Classic Swedish Cinnamon Buns

plate of cinnamon buns


I made these classic Swedish cinnamon buns to celebrate the fact that it is kanelbullens dag (cinnamon bun day) in Sweden.

Despite living here for many years, I’d never made my own kanelbullar, and thought today would be the perfect chance to change that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made every bun under the sun, including chocolate cinnamon buns. I’ve even made a cinnamon bun cake, but I have never followed a traditional Swedish recipe for kanelbullar.

The dough for these classic Swedish cinnamon buns is pretty much the same one I used for all my bread. You can make it with regular or spelt flour, and prepare the dough either in a stand mixer or bread machine.



What spices are used in traditional kanelbullar?

Of course, the lead role goes to cinnamon. Swedes love cinnamon. And let’s face it, what’s not to like? I use it all the time in my baking: bread, cakes and cookies all taste better with it. 

A tiny pinch of cardamom is also added to kanelbullar dough. Although cardamom might seem like an odd addition to bread, it is often used in Swedish baking. It gently flavours the bread giving it a distinct taste without being overpowering. I talk about cardamom in more detail in the post for my cardamom bread.


What is pearl sugar?

Like all classic Swedish cinnamon buns, mine are adorned with a smattering of pearl sugar. Also referred to as nib sugar, pearl sugar is made by compressing sugar crystals. This process results in small, irregularly shaped balls. These balls do not dissolve when heated, so are visible, even after baking. This makes pearl sugar the perfect decoration for baked goods such as  kanelbullar and Märtas skurna chokladkakor

I’ve seen many suggestions for substitutions, such as crushing up sugar cubes, using brown sugar with larger granules, or sprinkling some nonpareils. While these might work if you have no access to pearl sugar, they are not going to be very authentic (if that’s what you are aiming for).



Classic Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Course Snack
Cuisine Swedish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings 10 buns


Dough (see note 1)

  • 300ml (1¼ cups) milk
  • 75g (⅓ cup) butter
  • 400-450g (3⅓ - 3¾ cups) spelt flour (see note 2)
  • 7g (2 tbs) dried yeast (see note 3)
  • 50g (¼ cup) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • 75g (⅓ cup) butter (room temperature)
  • 60g (¼ cup) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Additional ingredients

  • 1 beaten egg (for wash)
  • pearl sugar (see note 4)



    Bread Machine:

    • Add the milk and butter to your bread machine pan. Then add 400g (3⅓ cups) of flour, and the remaining ingredients. Take care to keep the yeast and salt separate as much as possible. Set your machine to make dough.
    • On a very well-floured surface (the dough will be very sticky) work in just as much flour as you need to make a soft, pliable, but still a little tacky, dough.

    Stand Mixer:

    • Add the milk and butter to your stand mixer bowl, and give it a quick mix.  If the butter is straight out of the fridge, it won't combine with the other wet ingredients too much, but that's okay.
    • Then add 450g (3¾ cups) of flour, and the remaining ingredients. The dough should be sticky, but if you need more flour, just add a little at a time. Be careful: too much flour will result in dry bread.
    • Switch to a dough hook (if you have one) and allow the mixer to knead the dough for around 10 minutes, just until soft. The dough will still feel a little tacky to the touch, but will be able to slowly drop off the hook.
    • Cover the dough and leave to proof (until it has doubled in size - usually about an hour).
    • When the dough is ready, knock it back, and on a floured surface, form into a rough ball.

    For both methods:

    • When ready, roll the dough into a rectangle with a thickness of around 1cm (just under ½") with one of the shorter sides facing you.
    • Spread the butter all over the dough. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle all over the butter.
    • Gently roll up the dough. When done, place with the seam underneath.
    • Cut the dough into pieces. I wanted large, soft buns so made 10. More traditional kanelbullar are a little thinner, so go with whatever thickness you fancy.
    • Pre-heat the oven to 250°C / 482℉.
    • Place each piece in a large muffin case and place them on a large oven tray.
    • Cover with a tea-towel, and leave the buns to rest for around 30 minutes.
    • Give the buns a good egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
    • Bake the buns for around 6-9 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Watch them carefully: They are ready when they turn a deep brown colour. Enjoy warm with a cuppa!


    1. I have made the dough using both a stand mixer and bread machine with identical results. I have not made the dough by hand, but I see no reason why you couldn't do so! 
    2. You can use spelt or regular flour for this recipe (just use the same amount).
    3. In Sweden we have something called dried yeast. It is used both in warm liquid to proof and also added directly to flour. I am aware that the US has two options for dried yeast, and I believe dry active yeast is the most similar to our dried yeast.
    4. If you don't have access to pearl sugar, sprinkle a little icing sugar just before eating the buns.
    I have converted grams to cups/ounces/tablespoons using online converters. Although I have no reason to believe they are inaccurate, please be aware that I have not made the recipe with imperial measurements.
    In addition, many ingredients are different in Europe compared to North America (and the rest of the world). I do all I can to offer possible alternatives and to ensure the best possible outcomes for everyone. However, results cannot always be guaranteed if you have not used the same ingredients, measurements or methods as me.
    Lastly, I do everything I can to ensure that my recipes (and instructions) are accurate and easy to follow. However, I am human, and don't always get it right. If you notice anything strange, a mistake, or even a typo, please let me know in the comments. 

    Classic Swedish Cinnamon BunsClassic Swedish Cinnamon Buns

    6 thoughts on “Classic Swedish Cinnamon Buns”

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *