A semla (semlor is the plural form) is a Swedish cardamom bun filled with marzipan and sweetened cream. These are traditionally served on Fat Tuesday, but nowadays these delicious pastries are happily eaten as often as they can be found. We love that these are not too sweet and are just big enough.

close up view of semlor desserts, Swedish cardamom buns filled with marzipan and sweetened cream, garnished with powdered sugar, on a plate
Prep Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 50 mins
16 buns



  • 1 ½ cups warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F)

  • cup butter, melted

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder


  • ½ cup milk, or as needed

  • 5 ounces marzipan

  • 2 cups whipping cream

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • confectioners' sugar for dusting


  1. For preparing buns: Whisk milk, butter, and eggs together in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top; let stand until yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift 5 cups flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt into a large bowl.

  2. When yeast has softened, stir flour mixture into milk mixture to form a soft dough. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Lightly grease baking sheets; set aside.

  3. Sift 1 cup flour and baking powder together. Stir into risen dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into 16 balls and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover with a damp cloth, and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 35 to 40 minutes.

  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and the center is firm, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool buns on a wire rack to room temperature.

  6. For preparing fillings: Once cool, cut a slice about 1/2-inch thick off of the top of each bun and set aside. Scoop or cut out the center of buns, leaving a shell about 1/2-inch thick. Tear removed bread into small pieces and place into a bowl. Moisten bread with milk, then mix in marzipan until smooth. Add additional milk as needed until marzipan filling is nearly as soft as pudding; set aside.

  7. Beat cream in a chilled glass or metal bowl with an electric mixer until frothy. Add sugar gradually, continuing to beat until soft peaks form.

  8. Fill each shell with a spoonful of marzipan filling. Pipe whipped cream on top of filling; it should be about 1/2 inch over the top of each bun. Replace the tops onto buns; dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.


Instead of 16 balls, you can break the dough into 24 if you'd like smaller semla buns.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

442 Calories
22g Fat
54g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Calories 442
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 12g 62%
Cholesterol 87mg 29%
Sodium 284mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 54g 20%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 146mg 11%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 150mg 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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