Slightly different from their American cousins, Swedish Cinnamon Rolls, known as Kanelbullar, are spiked with a little cardamom and topped with pearl sugar. These ones are on the jumbo side, because why not?

If you love creating cinnamon rolls from scratch try these Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls or these Strawberry Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls too.

A row of 3 cinnamon buns on a baking tray.

These giant, soft, fluffy cinnamon buns are out of this world, especially warm out of the oven for breakfast with a cuppa.

What are Swedish Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)?

A soft, sweet bread lightly flavoured with cardamom , and a filling of butter and cinnamon, these buns are warming and cosy. They’re decorated simply with pearl sugar and normally twisted into a small knot shape.

While American cinnamon rolls tend to have a generous layer of frosting, just like my Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Coffee Icing, the Swedish variety are much lighter.

While the flavour in my kanelbullar recipe is authentic, these are not exactly traditional in look.  

  1. For a start, I can’t easily get pearl sugar here which is normally scattered over the top, so I use coffee crystals which are large brown sugar crystals.
  2. Traditional Swedish buns are knotted. I chose to roll mine like a typical American cinnamon roll for simplicity.
  3. These are normally made quite small – smaller than your palm but I chose to make them jumbo for an ultra-decadent treat.
A hand lifting a cinnamon bun off a grey plate.

Ingredients in Swedish Cinnamon Buns

With the exception of cardamom and pearl sugar, Swedish cinnamon buns contain all the usual suspects.

  • Butter: Just regular unsalted butter is perfect.
  • Milk: I use standard whole or full cream milk but you could substitute plant-based like almond if you prefer.
  • Flour: Plain flour or All purpose flour, depending on what it’s called where you are is all you need.
  • Yeast: Instant Yeast or Active Dry Yeast can both be used here. If using active dry yeast, make sure to add it to the warm butter and milk (after adding the cold milk) to activate for 10 minutes before using.
  • Sugar: regular white granulated sugar in the dough.
  • Cardamom: This is very important for a true kanelbullar and just gives a subtle warming spice flavour.
  • Salt: Always add a touch of salt to enhance the flavours.
  • Eggs: These make the dough nice and rich.
  • Brown sugar: For the filling, it’s caramelly flavour is wonderful with cinnamon.
  • Cinnamon: Also for the filling and it creates that classic cinnamon flavour you want in a cinnamon bun.
  • Pearl sugar: Large opaque white sugar crystals, these are the traditional topping but, since I can’t easily get them where I am, I use coffee crystals (large crunchy brown sugar crystals). You could even use demerara / turbinado.

What you’ll need

How to make them

You’ll find the photos of every step below so you know how it should all look along the way.

Images showing how to make cinnamon bun dough.
  1. First start by melting together butter and a little milk in a saucepan, then add the remaining cold milk to cool it down a bit (too hot and it will kill the yeast).
  2. Add all the dry ingredients along with the milk and butter mixture to a bowl and give it a quick mix until clumping before adding the eggs (photo 1).
  3. Knead the dough for 6-7 minutes (standmixer, preferred) or 10-12 minutes by hand until smooth and elastic. Use a bowl scraper to remove it cleanly from the bowl, oil the bowl then put the dough back in (photo 2).
  4. Let it rise for around an hour or until doubled in size (photo 3).
  5. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface (photo 4).
Step showing how to roll dough for cinnamon buns.
  1. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, then spread over the cinnamon-butter filling (photo 5) and roll up from short end to short end (photo 6).
  2. Cut the roll into 6 slices (photo 7) then lay them flat on a baking paper lined tray (photo 8) to rise again.
  3. Once risen a second time (photo 9) brush with egg wash then sprinkle over the crunchy sugar (photo 10) and bake.
A cinnamon bun on a grey plate that's been torn open.

Can I make cinnamon buns ahead of time?

You can make these ahead of time up to the second rise. Once the cinnamon rolls are on the baking tray ready for the second rise, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bring them to room temperature about 60-90 minutes before baking.

The traditional knot shape

If you’d like to roll these in a more traditional style see this great tutorial.

How to store them

These jumbo Swedish cinnamon buns are best served fresh – see above to make the dough ahead of time to save time on the day of serving.

If eating them the next day, they will be better warmed for 10 seconds in the microwave to fluff them up again.

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6 large cinnamon buns on a baking tray.
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6 large cinnamon buns on a baking tray.

Jumbo Swedish Cinnamon Buns

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Known in Sweden as Kanelbullar, these (jumbo) Swedish Cinnamon Buns are a favourite among Swedes. These soft, fluffy breakfast buns with a hint of cardamom are perfect with a coffee.

Ingredients

THE BUNS

  • 57 g unsalted butter (¼ cup / 2oz)
  • 1 cup cold milk (250ml)
  • 555 g plain (all purp) flour (4 ¼ cups / 19.5oz)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (1 sachet / 7g) (note 4)
  • cup white granulated sugar (66g / 2.3oz)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs

FOR THE FILLING

  • cup packed brown sugar (133g 4.7oz)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (note 1)
  • 57 g unsalted butter, softened (¼ cup / 2oz)
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk

THE TOPPING

  • 1 egg yolk
  • a dash of water
  • 6 teaspoons coffee crystals or pearl sugar

Equipment

Instructions
 

MAKING THE DOUGH

  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and ⅓ cup of milk. Stir or swirl to melt without overheating. Add the remaining cold milk and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or see notes), add the flour, yeast, sugar cardamom and salt then give it a good mix around.
  • Pour in the warm milk mixture, give it a quick stir until clumping, then add the eggs.
  • Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and mix the dough for 6-7 minutes until smooth and elastic. It will be very soft.
  • Use a bowl scraper to scrape and lift out the dough, the oil the bowl. Drop the dough back in and flip over so it's coated in oil.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size (notes – rising time).

ASSEMBLING THE BUNS

  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, about 6mm thick (roughly 27.5 x 37cm or 11×14.5 inches)
  • Preheat the oven to 200C / 375F / 180C fan forced and grease a 9×13 inch baking tray.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the filling – brown sugar, cinnamon and butter until combined and spreadable.
  • Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the rolled out dough leaving one inch on the far short side bare.
  • Roll the dough up (from one SHORT SIDE to other) into a log, then cut into 6 even pieces.
  • Place the rolls evenly spaced onto the baking tray cut side up.
  • Let them rest and rise for another 30-45 minutes, again until doubled.

BAKING

  • Beat together the egg yolk and water then brush all over the exposed dough of the rolls. Sprinkle over pearl sugar or coffee crystals.
  • Bake for 18-24 minutes, turning the tray at the halfway mark, until cooked through and turning golden. Careful not to overbake or they’ll become dry.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. All ovens vary – always test for doneness 3-5 minutes before the recipe suggests
  3. For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  4. Yeast: You can use instant or active dry yeast. If you use rapid rise, your dough may double in size quicker. If using active dry yeast, make sure to add it to the warm butter and milk (after adding the cold milk) to activate for 10 minutes before using.
  5. By hand: You can make the dough without a stand mixer, just make sure to knead until it is smooth and elastic – about 10-12 minutes.
  6. Rising time: The rising time will depend on the ambient temperature of the location you leave your dough in to prove. A warm (not hot) spot is good.
  7. Cinnamon rolls are best eaten fresh but will keep in an airtight container 2-3 days. They can be warmed for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to soften them if a little stale.
  8. Make ahead: The recipe can be made ahead up to step 12. Cover the trays with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge overnight. Let them come to room temperature before baking.
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