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Honey Bun Cake

This sweet Honey Bun Cake is an easy sheet cake that’s been rotating through Southern kitchens and disappearing from potluck dessert tables for many years. It begins with a butter flavored cake mix that’s filled with a cinnamon sugar swirl reminiscent of a honey bun. It’s topped with a creamy glaze that makes this potluck favorite irresistible.

Honey Bun Cake baked

Easy Honey Bun Cake Recipe Made with a Cake Mix

This recipe begins with a butter flavored cake mix and believe me no one will know or care. When this vintage cake was originally developed boxed cake mixes were larger than they are now. To mimic the original, I’ve adapted the batter by adding equal amounts of flour and sugar to give it more of the texture and size of the original. To bump up the flavor a bit more, I also add pure vanilla extract and a few drops of almond extract. A pinch of nutmeg added to the brown sugar cinnamon mixture gives the filling just a touch of added spice.

Honey Bun Cake

How to Make the Best Honey Bun Cake Recipe

This beloved vintage cake is super easy to make and even easier to eat. It’s a retro potluck star dessert and I simply had to add it to my blog archives with a few personal tweaks, of course.

  • Ingredients needed to make this easy Honey Bun Cake recipe: 1 box yellow or butter flavored cake mix, granular sugar, all purpose flour, vegetable oil, buttermilk, large eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract.
  • For the swirl you’ll need: Light brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg plus powdered sugar and heavy cream for the creamy frosting.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A mixer, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, a 13 x 9 inch cake pan, a silicone spatula to scrape the yummy batter from the bowl and an icing spatula to spread the frosting on top.
  • Why add flour and sugar to cake mix? The size of cake mixes has continued to dwindle over the years. This means that there’s less volume and the cakes made with a cake mix are smaller. Adding flour and sugar not only helps to doctor the cake mix flavor, but adds volume and results in more servings.
  • Which is best buttermilk or sour cream? The original honey bun cake recipe calls for sour cream in the batter. Since my fridge is never without buttermilk that’s typically what I use. Please note that this recipe will work using either one in the same amount.
  • If you think nuts would be great in the filling you’d be right. You can add 1 cup of your favorite chopped nuts to the middle if you like. Toast them for extra flavor in a 350°F oven on a baking pan for 6-8 minutes  for added flavor. Adapt the time depending on the size of the chopped nuts used.
  • You can store this cake covered and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

baked Honey Bun Cake on a plate

More Southern Sheet Cake Recipes to Make

I think what I like most about this cake are the sweet memories of enjoying it with loved ones who are no longer with us.  It does taste like a honey bun, and the ingredients aren’t complicated so bakers of all skill levels can make it.  Bake this cake and enjoy it with the special people in your life as a coffee cake or a dessert and create a few memories of your own.


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Honey Bun Cake
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5 from 3 votes

Honey Bun Cake

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Breakfast, brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: honey-bun-cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 361kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 1 15.25 oz yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk or 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4-5 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Use a hand mixer to beat together the cake mix, flour, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy and smooth.
  • Pour 1/2 of the batter into the bottom of the dish.
  • Mix together the brown sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the batter.
  • Pour the remaining batter on top. Spread evenly over the brown sugar.
  • Use a knife to swirl the batter with the brown sugar layer.
  • Place into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. Check the top at 30 minutes and cover with aluminum foil if needed to prevent over browning. The top will be a deep golden brown.
  • Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean, then move to a cooling rack.
  • Mix together the powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla.
  • Pour the glaze on top while the cake is still hot. May serve warm or chilled, as desired.


If you choose to use buttermilk in this cake, use whole buttermilk only as it has a much thicker viscosity than it's non fat counterparts. Otherwise use sour cream.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 233mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 149IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!



  1. 5 stars
    Do you think I could make this a poke cake? Keep everything the same but poke the cake and add sweetened condensed milk. Or would that be too much?

    Thank you,


  2. 5 stars
    So I stumbled upon your website years ago and decided to make this cake for my Husband who loves honey buns. Let me tell you this recipe is easy and does not disappoint. I have made this so many times that I saved the recipe to my email. There are some copycats but this is the original. I have been meaning to leave a comment for some time. As I type the cake is in my oven now. It was even requested as a Christmas gift by my brother LOL. Thanks again

    1. Wow, I consider that high praise. Thank you so much for such as sweet note and please send my warmest Christmas wishes to your family.

  3. Greetings from the Philippines! Can i use your recipe for Old Fashioned Butter cake or White Buttermilk cake instead of yellow cake mix? Thanks Melissa!

  4. Is the sour cream amount volume or weight based? 1 cup or an 8 ounce container? Thank you.

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