Swedish Tea Ring


When I was growing up, my family spent almost every Christmas at my maternal grandparents’ home in New Orleans. Usually, it was my grandfather who would pick us all up from the airport. We’d load our stuff into his big boat of a Buick, and off we’d go: barreling down the smooth roads, the sound of the wheels on the pavement reminding me of roller skates, the warm, humid air rushing in though the open windows. Everything looked so magically different from the cold Northeastern town we’d started from–lush and manicured and impossibly green. It was delightfully foreign to see such a warm place dressed up in Christmas attire, reindeer prancing through lawns and trees sparkling red and green and gold.

As we pulled onto my grandparents’ own winding street, I could hardly wait to step inside their house. It always smelled exactly the same: like my grandmother’s perfume, like potpourri, like freshly baked bread. My grandmother would invariably be busy in the kitchen, her dog Annie there to pick up the crumbs or else snoozing on the sofa in the living room.

Come Christmas morning, my brother and I would leap from our beds and race downstairs. And of course, the main thing we were racing towards was the pile of presents below the Christmas tree. But if anything could postpone presents, it was my grandmother’s Swedish tea ring–a just-from-the-oven wreath of tender, cinnamon-infused dough generously spread with a sweet, melting glaze. I never ate the neon candied cherries that sat like jewels atop a crown, but to me, they were still an essential part of the pastry. The whole family would huddle around the kitchen table, the adults sipping their coffee, us kids drinking our juice, and all of us enjoying the warm tea ring.

Making it is a labor of love, but the tea ring is so much better than anything you can buy in a box, and I promise that pulling the finished product from the oven is almost as satisfying as eating it… Almost.

Swedish Tea Ring
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-14
A festive wreath of tender, cinnamon-swirled pastry.
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (105 to 115°F)
  • ½ cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • FOR DECOR (optional):
  • ½ - 1 cup candied cherries
  • ½ - 1 cup whole pecans or sliced almonds
  1. Make the dough: Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and 2½ cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated 3 to 4 days.) Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours. (Dough is ready if impression remains when touched.) Punch dough down. Roll the dough into rectangle, 15 x 9 inches, on lightly floured surface.
  2. Add the cinnamon-raisin filling: Spread dough with the 5 tablespoons softened butter; sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well. Stretch roll to make even. With sealed edge down, shape into ring on lightly greased cookie sheet. Pinch ends together. With scissors, make cuts ⅔ of the way through ring at 1-inch intervals. Turn each section on its side. Cover; let rise until double, about 30-40 minutes. Heat oven to 375°F. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. (If tea ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.)
  3. While tea ring is baking, prepare the glaze: Mix together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze is smooth and of desired consistency. When the tea ring is done, remove from oven. Spread with glaze (you may not end up using all of it depending on how much glaze you like, but I hate not having enough!) and, if desired, decorate with nuts or candied cherries while still warm. Enjoy!


  • Your commentary is so heartwarming. Thank you for sharing.

    P.S. I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and had to turn on my air conditioner yesterday while I was baking Christmas treats!

  • The Swedish Tea Ring reminds me of cinnamon rolls- our go-to holiday breakfast. Yum!

  • Kim Grenier

    Thank you, thank you for posting! My mom made multiple tea rings each Christmas for friends, family and special events and I was heartbroken when I lost her recipe…I want to carry on the tradition and teach my daughter how to prepare this wonderful treat!

  • My family makes Swedish Tea Ring every year for Christmas. Loved seeing your post and hearing about your Christmas traditions. Every Christmas morning for us, it was Swedish Tea Ring alongside delicious scrambled eggs. Thanks for posting this!

  • Dawn S.

    This was always a tradition in my home growing up. Tea Ring and fresh grapefruit halves on Chrismas morning. The tradition continues in my home. I can’t wait for my daughters to work along my side on Christmas. What a wonderful post…warms my heart.

  • betty2dogs

    Thanks for your post. My brothers and I were reminiscing about Christmas morning, and this is the exact recipe my mother made every year. So fancy! So good!

  • Jan F.

    Recipe I used for years to make cinnamon, orange, pecan,etc., rolls. Very good and I even make the dough, refrigerate overnite and finish the rolls in the a.m.

  • Verʏ descriptive article, Ι likled that a ⅼot.
    Wіll there be а ρart 2?