Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)


Over the weekend I went skiing in Myrkdalen with some friends and we stayed at a cosy little cabin, so of course I wanted to bake something delicious for us. And what’s cosier than kanelbullar, or Swedish cinnamon buns? Kanelbullar are made with a sweet cardamom dough filled with cinnamon sugar and butter and twisted into large knots.

I’ve tried a lot of kanelbullar recipes over the years, and I really do think this one is the best. It’s extra buttery, with just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar.

Kanelbullar are very similar to their Norwegian sisters, kanelsnurrer. The main difference is that these are sprinkled with Swedish pearl sugar, which is opaque white, while Norwegian pearl sugar is clear. But of course you can sprinkle them with whatever sugar you like and they will be delicious. I’ve also included a recipe for making your own Swedish pearl sugar in the tips below.

And if you like cardamom, you can also try these Swedish cardamom buns.

Kanelbullar Swedish cinnamon buns recipe


Kanelbullar dough has a lot of butter in it. And while usually it’s best to add butter to dough towards the end of kneading, in this case you should add in the melted (and cooled to room temperature) butter at the beginning. You can knead the dough by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook. I knead it by hand for about ten minutes. Luckily for me, The Tortured Poets Department came out the morning I was making these buns, so I was happy to knead these while listening to the album.

You can use ground cardamom for this recipe, but if you have a mortar and pestal I highly recommend grinding cardamom seeds instead, as freshly ground seeds are much more flavorful. I wouldn’t bother unless it really made a difference, but it really does.

spreading cinnamon sugar on kanelbullar dough

For large kanelbullar, cut the dough into about 18 – 20 strips. If you want smaller buns you can cut the dough into thinner strips.

I roll out the dough and shape it before letting it rise. This makes the kanelbullar easier to shape. Then you can let them rise for one and half to two hours, until about doubled in size (they will likely rise faster in a warmer room). When you poke them gently with your finger the dough should fully bounce back.

twisting kanelbullar into a knot

Kanelbullar are twisted and tied into beautiful knots. I’ve seen many different ways of forming the knots, and I don’t think your technique here matters too much. Just make sure that you twist the dough a lot before making the knot. To form the knots, I twist each strip of dough and then I hold out two of my fingers and wrap the twist twice around my fingers and then I wrap the end across the top of the bun and tuck the end through the bottom of the knot. See the video below if you’re confused.

twisting kanelbullar Swedish cinnamon buns
Kanelbullar Swedish cinnamon buns dough

Cover the formed kanelbullar and let them rise for about one and a half to two hours, until they bounce back fully when you press them with a finger.

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

After brushing the buns with egg, sprinkle them with pearl sugar. You can order Swedish pearl sugar here, or you can use any other coarse sugar you have. Or you can make your own diy pearl sugar!

You can make your own pearl sugar by combining 125 g (1 cup) powdered sugar with 2 teaspoons of water. Stir the sugar and water together and then press it into a solid ball. Then grate the ball into pieces on a cheese grater. Spread the sugar pieces on a baking sheet and let them harden in an oven for about 10 minutes at 110°C (230°F). You don’t need to be too exact here – in fact you could simply leave the sugar in the oven for about ten minutes as the oven begins to preheat for baking the kanelbullar.

And then it’s time to bake the buns! It’s very important not to bake these for too long, as then they can become dry. I bake mine for exactly ten minutes, but the time can vary depending on your oven. The tops and bottoms should be golden brown when finished baking, and the center dough will be soft but not gooey.

kanelbullar cooling on wire rack

You can switch the recipe from US measurements to metric by clicking from “US Customary” to “Metric” under Ingredients.

kanelbullar cooling on wire rack

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

Kanelbullar, or cinnamon buns, are a Swedish classic made with a sweet cardamom dough and filled with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, twisted and tied into a knot.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Scandinavian, Swedish
Keyword: buns, cinnamon
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rising Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 20 buns
Author: Silvia


  • Rolling Pin
  • pastry/pizza wheel


  • 2 cups milk
  • 14 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp instant yeast (or 50 g fresh yeast)
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 6 cups flour

Cinnamon filling

  • 11 tbsp butter (softened)
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp cinnamon


  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • Swedish pearl sugar


  • Heat the milk, butter, and powdered sugar in a saucepan. Then cool until just a bit warmer than lukewarm.
  • Pour the milk mixture into a mixing bowl and add the cardamom and yeast. Stir until dissolved and then slowly add the flour. You may need more or less flour. Add enough so that you can knead the dough into a nice ball without being too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes.
  • Mix together the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. If the butter is still hard you can pop it in the microwave for a few seconds so it's easy to spread.
  • Roll out the dough into a large square. Spread the cinnamon butter mixture across all of the square.
  • Fold the dough in half and then roll out the rectangle again so that it's wider (not longer).
  • Use a pizza or pastry wheel to cut the rectangle into about 20 strips. Twist each strip and then tie into a knot (see video). Set the kanelbullar on baking paper on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a cloth. Let the buns rise for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the dough fully bounces back when poked with your finger.
  • Preheat oven to 435°F (225°C). Whisk together egg and a splash of milk. Carefully brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake cinnamon buns for 10 – 12 minutes, until golden brown. Be careful not to over bake (I bake mine for 10 minutes). Cool on a wire rack.


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