St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatter)

St. Lucia Buns

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Prep: 2 hrs
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Yield: 20 buns
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
285 Calories
11g Fat
41g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 285
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 124mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 96mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lussekatter, or St. Lucia buns, are traditionally eaten in Sweden on the 13th of December in celebration of Saint Lucia, the patron saint of light. Before the Gregorian calendar began in the 18th century in Sweden, the shortest day of the year and the winter solstice fell on December 13. Traditionally, the golden saffron-infused buns are served on the morning of the 13th by the eldest daughter of the family, who is dressed in a white robe with a wreath of candles crowning her head. Nowadays, St. Lucia buns are also prepared throughout the period of Advent, as well as on the solstice in celebration of light.

The buns are often formed into an "S" shape, resembling a curled up cat, with raisins for decoration to signify the eyes. They can be served warm from the oven with butter, or prepared in advance, frozen, and then defrosted in an oven or microwave.


  • 1/2 teaspoon finely crumbled saffron threads, or 1 teaspoon powdered saffron

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • Raisins, or currants, for garnish

  • 1 large egg white

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Crumble the saffron threads into the melted butter. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour to infuse the butter with the saffron.

  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it reaches the scalding point, or when small bubbles form all over the surface. Turn off the heat and stir in the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pour the mixture into large mixing bowl and cool until cool to touch but still warm. Stir in the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.

  4. Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into the liquid to blend and then stir in the 2 beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl), without adding too much flour and drying out the dough.

  5. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl and turn to evenly coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  6. Punch down the risen dough and lightly knead 2 or 3 times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough, about 2 1/4 inches in diameter, and roll into ropes or "snakes," about 3/4-inch in diameter. Shape the snakes into "S"-shaped buns or other desired shapes. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel and let rise again until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  7. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  8. Brush the buns with the remaining egg white and then decorate the buns with the raisins. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

  9. Serve and enjoy.


Be sure to decorate the buns with raisins after glazing the dough with the egg white, to prevent the raisins from burning.

How to Store and Freeze

  • These buns are best the day they're made, but they can be stored for up to 2 days in an airtight container or zip-top bag. Refresh them in a warm oven for about 10 minutes before serving.
  • You can make these ahead of time and freeze for later use. Simply bake and cool, wrap in foil, then place in a freezer bag, and freeze. Thaw overnight on the counter. If you want, oosen the foil and warm them in the oven until toasty again.