Kanelbullar are Swedish cinnamon buns made from a homemade bread dough and filled with a sweet cinnamon and butter filling. They take about three hours to make start to finish, including resting time.
This Kanelbullar recipe was inspired by Apt. 2B, who adapted it from Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. It’s a cross between the traditional recipe and kardemummabullar, which are cardamom buns. And that’s all the Swedish we know! Bork bork bork!
What Are Kanelbullar?
Kanelbullar or kanelbulle are Swedish Cinnamon Buns traditionally made with flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. If you’ve ever made babka or our braided apple pie bread before, the method is pretty similar.
Kanelbullar is pronounced CAN-eel-BULL-are and they were invented around 1920, long before Cinnabon took over every mall in America.
But cinnamon snails (the way cuter name for these buns) aren’t just popular in America. According to Sweden’s official site, Swedes consume more than 300 buns each year as part of fika, their daily coffee break.
For another homemade bread recipes, check out this Apple Pie Bread with a Honey Caramel Drizzle
Most cinnamon buns are 2″ to 4″ a piece, similar to the size of a croissant. However, Café Husaren in Haga, Sweden, are known for making extra large cinnamon buns called hagabullar (meaning “Queen of the Kitchen”) that are a full 12″ across. Not that we’re size queens or anything.
The Cinnamon Buns in this recipe aren’t quite that big, but they are larger than normal size because I wasn’t paying attention when I was making them. Feel free to reduce their size, just check on them through the oven door window as they bake so they don’t burn.
These are just one type of the bullar (roll or bun) popular in Sweden. Other varieties include:
- kardemummabullar — rolls filled with cardamom and cinnamon
- sommarbullar — buns filled with summer fruits such as rhubarb or strawberry
- lussebullar — rolls made with saffron, often for St. Lucia’s Day
How Do You Make Kanelbullar?
Go to IKEA. Pick up a box of KAFFEREP. Take home. Bake. Enjoy.
Or you can follow the recipe below and not set foot in the giant blue box of relationship death.
How to Make Swedish Cinnamon Buns:
- Make the Kanelbullar dough by first melting butter in a small saucepan. Add milk, and stir the mixture until it’s heated. Be careful not to scald the milk.
- Transfer two tablespoons of the mixture into a small bowl. When it’s warm, but not hot, sprinkle the yeast on top. Swirl the mixture and let it stand for five minutes. (If you add the yeast when it’s hot, you’ll kill it.)
- Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl using the paddle attachment if you have a stand mixer.
- Add the milk mixture and the yeast mixture. Let mix until it all comes together into a single ball of dough.
- Transfer the dough to a working surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic. (If you have a dough hook attachment for your mixer, you can use this instead.)
- Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Let it rise for one hour in a warm space until it has doubled in size.
While you’re waiting, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
When the dough has risen, mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is an 11×17-inch rectangle and spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the dough. Go all the way to the edges.
Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise. Slice the dough into 15-18 strips. Slice each two-thirds of the way up so they resemble pants. Twist each pant leg three times, then twist the pant legs around each other.
Cover the Swedish cinnamon buns with a tea towel. Let them rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425º F.
Brush the buns with egg wash.
Top with pearl sugar and/or sliced almonds. This is optional but makes the Kanelbullar extra pretty.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Serve warm.
If you do want to shape perfect cinnamon buns, watch this video or check out these illustrations.
Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)Print Recipe
Kanelbullar (Cinnamon Roll) Dough
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- pearl sugar (optional)
- sliced almonds (optional)
Kanelbullar (Cinnamon Bun) Dough
- Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add milk. Stir until the mixture is heated through.
- Add 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter and milk mixture to a small bowl. When the mixture no longer hot, but is warm, sprinkle yeast over the top.
- Gently swirl the small bowl to combine the milk and yeast. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
- Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the milk mixture. Stir until the mixture forms a ball of dough.
- Transfer the dough to a working surface. Knead the dough with your hands for 3 to 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. If you have a dough hook attachment for your mixer, you can use it instead.
- Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Let it rise for 1 hour in a warm space until it has doubled in size.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is an 11x17-inch rectangle.
- Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the dough. Go all the way to the edges.
- Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise.
- Slice the dough into 15-18 strips. Slice each two-thirds of the way up so they resemble pants. Twist each pant leg three times, then twist the pant legs around each other.
- Cover the buns with a tea towel. Let them rise for 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Brush the buns with egg wash.
- Top with pearl sugar and/or sliced almonds (optional).
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Serve warm.
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