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
4.94 from 33 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
    December 24, 2020 at 7:20 am

    These look great! Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant? Thanks!

    • Reply
      December 24, 2020 at 7:43 am

      Yes, for sure.

  • Reply
    Susan J.
    December 20, 2020 at 5:30 am

    5 stars
    Tried these yesterday and they are delicious! Just as good this morning warmed slightly in the microwave. Might try to reduce the sugar a bit next time since they are quite sweet but this recipe is really a keeper!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 10:02 am

    These are outstanding. Made them gluten free using Steve’s GF Bread Flour from Authentic Foods. Slightly less flour is needed, and the buns don’t look as nice gf, but they are just great!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2020 at 1:41 pm

      That’s great to know AD!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2020 at 3:46 am

    Hi Sue, I am in love with your recipes and am also a cardamom obsessed baker! I have been telling my son a story about a prince who goes travelling and meets a baker who makes cardamom buns for him since he was born. This recipe showed up in my inbox just before his first birthday so I know I need to make these. Thanks so much! Do you think this sweet dough could be mixed in the bread machine?

  • Reply
    December 15, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    Can you use a hand mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer? Or knead by hand?

    • Reply
      December 15, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      Yes, either way will work.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2020 at 9:14 am

    I have “fancy white caramon pods”. They smell SO menthal that I’m very hesitant to try it. I’ve never used them before. Would you just cut back on the amount of cardamon?

    • Reply
      December 15, 2020 at 10:42 am

      If you’re using whole pods and grinding them, the flavor will be stronger, but not unpleasant to a cardamom lover. If you’re unsure I would cut back, or substitute some cinnamon with the cardamom.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2020 at 9:28 am

    These look delicious, I love anything w/ cardamom! Will these freeze well?

  • Reply
    December 14, 2020 at 9:03 am

    I’m going to make these; they sound wonderful. Cardamon always makes me think of the holidays. I continue a family tradition of making a braided cardamon bread that is dressed with an almond glaze and slivered almonds. It’s a recipe that has came from my Finnish Great Aunt.

    • Reply
      December 14, 2020 at 9:31 am

      That sounds amazing Ann. I’m on a cardamom/Scandinavian kick lately!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Totally agree that cardamom is magic. Have you used nut milks like coconut or almond in pastry like this successfully? Any texture change or performance problems? No dairy problems here. We have PLENTY of butter around the house! We just rarely have dairy milk on hand.

    • Reply
      December 14, 2020 at 8:18 am

      Hi jason ~ I haven’t tried this with non-dairy milk, but going from experience I know you should be able to substitute it without trouble.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2020 at 7:24 am

    I think I can, I think I can….going to give it a try for Christmas Day! Yep, our family is a cinnamon roll kinda family – but our daughter in law has Nordic roots, so I thought this might be fun to add a little Nordic spin on Christmas Breakfast. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Reply
      December 14, 2020 at 7:27 am

      I hope you love it as much as we did Donna, and happy holidays to you and your family.

      • Reply
        December 21, 2020 at 4:05 pm

        Just made this and while mine were not as good as the famous Swedish bakery in Stockholm, they were still yummy enough for homemade. Next time I will throw some crushed pistachio bits on top and add in more cardamom. Your twisting technique was so much more clear than most recipes for Swedish Cardamom rolls. Can’t wait to gift them to my Norwegian aunt!

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