Swedish food: How to make sweetened lingonberries

Possibly the most Swedish food there is. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe for sweetened lingonberries with The Local's readers.

Swedish food: How to make sweetened lingonberries
Sweetened lingonberries. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Rårörda lingon are a popular accompaniment to main courses in Sweden, especially some of the classic Swedish dishes such as köttbullar (meatballs), äggkaka (egg cake), kåldolmar (stuffed cabbage rolls), stekt strömming (fried Baltic herring) and raggmunkar (potato pancakes). They are made by adding sugar to the berries and stirring them until it dissolves.

Lingonberries grow in the wild in Sweden on small bushes in woodlands and on moorlands. They ripen in August and September when many Swedes pick their own berries, but they are also sold at markets. Although the berries look attractive they are not pleasant to eat raw as they are quite bitter.

Rårörda is really two words joined together: means raw and rörda means stirred.


Serves: 4

Preparation: 5 minutes (spread over one day)


100g (4oz) lingonberries, fresh or defrosted

at least 50g (2oz) caster (superfine) sugar

Note: The quantities above are sufficient for four servings, but I usually make a larger batch. Simply weigh your lingonberries and add half their weight in sugar initially. For example, if you have 900g (2lb) of lingonberries you will need to start with 450g (1lb) of sugar.


1. Pick over the berries to remove any leaves or twigs, rinse them and then drain them so the berries are reasonably dry.

2. Weigh the berries and put them in a bowl or a jar.

3. Add 50 percent by weight of caster sugar. Stir or shake every now and again until the sugar has all dissolved, which might take a day or more. Have a taste and add a little more sugar if desired, but avoid adding so much sugar that it will not dissolve. Some people squash some of the berries with the back of a spoon to release some of their juice to make it easier to dissolve the sugar, but I try to avoid doing this as I think rårörda lingon looks better with as many whole berries as possible.

4. Store until required in sterilized jars. Sterilize jars by washing them in a dishwasher or by putting the rinsed jars in an oven at 125C for 10 minutes. Let the jars cool before filling them.


– Fresh lingonberries are currently available in many supermarkets in Sweden. I'm from the UK and have never seen fresh lingonberries for sale there, but you can often find frozen lingonberries for sale in specialist stores or online.

Rårörda lingon will keep almost indefinitely thanks to the high level of benzoic acid in the berries which acts as a natural preservative. However, the colour will fade after a couple of months, so it is best not to keep them too long.

– Keep rårörda lingon in a cool dark place, such as in a fridge.

Lingonsylt (lingonberry jam) keeps better, but the texture and flavour is not quite as good.

– Ikea sells lingonsylt, but not rårörda lingon.

Recipe published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.

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Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.