Swedish Cardamom Buns (kardemummabullar)

cardamom buns on a baking tray with cup of coffee

Swedish Cardamom Buns are soft, plush sweet rolls with a fragrant cardamom sugar filling. This easy knotted pastry is beyond delicious and so easy to make, I’ll hold your hand through it, step by step!

Freshly baked cardamom bun on a plate with fork

cardamom buns are a sweet tradition in the Nordic countries

But for some reason they have never really caught on here in the States. Maybe it’s because our love of cinnamon rolls runs so deep, but I so encourage you to give these cardamom rolls a try. They are no more difficult to make, and the unique flavor of the cardamom filling paired with the vanilla glaze is just indescribably delicious.

cardamom buns on a baking sheet

If you read this blog regularly you may know that I adore cardamom. From the moment I tasted my first cardamom muffins I was hooked. I’ll often switch out cinnamon for cardamom in recipes, just for a new and exciting flavor profile.

what is cardamom?

Cardamom is an Indian spice from the ginger and turmeric family that grows little seed pods filled with tiny black seeds. It’s used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Scandinavian cuisines predominantly.

Green cardamom is used in both sweet and savory dishes: I’ve used it to make everything from ice cream to meatballs. It’s essential for making Turkish coffee.

The flavor? It’s described as piney, floral, and aromatic, with a touch of menthol or resin. It’s unique and hard to describe, but trust me, it’s lovely.

You can use pre-ground spice or grind your own from the pods. The correct way is to remove the little black seeds from the pods and grind them in a spice grinder. You can also grind the entire pods, but the flavor will be a little milder (although still stronger than the pre-ground spice.)

You can also use the pods whole in savory dishes like chicken with cardamom rice and biryani. Crack them first by rolling over them firmly with a rolling pin. Use both the pod and the little black seeds.

cardamom, ground and in pods

what you’ll need to make cardamom buns

These divine rolls are made with pantry staples…

  • all purpose flour
  • sugar ~ granulated
  • yeast ~ make sure your yeast is fresh for the best results
  • milk ~ I used whole milk, but you can experiment with low fat milk, too, or even dairy-free milks
  • butter ~ I always unsalted butter for baking
  • cardamom ~ we made these buns with commercially ground cardamom and freshly ground pods, and I actually preferred the subtle flavor of pre-ground cardamom in this recipe.
  • vanilla extract ~ complements and enhances the cardamom flavor just perfectly!
cardamom buns resting on a baking sheet

how to shape twisted cardamom rolls

Although they look complicated, once you see the steps laid out, it’s actually not very difficult to make these pretty dough twists. I found that this particular dough recipe is super easy to work with, too. It rolls fluidly, and doesn’t stick.

  1. First, roll out half of the dough into a rectangle. Spread half the filling over one half of the rectangle
  2. Fold the other half over, give it a little bit of a roll with the rolling pin to even everything out, and slice the rectangle into 8 equal narrow strips.
  3. Take each strip and use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut it lengthwise ALMOST all the way through, leaving a little bit still connected at the top.
  4. Take each “leg” and twist it gently, both in the same direction.
  5. Then twist the two “legs” around each other.
  6. Coil the twisted dough into a round shape, tucking the end underneath and pinching it slightly to keep it from unravelling. Each one will be a little different, don’t worry about perfection.
how to shape cardamom buns

the secret to a soft, shiny surface on your cardamom rolls

I’ve made a lot of different bread and sweet pastry recipes over the years that have called for all kinds of toppings – you can brush your dough with cream or milk, an egg wash, or butter, before baking to help maintain a soft exterior and give them a bit of shine. But this recipe uses a different technique, and I love it!

After the buns have baked, when they are hot from the oven, I brush it with a sweet simple syrup enhanced with a bit of vanilla extract. It makes the buns shiny and the crust soft without making it at all sticky. The bit of extra sweetness plus the vanilla is wonderful.

Brushing glaze on twisted cardamom buns

how to reheat homemade cardamom buns

We found, to our delight, that these rolls reheat beautifully in the microwave, in just 30 seconds, depending on your wattage. They become softer and more fragrant, and just amazing.

cardamom buns on a baking tray with cup of coffee

why you need to give these sweet cardamom rolls a try

These rolls blew me away, I’ll definitely be making them again and again. The texture was soft and plush, not crusty and ‘bready’ like some pastry rolls can be. These rolls kept that plush texture even after a couple of days on the counter.

The flavor is wonderfully complex, I think that’s due to the combination of cardamom and vanilla. It lingers on the palate nicely.

Whether you’re an experienced baker or a novice, I highly suggest giving these sweet rolls a try.

cardamom buns on a table with blue and white dishes

more Scandinavian inspired recipes ~

cardamom buns just out of the oven
cardamom buns on a baking tray with cup of coffee
4.95 from 36 votes

Cardamom Buns

Swedish Cardamom Buns are soft, plush sweet rolls with a fragrant cardamom sugar filling. This easy knotted pastry is beyond delicious
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Scandinavian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rising time 2 hours
Yield 16 buns
Author Sue Moran


For the dough

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp whole milk
  • 2 packages instant yeast (2 packages contain 1/2 oz. or 4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 3/4 cup all purpose flour

For the filling

  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cardamom

For the glaze

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then add the milk. Warm the mixture until it's lukewarm, and then add it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Note: the milk should not be hot, just barely warm to the touch, or it will kill the yeast.
  • Add the yeast to the bowl with the milk and butter mixture, and mix to dissolve. Then add the salt and sugar, and mix together.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour. Once all the flour has been added, continue to knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and pulling away from the side of the bowl.
    making dough in a stand mixer
  • Cover the bowl (no need to transfer to a separate greased bowl) and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, or until about doubled in size. Note: find a nice warm spot for your dough to rise.
    Cardamom bun dough rising
  • While the dough is rising, make the cardamom filling by simply mixing all of the filling ingredients together with a fork until uniform. Your butter should be soft enough to mix easily. Set aside.
  • Prepare two large baking sheets by covering them with a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Once the dough is risen, gently deflate it and divide it in half. Place one half on a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle about 14 inches wide by 18 inches long. Spread 1/2 of the filling over 1/2 of the rolled out rectangle.
    making cardamom buns
  • Fold the half of the dough without any filling over the other half of the dough. Roll out the dough a little bit more to get everything of a fairly even thickness.
  • Using a knife or a pizza cutter, divide your folded rectangle, widthwise, into 8 equal strips.
    cutting dough
  • Take each strip and slice it lengthwise almost all the way in half, leaving a little bit connected at the top.
    twisting cardamom rolls
  • Take each "leg" and gently twist it, both in the same direction.
    Making cardamom buns
  • Next, twist the two "legs" around each other gently.
    twisting dough for braided buns
  • Coil your twist into a small circle, tucking the end underneath and pinching it into place so it doesn't come undone. Don't worry about being perfect, just get it all twisted into a 'messy bun'.
    strips of dough on a marble slab
  • Repeat for the rest of your rectangles, and for the other half of the dough.
    strips of dough on a marble slab
  • Place your shaped rolls on your prepared baking sheets, spacing them a few inches apart. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and allow to rise again for about 1 hour. They may not puff up very dramatically, but should be a bit plumper.
    Cardamom rolls ready to bake
  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425F.
  • When the buns are done rising, bake them for 15 minutes.
    cardamom buns out of the oven
  • Make the glaze by adding the sugar and water to a small saucepan and heating just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  • When the buns are done baking, remove them from the oven and brush them with the glaze while still warm. You can add a second coat of the glaze once they have cooled down a bit if you want them to be extra-shiny.
    brushing cardamom buns with syrup

Cook’s notes

Sweet dough rises slower than regular dough, so make sure to park yours in a nice warm spot. I love my proofing box for rising dough in the winter, I can set it to the exact temperature I want and my dough rises perfectly.
*My recipe is lightly adapted from The Nordic Baking Book
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2022 at 8:01 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue: Love your recipes. If I wanted to substitute cinnamon for the cardamom in this recipe for Swedish sweet rolls, what amount would you suggest?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 24, 2022 at 8:15 am

      I feel like cinnamon is a lot more strident than cardamom, so I would use a little less, maybe a tablespoon at most.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2022 at 9:22 am

    5 stars
    I love these so much! Made a 2nd time last night and they came out the same as the first- both delish and beautiful. I don’t know why I start this at night. I have found that after the 2nd proof, if you loosely cover with plastic and tea towel on the sheet, they’ll rest in the fridge until morning. I bring them out while the oven preheats (earlier if I remember) and bake as directed. So. Good.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 6, 2022 at 9:31 am

      Such a great idea to bake them first thing in the morning!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    Hi, I would like to make this for a larger crowd. Can I double the recipe ?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 24, 2022 at 5:58 am

      I would recommend making two or three batches rather than trying to double or triple it.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2022 at 10:46 pm

    5 stars
    I am a novice yeast baker and this was fun and easy! My husband is not a fan of sweet rolls but he loved these. I will make these again

  • Reply
    January 25, 2022 at 11:45 am

    How would you adapt this recipe for a bread machine? Would this be a 2 pound size dough?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 25, 2022 at 11:45 am

      Gosh Brenda, I don’t use a bread machine so I’m not sure, sorry.

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