Icelandic Kleinur




Happy, Happy Neighbors

It’s spring in Sweden.  Cherry trees are in full bloom and all’s right with the world.

So, the afternoon project was making kleinur.  This recipe is Icelandic and kleinur are probably the second most popular snack after Icelandic pancakes to serve with coffee.  Oli got this recipe from his aunt Ása and is paying it forward by sharing it here today.

The best way to describe kleinur is to compare them to a twisted donut: maybe crullers, minus the sugar coating.  They are easy to make and fun to shape.  The slightly crunchy outside yields to a lovely soft cardamom scented interior.  The trick to the soft interior is not to knead the dough too much.  Work it until it is just combined, otherwise the kleinur will be chewy.  That nice, soft interior is also a result of lots of baking powder and baking soda in the dough.  The slightly crunchy exterior makes them an ideal dunkable accompaniment to coffee.  Or how about hot out of the fry basket with a glass of cold milk?  (Oli’s favorite.)

Cherry trees

When Oli bakes, he always shares with his neighbors.  (Personally, I think he has some pretty lucky neighbors.)  Today was no exception.  To the joy of his neighbors, Oli treated them to fresh kleinur.   It’s a tradition for the little Italian lady who lives next to Oli to invite a friend for coffee and celebrate spring.  They sit on the patio, sip coffee, relax and enjoy the cherry trees that line the neighborhood.  It’s an annual celebration of the season and their friendship. This year Oli’s timing was just right.  Kleinur day was the day she and her friend were getting together.  She was so thrilled to have these golden twists to serve that she gave Oli a huge hug and a kiss.

Happy, happy neighbors.  You know, sometimes it doesn’t take much to make people happy.  But Oli told me that he was the happiest guy in the neighborhood that day.

We hope these kleinur make you happy as well.

Icelandic Kleinur

Makes about 50 (4-inch) kleinur

5 cups  all purpose flour
1 stick (100 gr) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups plain yogurt
2 whole eggs

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

1.  Mix half of the flour and all of the butter in food processor until butter is incorporated. About half a minute until you have a powdered consistency.12.  Turn the mixture out onto a clean work surface. Add the other half of the flour along with the sugar, baking soda, cardamom and the baking powder. Use your hands to blend until everything is well combined.4

3.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and drop the eggs and yogurt into the well. Work the flour into the egg mixture until all well combined into a firm dough that is not sticky but almost sticky.  Add more flour or yogurt if necessary. Make sure not to knead the dough too much or the kleinur will become chewy.

4.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5 6

5. Take one half of the dough and place on a floured surface. Dust with a little flour and then roll it to about 20-inches x 14-inches.  Cut the dough into 5 long strips.  Cut each strip into  5 equal diamonds.  Save the scraps and add them to the stored dough.
a 7

6.  Make a slit in the center of the diamond. Take one end and pull it through the center slit.  It’s as easy as that.  You have the signature twist for kleinur.


7.  Heat about 3-inches of oil to 350F  in a large pot and keep the temperature stable. Gently lower about 5-6 pieces at a time into the pot. The oil will always cool a little when you add new dough to it, so clip a thermometer to the pot to measure the temperature.  Fry until one side is golden (about 1 minute) then turn them with a spatula and cook the other side a little less than a minute.


8.  When both sides are a beautiful golden brown remove the kleinur from the oil and set aside on a paper towel to drain and cool.  Don’t forget the other dough ball in the fridge.


While they are cooling, make some coffee and invite a neighbor to share.  Happy spring!


About Allthatcooking

We are an Icelander living in Sweden and New England Yankee living in Virginia who share not only a great friendship but also a passion for world food. Our particular interest lies in the types of dishes that bring people together at celebrations and during holidays. When we take an occasional break from working on our global cookbook, we post on what is now a side project - our blog . Visit us at
This entry was posted in Icelandic Classic, Snacks, Sweets, To dunk in coffee and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Icelandic Kleinur

  1. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    Lucky neighbours! Those kleinur look so golden brown and beautiful.

  2. awesome, looks delicious,
    never had this kleinur before, tempting to try….

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  4. Lily Lau says:

    If only mine looked as gorgeous as yours… 🙂

  5. These look so perfect!!

  6. How interesting! I love this, and must try. 🙂

  7. Oh these looks beautiful!!!

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  9. Brad says:

    Just made these, delicious, but maybe add a little more Cardamom.

    • Glad you liked them. I have discovered greed cardamom pods and have never gone back to the store bought cardamom. The pods are so fragrant. Just pop some into a spice grinder (I use a retired coffee grinder) and grind them yourself. So much better.

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  12. Angela payne says:

    Having a family Kleinur making day tomorrow. 5 batches. Getting in touch with our Icelandic roots.

  13. this is so delicious!!! yumm! yumm! yumm!

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  15. Carolyn Staker says:

    I am teaching my first graders about Iceland and want to make these. Will they taste ok if made at home and brought in?

  16. Absolutely Carolyn! Please let us know what everyone thinks of them. We hope you all enjoy!
    Gina and Oli

  17. Helga says:

    My mom is Icelandic and had kleinur growing up. We as her kids did too. This is the best recipe we have had. They stay extremely soft and are very very good!! Thank you for sharing!!

  18. Judith van Bragt says:

    Thank you for this recipe! It reminds me of my time in Iceland as an exchange student (skiptenemi) a long time ago. My host mom Ruth in Akureyri baked kleinur in december. I would love to try to bake them myself. But I have a question, how much is in a cup?

  19. Annette says:

    Just returned from a cruise to Iceland. Saw these at a reception area while waiting for our bus to the airport. They looked just like a cruller my Czech grandmother used to make. She dusted hers with powdered sugar but they were fine plain with a cup of coffee or tea. I was hoping they were similar and was thrilled when I tasted these! They were so similar and brought back such great memories of her and the delicious crullers I had not had in over 40 years! What a thrilling find. Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to try making them.

  20. Stani says:

    This Christmas is the third Christmas we make kleinur using this recipe 🙂 They come out perfect. Thank you 🙂

  21. Made these three times now… Sooooooo addictive! This time I added bits of chopped up apple and also ground fresh cardamom from the seeds. OH WOW.

  22. Silly_Summerberry says:

    Hi! Lovely recipe – I want to make these ever since I had them in Iceland! You simply can’t beat the fragrance of fresh cardamom being ground!

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