Yesterday was the day of Kanelbullen (the cinnamon bun) which Swedes celebrate by having ‘fika’ (a traditional coffee break in Sweden).  If you are as serious a bun eater as Anna Brones and myself, you will bake them yourself and have “fika” all day. Below is our last  article together on EcoSalon. It may be the end of EcoSalon, but it will not be the last time you see something from Anna and me, our collaboration will continue one way or another. This article was 1st published at EcoSalon, 4 October 2012.

Baking and Celebrating Swedish Cinnamon Rolls (on Cinnamon Bun Day!)
by Anna Brones (text & recipe) and Johanna Kindvall (recipe & illustrations)

Sweden is equated with many things, but there is nothing as iconic as the cinnamon roll. In Swedish culinary culture, every cup of coffee deserves to be served with a baked good. This tradition is called fika and at its core is the cinnamon roll.

I don’t mean the cream cheese frosting topped, so-sweet-it-makes-you-cringe version that is served in the U.S., I mean the classic Swedish pastry, with a hint of cardamom and just sugary enough. In a country where cinnamon rolls are a staple in every cafe and bakery, and every respectable Swede has made their own batch at least once in their lives, it should come as no surprise that Sweden is in fact the cinnamon roll’s presumed country of origin.

The beauty of the Swedish cinnamon roll is in its versatility. Depending on your mood, you can switch out a few key ingredients for a completely different taste. Cardamom infused filling instead of the standard cinnamon and sugar mix for example (kardemummabullar).

October 4 marks Kanelbullens Dag (Cinnamon Roll Day) – an entire day devoted the the baked good. Since you probably don’t have the chance to sit in a warm Stockholm cafe on a crisp autumn day and order a kanelbulle from the counter, here are a few versions you can make yourself. Just be sure to serve with coffee.

Kanelbullar – Swedish Cinnamon Rolls
Makes about 30-40 buns


2 1/8 cup (500 ml) milk
25g fresh yeast (or 2 envelopes dry active yeast)
2/3 cup (130 g) brown sugar
5 7/8 cups (840 g) flour
2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds
½ teaspoon salt
5 ¼ oz (150 g) butter (at room temperature)

alternative 1: cinnamon filling
4 ½ oz (about 125 g) butter (at room temperature)
1/3 cup (65 gr) regular sugar
2 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

alternative 2: cardamom filling
4 ½ oz (about 125 g) butter (at room temperature)
1/3 cup (65 gr) brown sugar
4 teaspoons whole cardamoms
(optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon)


one small egg (whipped together)
pearl sugar or sliced almonds

Prepare the dough: Crumble the yeast (if using dry yeast prepare it as required) in a big bowl. Heat milk until it is warm to the touch, about 100ºF (about 110ºF for dry yeast). Add the milk to the yeast and stir until yeast has dissolved.

Crush the cardamoms in a mortar and pestle.

Mix together flour, sugar, cardamom and salt before adding it to the milk and yeast mixture. Add in the butter in small cubes. Blend well, either by hand or by using a food processor. Knead it well for about 5-10 minutes.

Cover the dough and place in a draft free place and let it rise for at least 40 minutes.

Filling: Mix all ingredients for the filling to an even batter. It is important for the butter to be at room temperature so it’s easier to spread.

Divide the dough into two pieces and using a rolling pin (or a wine bottle), roll each of them out separately to the shape of a rectangle (see diagram above).

Spread half of the filling onto each piece of rolled out dough so that it covers the entire area. Roll the dough up beginning with the long side. Slice the roll into about 20 equal sized (about 1 inch wide) slices and place them with their cut side up on baking sheet. Repeat above procedure with the last piece of dough.

Let them rise for about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and brush all buns and sprinkle pearl sugar or sliced almonds on top.

Bake them in the oven at 225ºC (about 440F) for 8-10 minutes.

Note: You can also fold the dough as shown below which is more common when making the bun with cardamom filling.

This dough recipe was adapted from Mia Örn’s recipe on Kardemummabullar.

More Swedish baked classics

Kardemummabullar – recipe from the Fika book
Semlor – cardamom rich bun is filled with almond paste and heavy whipped cream
Pepparkakor – Ginger Bread Cookies (at EcoSalon)
Lussebullar – Saffron Buns
Mazariner – Guest post by Anna Brones

Variations of my recipe: Swedish Cardamom Rolls by Fix Feast Flair

40 thoughts on “Kanelbullar”

  1. Thanks Joanna for the linking! And your post about Kardemummabullar is wonderful. Those buns looks amazing! Thanks!

  2. Looks like I need to get back to my distant Swedish roots and make some cinnamon buns! The Swedish style sounds so much more appealing to me than American cinnamon rolls.
    I’d also love a recipe flowchart poster for Kanelbullar in my kitchen.

  3. Hi Rachel,
    I’m actually planing to add this flowchart to my shop! I just need to add the filling 🙂

  4. Thanks Tiffany! And these kinds of buns are absolutely fantastic! And you can never have enough of them 🙂

  5. Thank you for this recipe – I made these this afternoon and they are so lovely and light. Delicious! A little too delicious given how many I ate….

  6. My mom has celiac disease, so it’s always hard for her to find something tasty she can eat. I lovingly prepared these little morsels with gluten-free products. They are currently scattered over the kitchen in all different stages of prep. I cannot wait to see if she likes them. She’s already eyeing them! Thank-you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  7. Great Teiel! I’m very interested to hear how it worked out. I’m sure your mother loved them. And also what gluten free flour did you use? Thanks for sharing.

  8. This recipe was amazing!!!! The illustrations were gorgeous!!!

    The only flaw I found was that I needed quite a bit more flour as the mixture was a bit wet!

    Aside from that they were perfect and I am eating a fresh one now and they taste great!!!!

    Thank you so much for this beautiful recipe

  9. Great to hear Lily! Yes with a dough like this it sometimes necessary to adjust the flour, especially when not weighing the ingredients.

  10. This has become my go-to recipe for kanelbullar. It is SO good. I’ve made it four or five times so far and will make it a lot more in the future. My family loves these delicious buns!

  11. I love this recipe , tried it and it came out fantastic . Now I realise I should have made ur actual recipe as they were gone very quick too 🙂

  12. Hi Johanna, I love making your bulle both cardamom and cinnamon. They always turn out so well. I took them to a talk I did about travelling round Sweden and lots of people wanted the recipe. I wondered if it would be ok if the recipe and your fabulous drawings were reproduced in a newsletter with yourself credited and a link to the blog? Many thanks Vanessa

  13. Hi Vanessa,
    I’m happy to hear you like my buns :). As long you don’t make any changes to the images and give me credit for my work together with a link to the post or kokblog. Thanks for asking!

  14. This recipe looks delicious! I will surely try it.

    Could I freeze the prepared buns before baking. So I don’t have so many at once but the next time I just pop them in the oven and have fresh, warm buns?

    Thanks, Franziska

  15. Good question. And the answer is yes. You can freeze the buns just after they have been shaped. Just make sure to freeze them with space on a tray or cutting board.
    And take them out in advanced so they can rise before baking.
    But I mostly do bake them all at once and freeze them as soon the have cooled. When ever I want buns, I defrost them in the oven. Try with 300F (150C).

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