Saffron Rolls (Lussekatter) Swedish Sweet Buns

These buns are a Christmastime favorite in Sweden. Made on “Santa Lucia Day” on December 13th, lussekatter is a tradition for most people living there. Slightly sweet and unique in flavor, these rolls may become your family’s new favorite!

If you’ve never had saffron, you’re in for a surprise! A truly unique color and flavor. The first time I had saffron was when my parents picked some up in Morocco.

I’ve created a helpful step-by-step recipe (with pictures). I hope you find it useful!

Fun little tidbit. This year, our little Lucy (our 2 year old) got to dress up for Santa Lucia Day. She was dressed in the traditional white dress, red ribbon, and crown. St. Lucia’s Day is festival of lights celebrated in Sweden on December 13th in honor of St. Lucia (St. Lucy). Since my husband lived in Sweden for a few years, this was a really special day for us. (See photo below.)

P.S. I would LOVE to keep in touch! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to stay up to date with my posts! If you end up making one of my recipes, I would love to see it! Just take a photo, post it, and tag me @saltanddough

Saffron Rolls (Lussekatter) Swedish Sweet Buns

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup white/granulated sugar
  • One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • Raisins


  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. In a small pot over the stovetop: heat the milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar together. Heat should be medium-low. Gently stirring, heat up the milk until it is steaming. Remove pot from the heat. Let milk mixture cool until it’s about 115°F, or warm to the touch. As it’s cooling, the saffron will infuse into the milk.
  2. After testing the milk, sprinkle in the yeast and gently stir in. Let sit and proof in the warm milk mixture for 5-10 minutes (until foamy).
  3. As the yeast is proofing, get your dry ingredients. In a the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl): combine 3 1/2 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and cardamom. Mix together.
  4. In the bowl of dry ingredients, add eggs, butter, sour cream, and the yeast milk mixture. Mix the ingredients until well combined.
  5. Switch to a dough hook of your stand mixer (or use your hands if using a large bowl) and knead your dough. Start kneading on slow speed. Continue kneading until the dough is slightly sticky to the touch. Add in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, if you think you need more flour. The key is to make sure the dough doesn’t stick completely to your hands.
  6. Once the dough is kneaded, now it’s time to rise the dough. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a large bowl that has been sprayed with oil (or shortening). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1-2 hours). The key to telling if the dough has properly risen is to gently stick your finger in the risen dough. If your finger indentation remains, the dough is good to go! If not, cover and let the dough rise longer.
  7. Gently punch down the dough and knead it with your hands. Now we are going to create the shape of the s-shape buns. Break off a piece and form it into a ball (it should be about 2 inches thick / 60-70 grams). Roll it into a snake-shape until it’s about 12 inches long. Curl the ends in opposite directions, toward the center. This will form the classic s-shape. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue to do this until all the dough is used up.
  8. Now it’s time for the second rise. Cover rolls in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 20-30 min).
  9. Once doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap. Using a pastry brush, spread on the beaten egg for the glaze. Once glazing is done for all the buns, place 2 raisins on each bun, in the spirals of the “S”.
  10. Place in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius). Bake for about 10-11 minutes, until buns are golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.
  12. Makes about 12 buns (give or take).
Lucy dressing up for Santa Lucia Day
Sarah (me) with final product…whilst holding baby boy

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