Smultringer (Norwegian Donuts)


While I love most cookies, cakes, and sweet buns, I’ve never been a big fan of donuts. However I’ve always had one exception: smultringer. Smultringer are traditional Norwegian donuts spiced with cardamom. I don’t know if it’s the cardamom or their being homemade, but I have always loved smultringer. They’re especially popular in Norway around Christmas, but I will happily eat them any time of year.

smultringer Norwegian doughnuts

This smultringer recipe does use horn salt, or baker’s ammonia, which is common in a lot of Scandinavian baking. Horn salt (hjorthornssalt in Swedish) is an old fashioned leavening agent that predates baking soda and baking powder. You can buy it on Amazon here. If you don’t have any, I’ve heard that you can use twice the amount of baking soda instead, though I haven’t tried that myself.

But if you’re interested in Scandinavian baking it’s worth investing in some baker’s ammonia, plus it’s quite interesting to bake with! You don’t want to smell it directly, as it’s very strong. And you might get a slight ammonia smell while cooking the smultringer, but that will go away once they’re cool.

The process of making smultringer is very similar to another Norwegian Christmas favorite: fattigmann. Here you will also need to add quite a bit of flour to the dough after it has chilled in the fridge and before you roll it out. It should be easy to roll out the dough, but you don’t want to add more flour than necessary, as then the smultringer can become tough instead of soft. I added about half a cup of flour to the dough when I rolled it out.

rolling out smultringer dough

You’ll roll out the dough until it’s about a 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick and then cut out donut shapes with a donut cutter. I don’t actually have a donut cutter, so instead I use a glass and then a large piping tip. Take a look in your kitchen cupboards and you can probably find something that works. And I kind of like the more rustic look you get from using two separate round cutters instead of a donut cutter (though using a donut cutter is faster and easier).

cutting smultringer doughnuts

I dip the forms in flour each time I use them so the smultring dough doesn’t stick.

cutting smultringer without form

After cutting the smultringer you can roll out the dough again to cut more. But try to get as many smultringer as you can each time, because you’ll need to add more flour when you roll it out again, which makes the smultringer tougher.

The trickiest part of making smultringer is keeping the fat at a stable temperature when frying them, so you get an even golden color. The easiest way to do this is to use a cooking thermometer, so you can monitor the fat and keep it at about 355°F (180°C). But if you don’t have a thermometer, you can check that the fat is hot enough by sticking the end of a wooden spoon in the fat – if it bubbles the fat is hot enough to cook the smultringer.

frying smultringer doughnuts

Smultringer are best eaten within a few days, but they also freeze well.

Norwegian smultring doughnuts

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

Norwegian smultring doughnuts

Smultringer (Norwegian Donuts)

Smultringer are traditional Norwegian donuts with a hint of cardamom, especially popular during Christmas.
5 from 5 votes
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Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Norwegian
Keyword: cake, cardamom, Christmas
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 40 doughnuts
Author: Silvia


  • Rolling Pin
  • smultring form, or a glass and a small round form (eg. a large piping tip)


  • 4.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 1.5 tsp baking ammonia (or 3 tsp baking soda)
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 5 eggs
  • 1.25 cups granulated sugar
  • 0.5 cup heavy cream
  • 0.5 cup kefir or sour cream
  • 4 cups lard or vegetable oil for frying


  • Sift together the flour, cardamom, baking ammonia, and baking soda.
  • In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale. Add in the heavy cream and kefir/sour cream. Then slowly add in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Cover the bowl and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Heat the lard or vegetable oil to 355°F (180°C) in a large pot.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface. You may need to add a generous amount on flour to the dough so it rolls without sticking. Add just enough so that you can roll it easily. Roll the dough out until it's about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick and cut out doughnut shapes.
  • Fry the smultringer until they are golden on each side. You can also fry the doughnut holes! Cool on a wire rack covered in paper towels.


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