Swedish recipe: how to make super thin rye crispbread

Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe for thin crispbread (tunt knäckebröd).

Swedish recipe: how to make super thin rye crispbread
Swedish crispbread. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Knäckebröd (crispbread) is often served with a meal in Sweden, so every Swedish supermarket has a wide selection of different types of knäckebröd. Most are made using rye flour and spices, but the thickness varies a lot. Click here for a slightly thicker crispbread than the one below.

Although you can buy very good knäckebröd in stores both in and outside of Sweden it is worth making the effort to bake some yourself as they always taste a bit special when homemade.

This recipe produces really thin knäcke, much thinner than you can normally buy in shops, so they are almost like crisps (chips). They are good to serve with drinks as an appetizer, although they do have an annoying habit of disappearing very quickly. They are also good with cheese and some nice pickles, either at the end of a meal or for lunch.

Traditionally knäckebröd was made with a hole in the middle so that the breads could be stored on sticks under the roof. Although these days they are usually stored in tins or wrapped in paper, many people still like to cut a hole in the middle of the bread as a reminder of former times.


Swedes usually flavour tunt knäckebröd with lightly crushed anis (anise), brödkummin (caraway) or fänkål (fennel) seeds. Brödkummin or kummin is a false friend to English speakers as it means caraway, not cumin (cumin is spiskummin in Swedish). My personal favourite is anis as it has a more intense liquorice-like flavour. Whichever you use, lightly crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar to help release their aroma.


I like to decorate the knäckebröd with sea salt flakes and black and white sesame seeds. The sesame seeds add little in the way of flavour alongside the intense aroma of anise, so I really only use them for their appearance. You can buy black sesame seeds in good health food shops, Asian shops or online, but if you can’t get black seeds just use ordinary white sesame seeds on their own.


Makes 12 rounds

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 50 minutes

Total: 60 minutes (plus 15 minutes to prove)


– I have based this recipe on using a stand-mixer, such as a KitchenAid or a kMix, but it is also easy to make the dough by hand (knead for 4-5 minutes if making by hand).

– Although traditionally knäckebröd is made in rounds with a hole in the middle, any shape will do provided it is nice and thin.

– Take care not to use too much salt!

– If you have a pizza stone (baking stone), the knäckebröd will appreciate the quick burst of heat. Simply slide the knäckebröd onto a piece of baking parchment and transfer directly to the stone.


35 g oil, preferably rapeseed

140 g water

115 g rye flour, preferably stoneground

125 g strong (bread) flour, preferably stoneground

½ tsp salt (increase to 1 tsp if not using sea salt flakes)

2 tsp anise seeds, lightly crushed

7 g “fast action” dried yeast, 1 packet

1/2-3/4 tsp sea salt flakes, optional

2-3 tsp black and white sesame seeds, optional extra rye flour for dusting work surface

We recommend using digital scales to measure liquids.


1. Prehead the oven to 250C (480F, gas 9, fan 220C) and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Put the oil and water in a saucepan and heat gently until lukewarm, 40C (105F). Stir to ensure that it is evenly warmed.

3. Put the flours, salt and anise seeds in the stand-mixer’s bowl and stir thoroughly with a spoon.

4. Add the dried yeast and mix thoroughly.

5. Fit the stand-mixer’s dough hook and with the motor running on minimum gradually add the warmed oil and water mixture.

6. Increase the speed to 2 (kMix) or 3 (KitchenAid) for 2-3 minutes until the dough begins to form a ball. You might need to add a teaspoon of water if the dough looks too dry, or a teaspoon or two of rye flour if it looks too wet. If necessary, knead the dough lightly by hand to form a ball.

7. Cover the dough and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

8. Divide the mixture into 12 evenly sized pieces and shape them into balls.

9. Sprinkle the work surface with rye flour and roll the dough out until it is about 8 cm (3 in diameter), turning and flipping frequently.

10. Transfer to a square of baking parchment and continue to roll it until it is about 18 cm (7 in).

11. Trim the dough into a circular shape, using a plate as template, and roll in some sea salt flakes and black and/or white sesame seeds if desired.

12. Prick all over with a fork (or roll with a kruskavel).

13. Cut a hole in the centre if desired and slide it onto a baking stone or baking tray.

14. Bake for about 4 minutes, until slightly golden round the edges, but keep an eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

15. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

16. Once the oven has cooled to 50C, put the crispbreads back in the oven and leave to dry and cool completely with the oven door open.

17. Transfer to an air-tight container until required. They should keep for several weeks.

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

For members


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.