Incredibly soft and buttery honey bun cake with a spiced sugar filling and a shiny glaze. This all-time classic is really easy to make and takes only minutes to prepare.
Although desserts of all shapes and flavors are amazing, sometimes the heart wants a good old classic. Honey bun cake is one of my favorite recipes because it’s so simple to make and tastes like a warm hug!
This spiced cake is ideal as a last-minute dessert for gatherings, bake sales or sweet treat on coffee breaks. Made with yellow cake mix, this recipe is so easy and completely fool-proof.
This honey bun cake is the perfect balance of sweetness, a hint of spice and fragrant honey flavor. Each bite is filled with fluffy and buttery cake, a warm and sticky filling and smooth icing. And did I mention it tastes just like a honey bun in cake form?!
Why This Honey Bun Cake is Great
Table of Contents
- Incredibly soft: This is hands down one of the softest cakes I’ve ever tried. It’s buttery, fluffy and melts in your mouth.
- Chewy, sticky goodness: This honey bun cake has a chewy and sticky caramelized filling, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The honey glaze on top is literally the icing on the cake, because it makes this dessert incredibly delicious!
- Easy to make: You only need one single bowl and a baking dish to make this recipe. No special tools are needed and even children can help prepare it!
- Simple ingredients: This recipe uses yellow cake mix, and the remaining ingredients can be found in most kitchens.
- Stores well: Not only is this cake delicious, but it stays fresh and fluffy for up to 5 days if stored right.
Apart from the cake mix, all ingredients used in this recipe can be found in most pantries. Let’s have a look at what you need:
- Yellow cake mix – any kind will work, and one box is needed. You can also use your favorite vanilla cake recipe to make it from scratch.
- Eggs – I recommend using large, organic eggs. Ensure they are at room temperature.
- Vegetable oil – any type of oil will work, as long as it’s flavorless and odorless. My favorite are canola or sunflower seed.
- Sour cream – makes the honey bun cake extra soft and moist. Can also be replaced with heavy cream.
- Vanilla extract – optional, but highly recommended for a subtle vanilla flavor.
- Brown sugar – you can use light brown or dark brown sugar (or muscovado). I like to mix the two for a more interesting flavor, but feel free to use only one.
- Spices – ground cinnamon and nutmeg. You can get creative and try other spices like ginger, allspice and cardamom. Alternatively, feel free to leave out spices.
- Powdered sugar – used to make the sugar glaze on top.
- Milk – needed to turn the sugar into a glaze. You can also use lemon juice instead of the milk for a tangy flavor.
- Honey – gives a wonderful floral flavor to the glaze. I recommend using pure, raw honey in runny form.
How to Make Honey Bun Cake
- Combine all the ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. Use a whisk, spatula, or hand mixer to combine everything into a smooth paste.
- Pour half of the cake batter into a baking dish.
- Combine the ingredients for the filling, then sprinkle them evenly over the batter.
- Add a splash of milk into the remaining batter and mix. Pour the batter over the brown sugar layer and spread evenly. Bake until golden-brown.
- Lastly, prepare the glaze and spread it over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let the honey bun cake cool down for 20-30 minutes, slice and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
- Ignore cake mix instructions: although the recipe uses yellow cake mix, when making this honey bun cake you should ignore what the box says. Only use the ingredients in this recipe and follow the steps exactly.
- Thin out the remaining batter: The bottom layer cake batter is thicker in consistency, as it needs to hold its shape and support the sugar filling. For the top layer of batter, use ¼ cup of warm milk to thin out the mixture. This will make it easier to spread evenly, without clumping up or sticking to the sugar layer.
- Don’t overdo the icing: This yellow cake mix is already sweet and there’s a layer of pure brown sugar inside this cake. The glazing on top should be quite thin, so it doesn’t make the final cake sickly sweet. Replace the milk with lemon juice in the glaze to cut through some of the sweetness.
- Don’t overbake: This honey cake needs to be soft and extra buttery. Overbaking can make it dry and brittle. As soon as the cake looks golden-brown on top, do the toothpick test. There should be a few cake crumbs on the toothpick for the ultimate softness.
- Variation: Replace the sugar glaze with cream cheese frosting for extra tanginess and creaminess. I’ve tried it and it’s amazing!
Storage and Freezing
This honey bun cake recipe is great because it stores really well. The cake will stay fresh for up to 4-5 days, so you can prepare it ahead of time. To store, place in an airtight container at room temperature.
For longer storage, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3-4 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat if needed.
More Delicious Cakes
Honey Bun Cake
Honey Bun Cake
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup vegetable oil*
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Extra: ¼ cup milk warm
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk warm
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
- 2 teaspoons runny honey
Honey Bun Cake
- Pre-heat oven to 350F and line a 9 x 13 inches baking dish with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl add the yellow cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and sour cream. Mix everything with a whisk until combined.
- Separately, in a small bowl combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
- Pour half of the cake batter into the baking dish, leveling it with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the sugar mixture on top, covering the cake batter evenly.
- Add ¼ cup warm milk into the remaining batter and mix well. This thins out the batter and makes it easier to pour.
- Pour the remaining cake batter over the sugar. Use a spatula to spread it evenly, covering the sugar entirely.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden-brown in color.
- Prepare the icing a few minutes before removing the cake from the oven. In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and honey.
- Mix the ingredients well into a smooth, lump-free paste.
- Pour the icing over the hot cake as soon as it’s removed from the oven. Spread it evenly with a spatula.
- Let cool down for 20-30 minutes, cut into single servings and enjoy!
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.