun Cake

Step 1: Prep the Cake and Cinnamon Swirl

  1. Mix the cake mix, oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla together.
  2. Pour half of that thick, creamy mix into a well-greased 9×13 pan. 
  3. Stir up the cinnamon swirl by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
a collage of yellow cake mix before and after mixing and a brown sugar swirl being mixed in a bowl to make honeybun cake

Step 2: Swirl it Up and Bake

  1. Sprinkle all of the cinnamon swirl over the cake batter.
  2. Pour the remaining cake batter on top and carefully swirl a knife through the batter. Have a little fun y’all!
  3. Bake until a toothpick comes back moist but mostly clean.

PRO TIP: Make sure you don’t over swirl the cinnamon swirl. If you do, the layers of cake and cinnamon will blend too much, and you won’t have the different flavors and textures of a honeybun.

a collage of yellow cake mix in a baking dish then a cinnamon swirl being added and mixed in then finally baked

Step 3: Glaze it Up!

  1. Mix all of the icing ingredients together until pourable.
  2. Pour over the cake and let set.
a collage of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla before and after it is mixed to make a cake glaze

PRO TIP: Make sure you let the cake cool till it’s room temp before adding the glaze. Or it will melt completely off the cake boos.

A glazed honey bun cake against a white background

How to Serve Honey Bun Cake

Recipe Substitutions

  • Cake Mix: You can definitely sub in a homemade cake base if you prefer. Try this yellow cake recipe or sour cream pound cake for a more dense texture!
  • Sour Cream: You can easily replace the sour cream with greek yogurt. It has similar tang and moisture properties.
  • Oil: This honey bun cake recipe uses vegetable oil but you can also use canola oil or even melted butter. Applesauce is also a popular substitution when you want to reduce the fat.
  • Powdered Sugar: You can totally make this from scratch. Use my powdered sugar recipe.
  • Spices: Swap out all of the spices for a pumpkin pie or apple pie spice.
Two slices of honey bun cake recipe on white plates against a white background

Recipe Variations and Additions

  • Icing Switch Up: Use a citrus juice (lemon, orange or grapefruit) or buttermilk for a tangier icing. Add a little zest as well.
  • Nuts: Add some chopped up walnuts or pecans to the cinnamon swirl for some added texture.
  • Change the Cake Mix: You can mix the entire cake up by switching out the flavor of the cake mix. From white cake and chocolate to carrot, lemon and spice cake, you can have so much fun with this honeybun cake recipe making it your own. Do you boo!
  • Cream Cheese: You can add some dollops of cream cheese into the batter for a creamy texture vibe.
  • Booze it Up: Give the adults a fun experience by brushing the cake with a bit of bourbon or rum.
  • Coconut: Swap out the milk with a coconut milk and top the icing with toasted shredded coconut.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Room Temp: Make sure the eggs and milk are room temperature so the cake batter ends up smooth and well mixed.
  • Grease Well: Make sure you prep your pan well so the cake doesn’t stick. I love to use my cake release so my cakes come out clean as a whistle boos.
  • Glaze Tip: To really let that glaze seep into the cake, poke the cake with holes on the top so it infuses each bite.
  • Let it Set: To get that iconic hardened glaze on a honey bun, make sure you let it set up before you cut it.
Slices of honey bun cake with a spatula under it ready to serve

How to Store Leftover Honeybun Cake

  • Room Temp: This cake keeps for at least 3-4 days at room temp. Just be sure to either tightly wrap it in plastic wrap or keep it in an airtight container.
  • Fridge: It will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just keep it wrapped well y’all.
  • Freezer: Wrap the same way and it will stay for up to 2 months.
  • Serving Again: Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving. Try warming up your leftovers in the microwave for a few seconds and serve with a glass of milk! So delish y’all!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to refrigerate leftover honey bun cake?

If you are planning to eat it in a day or two, nope. But if are keeping it longer, pop it in the fridge and just make sure it’s wrapped tightly.

How can I tell when my honeybun cake is ready?

I love to use the toothpick trick. Gently insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of a cake, and if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs, you are all good.

My honey bun cake batter is really thick? Should it be that thick?

Because we are using sour cream, it will be kinda thick but it will still bake up perfectly.

Other Cinnamon Recipes To Try

A slice of honey bun cake with a fork going into it to eat a piece on a white plate

Honey Bun Cake

This cake tastes just like a classic honeybun! Made with cake mix, this simple, light, and buttery cake features a cinnamon spiced swirl and a sticky sweet glaze!
4.87 from 37 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 24 servings

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 (15.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For the Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake

  • Whisk together cake mix, oil, eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  • Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan and pour in half of the batter and level in the pan.
  • Next combine brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and pour on top of the batter. Pour remaining cake batter on top then use a knife and swirl through the batter.
  • Bake for 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

For the Icing

  • Mix together all ingredients then pour over cake and let set.

Notes

If you want to make this cake completely from scratch, use my sour cream cake recipe as your base.
How to Store Honey Bun Cake
  • Room Temp: This cake keeps for at least 3-4 days (at room temperature). Just be sure to either tightly wrap it in plastic wrap or keep it in an airtight container.
  • Fridge: It will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just keep it wrapped well.
  • Freezer: Make sure you wrap it well and it will stay for up to 2 months.
  • Serving Again: Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving. Try warming up your leftovers in the microwave for a few seconds and serve with a glass of milk! So delish y’all!

Nutrition

Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 179mg | Potassium: 49mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 103IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 1mg
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Filed Under:  Cake, Dessert and Baking, Oven

Comments

  1. Hello! Thank you for sharing your recipe. Question, which base cake recipe will yield the best tasting honeybun cake? Your yellow cake, vanilla cake, or sour cream cake? There’s three options listed on this page.

    If I use the yellow cake recipe, do I also add in the sour cream as listed above? What ingredients do I use and what do I omit? Thanks!

    1. Honestly it comes down to preference in terms of density. The vanilla cake or yellow cake are more similar to traditional cakes and the sour cream is more dense like a pound cake.

    1. Whatever milk you have on hand is fine, and you yes, you can use melted butter instead of oil.

4.87 from 37 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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