Honey Bun Cake is a sweet and tender yellow cake with a cinnamon sugar swirl in the center. It’s a super simple semi-homemade cake recipe that is exceptionally moist and tasty.
You will enjoy Honey Bun Cake at holidays, dinner parties, office birthdays, brunch, or any occasion that calls for a simple and sweet dessert!
This easy cake recipe comes together quickly with the help of a boxed cake mix, but it’s elevated with the flavors of honey, cinnamon, and vanilla to make it extra delicious.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Amazingly Sweet – If you like your cakes extra sweet and gooey, then this is the recipe for you! We’re adding honey to an already sweetened cake mix batter, filling the cake with cinnamon and brown sugar, then glazing the cake with a simple powdered sugar icing. It sounds like a lot, but all together, the different types of sugar really make this cake amazing.
- Cake Mix Cake Recipe – I love to make cakes from scratch, and typically, I do. But for this recipe, the flavor, moist texture, and ease of a boxed yellow cake mix can’t be beat.
- Cinnamon Roll in Cake Form – The flavors of this cake are very similar to those in classic sticky buns or glazed honey buns, but without all of the fuss of making a yeasted dough.
You might also like to make my Cinnamon Coffee Cake with a classic crumb topping. It’s very similar to this honey bun cake recipe, but it’s a bit lighter in texture and made from scratch.
Ingredients In Honey Bun Cake
Here’s what you need to make this delectable dessert:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Cake Mix: A box of yellow cake mix keeps this recipe simple. Use the ingredients listed in this recipe to make the cake batter, rather than the ones listed on the box.
- Oil, Sour Cream, Eggs: This is what we’ll mix with the cake mix to make it extra rich and dense.
- Honey: This adds more sweetness and a lightly floral flavor to the cake.
- Cinnamon Swirl: Ground cinnamon, light brown sugar, and optional chopped pecans make up the center swirl for this cake.
- Glaze: Whisk up some powdered sugar with milk and vanilla extract to make a shiny glaze for your honey bun cake.
How To Make Honey Bun Cake
- Make the Cake Batter: First, preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C, and lightly spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Then add cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream, and honey to a large mixing bowl. Use an electric hand mixer or a whisk to combine the ingredients fully.
- Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
Chopped pecans give this gooey cake a little bit of crunch, and I love it! If you’re not a fan of nuts in your cake, you can simply leave them out.
- Add Filling: Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if using) together in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the cake batter.
- Cover: Add the remaining cake batter over the cinnamon sugar layer. Gently spread it out using a spatula.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
- Glaze: While the cake bakes, whisk together the milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make a pourable glaze. Add the glaze to the cake while it’s still warm, and allow the cake to cool before serving.
Honey Bun Cake can be served at room temperature or slightly warm. It’s great either way!
- The glaze is optional. Honestly, this cake is perfectly sweet without it, so you may enjoy it better without that extra layer of sugar. The glaze is very pretty though and gives you the full Little Debbie honey bun experience.
- Ignore the box cake instructions. Seriously, just recycle the box, don’t even look at it! You don’t want to add the ingredients it calls for, instead, mix up the powder with the ingredients listed in the recipe card below.
- Instead of sour cream, you can use unsweetened yogurt to achieve the same effect.
- For a fancier presentation, bake this cake in a bundt pan instead of a 9×13-inch cake pan. The cake will likely need a few extra minutes in the oven if you bake it this way.
- Try adding the cinnamon sugar to the top of the cake, instead of in the middle. It’s a bit easier to do it this way, just use a knife to gently swirl the mixture into the cake.
Keep leftovers in a sealed container. The cake will stay fresh at room temperature for 2-3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
Honey Bun Cake Variations
Try adding a topping to the cake. More chopped pecans are a great idea, or you can mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings.
Flavor the glaze. Replace the liquid in the glaze with something more flavorful. A bit of honey will mirror the flavors already in the cake, or you can add something tangy or acidic like buttermilk or orange juice to add balance to the cake.
This cake is very moist, and won’t hold up well to stacking. Bake honey bun cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan, or a bundt pan if you want to dress it up a bit.
Yes! Use a whisk to mix up the cake batter. You don’t need any special equipment to make this recipe.
I like to add this glaze to the cake while it’s warm, usually just a minute or two after I take it out of the oven. Some of the glaze will soak into the top layer of the cake, and the rest will stay on top, and harden as the cake cools. If you forget the glaze or decide to add it later, you can add it to a cooled cake as well.
Bake this super sweet, super simple Honey Bun Cake for whatever your next special occasion is! Everyone loves this recipe, so be sure to save it.
For the cake:
- 1 15-oz box yellow cake mix
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream or full-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
For the cinnamon layer:
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped pecans optional
For the glaze (optional):
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C, and lightly spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a whisk or a hand mixer combine cake mix, with eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream, and honey.
- Pour half of the cake batter in the prepared pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar with cinnamon, and chopped pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the cake batter
- Then pour the remaining cake batter over the cinnamon pecan mixture. The layer of cake batter will be thin, so you will need a spatula to gently spread it out.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of clean from the center of the cake.
- As the cake is being baked, make the glaze. In a bowl, combine powdered sugar with milk and vanilla extract. As you remove the warm cake from the oven, pour the glaze directly on it. Allow it to set and the cake to cool, then slice and serve.
- The glaze is optional, but it gives this cake the full Little Debbie honey bun effect! If you like, add a tablespoon of honey to the glaze.
- I enjoy this cake with a layer of cinnamon and brown sugar in the middle, but you can also add the cinnamon mixture over the cake batter, and gently swirl it in.
- For a fancier presentation, bake this cake in a bundt pan instead of a 9×13-inch cake pan. The cake may take up to 60 minutes to cook in a bundt pan.
- To Store: Keep leftovers in a sealed container. The cake will stay fresh at room temperature for 2-3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen