In Sweden we usually don’t eat desserts or cakes after dinner. Instead, we have something called “fika,” which is a big part of our culture. Fika is served twice a day, around 10-11am, called ‘förafternoonsfika’, which translates as fika before lunch, and ‘efterafternoonsfika’, served around 2pm-3pm, which translates as fika after lunch.
In addition, we like to go to cafes and always serve cookies when guests come over or someone comes over for a cup of coffee. Few people in the world drink more coffee than the Swedes, so it’s no wonder we’ve created a culture around it.
The tradition is that when guests come to visit, you should always serve 7 kinds of small cookies. This was a way of welcoming your guests into your home and showing prosperity. This dates back to the early 1800s, but today we only care about the quality, not the quantity, even though we still like to serve a small “smörgåsbord”, literally translated as “sandwich table”, of cakes and biscuits for our guests.
Here are some of the most beloved Swedish cakes and cookies that you should not miss on your trip to Sweden.
1. Strawberry pie
Jordgubbstårta, translated as strawberry cake, is the most loved party cake in Sweden. In the warm summer months, Sweden is full of delicious strawberries. The delicious berries are eaten in many ways. Straight from the bush, with whipped cream or ice cream or in a cake. But what better way to celebrate the season than with a creamy strawberry cake?
Jordgubbstårta is a layer of meringue and sponge cake, filled with strawberry jam, whipped cream and lots of fresh strawberries.
This cake is eaten at all summer parties, but especially at “Midsommarafton”, the pagan summer solstice festival, which is an “unmissable event” when visiting Sweden.
Kladdkaka is a Swedish chocolate cake and directly translates as “sticky cake” or “sticky cake”. It is one of the few Swedish desserts 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 to gooey perfection.
3. Cinnamon Bull
Kanelbullar, the Swedish version of cinnamon rolls, is flavored with cinnamon and cardamom. Kanelbullar is 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 Sweden than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns, and they are a true childhood memory for many of us. In most Swedish homes you will find this delight in the freezer, cupboards or baking in the oven.
4. Roll Cake
Rulltårta is a collective name for all kinds of cakes that are rolled. Usually when we think of rulltårta, we think of a thin sponge cake filled with 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. Princess Cake (Swedish Princess Cake)
This cake was initially called Gröntårta, “Green Cake”, and was invented by Jenny Åkerström, who was the teacher of the Swedish princesses in the early 1900s. Since it was the favorite cake of the princesses, it was later renamed to Prinsesstårta, which means princess cake. Today it is one of the most beloved Swedish cakes and is served at all kinds of parties.
Princess stårta is an extremely light and airy sponge cake cut in thin layers and filled with raspberry jam, raspberry puree, vanilla cream and whipped cream.
As the first name implies, the cake is then topped with green marzipan and topped with a pink marzipan rose.
Smulpaj is a cobbler’s pie, or crumble, pie. Loved by young and old, this cake is eaten all year round. The filling depends on the season. The most common are blueberry, apple, rhubarb and strawberry. Smulpaj is served with vanilla cream, whipped cream or ice cream.
7. Chocolate Balls
Chocolate balls, as they translate as, are more of a treat than a dessert. It is one of the first sweets that Swedish children learn to make at a young age.
Not only are the treats beloved, but they’re a hot topic after being renamed “Chokladbollar” because the old name was considered unpolitically 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.
8. Wheat Wreath
Vetekrans is a sweet wheat bread in the shape of a ring or elongated flat lengths. The lengths can be braided, sliced, or made from compound buns. The taste and filling also vary, but the wheat bread remains the same. Popular fillings and flavors include apple and cinnamon and cardamom or vanilla cream.
Daimtårta is a dessert that IKEA and Marabou have made popular all over the world. Daim is Swedish chocolate invented by Lars Anderfelt in the year 1952. But it took years for the chocolate to end up in this iconic refrigerated cake. This cake is an absolute treat made with butterscotch, almonds, layered with a creamy filling and covered in milk chocolate.
10. Sponge cake, apple pie and tiger pie
Swedish sockerkaka is a sponge cake and the basis for many Swedish pastries and desserts, but is also often eaten neat or flavored with lemon or vanilla.
Other classics include “Äppelkaka”, “Apple cake”, filled with apples and flavored with cinnamon, or “Tigerkaka”, which means “Tiger cake”. With tigerkaka, most of it is a regular sponge cake, then a slightly smaller portion is mixed with cocoa and added to the sponge cake batter, giving the tiger cake 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 bread with a filling of almond paste and whipped cream, traditionally eaten during Lent (Christian Lent).
Semla was introduced to the Swedish people in the year 1755 by the famous cookbook writer Cajsa Warg. Not only loved by the Swedish people today, but the sandwich was also a favorite of Sweden’s King Adolf Friedricks. The king loved them so much that he ate 14 servings of semla before dying 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 Cakes
As mentioned before, tradition says that you should serve 7 kinds of cookies when you get a visitor. It is common to buy a mixed set of hard biscuits, but biscuits are also some of the Swedes’ favorite things to bake at home. There are no rules for baking 7 cookies, and all families have their own versions and favorites.
Here are some of the most common. “Syltkakor”, vanilla cookies topped with berry jam.
“Dammsugare”, translated as “Vacuum cleaner”, or also known as “Arraksrulle”, is a small elongated dough with a marzipan casing. The marzipan is traditionally dyed green and the ends are dipped in chocolate. Inside is a cake crumb mixture with arrack, butter and cocoa.
“Drömmar” are airy and soft 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 distinctive yellow color and it is usually served as an S-shaped pretzel.
These sandwiches are traditionally eaten on December 13, the day of Saint Lucia’s celebration. Although Sweden is a Protestant country, we not only commemorate the death of Saint Lucia, but we also commemorate it in a very unique way. Saint Lucia Day is celebrated by dressing in white, carrying candles and singing around towns and schools. This is usually done by children and young women, as well as by professional singers.
The people get to vote in advance for their favorite person to portray Saint Lucia, and the chosen person becomes “Santa Lucia” and is dressed 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 lots of lussekatter.
14. Napoleon Bakelse
Napoleonbakelse, meaning Napoleon pastry, is the Swedish version of the mille-feuille by French confectioner Marie-Antoine Carême, invented in the 19th century.
It consists 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 covered with icing mixed with berry jelly. Invented by Johan Broqvist in the mid-19th century, the Swedish variant is one of the old classic Swedish desserts today.
The Budapest pastry was created in 1926 by confectioner Ingvar Strid 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 large baking sheet until the base is slightly rubbery and gooey.
The meringue base is cooled and topped with cream, berries, or fruit pieces before being rolled into a spiral. The cake should look like a block of wood and be decorated with chocolate and cut into portions before serving. Budapest pastries can be found in almost all cafes and supermarkets in Sweden.
Related: Most Popular Dishes in Sweden
Related: Most Popular Swedish Christmas Meals