Swedish pancakes (Pannkaka [singular] or Pannkakor [plural] in Swedish) are one of the most well-known Scandinavian delicacies, and rightfully so. Tender, buttery and often served with butter and lingonberry jam, there is much to account for their popularity.
The good news is that Swedish pancakes are easy to make and require no special equipment other than a 8 or 10 inch nonstick pan. They are also incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed with a variety of different toppings and/or fillings ranging from the traditional lingonberry jam and butter to fresh berries and whipped cream or even savory fillings like smoked salmon or ham and cheese.
You are going to love these authentic Swedish pancakes! Ready to get started? Let me walk you through the process start to finish and share lots of tips and tricks for making foolproof pannkakor at home in your own kitchen.
Why This Recipe Works
This is sure to become your go-to recipe for Swedish pancakes because:
- This recipe for pannkakor is easy and forgiving. Several of the recipes I tried during the testing process were fussy and often ended with fragile, torn pancakes. These, on the other hand, are delicate and tender but still easy to maneuver without any ripping or tearing.
- These Swedish pancakes contain just the right amount of sugar and a hint of vanilla extract creating the perfect backdrop for butter, lingonberries or whatever else you decide to serve with your Swedish pancakes.
- The instructions are simple and easy to master once you get the hang of it!
- All purpose flour forms the base of this recipe.
- Milk and and a couple of large eggs provide richness and some structure, and a splash of water helps the batter to be just the right consistency. You will notice that there is more liquid in this recipe (a combination of water and milk) as compared to a standard American pancake recipe. That facilitates getting these pancakes nice and thin, more like a crepe than a traditional American pancake.
- A modest amount of sugar brings a touch of sweetness and a little browning, and vanilla extract adds it's quintessential comforting flavor notes.
- Finally, a bit of salt balances out the sweetness of the pancakes.
For the exact amounts and detailed instructions, please visit the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
How to Make Swedish Pancakes
- Use a blender to mix your batter ingredients. This creates an incredibly smooth, lump-free batter every time and couldn't be easier. Just put everything in, let it whirl about and you're done. No blender? No problem! Simply whisk all of the ingredients in a large bowl REALLY WELL by hand. We want the batter to be as smooth as possible.
- Rest the batter for at least two hours or up to two days. This will help ensure that your pancakes are uniform in texture and as tender as they can be. I recommend mixing the batter the night before if you are making pannkakor for breakfast so that it's ready to go when you are.
- Use an 8 or 10 inch nonstick skilet to make your Swedish pancakes (mine is a 10 inch skillet). While you can purchase a special pan called a "plett" for making small Swedish pancakes that are just 3 inches in diameter, it is just as common these days to see Swedish pancakes in a larger form, more like a small crepe. Choosing this modern, bigger pancake shape also means you have one less piece of special equipment to buy....a small nonstick skillet will do the job just fine.
- Use a heat proof silicone brush to brush the skillet with melted butter prior to cooking each pancake. This imparts delicious flavor and just the right amount of browning to the pancakes.
- Lift and swirl that skillet! Lift the heated skillet off of the burner before you pour the batter into the skillet. Once you pour the batter in, swirl it around so that it coats the bottom of the pan evenly. Continue swirling until the batter is just set. Then return the skillet to the heat. Cook for 30 seconds or so.
- Carefully flip the pancake with a nonstick spatula. Gently loosen the edges and slide the spatula underneath. Quickly flip the pancake over so it can brown on the other side. Let the pancake cook for another 30 seconds.
- Use that nonstick spatula to remove the pancake from the skillet and transfer it to a heatproof plate. Cover with foil and transfer to a 200 degree oven to keep warm if you plan to enjoy them immediately.
- Repeat with remaining batter.
- Fill as desired and serve or cool and store for later (see the FAQs section below for refrigerator and freezer storage instructions).
Expert Tips for Making Swedish Pancakes
Once you get a hang of the process, making Swedish pancakes is pretty simple. A few important tips to keep in mind:
- Monitor the heat of your pan. You may need to adjust the heat down slightly if your pancakes are browning too quickly.
- Wipe out the pan with a paper towel as needed in between pancakes. The surface of the pan may start to collect overly browned butter or cooked batter as you go, which you don't want to impart to the next pancake.
- Learn to perfect the "lift and swirl" technique with the batter when you pour it into the skillet. This is the most important aspect of making Swedish pancakes that are round and an even thickness throughout. Watch the video linked below to get a better idea of what this looks like in action.
Yes! Make the pancakes and allow them to cool to room temperature on a plate. Wrap the stack of pancakes tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you are ready to serve, you can warm a single serving in the microwave or in a skillet as needed, or transfer the whole stack of pannkakor to a large piece of foil and wrap tightly. Warm in a 300 degree oven until the pancakes are heated through.
Yes, unfilled Swedish pancakes freeze quite well. Once your pannkakor have cooled to room temperature, stack them in between squares of parchment or wax paper. Wrap the stack in plastic wrap and then place the wrapped stack inside of a freezer bag. Use within 4-6 weeks. When you are ready to use them, you can warm a single serving in the microwave as needed.
OR you can thaw the pancakes in the refrigerator overnight, remove the plastic wrap and transfer the whole stack of pancakes to a large piece of foil and wrap tightly. Warm in a 300 degree oven in the pancakes are heated through. If you used wax paper in between each pancake prior to freezing, remove the wax paper prior to putting the pannkakor into the oven (wax paper is not oven safe).
Unlike American pancakes which are prized for being tall and fluffy, Swedish pancakes are thin, delicate and crepe-like. They are traditionally made in a special pan called a plett, which has thin 3-inch round indentations designed for cooking the pancakes.
The Swedish pancake batter itself has many similar ingredients to American pancakes (milk, butter, eggs, flour, etc.), but the consistency of the batter is much thinner, and it does not contain any leavening agents. Most Swedish pancake recipes also recommend a brief rest of the batter prior to cooking which helps ensure a uniformly thin and tender pancake.
When served, American pancakes are often buttered, stacked and drenched generously in maple syrup. Swedish pancakes, on the other hand, are traditionally rolled or folded and served with lingonberries, butter and sometimes whipped or sour cream.
The batters for Swedish pancakes and crepes are very similar and both are cooked into thin round shape. But Swedish pancakes tend to be a little more eggy in flavor and tender and delicate in texture than crepes which tend to be more dense and chewy.
Crepes are often made with a crepe maker whereas Swedish pancakes are made in a skillet or plättar pan (the one that makes the small pancakes). As an aside, my mom makes her Swedish pancakes with an electric crepe maker, so if you have one you can definitely use it here if you like!
Historically Swedish pancakes were served on Thursday evenings as a dessert following a meal of hearty pea soup. According to Food's Ready, a cookbook put together by IKEA food services, this tradition harkens back to when Sweden was a Catholic country and it was customary to fast on Fridays. People would fill up on pea soup and pancakes the night before to help them get through that long day ahead without food.
See the section below for filling and topping ideas for your Swedish pancakes. As far as side dishes go, breakfast sausage or bacon are delicious alongside pannkakor for breakfast or brunch!
Filling and Topping Ideas for Swedish Pancakes
The Swedish pancake is really a blank canvas waiting for your creative filling and topping ideas. Here is a list to get you started:
Sweet Filling and Topping Ideas
- The traditional way to serve Swedish pancakes is with lingonberry jam and butter. I like to mash equal parts lingonberries and butter together with a fork and tuck a little of this lingonberry butter inside each warm pancake before folding into thirds lengthwise. I then top the filled and folded pancakes with additional lingonberry jam.
- Any jam works in place of the lingonberry jam. Try raspberry, blueberry, strawberry or cloudberry!
- Top the pannkakor with fresh berries or peaches, a sprinkle of powdered sugar and whipped cream or ice cream for something that is a bit more dessert-like.
- Spread a little Nutella or other chocolate-based spread inside each pancake and fold into quarters. Serve with fresh strawberries, a sprinkle of powdered sugar and an extra drizzle of Nutella if you like.
- Serve them American style with butter and real maple syrup.
- Make a pannkastårta or Swedish Pancake cake! Layer cooled pancakes with jam and whipped cream and finish with a layer of whipped cream and fresh berries. Cover and chill and cut into wedges just like you would a regular cake. This makes a lovely afternoon or after school snack!
- You can also serve the pannkakor cold with a little pastry cream or lemon curd tucked inside. For example, in the recipe pictured below, I've spread a little vanilla pastry cream inside each pancake, folded it into quarters and spooned a homemade blueberry compote on top. Depending on the season, strawberry rhubarb, apple, pear or peach compote would all be delicious options. Or try this recipe for roasted strawberries over the top!
Savory Filling and Topping Ideas
If you want to fill you Swedish pancakes with something savory, reduce the sugar in the recipe to 1 ½ teaspoons and omit the vanilla extract. From there, the sky is the limit! Consider these savory filling combinations:
- Smoked salmon with cream cheese, chives, red onion and capers
- Ham, and/or roasted asparagus and cheese
- Sauteed mushrooms and/or spinach or with cheese
Pop any savory Swedish pancakes into a 300 degree oven or the microwave to melt the cheese, if necessary. All of the above are also delicious topped with a fried egg or scrambled eggs!
Need some help with that "lift and swirl" technique? Watch this video for a little help getting it down.
Looking for more classic Swedish recipes? Give these a try:
I'm so excited for you to make traditional Swedish pancakes at home! I hope you love them as much as I do.
Traditional Swedish Pancakes (Pannkakor)
For the Pancake Batter:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator to rest for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees if you plan to eat the pannkakor right away. Heat a 10 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir the batter briefly to recombine. Brush skillet with melted butter. Pick the skillet up off of the burner and quickly add ¼ cup of batter. Immediately begin swirling the batter around the skillet so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Continue swirling until the batter is just set. Return skillet to the burner. Cook until the pancake is golden brown in spots on the bottom, about 30 seconds. Use a thin spatula to loosen the pancake, flip it over continue to cook on the other side for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil and transfer to oven to keep warm and repeat with remaining batter, wiping out skillet in between pancakes with paper towel as needed.
- Serve with lingonberry jam and butter (see note below) or other desired toppings and/or fillings. See notes below for more information about making ahead of time and storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
If you loved this recipe, give it a star review! Also, snap a picture of your Swedish Pancakes and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #truenorthkitchen and tagging me @true_north_kitchen.