Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Soft and deliciously spiced Swedish Cinnamon Buns for the perfect breakfast or afternoon tea treat. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

swedish cinnamon buns on wire rack

Swedish Cinnamon Buns

One of my favourite places to visit is Stockholm, not just because we have family living there, but I have always had a strong affection for Swedish design and food culture. And I’m not just talking about IKEA and their meatballs – I am a huge fan of both, by the way! I love many Swedish brands of furniture and home design, I love Swedish cuisine, and I love Fika. And the popular accompaniment to coffee at any Fika are Swedish Cinnamon Buns.

What is Fika?

Fika is the Swedish concept of “a coffee break”; a pause in the day for a tea or coffee, with a small bite to eat.

In the same way that other cultures might have morning tea, afternoon tea, le Goûter, Zvieri or Znüni, Fika is similar, except that it can take place at any time of the day.

“Fika” is both a noun and a verb, and the Swedes will tell you that it is more than a simple coffee break. While most cultures will be familiar with the concept of “grabbing a quick coffee”, the Swedes instead slow down and take a proper break.

stack of swedish cinnamon buns at johann nystrom
Swedish Cinnamon Buns at Johann Nystrom

What are Swedish Cinnamon Buns?

Swedish Cinnamon Buns are made from an enriched dough, similar to a French Brioche. They are generously spiced with cinnamon and ground cardamom, and typically decorated with pearl sugar to differentiate them from another classic bun, the Cardamom Buns.

Both the Swedish Cinnamon Buns and Cardamom Buns are traditionally shaped in a twisted knot, but this can vary. I have seen some bakeries in Sweden make their Cinnamon Buns in a snail-like coil, similar to American-style Cinnamon Rolls. But unlike the American version, the Swedish buns are not frosted, and they are not as sweet.

They are, however, absolutely delicious, and I try to sample as many as I can every time we visit Stockholm. The Swedes love them so much that they even have a Cinnamon Bun Day on 4 October every year!

swedish cinnamon buns on wire rack with plates

Swedish Cinnamon Buns Recipe

My recipe for Swedish Cinnamon Buns is very similar to that used for American-style Cinnamon Rolls. In fact, the steps involved in making these Swedish Cinnamon Buns are exactly the same as for the Cinnamon Rolls, right up until forming and shaping the dough.

Having had the fortune of indulging in both treats in both countries, I think the Swedish version is much more heady in spice. Hence, I have used a lot more cinnamon in the filling, as well as ground cardamom for extra warmth.

Cinnamon Rolls vs Cinnamon Buns

The main difference between Swedish Cinnamon Buns and American-style Cinnamon Rolls is the shape; the former involves cutting the dough into strips, which are then twisted and shaped into a knot, thereby exposing the delicious filling. However, it is not uncommon to find cinnamon buns in Sweden which are shaped into snail-like coils.

And whilst American Cinnamon Rolls are typically soft and fluffy, and generally quite sweet, the Swedish version is more bread-like in texture and taste.

swedish cinnamon buns on wire rack with milk jug

How to Make Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Step 1

Measure the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Lightly mix the ingredients together.

Step 2

Add the egg to the bowl. Slowly add the warm milk (you may not need all of it), and lightly beat everything with the dough hook until it comes together into a large ball of dough. Only add as much milk as you need to bring the ingredients together into a dough.

Step 3

Slowly incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all of the butter has been used.

Then increase the speed to medium and continue kneading with the dough hook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Step 4

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Step 5

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it back and knead it gently into a smooth ball.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches.

Step 6

Make the filling by beating together the ingredients. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the filling all over the dough. Be sure to spread the filling right to the edges of the dough so that you have maximum cinnamon-sugar in each bun.

Step 7

Fold over one-third of the dough towards the centre, and overlap with the other side of the dough. Gently roll the dough to sandwich the layers together and to release any air bubbles. You should have a rectangular shape measuring approximately 30 x 15 cm/12 x 6 inches.

Step 8

Cut the dough into strips measuring 2 cm/0.75 inch wide. You should have about 13-15 strips, but this will depend on how wide you rolled your dough.

Step 9

Take one strip of dough. Gently twist the dough, slightly stretching the strip of dough as you do so.

Wrap the dough around three of your fingers in your left hand (if you are right-handed), and finish the knot by tucking the end of the dough into the centre of the knot on top.

Another variation is to finish the knot by stretching the end of the dough over the top of the bun and tucking it underneath.

There are many different ways of shaping Swedish Cinnamon Buns, so feel free to experiment to find which method is easiest for you, or which shape you prefer.

Tips for Shaping the Swedish Cinnamon Buns

  • A short strip of dough should wrap around your fingers once to create a simple knot (see step-by-step photos below).
  • A longer strip of dough should wrap around your fingers twice to create more exposed layers (see main photos in this post).
  • Try to work quickly as the dough will start to puff up slightly as it sits, making it a bit more difficult to work with.
step by step photos for shaping swedish cinnamon buns

Step 10

Place the shaped dough on a sheet pan lined with baking paper. Space them apart generously. Set the pan aside somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the buns have puffed up slightly.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf.

Step 11

Brush the buns with egg wash, and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.

The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C (185°F). Gently remove the buns (intact) to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

Tips for Making Swedish Cinnamon Buns

  1. As the buns are traditionally baked spaced apart, they will not be soft and fluffy on the outside of the bun.
  2. To keep the buns soft, I like to bake them until they are just slightly golden, before covering them with foil for the rest of the baking time.
  3. If you find shaping the knots too fiddly or too tricky, I recommend shaping them into coils like for American-style Cinnamon Rolls. They will still taste delicious!
swedish cinnamon buns on marble board

More Swedish Recipe

If you are looking for more Swedish recipes, you might also like:

Swedish Chocolate Cookies

Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Sauce

Print

Swedish Cinnamon Buns

5 from 7 reviews

  • Resting Time: 2 hours
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 60 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12-15 buns
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Swedish

Soft and deliciously spiced Swedish Cinnamon Buns for the perfect breakfast or afternoon tea treat. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 600 g (4 cups) strong white bread flour
  • 110 g (1/2 cupcaster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 14 g instant dried yeast (see Kitchen Notes below)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cup) milk, warmed to 37°C/98°F
  • 60 g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

For the Cinnamon Filling

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • dash of milk

To decorate

Instructions

You will need approx. 3 hours to make the Swedish Cinnamon Buns

To Make the Dough

  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Lightly mix the ingredients together using the dough hook.
  3. Add the egg to the bowl.
  4. Slowly pour in the warm milk, and continue mixing until everything comes together into a rough dough.
  5. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated into the dough, add the next tablespoon of butter.
  6. Once all of the butter has been added, continue kneading the dough on medium speed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. The dough is ready when it is soft and smooth, and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. The dough will be somewhat sticky from the butter and egg.

First Proofing Period

  1. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place the dough inside the bowl.
  3. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel, plastic wrap, or a reusable bowl cover.
  4. Leave the dough somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size (see Kitchen Notes below).

For the Cinnamon Filling

  1. Just before the dough has finished the first proofing period, make the filling by beating together the ingredients.

To Roll out the Dough

  1. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch back the dough to release all of the air.
  2. Gently knead the dough a few times.
  3. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches.
  4. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the filling all over the dough.
  5. Fold over one-third of the dough towards the centre, and overlap with the other third of the dough.
  6. Use a rolling pin to gently flatten the dough and smooth out any air bubbles. Aim to have a rectangle shape measuring approximately 30 x 15 cm/12 x 6 inches.
  7. Cut the dough into strips measuring 2 cm/0.75 inches wide. How many strips you cut will depend on how wide you have rolled your dough, but you should get about 12-15 strips. 

To Shape the Cinnamon Buns

  1. Take one strip of dough and twist it gently with both hands, slightly stretching the dough as you do so.
  2. For right-handers: start wrapping the twisted dough around three of your fingers in your left hand.
  3. Finish the knot by tucking the end of the dough into the centre of the bun on top. Please see diagram in blog post.

Second Proofing Period

  1. Line a large baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Arrange the shaped buns on the lined baking pan. Space the buns apart generously.
  3. Place the pan somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the buns have risen and puffed up slightly.
  4. During this time, preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F (without fan) with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf.

Bake the Cinnamon Buns

  1. Gently brush each bun with some egg wash.
  2. Sprinkle each bun with pearl sugar.
  3. Place the pan of buns on the preheated baking tray.
  4. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.
  5. The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C/185°F.
  6. Gently remove the buns to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

Kitchen Notes

MAKE AHEAD TIPS
To start the Swedish Cinnamon Buns the night before, make the dough as per the recipe, until they have finished their first proofing period. Without touching or deflating the dough, cover the bowl with a tea towel, plastic wrap or reusable bowl cover. Place the bowl in the fridge to continue proofing overnight. The dough will rise slightly more overnight in the fridge. The next day, proceed with the rest of the recipe. As the dough will be cold, the buns may require a bit more time for the second proofing period. 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOUR
* This recipe works best with strong white bread flour.
* For Swiss readers: I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF YEAST
* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* With dried yeast, you will need to activate it first (usually in some warm liquid).
* If you are using fresh yeast, you will need about half a block (40 g fresh yeast = 14 g instant dried yeast). Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm milk, and stir to dissolve the yeast.

PROOFING THE DOUGH
Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven or a steamer oven at a low temperature of about 25-40°C (77-104°F).

LEFTOVERS
These buns are best eaten on the same day they are baked. Any leftovers should be stored in a ziplock freezer bag to keep them soft, and for up to 1-2 days.

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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8 comments

  1. Karen 6 April 2022

    I made these buns this morning and the smell is amazing! The buns are absolutely delicious. Love your bread recipes as always 🙂

    Reply
  2. Anna 6 April 2022

    I am from Sweden and these cinnamon buns taste very authentic ! Most bakeries also put a glaze on the buns to make them shiny. But I like that your recipe is very non-fuss and easy.

    Reply
  3. Eve 14 April 2022

    Delicious! I’m not a fan of sticky buns but I do love the cinnamon flavor. Tried this recipe today and I’m totally addicted now. The knots are easier to make than they look.

    Reply
  4. Karin Nilsson 28 April 2022

    This is one of the easiest recipes I could find for Swedish cinnamon buns. Your instructions were excellent. These buns taste just like the ones I buy here in Stockholm.

    Reply
  5. Mark 18 May 2022

    The weather has been getting cooler here in Melbourne and I’ve always wanted to try and make these Swedish cinnamon buns. They were mighty delicious and just the right amount of cosy. Yum!

    Reply
  6. Natalie 6 August 2022

    Just got back from Sweden and wanted to make my favourite fika. Great recipe Thankyou x

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 7 August 2022

      Hi Natalie,
      So glad you enjoyed this recipe! Hope you had a great time in Sweden 🙂

      Reply
  7. Lars 25 August 2022

    Wow these were pretty good. Excellent in fact! Tastes like the buns you can buy in Stockholm.

    Reply