These homemade honey buns are so soft, pillowy, fried (or air fried), and topped with a sweet buttery glaze. They taste just like the store-bought version but fresher!
Why You’ll Love These Homemade Honey Buns
How nostalgic are honey buns!? Since I’ve been vegan I haven’t been able to eat them which is such a shame since they’re so tasty. Here are just a few of the reasons we love this recipe and you will too!
- Nostalgic Sweet Treat: these buns taste just like the store-bought honey buns I’d eat as a kid.
- Amazing Soft Texture: They’re so fluffy, pillowy, and sweet with subtle cinnamon undertones.
- Deep Fried or Air Fried: I’ve also included an air fryer option in the recipe card below to make these healthier than the original!
- Dairy-Free and Vegan-Friendly: This homemade honey buns recipe is made without eggs and dairy. While these honey buns are completely vegan I promise you can’t tell whatsoever! If you’re not vegan, regular ingredients can be substituted for similar results.
Making these glazed honey buns from scratch requires just a handful of basic ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- All-Purpose Flour – Essential for creating the base of the honey buns, all-purpose flour will give the buns the perfect texture.
- Active Dry Yeast – This is the leavening agent that will help the dough rise and become fluffy.
- Dairy-free Milk – In this recipe, we’re using almond milk to cater to those with dietary restrictions. You could also use soy milk, oat milk, or any other dairy-free milk of your choice.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar will help to sweeten the buns.
- Ground Cinnamon – This spice will give the honey buns a warm, fragrant flavor.
- Vanilla – A dash of vanilla extract enhances the sweetness and adds a lovely aroma to the honey buns.
- Salted Vegan Butter – Here we’re using Earth Balance for its rich, creamy flavor, but any other brand of vegan butter will work just as well.
- Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer – Equivalent to one egg, this ingredient helps bind the ingredients together and creates a tender texture.
- Agave or Homemade Vegan Honey – These sweeteners add a delightful honey flavor to the buns.
- Powdered Sugar – For the glaze, this ingredient will create a sweet and smooth icing to drizzle over the buns.
Here are a few substitutions that you can consider based on your dietary preferences or available pantry items:
- Dairy-free Milk – While almond milk is used in this recipe, feel free to substitute with any other dairy-free milk like soy, oat, or rice milk based on your preference. Or use any milk you prefer.
- Sugar –You can use coconut sugar or brown sugar for a richer, caramel flavor.
- Salted Vegan Butter – If dietary restrictions aren’t an issue, regular dairy butter can be used instead of vegan butter.
- Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer – If veganism isn’t your concern, a regular egg can replace the egg replacer. You can also substitute 1 flax egg, however, this will result in a slightly ‘breadier’ texture.
- Agave or Homemade Vegan Honey – Maple syrup could be a good alternative if agave or homemade vegan honey isn’t available. Again, if you’re not vegan, local raw honey can be used instead.
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Large Pot- for frying
- Air Fryer- if air frying
- Wire Cooling Rack
Step By Step Instructions
Activate the Yeast
To make these homemade honey buns, you need to first make the dough. The first step to any yeasted dough is to activate the yeast! Yeast needs a warm liquid and sugar to ‘feed’ it and to help activate it. If you don’t activate your yeast, the dough won’t rise.
STEP 1: Mix the warm milk and sugar. You’ll want to mix sugar into your warm almond milk (or your favorite dairy-free milk) until dissolved.
STEP 2: Add the yeast. Then, sprinkle in the yeast and give it a quick stir.
STEP 3: Set the yeast mixture aside for 10 minutes to activate. Once activated, it should puff/bubble up, and if it doesn’t, the yeast hasn’t been activated. If this happens, it’s likely that the yeast is dead.
📌 TIP: Be sure to check the expiration date of your yeast. If it hasn’t expired, it’s likely your almond milk was too hot. A good rule of thumb is to check the temperature by dabbing a bit of the milk onto your wrist. It should feel warm but not scalding.
Make the Honey Bun Dough
STEP 1: Mix the dry ingredients. Once the yeast is ready, you can mix together the flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer until it’s all combined.
STEP 2: Add the wet ingredients. You’ll want to make a well in the center and add in the almond milk, melted vegan butter, egg replacer, vegan honey, vanilla, and the activated yeast mixture. It should come together into a soft dough. You may need to use your hands to knead the dough into a ball. The dough may also be slightly sticky. If it is, you can sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on it.
STEP 3: Knead the dough. Once the dough has come together, go ahead and transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes. Yes, really– 10 minutes! If kneading with a dough hook attachment on your stand mixer, knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed.
STEP 4: Let the dough rise. When the 10 minutes are up, grease a bowl with some cooking spray, and place the dough ball into it. Cover the dough with a warm, damp towel or plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise. I like to place mine in my microwave. Let the dough rise until doubled in size. This should take about 1 ½ hours.
📌 KNEADING TIP: This step is super important, so set a timer on your phone and knead the dough to some music! As you knead the dough, try to not add too much extra flour. The goal is to keep the dough soft, and adding extra flour throws off the fat-to-flour ratio, resulting in a tougher honey bun. The ball should be nice and smooth when finished kneading.
Shaping the Honey Buns
STEP 1: Roll the dough. Once your dough has doubled in size, you can roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 12” x 12” square.
STEP 2: Mix the filling ingredients. The vegan butter and agave/vegan honey– together in a small bowl.
STEP 3: Spread the filling on the dough. Using a pastry brush, spread the mixture onto the rolled-out dough, making sure to leave a ½” border along the edges. Think of this like we’re making honey cinnamon rolls where ‘honey’ and vegan butter are the filling. You could also add cinnamon to the filling if you want to make honey bun cinnamon rolls or honey sticky buns.
STEP 4: Tightly roll the dough up into a log. The tighter you can make this log the better since it will help the buns have the characteristic ‘swirls’ that honey buns have. Then, cut the log into 8 equal-sized pieces and place the buns, swirl side up, onto a baking sheet.
STEP 5: Press the buns down. Using your hand, gently press down to flatten them so they’re about ½” tall. Now they need to rise for a second time, so cover them with a warm, damp towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Cooking the Honey Buns
This recipe has instructions to either deep fry the honey buns or air fry the honey buns!
Deep frying the buns, results in a slightly moister bun with a crispier exterior. Both methods are absolutely delicious. If you’d like these to taste as close to the Little Debbies or Hostess versions as possible, I recommend deep-frying them.
Deep Frying Instructions
STEP 1: Fill a medium-sized pot with about 3-4 inches of vegetable oil. There should be enough oil in the pot so the buns won’t touch the bottom of the pan. I like to leave at least 3 inches of room from the oil to the top of the pot to help prevent splattering.
STEP 2: Heat the oil on medium-low heat. This will take about 5-10 minutes. To test if the oil is hot enough, pull a tiny piece of dough off of one of the buns and drop it in the oil. When it rises to the top with tiny bubbles all around it, the oil should be hot enough.
STEP 3: Place 1-2 buns at a time in the oil and fry each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Only fry 1-2 buns at a time, otherwise, the temperature of the oil will decrease resulting in denser honey buns. If you’re finding that the buns are browning faster than 2 minutes, reduce your heat slightly.
STEP 4: Use a spatula or a slotted spoon to remove the buns from the pot. Then, place them on a paper towel-lined cooling rack to cool. Be sure to let them cool completely before glazing. Glazing warm honey buns will result in the glaze running off the tops.
Air Frying Instructions
While the fried honey buns are delicious, this recipe is also delicious air fried! I will say, air frying these buns is also a lot easier.
STEP 1: Preheat your air fryer to 375F. Then, place the buns on a parchment-lined air fryer basket and spray both sides of the buns generously with cooking spray. You can also brush them with melted vegan butter if you’d like.
STEP 2: Air fry these homemade honey buns for 6-8 minutes until golden brown on top.
Serving & Glazing the Buns
To make these glazed honey buns, you’ll want to mix the glaze ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. The mixture should be thick yet pourable and should drizzle easily off of your spoon.
The easiest way to glaze these buns is to dip the tops of them into the glaze. Hold the buns over the bowl to drizzle some of the excess glaze off, and then place them back onto a wire rack with a baking tray placed beneath it. Before you dig in, let the glaze set up a little bit!
And there you have it- homemade honey buns.
These buns are seriously just like Hostess or Little Debbie Honey Buns, but vegan! Sweet, flavored with vegan honey, and fried to perfection, these buns have a soft, pillowy interior with a slightly crispy, sticky exterior. YUM.
After your homemade honey buns have completely cooled, wrap them individually in plastic wrap to lock in the moisture.
For longer storage, place these wrapped buns in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for 2 days. If you won’t be eating them within a few days, you can refrigerate or even freeze them.
Just remember to let them thaw and reach room temperature before serving for the best taste. Proper storage means your buns stay fresh and delicious!
- Moderate Flour Use: During the kneading process, try to avoid adding excess flour. While it might be tempting to keep adding flour to deal with a sticky dough, overdoing it will alter the flour to fat ratio. This imbalance can lead to denser, rather than soft and fluffy, honey buns. If the dough is sticky, add flour sparingly and work it in patiently.
- Proper Dough Rise: Patience is key when it comes to yeast dough! Allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size. This may take about 1 ½ hours, but this timing can vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen. This step is crucial as it impacts the final texture and flavor of the honey buns, ensuring you get that perfect, pillowy softness.
- Heat Oil Adequately: When you’re ready to fry your honey buns, ensure the oil is at the right temperature before you begin. If the oil isn’t hot enough, instead of getting a crisp, golden exterior, your buns will absorb more oil and end up greasy. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a tiny piece of dough into it. If it rises to the top with tiny bubbles forming around it, your oil is ready for frying.
Traditional honey buns don’t have a sugar cinnamon filling like cinnamon rolls. These homemade honey buns are filled with a honey-butter mixture and topped with a lovely honey glaze. The dough is flavored with cinnamon and vanilla.
Traditional honey buns that you buy at the store contain bee’s honey which isn’t vegan-friendly. This recipe includes an easy homemade vegan honey that tastes similar to bee honey. This honey bun recipe is also made without dairy and eggs making it completely vegan-friendly!
Yes! You can cook this recipe in the air fryer. It’s a great way to use less oil and still get a slightly crispy exterior. I also think air frying these buns is much easier than deep frying.
Looking for more nostalgic comfort food? Check out these recipes!
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