Skip to main content
Recipes

The Cinnamon Bun for Cardamom Lovers

Plenty of cinnamon in the filling makes these buns worthy of their name, but the coarsely ground cardamom in the dough makes them quintessentially Swedish.
By Published Nov. 22, 2021

The gooey icing; plush crumb; and warm, sweet swirl of American cinnamon buns makes them a hall-of-fame breakfast treat. But after developing a recipe for the Swedish kind, called kanelbullar, I may never go back.

Besides cinnamon, the Swedish buns are swirled with the bold menthol-y, citrusy punch of cardamom. They’re also less sweet than American cinnamon buns. And instead of a thick slather of icing, they’re sprinkled with crunchy nubbins of Swedish pearl sugar that complement the crumb’s tender, fluffy texture and allow its buttery flavor to shine.

Kanelbullar are a favorite feature of the coffee breaks called fika that Swedes enjoy with friends, family, or colleagues, often multiple times a day. I love the idea of sharing these buns in a social setting—but I also find it pretty satisfying to hunker down on my own with a couple as I enjoy my morning coffee.

My Swedish cinnamon bun recipe has a couple of key features:

  • I incorporate a cooked flour-and-milk paste, called tangzhong, into the dough, which traps moisture so the high-hydration dough isn’t sticky or difficult to work with. The water in the dough converts to steam during baking, which makes the buns fluffy and light.
  • For a lavishly spiced treat, I use plenty of cinnamon in the filling and coarsely ground cardamom seeds in the dough. These are far more potent than commercially ground cardamom, and are well worth seeking out at a South Asian market or online.
  • I refrigerate the dough for an hour, which allows the flour to fully absorb moisture and the butter to firm up, making the dough easier to handle. Preshaping it in a baking pan makes it easier to roll out and form into intricate knot shapes later.

To learn more about kanelbullar, go to my longer story on the topic. And this book is a great source for delving more into the Swedish custom of fika.  

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

Enjoy these other cardamom-spiced treats:

0 Comments

Try All-Access Membership to Unlock the Comments
Don't miss the conversation. Our test cooks and editors jump in to answer your questions, and our members are curious, opinionated, and respectful.
Membership includes instant access to everything on our sites:
  • 10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work
  • Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients
  • Equipment Reviews save you money and time
  • Videos including full episodes and clips
  • Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Start Free Trial
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.