Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomMy brother’s birthday was yesterday and he threw himself a little party. He’s in medical school and doesn’t really have time for much planning, so it had to be low-key. He went on Facebook, invited a bunch of his friends to the event, and told them this:

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

“If you are a Bronze-level friend, show up. If you are a Silver-level friend, show up and compliment my beard. If you are a Gold-level friend, you will show up with some treats. And finally, if you are a BFF, you will come early and help me clean my house.”

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

It was a raging success. Everyone brought treats, he said there were dozens and dozens of cookies and cupcakes. Now THAT is the way to throw yourself a birthday party. Also it’s a great way to boost your ego. I’m never making my own birthday cake again! PS your beard is looking mighty fine, Nathan.

(Umm, by the way, you guys are all my BFF’s, right?? Come clean my house, my kitchen is hiding under a fine coat of flour and sugar.) #holidaybaking

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomFlip Flip Photography
Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomFlip Flip Photography

If you’re wondering who these adorable children are, the little girl is Charlotte, and the boy is my nephew. My sister-in-law is a photographer and needed some shots of kids in the kitchen. Since I’m pretty much always in a kitchen surrounded by children, I was an obvious choice. (The photos that she took are labeled.)

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

Eric’s great-grandmother Prudie was Swedish. She passed away long before I came on the scene, but her legend lives on. She was one of those people who you feel like you know, even though you’ve never met them, because everyone talks about them so much.

She was an amazing cook, and we still use quite a few of her recipes, like these Butter Pecans and Spritz cookies. This Swedish Cinnamon Bun recipe is not from her, but I can’t help but think she would have loved it.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

We Americans (I just had to google “us Americans vs. we Americans.” Sometimes I hate myself.) We Americans love to go over the top with everything–if it’s not dipped in chocolate or covered in frosting, we turn up our noses. Go big or go home.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

But sometimes simple is best. These buns are basically just cinnamon rolls that have been tied up in a bow, but instead of being drenched with frosting, they are dotted with a little sugar. Leaving out the frosting really allows the cardamom flavor to shine. It would be lost or muted if it had to compete with frosting.

I love how deep brown the crust gets on these buns. The pearl sugar adds the perfect amount of crunch. I just want to dip these in some hot chocolate right now. Anyone have a raging fire and a cozy blanket I can borrow?

Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom

Yield: Makes about 30 buns


    For the dough:
  • 10 and 1/2 tablespoons soft butter (1 stick plus 2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • about 6 and 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • For the filling:
  • 3 sticks soft butter
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoons cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the tops:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Pearl sugar or any kind of coarse sugar


  1. Beat together butter, sugar, salt and cardamom until smooth in a large bowl or stand mixer.
  2. Heat milk in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is warm but not hot (about 98.5F). Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. When yeast is completely dissolved and foamy (about 5 minutes), add milk to butter mixture.
  3. Gradually add flour, one cup at a time. Knead the dough using the dough hook until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer you can do this by hand.
  4. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
  6. When dough is doubled in size, punch it down and divide it in half. Roll out the first piece of dough into a large rectangle, about 20x15 inches. Spread half of the filling on top.
  7. Fold the dough like a business letter. See photos below.
  8. Use a pizza cutter to cut out long thin strips of dough about a 1/2 inch wide. You are cutting the dough the long way.
  9. Line several baking pans with silpats or parchment paper.
  10. Twist each strip of dough into a knot and place on the baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches in between buns. I'm not going to bother describing how to make the knots. Just go watch this video. I probably did about 27 times.
  11. Repeat steps 5-8 with remaining piece of dough.
  12. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
  13. Heat oven to 450 F. Brush each bun with the beaten egg. The more egg you use, the browner they will get. Sprinkle pearl sugar or coarse sugar on top.
  14. Bake for about 8-11 minutes. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn. You will know they are done when they reach a deep golden brown on the tops and edges.


Sorry about the weird measurements, the original recipe was written in grams. Watch this video to see how to form the knots.


Source: very slightly adapted from Call Me Cupcake
Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomHere is the filling. Mmmmmm.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomTake the short end and fold it into thirds, like it’s a giant business letter smeared with butter and sugar. Why aren’t they all like that?
Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomFold over the other side.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns with CardamomUse a pizza cutter to make strips the long way. They should be about 1/2 inch wide.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns with Cardamom
Form your knot and place on the baking sheet.





  1. Sarah says

    Maybe I should get Sandi to come to my house and take pictures of me in the kitchen so I’ll start baking while 1) actually wearing a bra before noon 2) letting my kids help more often 3) looking hot like you do in all your “my hairstyle matches my cardamom buns” glory. Unique treat; definitely pinning this one.

  2. Kristine says

    Prudie would have loved these Karen! I know she made some sort of buns and she loved cardamom- she was a full-blooded Swede! Of course she loved cardamom! Thanks for channeling her today. She would have loved you a ton. And these cute buns. And the darling children.

  3. says

    These look lovely- and way above my pay scale. So I will just admire yours from afar until you wise up and move back to Indianapolis. Then you can make them for me. Another reason you should move back to Indy? The Greenwood movies is showing Home Alone in the theater tonight for $2 a ticket. My whole family is going- you’d be so proud.
    Ami recently posted…The Zen of mopping up melted snow.My Profile

    • says

      WHAT!!! Ami I’m so jealous! And give me a break. You can totally handle these buns. Don’t be what the French call les incompetents.

      Maybe I’ll mail you some cardamom. The bottle I bought was a whopping 10 bucks.

  4. Andrea says

    Love all the pictures! The buns looks good :) Only thing that I grew up making different (didn’t compare the amounts for dough or such) was no cardamon in the dough and just cardamon, sugar and butter for filling. I must be lazy though cause I just spread the soft butter on the rolled out dough, then sprinkled with sugar and cardamon or cinnamon ;) Oh an looking at the pictures I only fold it once and cut it it so it’s one long strip folded, twist it and make the knot.
    I love how you try to make the Swedish food for your husband! Looking forward seeing what you will make next.

    • says

      Thanks Andrea! I may just have to skip the cinnamon next time and see how I like straight up cardamom. It sounds good. And yeah, I think there are lots of ways you could fold/shape these rolls, I just went with what the recipe said because I didn’t want to mess it up! It took me forever to get my buns to look even halfway decent, ha. And yes, I love Swedish food! Except tomato aspic. Nothing will ever make me like that. :) Are you Swedish? Thanks for stopping by to comment Andrea!

  5. Andrea says

    I think they look great! Yes born and raised, my family still lives there and my kids became Swedish citizens by birth :)
    Tomato aspic? What in the world is that? My husband loves when I make him stuff. He never liked beets buts when I made him beet salad for the first time he loved it and now he can’t go a Christmas without it on the table with the meatballs.

    • says

      I’m so glad you don’t know what this is. Now I have the excuse that it’s not even Swedish to never eat it again :) It’s basically tomato jello, and we have it every year right next to the meatballs. I skip it and have extra meatballs instead.

      • Andrea says

        lol, no especially not tomato kind. I googled it and I think I have seen it at big smorgas bords but as decorations not to eat. The links I saw I think it said it originated in UK.
        Make some beet salad instead, that is guaranteed to be next to the meatballs on Christmas and makes some mean next day sandwiches :)

        • says

          You will not believe how excited I am to tell my mother-in-law that a Swede just told me that tomato aspic is meant as a “decoration not to eat.” This is probably the best day of my life.

          And do you have a recipe for the beet salad? I’d love to try it!

  6. Andrea says

    Well don’t hold me to it lol, but I have never eaten that stuff. Maybe it’s a Northern thing? I don’t know. I’m going to ask my aunts and see what they say.

    There are a lot of different ones out there that has mustard and horseradish and onions in them but I like a plain one the best. This is the recipe I use a guide but I can’t say I measure kind of tasting as I go. I hope you are ok with mL/g, I can try to convert it later if needed. Do you have a traditional Swedish meatball recipe? I know I have seen a lot in the US that has nutmeg and allspice and such and something I’ve never used.

    Beetsalad with apples

    200mL mayo
    4 tsbp heavy cream ( I whip it)
    7 (400g) small pickled beets, finely chopped. ( I get a can of sliced pickled beets)
    2 (200g) apples, peeled and chopped. (I like the granny smith)

    Whip the mayo and whipped cream. Mix in the beets and apples. Let it stay in the fridge to cool. Enjoy!

    * I like making mine in the am and let it sit for the day since the taste will be better. I also save some of the liquid incase I need to “color” the salad. I tried to attach a picture but I realize I couldn’t. Google “Rödbetssallad” and you can see what it will look like with the deep pink color.

  7. Stef says

    Hi Karen these look AMAZING! And thank you for posting this with all the lovely photos. I’m going to give the recipe a go this week for a friend’s weekend weekend stayover for her birthday, however I have a question about the recipe – how many grams is a stick of butter? Standard portions of butter at the supermarket in the UK are 250g…


      • Stef says

        Great thanks! I don’t suppose you could also tell me if you are using US cups or metric cup measurements in your recipe as I’m getting very confused with the cup + tbsp combinations.. Converting the flour sugar of 1/3 cup + 3 tbsp = 1/3 cup + /4 cup = 7/12 cups is that right??

        • says

          They are all in US cup measurements. It might be more helpful for you to read the recipe from the original source over at Call me Cupcake. The link is right after the recipe box. The reason these measurements are so weird is because I was converting them from grams and milliliters for myself and my American readers. I think the original recipe will make much more sense to you :) I didn’t make any significant changes besides increasing the amount of cinnamon filling. Good luck!

    • says

      I don’t remember what I use Ascia! Probably salted, that’s what I usually have on hand. It won’t make much of a difference for this recipe, which I have made many times. If you are sensitive to things being over salty then you might want to decrease the 1/2 teaspoon called for (if you use salted butter). Hope they turn out great!

  8. Julies says

    I love this recipe and keep it bookmarked on my phone. I want to make these ahead and then *magically* make cinnamon rolls the day after Thanksgiving. Any tips? Can I roll them, shape them and stash in freezer and do 2nd rise before I bake?

    • says

      Hey Julies! Yeah I think that would totally work! I would shape the rolls all the way, flash freeze them on a baking sheet, store them in a ziplock. Then let rise for 1-2 hours and bake when they are nice and puffy. I’ve never tried it but can’t see why it wouldn’t work out. Let me know how it goes!


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