Kanelbullar – Swedish Cinnamon Buns

It’s no secret that cinnamon buns are irresistible – you can never eat just one! This Swedish version, called Kanelbullar, is no different. They go perfectly with a morning coffee, as is the tradition in Sweden, or can be enjoyed as an afternoon treat. The pistachios add a nice salty balance to the sweet glaze, but try it with and without to see which one you prefer! 

These warm and inviting Kanelbullar rolls will keep you nice and cozy as you venture into the woods of northern Sweden. They are the ultimate comfort food and something I fell in love with on my visits there. There’s just something about that sweet cardamon spice that gets me every time! I teamed up with Amanda, from Rustic Supper, and her creative genius with food raised my hopes of once again tasting authentic Kanelbullar. Love Tree Studios, photographer


Makes 8 rolls, takes 4 hours 

For the Dough

  • 1 Package active dry yeast
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1⁄2 tsp Sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup Milk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp Light brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 2 3⁄4 cups Flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
  • 3⁄4 tsp Fine salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cardamom
  • 8 Tbsp Unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

For the Filling 

  • 1⁄4 cup Dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup Currents
  • 1 Tbsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Cardamom
  • 1⁄2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Maple syrup
  • 113g Cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Egg, beaten for brushing rolls
  • ½ cup Crushed pistachios
  • Buttermilk glaze


  • 2 cups Confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup Milk


Make the dough: 

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine the yeast, 1⁄2 tsp of the sugar and 1⁄4 cup lukewarm water. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy – about 10 minutes. 
  2. Add the remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, about one minute. 
  3. Turn mixer off and add the flour, salt and cardamom. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. 
  4. Turn the mixer speed to high and knead dough for four minutes. 
  5. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about six minutes.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for one and a half to two hours, until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling: 

  1. Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl. Stir to combine and stir in the maple syrup. Set the filling aside.

Make the buns:

  1. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it’s no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary – about one minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 25 x 25cm square. 
  2. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it’s smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square, then fold the square into thirds (as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope). 
  3. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 25 x 50cm rectangle.
  4. Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with beaten egg. 
  5. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 2.5cm border at the edge farthest away from you. 
  6. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Cut eight pieces lengthways and each piece in half. 
  7. Twist each piece around two fingers and then wrap into a knot. 
  8. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 20 x 30cm light-coloured metal baking pan. 
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for two hours. (Alternatively, the rolls can be refrigerated overnight.)
  10. Heat oven to 180°. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.) 
  11. Sprinkle with pistachios before baking. Bake until golden brown and insert a toothpick in the center of the rolls. If it comes out clean, it’s ready – about 30 minutes.
  12. Can be served as is or can be drizzled with the glaze (mix the ingredients until there are no lumps and has a runny consistency).