Cardamom Bread and Pepparkakor Cookies

I thought about titling this post, Man Found Dead with Cardamom Bread Recipe Stuffed in His Mouth. However, after considering the situation realistically for a moment, I realized that my grandparents probably wouldn't knock me off for sharing two of our secret Swedish holiday recipes. But, if I turn up missing, you know who to look for! 🙂

Every year around the holidays, I look forward to these two tasty treats. I've eaten cardamom bread and papparkakor cookies during Christmastime for as long as I can remember. The smell of either of them baking immediately brings back warm memories for me. About 10 years ago, I asked my grandparents for these recipes, and they were kind enough to provide them. I'm posting both of them here so that others can enjoy their fantastic flavor.

Cardamom Bread

Here's the recipe that I use for cardamom bread. The original recipe is the version that I received from my grandparents. The modified recipe is my own conversion for use with a bread machine. I've made this recipe tens of times, and I'm always pleased with the results.

Original Recipe         Modified for Bread Machine
¾ cup milk   ½ cup milk
¼ cup butter   3 tablespoons butter
1 egg   1 egg
1/3 cup sugar   ¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt   ½ teaspoon salt
3 cups flour   2¼ cups flour (bread flour)
2 teaspoons yeast   1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1½ - 2 teaspoons cardamom   1½ teaspoons cardamom
(3 teaspoons if using powder)

  1. Microwave milk and butter for approximately 50 seconds
  2. Make dough using all ingredients (manually or with bread machine on "dough" mode)
  3. Divide into 3 rolled strips, cover with cloth, and allow to rest for 10 minutes
  4. Braid dough and top with light sugar coating (not included in above ingredients)
  5. Allow to rise for 40-50 minutes under plastic wrap
  6. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack

 Cardamom bread is good toasted or plain, buttered or not. If you're like me, you won't be able to limit yourself to just one or two slices. 🙂

Pepparkakor Cookies

Done properly, pepparkakor cookies (a Swedish twist on ginger cookies) are relatively thin and crisp. Pepparkakor cookie dough is my favorite, with chocolate chip cookie dough coming in a close second (at least the Nestlé Toll House recipe). Yeah, I know...raw eggs, Salmonella, etc. Call me crazy, but kids and adults have been eating raw cookie dough since the dawn of time (okay...maybe not quite that long), and as far as I know, kids aren't keeling over in the kitchen. But hey, I'm no doctor, so proceed at your own risk.

1 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons molasses (I prefer the “Dark Full Flavor” kind)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon

  1. Cream butter with sugar
  2. Add egg, milk, and molasses
  3. Mix everything else in
  4. Refrigerate the dough overnight
  5. Roll dough onto flowered surface until approximately 1/8" thick, and cut into shapes
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until done (approximately 8 minutes)

If you end up making either of these recipes, or if you have similar recipes that you'd like to share, please leave feedback. I'm very curious to hear what you think!

Comments (35)
  1. For the pepparkakor dough, try adding a little bit of grated orange peel. Other than that it looks pretty similar to the recipe in my genuine swedish plaid cookbook.

  2. Alicia says:

    If I were to die with something in my mouth, I would want it to be cardamom bread.

  3. Honey says:

    Do you ever use cardamom spice in the pepparkakor?  I learned to do that in Sweden and am surprised to find it isn’t in many of the Swediesh recipes I see in America. It might be because cardamom is very expensive here.

  4. Hi Michael!

    I was wandering through Google juse now looking for a good pepparkakor recipe. What a treat, literally, to find yours! My grandmother made both those and cardamom bread every year before she died, and I have continued the tradition. I hadn’t found a good-sounding pepperkakor recipe until yours. It was also one of the few sites where I found cardamom rather than saffron. We prefer the former, although it is $12 US/ .5 g! My flickas and I can’t wait to try your recipes. Thanks!  Grace

  5. Hi Michael!

    I too was desperately searching for a recipe that I remembered my grandmother making each Christmas and saw your website.  I haven’t had these in a number of years and am looking forward to trying your recipe.  Thank you so much for posting it!  Christine

  6. Barbara says:

    Hi Michael, The recipe you gave for Cardamom Bread sounds exactly like the bread I remember my mother making for us.  I loved waking to the scent of baking bread and look forward to tasting this treat made all the more enticing because she brushed on melted butter and sprinkled the top of the bread with granulated sugar.  Ooh I can smell that delicious bread now.  Thanks for bringing back that wonderful memory.

  7. Beth says:

    I can’t wait to try your Cardomom Bread recipe.  No one made it like my Grandmother.  She always insisted on cracking her own cardomom.  I brought her some home from Sweden one time.  She’s been gone now for 10 years and we’ve resorted to buying coffee bread.  Now I will try my hand at it sith your recipe.  I always thought it was more involved than what I see in yours.  I’ll let you know how it comes out. Loved her Spritz cookies and have perfected making them like her. Her recipe is sworn to secrecy or I’d share it with you.  Honestly, I’ve never seen a similar recipe for spritz anywhere!  Can you imagine, some recipes claim to be Spritz and don’t even contain almond flavoring!

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Suzanne says:

    I had the opportunity this evening to spend Christmas eve with a woman from Sweden who brought a fabulous bread to a potluck. She said it was called "pepperkock" I found your recipe for cookies and it sounded very much like was we ate.The difference is that hers was a bread, sort of like a banana bread in texture (but not super sweet) Would you know what the recipe would be. I know its not cardamom bread, since the picture you had looks mre like a white bread. thanks

  9. Liz says:

    Just like the other remarks I’ve read, I’ve been looking for this very recipe for ages.  My former husband’s grandmother was Finnish.  She barely spoke English, but taught me to make it by watching her do it.  I long ago lost the recipe I wrote down from watching her.

    Thanks so much.

  10. Cathy says:

    This is pretty much the same receipe we have handed down over the generations in our family.

    My Finnish grandmother made it, then my mother.  It is the only from scratch bread I take the time to make – usually just once a year on Christmas eve, for breakfast the next morning,although none of us can leave it overnight before having some!

    My grandfather was Swedish, and we call it Swedish coffe bread in our family.  I have a Swedish cookbook with the recipe in it.

    Our family brushes the top with beaten egg, then sprinkles sugar over that, then ground and slivered almonds.  For those who don’t care for nuts, we leave them off a couple of loaves.

  11. Chris Sorenson says:

    I was wondering through a Bed, Bath & Beyond store here in Michigan and came across a Cardamom scented candle – smells just like it! Then I thought of my paternal grandmother baking cardamom when we’d visit at the farm (they had a peach orchard, selling the fruit to Gerber baby foods…)

    Anyway, I asked my dad if he or his sisters had the recipe. Nope. So, I decided to go on line and found your recipe through Google. I will try it, and have my dad taste it. He swears that nobody made it like grandma (she truly was one heck of a baker – her pies and jams were to die for!) After we try the finished product I’ll let you know how your recipe fairs. Always thought there was much more to it – picture grandma "slaving" in the kitchen…? Could just be my adolescent memory, though. Although, your picture looks more like a white bread, where grandma’s was darker, more like a "medium" rye bread color…

    Your recipe sounds terrific – and easy – on paper. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for posting it!

  12. Hey, hey, cute pepparkakors, Why don t you send it over to my <a href="">Spoonful of Christmas</a> food event.

  13. Aparna says:

    Made your cardamom bread with some minor changes. Turned out good, very soft and tasty with a light crust. You can find the result at my blog.Thanks.

  14. E Lundquist says:

    I make Peparkakor cookies every year at Chrismas.  My Dad enjoys them so much I have to hide most of them or they will be gone and he will be in a crumb covered stupor! He often talks about a cardamom cake his mom made as a child that was much denser then a traditional coffee cake and a bit gooier.  Any ideas?

  15. Michelle says:

    I have always made the bread. I got the recipe from my mom. I don’t know where she got it but, I love, love, love this bread!! I am thrilled to see that you can make it in a bread machine. Thank you for an easier way, for when I want to make it any time. Michelle

  16. Sara says:

    Michael, I think I died and went to heaven!!!! I lost my Swedish mother’s recipe for Pepparkakors and used some other dumb one this year for Christmas and just found yours and totally recognize it as Mom’s.  I also recognize your Cardamon Bread as hers and so want to do it right after the holidays.  Thank you so so much.  Nobody knows what ginger cookies are like until they eat Pepparkakors.  Thanks, Sara

  17. I just copied you recipes. I am anxious to try them. Do you have a recipe for Limpa? Tusen Tak.Lil

  18. Jean Berger says:

    Regarding Step 5:

    Roll dough onto flowered surface until approximately 1/8" thick, and cut into shapes

    –What type of flower should I use?

  19. mswanson says:

    Jean…I use all-purpose flour. I’ve also learned to keep the dough chilled, so I only take what I need to roll out, then I put the rest back in the refrigerator until the next sheet. Last, I use a rubber cookie mat (I’m sure there’s more correct term) to roll onto, since it prevents sticking.

  20. Asyl says:


    I’m from France and i was searching for this Pepperkakor recipe for a so long time now!

    thank you so much for your recipe.

    i hope I find THE original recipe now.

    thoose cookies are so good and crispies…Yumi!

    i will cook soon and maybe tell you my opinion!!

    may God bless you…

  21. Shash says:

    I’ve made pepparkakor for nearly 50 years now as part of my Christamas gifts to family and friends. My original recipe is more complicated than this – and uses more spices – but I am going to try this one this year. Simplification, simplification…. but I will add the cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  22. I’m sure you will be getting more hits as the holidays approach.  Everyone says they will give you their recipe for this Swedish bread but they keep it under lock and key. Big Secreat.  Why is that pass it on to family and friends I say.  Well I am going to give this one a try.  I hope it’s the one with the cost of Cardamom you don’t want to waste your money or time.   This sounds like my mothers recipe and I loved her bread I could eat a whole loaf as a child.  Thanks for giving up the recipe.  Pauline Carlson Prince

  23. Paula O'Neill Swanson says:

    Dear Michael,

    I was looking for a recipe, for what my grandmother used to call her Christmas bread, and found your recipe. She would put icing and green and red candied cherries on top. I cant wait to try it. Thanks,  I was also happy to find the Pepparkakor cookies, boy what a trip down memory lane.  Thanks and Merry Christmas

  24. Vicki Peterson says:

    I have been making cardamom bread and pepparkakor for a long time now (30 years)  My recipies are a bit different from yours.  My pepparkakor recipe is from my grandmother.  One tip is to roll the cookies out in a flour/powdered sugar recipe.  It keeps the cookies from becoming tough as the scraps are rerolled.  Also, the cardamom bread is often topped with pearl sugar, which is beet suger, you can buy this at IKEA.  

  25. Kyle says:

    Hi Michael,

    Your cardamom bread recipe is fantastic!  I’ve been using it for a few years now to make bread for my family during the holidays, and they always love it.  Thanks for the great recipe.

  26. Mel says:

    Mike, can you please specify what type of cardamon you use? I get the pods, do you recommend grinding them first? I don’t want to use preground cardamon as I think spices loose their flavour after grinding and being stored…


  27. mswanson says:

    @Mel: I prefer buying the pods, removing the outer "husk," then grinding the seeds in a coffee grinder. Like you, I think it results in *much* better flavor. However, it is a lot of work to do, so I usually grind a bit more than I need (even though I put the cardamom back in its original container, it’s still much better than the powder).

  28. Jennifer says:

    I am SO glad I found these two recipes.

    I wanted to share that the bread that we picked up at the local Swedish bakery, would top it with large grain raw sugar..delish!

     I have only 2 cookie recipes that go back to my childhood days, and these pepparkakors are one, and the other mundlekrunts (sorry about the spelling) those tiny quarter size rings of butter cookies that melt in your mouth.  I recall my Swedish godmother making at least 2 dozen different types of cookies that were displayed on the dessert table around christmas time at our local Kafe Stuga (sp) and cannot find anyone who kept these delights in print.  If anyone has access or search tools (I’ve gone through Google 100’s of times and different ways) maybe correct spellings would help? Please share.  Thanks for these two, at least…I know had the internet been available while my godmother was alive, she would NEVER have let me share…even getting a recipe was like pulling teeth…”if you can’t learn to make them by memory, you shouldn’t make them…”

  29. Mary King says:

    Great news for our family, the recipe for cardamom bread, very close to the one I have used for 20 years and have lost. (shame on me for not sharing it with family (recipe, not the bread).  My recipe made 3 loaves. As to pepparkakar cookies, very similar to a Sweedish ginger cookie recipe I have also used for years.  Thank you for offering these recipes on line.  Some years I made as many as 30 loaves at Christmas.

  30. Kyle says:

    Hi Mike, I’ve been using this recipe for a few years now with my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it is always a hit.  Thanks so much!

  31. Tim says:

    I’ve had cardamom bread since childhood as well, but not from grandmother.  In stead my source is the Handy Bakery in East Providence, RI.  I have never topped or altered the bread by toasting or anything else, it is just too delicious just the way it is.  The bakery however is reducing it’s hours, now only open Fri-Sun, so I have been seeking recipes to make myself.  Can’t wait to try it.

  32. Judy says:

    I had a recipe for pepparkakor from Family Circle that I've been making for years, lost the recipe but the picture looks exactly how that recipe baked up. It called for Cardamom also. They are so good. I dip them in white chocolate also. Thanks, can't wait to try these.

  33. Michele says:

    This recipe is close to my grandmothers, except, 1 tsp. cloves, 1 tsp. cinnimon, and 1 tsp. cloves. Also a heaping TBS of baking powder and ione half cup of molasses. Yummy!

  34. sven isaksen says:

    my recipe is very close to yours it came straight over from Norway via grandmother Isaksen. the difference is dark karo syrup instead of molasses, cream instead of milk and 1 1/2 C of sugar and 2 1/2 C. of flour everything else being the same and we roll into large logs chill overnight slice really wafer thin sprinkle with sugar and bake…..mmmm nothing better with coffee or hot tea

  35. cathy says:

    thank you. i have a bunch of written down scribble from an experienced baker in my family – someone who is a novice like me is bound to mess up. Thanks for simplifying this recipe!

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