St Lucia Buns (Lussekatter) with Cardamom Sugar Filling


St. Lucia Day is this week, which means it’s time to bake some lussekatter, or Swedish saffron buns! Norwegians and Swedes traditionally bake these fluffy Santa Lucia buns for Saint Lucia’s Day on December 13th, but they are delicious year round. St. Lucia saffron buns are called lussekatter, or “Lucia’s cats” because they look like curled cat tails.

Lussekatter have become even more popular in Scandinavia in recent years with many modern twists on traditional St Lucia buns emerging. So today I thought I could share my own updated version of lussekatter: lussekatter with a cardamom sugar filling. These are like a combination of lussekatter and my favorite Scandinavian buns, cardamom buns. The butter and sugar filling makes them extra flavorful.

I’ve shared my recipe for classic St Lucia buns here.

filled st lucia buns with cardamom sugar

You can find all of my Scandinavian Christmas recipes here.

The filled lucia bun take a bit more work than classic lussekatter, but they are so good. In fact my Norwegian friends who tried these told me they’re the best lussekatter buns they’ve tasted, which is saying a lot considering Norwegians grow up eating these lussekatt buns. I think I might even like them more than Norwegian cinnamon buns.

Speaking of cinnamon buns, if you’re not a fan of cardamom you can use cinnamon instead!

This recipe makes about forty buns. I usually freeze them and then defrost them one at a time, but you can also half the recipe if you don’t want so many buns.

making norwegian lussekatter saffron

If you don’t have saffron or simply want to make St Lucia buns without saffron, you can use turmeric instead, to give the lussekatter their classic yellow color. Or some people choose to add turmeric on top of the saffron, to make the buns extra yellow. Saffron is also expensive, so you can save some money by using less saffron and adding a bit of turmeric as a substitute for saffron.

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 I swear it does! To quote my Norwegian mother, “pre ground cardamom is so forgettable.”

grinding cardamom seeds

Try to spread the cardamom butter as evenly as possible across the entire square of dough.

spreading cardamom butter on dough

While lussekatter come in many different shapes, I only use the simple S shape for this filled version, as the dough strips are thicker and a bit harder to work with. To make these easier to shape you’ll want to roll the dough quite thin before adding the filling and folding it in thirds. But don’t worry too much if they look a bit messy – they’ll still taste delicious!

Be sure also to cut the folded dough into very thin strips.

slicing st lucia buns
dipping lussekatter in sugar
dipping st lucia buns in sugar
filled lussekatter with cardemom
filled st lucia buns with cardamom sugar

St Lucia Buns (Lussekatter) with Cardamom Filling

St Lucia buns, or lussekatter in Norwegian, are tasty saffron buns that Scandinavian's make for St Lucia's Day. This recipe is a modern twist on lussekatter with a buttery cardamom sugar filling.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Norwegian, Swedish
Keyword: buns, cardamom, Christmas
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 40 buns
Author: Silvia


  • Rolling Pin


  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tsp instant yeast (or 50 g fresh yeast)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

Cardamom sugar filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 dl raisins (optional)


  • Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove. Add the milk. Heat until lukewarm.
  • Pour milk and butter mixture into a large mixing bowl and add yeast.
  • Add salt, sugar, saffron, cardamom, and optional 1 egg and raisins, mixing thoroughly. Adding the egg makes the dough easier to work with.
  • Slowly add flour while mixing continuously (you can do this with an electric mixer or by hand). The dough may be sticky, but you don't need to knead it, just mix it well.
  • Mix until dough pulls from the sides of the bowl. Cover and let the dough rise in a draft free place for about 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle flour on counter and knead dough for 5 minutes. You may need to add extra flour if the dough is too sticky to knead. Roll the dough into a large square.
  • For the filling, mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and cardamom. Spread the mixture across the square of dough, and fold one third of the square over, and then fold the other side of the dough over the folded part (like folding a letter – see video). Then roll the dough out a bit more so you get a taller (not longer) rectangle.
  • Cut the dough into 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide strips (cut along the shorter edge of the rectangle so you get short strips, not long ones).
  • Shape the strips into lussekatter (the S shape is easiest – see video). Decorate with raisins as desired. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
  • Set the formed lussekatter on a greased baking pan, or on baking paper. Cover and let rise until they are doubled in size – about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 435°F (225°C).
  • Bake buns for 7 – 10 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  • After baking, brush with melted butter and dip in sugar.



  • marlene

    December 21, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    Cannot wait to make this!

  • avenue17

    November 18, 2023 at 9:37 am

    5 stars
    Very amusing information

  • Deniz

    December 14, 2023 at 6:17 am

    The actual recipe is missing.

    1. Silvia

      December 14, 2023 at 10:37 am

      Thanks for letting me know! The recipe card wasn’t displaying properly, but now it’s back up.

  • Tina

    December 14, 2023 at 10:46 am

    5 stars
    We made these yesterday and they were so good! I found they looked best when cutting the strips of dough as thin as possible.

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