Top 15 Swedish Desserts and Cakes
In Sweden, we typically do not eat desserts or cakes after dinner. Instead, we have something called “fika,” which is a big part of our culture. Fika is served two times a day, around 10–11 am, called “förmiddagsfika,” which translates as before lunch fika, and “eftermiddagsfika,” served around 2–3 pm, which translates as after lunch fika.
On top of that, we love to go to cafes, and we always serve cookies when guests come over or someone stops by for a coffee. Few people in the world drink more coffee than the Swedes, so it is no wonder we created a culture around it.
The tradition is that when guests come over for a visit, you should always serve 7 types of small cookies. This was a way to warmly welcome your guests into your home and to show prosperity. This goes back as far as the early 1800s, but nowadays we only care about the quality, not the quantity, even though we still like to serve a small “smörgåsbord,” of cakes and cookies for our guests.
Here are some of the most beloved Swedish cakes and cookies you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Sweden.
Jordgubbstårta, translated as strawberry cake, is the most beloved celebration cake in Sweden. In the warm summer months, Sweden is full of luscious strawberries. The lovely berries are eaten in many ways. Straight from the bush, with cream or ice cream or in a pie. But what better way to celebrate the season than with a creamy cake filled with strawberries?
Jordgubbstårta is a layer meringue and sponge cake, filled with strawberry jam, whipped cream, and lots of fresh strawberries.
This cake is eaten at all summer celebrations, but especially on “Midsommarafton,” the pagan summer solstice celebration, which is a “do-not-miss event” if you are visiting Sweden.
Kladdkaka is a Swedish chocolate cake, and directly translates as “gooey cake” or “sticky cake.” It is one of the few Swedish desserts that are eaten after dinner. Kladdkaka is a luxurious, gooey chocolate delight, and one of the easiest “all-in-one recipes” to make. The cake is like a mix of a mud cake and a sticky brownie, baked in the oven until gooey perfection.
Kanelbullar, the Swedish version of cinnamon buns, are flavored with cinnamon and cardamom. Kanelbullar are one of the absolute favorites for “fika.”
They are always served with a cup of coffee or “saft,” a berry-flavored soft drink. There is nothing better in the world for Swedes than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns, and they are a true childhood memory for a lot of us. In most Swedish homes, you can find this delight in the freezer, cupboards, or baking in the oven.
Rulltårta is a collective name for all types of cakes that are rolled. Usually, when we say rulltårta we think of a thin sponge cake filled with either jam or some kind of creamy filling and neatly rolled into a delicious spiral. This cake is one of the most common cakes and is eaten as an everyday treat.
5. Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake)
This cake was, at the beginning, called Gröntårta, “Green cake,” and was invented by Jenny Åkerström, who was the Swedish princesses’ teacher in the early 1900s. Being the princesses’ favorite cake, it was later renamed prinsesstårta, which means princesses cake. Today, it is one of the most beloved Swedish cakes and is served at all kinds of celebrations.
Prinsesstårta is an extremely light and fluffy sponge cake cut into thin layers and filled with raspberry jam, mashed raspberry, vanilla cream, and whipped cream.
As the first name implies, the cake is then covered with green marzipan and topped with a pink marzipan rose.
Smulpaj is a cobbler cake, or crumble, tart. Beloved by young and old alike, this cake is eaten all year around. The filling depends on the season. The most common ones are blueberry, apple, rhubarb, and strawberry. Smulpaj is served with vanilla cream, whipped cream, or ice cream.
Chocolate balls, as they translate as, are more a treat than a dessert. It is one of the first sweets Swedish children learn to make at an early age.
Not only are the treats beloved, but they are also a hot topic after being renamed “Chokladbollar” due to the old name being considered non-politically correct.
The treats are made by mixing cold butter, cocoa, coffee, sugar, and oats. The mix is rolled into small balls and then rolled in grated coconut or pearl sugar.
Vetekrans is a sweet wheat bread shaped into a ring or oblong flat lengths. The lengths can be braided, cut, or made of composite buns. The taste and filling also vary, but the wheat bread stays the same. Popular fillings and flavors are apple and cinnamon and cardamom or vanilla cream.
Daimtårta is a dessert IKEA and Marabou made popular around the globe. Daim is Swedish chocolate invented by Lars Anderfelt in the year 1952. But it took years before the chocolate ended up in this iconic cooled cake. This cake is an absolute treat made with butterscotch, almonds, layered with a creamy filling and covered in milk chocolate.
10. Sockerkaka, Äppelkaka and Tigerkaka
Swedish sockerkaka is a sponge cake and the base for many Swedish pastries and desserts but is also commonly eaten plain or flavored with lemon or vanilla.
Other classics are “Äppelkaka,” “Apple cake,” filled with apples and flavored with cinnamon, or “Tigerkaka”, meaning “Tiger cake.” In tigerkaka the larger part is a plain sponge cake, and then a slightly smaller part is mixed with cocoa and added to the sponge cake batter, which gives the tiger cake gets its characteristic tiger stripes.
Normally, 2/3 of the cake is a regular sponge cake and 1/3 is flavored with chocolate.
Semla or fettisdagsbulle is a delicious sweet wheat bun with an almond paste and whipped cream filling, traditionally eaten for Lent (the Christian fasting period).
Semla was introduced to the Swedish people in the year 1755 by the famous cookbook author Cajsa Warg. Not only loved by the Swedish people today, but the bun was also a favorite of the Swedish king Adolf Friedricks. The king loved them so much that he ate 14 portions of semla before he died of stomach cramps in the year 1771.
Editor’s Note: Semla is a popular dessert in other Northern European countries such as Finland and Estonia.
12. 7 Sorters Kakor
As mentioned earlier, the tradition says that you should serve 7 kinds of cookies when you get a visitor. Buying a mixed set of hard cookies is common, but cookies are also some of the Swedes’ favorite things to bake at home. There are no rules for which 7 cookies to bake, and all families have their own versions and favorites.
Here are some of the most common ones. “Syltkakor,” vanilla cookies topped with berry jam.
“Dammsugare”, translated as “Vacuum cleaner,” or otherwise known as “Arraksrulle” is a small elongated pastry with a casing of marzipan. The marzipan is traditionally dyed green and the ends are dipped in chocolate. On the inside, there is a cake crumb mixture with arrack, butter, and cocoa.
“Drömmar” are fluffy and tender but hard cookies, flavored with vanilla.
Pepparkaka is the Swedish version of gingerbread, but it is only eaten during the Christmas season.
Lussekatter are sweet wheat buns flavored with saffron and topped with 2 raisins, made for the Christmas season. Saffron gives this bun its distinct yellow color, and it is typically served as an S-shaped pretzel.
These buns are traditionally eaten on December 13th, which is the day of the celebration of Saint Lucia. Even though Sweden is a Protestant country, we do not only commemorate the death of Saint Lucia but also commemorate it in a very unique way. Saint Lucia Day is celebrated by dressing up in white, bearing candles, and walking around singing in towns and schools. This is mostly done by children and young women but also professional singers.
The people get to vote in advance for their favorite person to portray Saint Lucia, and the elected person gets to be “Santa Lucia” and is dressed up with a crown filled with candles and walks at the front of the parade. The name “Lusse” in Lussekatter refers to Lucia.
On this special day, the Swedish people celebrate by lighting candles, drinking a warm, mulled wine called glögg, and eating a lot of lussekatter.
Napoleonbakelse, meaning Napoleon pastry, is the Swedish version of the French pastry chef Marie-Antoine Carême’s mille-feuille, invented in the 19th century.
It is made up of a layer of puff pastry with whipped cream, vanilla cream, and jam, with another layer of puff pastry on top. The top layer is usually topped with icing mixed with currant jelly. The Swedish variant was invented by Johan Broqvist in the middle of the 19th century and is nowadays one of the old classic Swedish desserts.
The Budapest pastry was created by the confectioner Ingvar Strid in the year 1926 and has since taken Sweden by storm. The base of a Budapest pastry is a meringue with hazelnuts and vanilla that is baked on a big tray until the base is slightly rubbery and gooey.
The meringue base is cooled and topped with cream, berries, or pieces of fruit before being rolled into a spiral. The cake should look like a log of timber and be decorated with chocolate and cut up into portions before being served. Budapest pastry can be found in almost all cafes and grocery stores in Sweden.