Swedish Semlor (Fat Tuesday Buns)


Swedes celebrate Fettisdagen, or Fat Tuesday, with the most delicious semlor. Semlor are sweet buns spiced with cardamom and filled with almond paste (or jam, if you prefer) and whipped cream. While they’re most popular to eat before Lent, semlor are so beloved in Sweden that you’ll now see them in many Swedish cafés year round. And a semla (singular of semlor) does go perfectly with a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate).

I’ve shared a recipe for the Norwegian version, fastelavnsboller, here.

Swedish semlor buns

I once visited Gothenburg right before Fat Tuesday and I ate so many semlor there and returned home determined to learn how to make them myself. And I’m happy to report that this semlor recipe is so good.


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. If you only have ground cardamom, I would double the amount in the recipe.

When rolling the dough into buns, place them seam down on the baking paper so you get smooth buns.

cutting and rolling dough for semlor

The buns should be a nice golden brown when they’re finished baking – keep an eye on them in the oven during the last couple of minutes, as if you bake them too long they will get dry.

fastelavnsboller cooling on rack
cutting the top off a semla bun

After cutting off the top of the buns, you can use scissors to clean them up a bit, if you want. You can also cut the tops into triangles, hearts, or whatever other shapes you like! You can do this with scissors or cookie cutters.

heart shaped semla bun

You can either spoon or pipe the almond filling onto the buns. Or if you don’t like almonds, many Swedes put jam on their semlor instead. I’ll often make some with almond paste and some with jam. You can also dig out a bit of the bun to make more room for the almond paste if you like, or simply add the almond paste on top of the bun.

piping almond paste onto semlor

This recipe makes about 24 small semlor, or 16 large semlor. They only last a few days, so I freeze any that I won’t be eating soon. I freeze them after adding the almond paste and before adding the whipped cream and powdered sugar. These buns are also delicious without the almond paste, so you could always freeze a few whole buns without almond filling as well.

I like to add a bit of vanilla to the cream before whipping for extra flavor. The amount of whipped cream you use is up to you – I usually prefer just a bit of cream on each semla, but often at Swedish cafés you’ll see semlor piled high with whipped cream.

whipping cream
topping semlor with powdered sugar
fastelavnsboller with almond filling

Swedish Semlor (Fat Tuesday Buns)

Swedes celebrate Fettisdagen, or Fat Tuesday, with the most delicious semlor. Semlor are sweet buns spiced with cardamom and filled with almond paste (or jam, if you prefer) and whipped cream.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Swedish
Keyword: almond, buns, cardamom
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 24 buns
Author: Silvia


  • food processor (for almond filling)
  • piping bag (optional)


  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tsp instant yeast (or 50 g fresh yeast)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (or extract)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 11 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg (whisked for brushing)

Almond filling

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole almonds, blanched
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream (or 2 egg whites)


  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • powdered sugar (for decorating)


  • Heat the milk until it's lukewarm.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the sugar, cardamom, vanilla, salt, egg, and 2/3 of the flour. Mix the dough well (you can do this with a wooden spoon by hand or in a mixer).
  • Stir in the softened butter and gradually add the rest of the flour, while mixing. Add more or less flour, as necessary. When the dough starts to release from the bowl take it out and continue to knead it until it's elastic – about 5 minutes.
  • Return the dough to the bowl and cover. Let the dough rise until it's double in size – about 40 to 60 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut into about 16 – 24 pieces, depending on how large you want your semlor. Roll them into balls and set on a baking tray. Cover with plastic and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 435°F (225°C). Brush the top of the buns with whisked egg. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven (one pan at a time) for about 10 – 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Almond filling

  • Run the almonds and sugar in a food processor for several minutes, until getting the consistency of soft marzipan. It should hold shape when you press it together. Add the milk (or egg whites) and pulse a few more times until incorporated.
  • Cut off the top of the buns.


  • Pipe or spoon the almond mixture (or jam) onto each bun.
  • Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar and add it to the top of each bun. You can use a spoon or a piping bag to add the cream.
  • Add the top of the bun back on top of the cream. If you want, you can use a heart shape cookie cutter to cut a heart out of the bun tops. Or you can use scissors to cut other shapes, or simply to clean up the circle shape.
  • Top with powdered sugar and serve immediately.


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