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Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

While living in Stockholm, my favorite adopted tradition became the afternoon fika or coffee break. Enjoying a wonderfully strong coffee, you nibble on a cardamom scented cinnamon bun while taking a break from the busy work day to catch up with colleagues. To me, these baked goods absolutely epitomize Sweden and I wanted to find a way to bring a little taste of the mother country back to my home in California. This kanelbullar recipe comes pretty close.

The Swedes love their cinnamon buns so much that they celebrate Kanelbullens Dag each October 4th. A true Swedish kanelbulle is baked individually in a paper muffin liner, where each bun rises and spills up and over the liner like a popover. Unlike their American cousin, the Swedish version is simply decorated with a sprinkle of pearl sugar, not laden down with heavy frosting.

This recipe is adapted from one by Marcus Samuelsson, the famous New York based Ethiopian/Swedish chef. I warn you now, these rolls are impossible to resist fresh out of the oven.

Swedish Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Makes about 10-12 big rolls or buns


For the dough

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup of warm milk (heated to around 98°F-100°F)
  • 5 Tbsp butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling

  • 1 ½ sticks butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1 ½ Tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla

For the topping

  • egg wash
  • Pearl sugar


1. Stir yeast and warm milk together in small bowl and set aside until foamy; about 5 minutes.

2. In large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, cardamom, and salt until well combined. Add milk-yeast mixture and mix until well combined.

3. Slowly mix in flour and knead until soft silky dough forms. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let sit and rise to double the size - about 1 to 2 hours.

4. Prepare the filling: combine softened butter, sugar, cardamom, vanilla, and cinnamon; blend until thoroughly mixed.

5. Roll dough into a large rectangle. Spread the butter-sugar mixture over the surface. To cut, you can either roll up the rectangle into a log and slice into equal rounds, or fold the rectangle like a letter, then cut 1 inch lengthwise strips using a pizza cutter. Spin the strips around your finger as in this video to make cinnamon roll twists (my favorite method).

6. Place rolls about 3 inches apart, onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. Cover again with towel and let rise 30 minutes.

7. Brush tops of rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar; bake in 450°F oven about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on top. You don't want to overcook. Cool on rack.


These cinnamon rolls freeze pretty well and can be reheated in the microwave.

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