A Comprehensive Guide to Christmas Kringles: History, Traditions, and Recipes

Christmas kringles, a delectable Danish pastry, hold a special place in the hearts of many during the holiday season. With their flaky layers, sweet fillings, and festive decorations, these pastries embody the spirit of Christmas cheer. This guide will delve into the rich history and traditions surrounding Christmas kringles, providing insights into their cultural significance and offering detailed recipes to recreate these culinary masterpieces.

The History of Christmas Kringles

The origins of Christmas kringles can be traced back to the 19th century in Denmark, where they were known as “smørkringle” or “butter kringle.” These pastries were traditionally made with a sweet yeast dough and filled with a mixture of butter, sugar, and spices. Over time, kringles evolved to include various fillings, such as nuts, fruits, and marzipan, and became a beloved holiday treat.

Christmas Kringle Traditions

In Denmark, Christmas kringles are often served on Christmas Eve as part of a traditional feast. They are also popular throughout the Scandinavian countries and have gained recognition worldwide as a symbol of Christmas festivities. The shape of the kringle, typically a wreath or oval, represents the circle of life and the eternal nature of the holiday season.

A Very Danish Christmas Kringle Recipe


For the Dough:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105°-115°F)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed and chilled

For the Mixed Nut Filling:

  • 1 cup almond paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For the Toppings:

  • 1/4 cup coarse sanding sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Make the Dough: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium mixing bowl. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes until bubbly. Add the milk, cardamom, sugar, egg yolks, and cream. Stir well and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Place the cubed butter on top of the flour and pulse until pea-sized pieces of butter form. Pour the flour mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast mixture. Mix together just until the ingredients are moistened. Using your hands, briefly knead in any of the flour that didn’t incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the dough overnight.

  2. Make the Filling: Break the almond paste into pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and knead together with your hands. The mixture will be thick.

  3. Assemble the Kringle: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead together any loose dough pieces. Dough will be firm at first, so pound it flat with a rolling pin until it loosens a bit and becomes pliable. Roll to 24-inches square, picking up parts of the dough and spreading flour underneath intermittently so that it does not stick to the work surface. Fold dough into thirds to make a long narrow strip. Roll the strip to about 36-inches in length, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Optional: Trim the ragged edges of the pastry to neaten the presentation. I removed about 1/2 inch of dough on all edges. Place the filling in the center of the dough. The filling will be thick and clumpy, so place it by the handfuls or use two spoons – one spoon to pick up the filling and another to scrape it from the spoon and onto the dough. Brush the long edges of the dough with egg wash and fold each edge towards the center, overlapping one edge of the dough slightly over the other (see video) and completely encasing the filling. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, and place it seam-side-down. Gently form the length of dough to a wreath shape that overlaps slightly at the ends. Use egg wash to secure the ends together (see video). Cover the entire pastry with egg wash and immediately sprinkle with coarse sugar. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let proof in a warm place for 45 minutes.

  4. Bake the Kringle: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the pastry for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet and then transfer to a large serving platter.

  5. Make the Glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until a thick glaze forms. (I used 2 tbsp.) Add the vanilla and pinch of salt. Whisk together. Pour over the warm kringle. Immediately scatter chopped pecans and walnuts over the wet glaze. Serve immediately or the glaze will set in about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long for a bite!).

Old Danish Christmas Kringle Recipe


For the Dough:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup almond paste, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup milk

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Make the Dough: Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the almond extract and salt. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. Make the Filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

  3. Assemble the Kringle: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12×18-inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Roll up the dough tightly, starting from one of the long sides. Pinch the ends to seal. Place the kringle on a greased baking sheet and curve it into a horseshoe shape.

  4. Bake the Kringle: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the kringle for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

  5. Make the Glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm kringle. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Tips for Making the Perfect Christmas Kringle

  • Use high-quality ingredients for the best flavor.
  • Make sure the dough is chilled before rolling it out. This will help prevent it from becoming sticky and tearing.
  • Roll the dough out evenly to ensure even baking.
  • Don’t overfill the kringle with filling. This will make it difficult to roll and seal.
  • Bake the kringle until it is golden brown. Overbaking will make it dry and crumbly.
  • Let the kringle cool completely before glazing it. This will help the glaze set properly.

Christmas kringles are a delicious and festive treat that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. With their rich history and cultural significance, these pastries have become a cherished part of the holiday season. Whether you choose to make your own kringle from scratch or purchase one from a local bakery, be sure to savor the sweet flavors and festive spirit that these pastries bring.

We’re Danish, and we want everyone to enjoy delicious pastries! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any inquiries you may have about our bakery.

Not only do we make our bakery with great care, but we also carefully package it. We want it to feel as though you selected these sweets on your own when you strolled into our neighborhood bakery!

It’s ideal to serve kringle warm from the oven or at room temperature. Take out the Kringle from the plastic tray, the wax bag, and the plastic sheet. If you would like your kringle warm, bake it for 3 1/2 minutes at 350 degrees. Kringle can also be warmed in a microwave. Slice the kringle into 1 or 2 inch pieces when ready to serve. Then watch for approving looks and gestures. For storage, Kringle freezes well. Allow to stand at room temperature for six hours or in the refrigerator for twelve hours to thaw.

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How is Danish Kringle Made? | O&H Danish Bakery


What is a Christmas Kringle?

A Kringle is a pastry made with layers of sweet, flaky pastry, filled with fruit, nut or gourmet filling and topped with sweet icing. Originally, the Kringle was in a twisted shape like pretzels. Overtime, bakers adjusted to the classic oval ring we know today.

What is in a Kringle?

An oval-shaped pastry, the Kringle is made with 36 layers of buttery dough and filled with cheese, fruits, nuts, and other amazing fillings. Once baked, the Kringle is drizzled with icing and sometimes other toppings like cinnamon sugar or crushed nuts.

What is the meaning of Kringle?

A Scandinavian pastry, a Nordic variety of pretzel.

Why is a kringle called a kringle?

Kringle started out as the Nordic version of a pretzel, possibly made as early as the 13th century by Roman Catholic monks, especially in Denmark. Its name derives from the Old Norse “kringla” meaning a circle or oval. Danish immigrants brought the treat with them when they settled in Racine in the late 19th century.

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