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Scandinavian Christmas Cookies

Find recipes and learn about age-old Scandinavian Christmas cookie traditions.

A Cherished Tradition

Recipes for Scandinavian Christmas cookies are handed down from generation to generation. Recipes might vary between families and location, but timeless favorites exist, even overlapping national borders. Among the most popular cookies:

  • Pepparkakor, crisp, very thin gingersnaps from Sweden, traditionally cut out in heart and flower shapes.
  • Pebber Nodder (Pepper Nuts) from Denmark and Peppernotter (Pepper Nuts) from Sweden, are the oldest Christmas cookie in Scandinavia and Europe, dating to medieval times when spices were used exclusively for holiday baking.
  • Fattigmann (Poor Man), from Norway, also dates to the Middle Ages, and, along with rosettes, is typical of traditional cookies deep-fried in unsalted fat. 
  • Krumkake, Vaffler, and Goro from Norway date to the 1700s. Originally made over open fires using decorative irons, modern cooks use electric or stovetop irons to bake paper-thin wafers imprinted with delicate filigree patterns. Krumkake, wrapped around a wooden cone, are named for the buttery crumbles left in your hand when you take a first bite.
  • Pepparkakorhus, the traditional gingerbread house, often a family project, is a centerpiece on many Christmas tables. 
  • Aebleskiver, plump doughnut-like round balls are a favorite in Denmark served when friends and family go visiting between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Traditional Scandinavian Cookie Recipes:

Traditional Ingredients

Special care goes into choosing the highest quality ingredients.

  • Sweet, uncultured butter
  • Vanilla sugar, similar to vanilla-flavored confectioners' sugar
  • Sliced, ground, or whole almonds for dough and decoration
  • Marzipan paste made of ground almonds and fine castor sugar
  • Spices, especially ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon
  • Hornsalt, or baking ammonia--the Scandinavian equivalent of baking powder-- makes cookies crisp and light
  • Pearl sugar (large sugar crystals) for decoration

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    R. Baum 
    Dec. 11, 2009 11:17 am
    In doing my genealogy, I recently discovered that one of my forebears came from Sweden. So now, I'm very interested in all things Swedish.
    Dec. 12, 2009 3:19 pm
    Congratulations, altho I am Cdn., my parents are Swedish, directly, born and raised there. I grew up in a small town on the Coast of B.C. at one time, all inhabitants Scandinavian ..and all traditions abounded.
    Sep. 13, 2010 12:25 pm
    Grew up eating rosettes at Christmas time. We also make lefse and enjoy that on Christmas Eve and day. Going to try my hand at a traditional rice pudding this year, too, to keep our house tomte happy!
    Dec. 2, 2010 6:56 pm
    I grew up in a small town in central kansas that was founded by swedish immigrants. St. Lucia, Midsummers,are celebrated every year, and the food is a interesting blend of flavors. Breads and sweets have always been my favorite.
    May 8, 2012 12:34 pm
    I love this article! My family is from Norway, and I remember having different Scandinavian treats at Christmastime! It has been a long tradition to make lefse during the holidays too! This is a great collection of cookies, that I can add to my recipe box.
    Jan. 1, 2015 9:04 pm
    I found this website when my mom was telling me a story about when her grandmother would make swedish cookies so i searched it and found this site. My mother say they are quite delicious and i look forward to try them!
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