11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (2024)

Across the sea, winter darkness cloaks frosty fjords and snow-capped glaciers. But Scandinavians (and their brethren who settled the upper Midwest) have an antidote for the long nights: sugar, spice and candlelight. Inspired by old-world flavors and traditions, our cookies will brighten your home and sweeten your holiday season. According to Scandinavian folklore, mischievous red-capped tomtar or nisser (like the artfully iced ones on the wedges pictured) lived at every house, caring for farm animals or, in some tellings, leaving gifts. In return, the bearded elves asked only that a bowl of buttered julegrot (rice porridge) be left in the snow on Christmas eve.

01of 12

Cardamom-Rye Cookies

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (1)

Rye flour lends whole-grain nuttiness to Finnish ruiskakut. The cookies are usually wreath shape, but we made triangle tomtar elves (shown on previous slide) and square picture-frame cookies.

To paint these little masterpieces, we mixed food coloring or gold luster powder (an edible, fabulously sparkly splurge sold at crafts stores) with vodka to make a paint to brush on Royal Icing. (We use vodka because it dries fast, but water would work.)

A few tips: Use a small brush. Keep designs simple. Have fun—Jackson Pollock cookies look just as cool as Rembrandts.

View Recipe

02of 12

Orange-Saffron Stamp Cookies

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (2)

On Saint Lucia's Day (December 13), Swedish girls don crowns of candles and serve coffee and rolls before dawn. The flickering flames and soft, saffron- tinted lussekatter buns warmly herald the Christmas season. Saffron also lends its sunny hue and floral flavor to our tender cookies. Press them with a stamp, a glass or a fork.

Christmas Cookie Recipes to Treasures

View Recipe

03of 12

Lingonberry Hearts

Ruby-red lingonberries grow in Scandinavia's mountains, and sweet-tart jam made from the fruit is a regional staple. Our buttery cookies are crisp on the first day but soften as they meld with the preserves. (Lingonberry jam is available at some large supermarkets or online. You can use raspberry, too.)

View Recipe

04of 12

Honey-Spice Waffle Cookies

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (4)

Waferlike Norwegian krumkake cookies, made in an ornate press, inspired these waffle-maker treats. They have the best texture on the first day, so the recipe makes a small batch, just right for whipping up when friends and family visit.

View Recipe

05of 12

Tosca Diamonds

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (5)

Norwegian tosca cake layers caramelized almonds on sponge cake; a bar-cookie version swaps the cake for shortbread and has icing on top. We married the two and added our own gooey twist to these rich bars: buttery cookie crust, baked almond filling and warm caramel drizzle.

View Recipe

06of 12

Brown-Butter Kringler

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (6)

In Denmark, the golden kringle (pretzel) is an old guild symbol that often hangs outside bakeries. Our sweet version uses browned butter for deeper, nutty flavor.

View Recipe

07of 12

Triple-Almond Haystack Wreath

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (7)

Almond butter and extract, plus slivered nuts, flavor a sweet and-salty, no-bake cookie that looks like woven straw ornaments. Make a big wreath to slice at parties or small ones for gifts. Or just drop haystack-style mounds.

View Recipe

08of 12

Blueberry-Almond Fika Toasts

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (8)

Wild blueberries thrive in Sweden, where fika refers to a midday break for coffee-often accompanied by a treat like these biscotti-style cookies. Like biscotti, these coffee-spice flavor cookies bake twice to crisp thoroughly-perfect for dipping in hot drinks.

View Recipe

09of 12

Crispy Gingerbread

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (9)

The nose-tickling scents of ginger and clove float from ovens as pepparkakor bakes. Gingerbread is a Scandinavian holiday staple, with crisp cookies shaped into animals, hearts or petite cottage walls.

Our recipe yields cookies sturdy enough for houses but delicious for snacking in any shape. Whether you use a gingerbread house cookie cutter as we did or improvise, here are a few pro construction tips: Measure and trim the warm cookies for clean edges. Then decorate all pieces (walls, roof, chimney) separately and let them dry. Use soup cans or crumpled foil to support the joined walls from the inside as they dry, and wait until the walls are fully set to attach the roof. (Insert pins until the roof dries, if necessary.)

Gingerbread Recipes You'll Love

View Recipe

10of 12

Scandinavian Brownies

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (10)

Ground almonds and cardamom transform the fudgy American classic. For wintry flair, use a cut-out paper snowflake as a powdered sugar stencil.

Heavenly Homemade Food Gifts

View Recipe

11of 12

Hazelnut Macaroons

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (11)

We traded Scandinavia's beloved almonds for toasted hazelnuts in spice-kissed, six-ingredient drop cookies that look like little snowballs. We love these simple cookies plain, but if you want to dress them up, dip the bottoms of the cooled cookies in melted bittersweet chocolate.

View Recipe

12of 12

Cookie Inspiration

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (12)

Love our cookies? Here's our inspiration:

Read Before dreaming up these recipes, we consulted The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Duluth resident Beatrice Ojakangas. It's an outstanding guide to traditional Nordic breads, cookies and cakes.

Shop We ordered our gingerbread house cutter and snowflake cookie stamp from Ingebretsen's, a treasure trove of Scandinavian gifts and baking gear and a Minneapolis institution since 1921.

Decorate Kansas paper artist Angie Pickman created most of the snowflakes, paper trees and luminaria featured in our photos. She has made similar pieces available on her Etsy site.

11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated:

Views: 6380

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.