Bread and Yeast Goods/ Breakfast/ Dessert

Swedish Cinnamon Buns

April 21, 2016

Kanelbullar are beautiful, soft buns with a hint of cardamom and a delicate buttery cinnamon filling.

Amazing Swedish Cinnamon BunsI haven’t tried many Swedish buns in my life, but the few I have tried left a strong enough impression on my taste buds to make me want to bake them at home from scratch. I finally got the chance to make them today, and the only thing I regret is not tripling the recipe because it turned out so amazing that I could barely save one before they all disappeared from the bowl.

Amazing Swedish Cinnamon Buns Amazing Swedish Cinnamon Buns

There are 2 things that are characteristic for Swedish buns. The first is their uniquely beautiful shape, and the second is the use of cardamom in the dough and sometimes the filling, too. It’s a delicious addition and its taste isn’t overwhelming. However, if you don’t like cardamom, you can use less of it—about ½ teaspoon will still give you a bit of spice—or omit it altogether.

Amazing Swedish Cinnamon Buns

The buns have a subtle butter-sugar-cinnamon flavor, making them a great light breakfast, unlike American cinnamon rolls that tend to be heavy on the icing (not that that’s a bad thing). Make sure to bring your butter to room temperature before making the filling so that it’s soft enough to mix and spread on the dough.

Amazing Swedish Cinnamon Buns

There seem to be several ways to shape the buns, but I followed this extremely helpful visual guide which creates some of the most beautiful buns ever. If it seems confusing, they suggest twisting the strips and shaping them into a snail-shell shape.

Amazing Swedish Cinnamon Buns

5 from 9 votes
Amazing Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
YIELD: 16 buns
Beautiful, soft buns with a hint of cardamom and a delicate buttery cinnamon filling.

For the buns:
  • 3 cups (400 g/14 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 g/1.7 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g/0.25 oz) instant yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) lukewarm milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick/56 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
  • 1/3 cup (2/3 stick/75 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) light brown/granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
To finish the buns:
  • 1 beaten egg , for egg wash
  • Pearl sugar , chopped almonds, or granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top, optional
  1. Place flour, sugar, cardamom, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix until combined. Attach dough hook to the mixer. Add milk and melted butter to the flour mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together, 2-3 minutes. Add salt and continue mixing for another 8 minutes on low-medium speed until dough is soft and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  2. Place dough in a large bowl brushed with oil, and toss to coat (the fat will keep the dough from drying out). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place or on the counter for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size. Keep in mind that rising will be slower in cold weather.
  3. To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine soft butter, sugar, and cinnamon until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Shaping the dough (I followed this visual guide): On a lightly floured surface or non-stick silicone baking mat, roll dough out into 35x35cm (14x14-inch) square. Spread butter-sugar mixture onto entire surface, making a very thin layer. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, then roll again into a rough 35x20cm (14x8-inch) rectangle.
  5. Facing the long edge, cut dough into roughly 2cm wide and 20cm long strips. Twist each strip several times, slightly stretching it as you do so. Grab one end of the twisted strip and coil the dough around your hand twice, then over the top. Coil dough again and tuck the loose end in at the bottom.
  6. Arrange buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (if they’re too crowded, use 2 pans), keeping as much space between them as possible. Cover and let rest for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  7. Meanwhile, set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350F/180C.
  8. Brush buns with an egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow buns to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  10. Buns are best the same day they are made, but can be frozen for up to 2 months and reheated in the oven before serving.

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  • Reply
    Hannah Hossack-Lodge (Domestic Gothess)
    April 22, 2016 at 8:45 am

    These look so lovely and perfectly baked, I’ve made cinnamon buns using this shaping technique before, it seems complicated but is actually really easy once you get the hang of it.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I loved it! My knotting technique could use some work, but they still wowed my family and friends. Pic at

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Shiran,
    To be honest, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to shape the cinnamon bun dough as fancy as you did ?. So do you think the cinnamon buns will turn out the same if I just did an alternative way of shaping the dough (like the other way of shaping the cinnamon bun dough, cutting it into circles). Sorry if this doesn’t make sense! Could you tell me ASAP because I am making them on Sunday.

    • Reply
      January 27, 2018 at 9:13 am

      Yes, this should work too 🙂 The baking time might be different though. I have another recipe for cinnamon rolls, if you prefer. They’re amazing!

  • Reply
    Eunice Bae
    June 4, 2018 at 11:12 am

    I’m not well-versed in yeast, but what was the cup of lukewarm water for? When you say place the yeast in the bowl w/ the other dry ingredients, do you mean after letting it sit in the cup of water to activate? Thanks so much! Can’t wait to give my Swedish friends a taste of home!

    • Reply
      June 5, 2018 at 3:40 am

      Hi Eunice, there’s no water in the recipe, do you mean milk? I’m using instant yeast, not active dry yeast, so there’s no need to activate it first. You just need to mix all the ingredients together.

      • Reply
        September 26, 2020 at 11:08 pm

        Hi I actually had the same question as her as 1 cup of lukewarm is listed in the ingredients but in the directions it’s not said at all

        • Reply
          October 4, 2020 at 2:57 am

          There’s not water in the recipe, only milk. Where exactly do you see it listed?

  • Reply
    Michaela Mackie
    September 23, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Thank you for this beautiful recipe. I made some cinnamon buns today and they turned out really good! Delicious and pretty, thank you!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I have made these twice now after being inspired by a trip to Stockholm! They are amazing but disappear too quickly!

  • Reply
    Sandra Amos
    February 1, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Just wondering if it would be ok to use caster sugar as I don’t usually use granulated?

    • Reply
      February 6, 2019 at 5:17 am

      Yes it’s ok 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachael Sherrington
    February 16, 2019 at 5:31 am

    Hi there,
    Thank you! I made these a couple of months ago and they were delicious!

    I wondered if they would be ok if refrigerated overnight at the point when they have been filled and shaped for a slower 2nd prove? I’m hoping to make them this evening for tomorrow morning but wondering whether to just cook them and re-heat them tomorrow instead.


    • Reply
      February 21, 2019 at 5:30 am

      Hi Rachael , you can always freeze them after they are fully baked. They will taste just as good even after a month.

  • Reply
    Emma Rasmussen
    May 11, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Hi there. We’ve been making buns for a couple of years – low quantities. we are now producing 200 at weekends & struggling with consistency & getting the same results. They seem to be tearing after the bake. Any ideas?! Thanks

  • Reply
    June 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

    For the second proof, what do i use to cover it with and should they be left at room temperature or put in the airing cupboard or?

  • Reply
    October 1, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks Shiran, excellent recipe! I just recently discovered your blog, I resonate with your writing and I already have some other recipes from you that I’d love to try.

    The dough was really easy to work with, soft and pliable. I don’t have a mixer but yet it was not a hassle to process it by hand. The buns itself are delicious and not too sweet.

    • Reply
      October 4, 2019 at 9:17 am

      Perfect! Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    This complicated shape is by no means traditional in Sweden. I have lived there and eaten my share of kanelbullar. Many of them are formed by rolling the dough up jelly-roll style and slicing off rounds.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    I loved this recipe. Something about the cardamom in the dough! Making it a second time today!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Lovely recipe ! Will do it again . Made it to a wreath shape .
    Thank you for the recipe . Cardamom gives it extra depth in taste.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 12:35 am

    Do you have a recommendation for how to sub in active dry yeast, instead of instant yeast?


    • Reply
      April 8, 2020 at 4:00 am

      Hi Carla, here’s a good guide for it.

  • Reply
    Tyler Stevenson
    April 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Hi! First off, thank you for this great recipe! I’ve tried these quite a few times and they have turned out perfect every time! I did have a quick question though — do you know how I could go about substituting almond milk instead of milk?

    • Reply
      April 20, 2020 at 2:56 am

      Milk gives a delicious soft texture to the bread. I have no experience with using almond milk in breads, but you can use water instead of the milk. If you’re experimenting with almond milk, use the same amount.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2020 at 10:40 am

    Good recipe! Very tasty 🙂

  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you for this delicious recipe,
    I have a question, I try it and it is delicious but the dough is little bet hard and take longe tome to forme i use the stand mixer the dough is not soft !

  • Reply
    January 14, 2021 at 8:20 am

    Thank you for this beautiful recipe!
    I’m having troubles with the filling spewing out when I’m rolling and twisting the buns.
    Do you have any tips? 🙂
    Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      January 27, 2021 at 10:43 am

      I’m so glad you like it 🙂 Spread the filling as even as possible, and make sure that the butter is at room temperature and not too warm. But it’s OK if some of the filling leaks out the sides while twisting the buns.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2021 at 1:50 am

    Love it but they never seem to rise much the second time. Any extra tips for that?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      September 16, 2021 at 7:25 am

      Hi Jennifer, rising is all about temperature control. Assuming the yeast was measured out correctly, some other factors to consider include:

      1) Making sure the milk is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit
      2) The space you put the dough to rise should be warm, above 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. You can also slightly warm the oven then turn it off, and put your covered bowl of dough in the oven to rise. This also applies to the final rise after you’ve shaped the dough into individual buns.

      Good luck, hope this helps!

  • Reply
    jeanie short
    April 30, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    April 30 2022
    I haven’t made your recipe yet its very similar to my Swedish friend recipe she made for me when she came to Canada in April 2022 .
    the only extra thing she did was brush (melted 1 part sugar 2 parts water) over the buns when they come out of the oven. I can’t wait to try your recipe when i do i will send a comment and let you know how they turned out.

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