Swedish Rye Cookies

Powder-kissed and pretty, these Swedish Rye cookies are perfect for anyone after a not-too-sweet, shortbread-style butter cookie.

Swedish Rye Cookies

Powder-kissed and pretty, these Swedish Rye cookies are perfect for holiday cookie enthusiasts (or, anyone really!) after a not-too-sweet, shortbread-style butter cookie. I make them with a blend of rye and whole wheat pastry flours, and also break with tradition when it comes adding a secret ingredient. Because I love the taste of toasted rye bread slathered with cream cheese, I use a butter/cream cheese combination for the dough - instead of a butter-only dough.
Swedish Rye Cookies and Powdered Sugar
These cookies can be baked into all sorts of shapes although I do like to roll & stamp them. The dough is generally easy to work with and I've found that cutters from super small up to medium-large in size work really well. 

Swedish Rye Cookie Dough

Other Ideas

I suspect you could experiment with other flours in place of the rye and expect good results - barley or oat flours might work well. I was also thinking about doing a savory version of this cookie with herbs and grated cheese in place of most/all of the sugar - turning it into a buttery rye cream-cheese herb cracker...

Swedish Rye Cookies before Baking


A number of you have commented over the years with successful variations on this recipe. I wanted to highlight a couple here with the hope that it might be helpful!

  • Can these be adapted to be vegan? Truman notes, “I replaced the butter and cream cheese with earth balance vegan buttery stick and tofutti better than cream cheese. This made it a bit more heart healthy, and vegan as well.” And along those lines, Keri adds, “I made the vegan version of these as well! They are delicious – I added some grated orange zest and ground anise seed, and they remind me of a less-crispy version of my grandma’s pepperkaker.”
  • KanelBulle spiced things up, “I combined this with the gingerbread idea by adding spices – ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon – and using a dark sugar that is called “molasses sugar”. It came out brilliantly (even if I don’t have the cutters to make those rings).”

Swedish Rye Cookies on Baking Sheet

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Swedish Rye Cookie

5 from 4 votes

I use whole wheat pastry flour here, but you can substitute unbleached all-purpose flour if you like.

  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar, sifted
  • large grain sugar (for sprinkling)
  • organic powdered sugar (for snow)
  1. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flours and salt. Set aside. In an electric mixer (or by hand) beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, add the butter and do the same, mixing until the two are well combined. Beat in the sugar and mix until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir only long enough to combine the two. The dough should no longer be dusty looking. Turn the dough out onto the counter, knead once or twice to bring it together, shape into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and chill it in a refrigerator.
  3. Heat your oven to 350F degrees, and arrange the racks in the top and bottom thirds.. When you are ready to roll out your cookies do so on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut into shapes with the cookie cutter of your choice. Place on the prepared baking sheets an inch apart, and sprinkle each cookie with a bit of large-grain sugar. Bake for six or seven minutes, just until cookies are fragrant, and getting a bit golden at the edges - avoid over-baking or they will come out on the dry side. Allow to cool completely, and dust cookies with a bit of powdered sugar.

Makes dozens of tiny cookies, less if you are cutting them larger.

Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
7 mins
Total Time
37 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


Yummy......it looks delicious.


these are good! can definitely recommend adding carraway seeds..


Not specific to this recipe, but I absolutely adore the photography on this site. Marvelous. b


Anything Swedish is yummy, and they're adorable too! Keep rockin' the Christmas cookies people...

carrie ketchum

Sounds great. I'm going to make them with caraway seeds which I enjoy in rye bread. Love your site!

Grampa Joe

Truman beat me to it, because I just popped in to say that I made the vegan version of these as well! They are delicious - I added some grated orange zest and ground anise seed, and they remind me of a less-crispy version of my grandma's pepperkaker. Thanks Heidi, for another great recipe and a great blog! Happy Holidays!


I just made these over the weekend and they were a hit with my roommates and myself! Delicious!! i use this site all of the time when i need healthy ideas and great tasty recipes!!


Rye toast and cream cheese. *smiles* Excellent choice. Great cookie idea as well.


those cookies look delicious


I replaced the butter and cream cheese with earth balance vegan buttery stick and tofutti better than cream cheese. This made it a bit more heart healthy, and vegan as well.


These cookies look great! I'm going to try them while I'm home from college on Christmas break... yum!

Lauren from The Pink Apron

how could I image to learn english and new recipes in a better way than this? I'll try these coockies during my Christmas holiday..... greetings from Italy!!!


I combined this with the gingerbread idea by adding spices - ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon - and using a dark sugar that is called "molasses sugar". It came out brilliantly (even if I don't have the cutters to make those rings).


I just love your blog. even though I don't cook much...! Its delightful to just see the photos... wish you were here in Bangalore India, and had a restaurant where I could taste your recipe! lots of love!


These are the most whimsical & prettiest cookies (& post) I've seen in a while. You got me thinking on the savory version instantly...thanks too for the flour substitute. Bless you...have a great holiday season!


These look fabulous, and delicious. Fantastic photos - as always!!


These are stunning! So are your pictures!


Just made these. They. are. awesome. One thing *not* mentioned in the recipe is how easy the dough is to work with! Rolls out easily and even the scraps stay tender when rolled several times. The cream cheese helps that as does the low (no?) gluten in rye flour, I imagine. So cute, so tasty. HS: Glad you liked them Miss Molly.


I've gone a little crazy for rye this year. So much so that I almost stomped my feet and threw a little fit when the grocery store was out of rye flour yesterday. This cookies sound perfect!


Heidi, would this work with Coconut flour and adding a bit of candied ginger?


    Hmm - I'm not sure. I think a portion of coconut flour could work. Report back if you experiment!

    Heidi Swanson

Glad that you included gingerbread cookies in your list. I just wanted to mention that gingerbread houses are a longtime favorite in Sweden this time of year, as I believe that is where they originated.

Culinary Artist

Very yummy recipe! And the pictures are simply lovely!


Looks interesting and looking forward to making these. How about a cookie recipe with almonds? My Mom used to make something like this for the holidays.Thanks


These cookies look so pretty! I've never made a cookie with cream cheese before, looking forward to trying this combination :)


These cookies look beautiful and delicious. Thanks!


Hi there, I just wanted to tell you that I made the pine nut-rosemary shortbread, and I really like it. So buttery and crispy and exotic. Perfect with a cup of tea, I think. Thanks for the good recipe! -JJ Ps. I may post about it later, so thanks in advance...

Mama JJ

The white powder sugar against the white background looks so amazing. That's a photo worth selling for an ad.

Culinary Cory

I love the photos of these cookies and the stages of preparation. So many contrasts - both in aesthetic and taste - and so many lovely, delicious variations. Thanks for yet another fantastic recipe that's getting me back into cooking!


These look excellent...I make a thumbprint cookie with a cream cheese dough, and I bet these would be great with a little jam on top, too!


yumyum..these cookies, looks so good and rye's my favorite too, am gonna make today..thanks so much..........


The rye flour sounds great. I'd love to see your savory version too--would you roll the dough thinner for savory? HS: You know, I think it's completely up to you. I think I would go thinner for a savory cracker with shredded cheese in it. That way it would have a bit more snap, and more of the cheese would get golden toasty. I would absolutely go extra thin if I would going to do any sort of dip or slather...


those cookies look so good!


mmmm.....love the sound of these cookies. i'm going to experiment w/home made yogurt cheese to replace the cream cheese and use oat flour since where i live in the world no one has heard of rye flour. thanks so much!!!!!!!!!


I must make these immediately!


Coming from a Swedish background, my grandma always made Swedish rye bread. I've never heard of rye cookies though - these sound delicious!

Amy Warden

I love this! It's nice to see something unique. And I'm always on the hunt for the next fun Swedish recipe :)


You've inspired me to rethink my holiday baking this year! I've already used some spelt flour successfully, and maple syrup instead of brown sugar. Rye flour sounds awfully interesting too. Thanks for all the great ideas all year round.

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

Freshly ground cardamon would be a lovely AND Swedish addition... thoughts?


    Love it!

    Heidi Swanson

Whole wheat pastry flour changed my life :)


I was wondering if I could use a different flour besides the Wheat? Rye is fine, don't have any issues with that but the Wheat is a problem. I wonder if a brown rice flour would work? Anyone have any ideas:)?


Heidi- This may be out of the question, but in December 2005 you did a gingerbread recipe and instead of baking as one cake, you did individual cakes. Do you remember how long you baked them and if you adjusted the oven temp as a result of the baking dish modification? My intention is to make these for my office and any help would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks! HS: Hi Betsy - I think you might be referring to the time I featured Regan Daley's Black Sticky Gingerbread. Love, love, love her recipe.


These look really yummy! I also think substituting Almond flour for the Rye flour would be tasty. Health food stores carry Almond flour. By the way, I just love this site! There are so many fabulous new ways to prepare foods. Keep up the good work, and I wish you much good fortune and good health in the coming year. Junecutie


I love how simple these sound. And I love that cookie cutter! I enjoy the site, but am often intimidated by all the wonderful ingredients that I don't (but should/would like to) have in my pantry. This looks like a great one to get me started, and will look great in my holiday goodie boxes. Thanks for sharing!


Oh yum. The savory version sounds like a winner.

Dawn in CA

Oh wow, Heidi! I haven't made these inyears. I look forward to trying this recipe. Just perfect right now, with this weather...and some tea. Thank you so much for sharing. ;) C. (PS update your tweets, please!)


I am Scots, so grew up with shortbread, but this variation sounds delicious. I will be making them this weekend.


I can't wait to try these! Based on your suggestion, I've started using whole wheat pastry flour in pie crusts and cookies and I really like the results. Thanks for a unique recipe.


We just made these tasty cookies. They remind us of a more delicate version of an oat-cake or whole wheat digestive cookie. We love them. Thank you ~


And they're beautiful! I've never thought of using rye in cookies...I'm gonna have to try it!

Fit Bottomed Girls

I've never seen rye flour in a cookie recipe before. I love rye bread...sounds interesting! I was planning on making bread next week anyway...perhaps rye cookies are in the mix. If only I had more time...

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

Oh, my! Yet another cookie to add to my holiday collection.


These look great. My best friend in a shortbread afficionado, so I'm always on the lookout for new shortbreads to make for the holiday.


Yea! for the Swedish recipes...A family Holiday tradition of mine is Lefsa... and now possibly Swedish rye cookies!Anything rye is a sure bet with me! HS: Looks like you've got some great recipes on your site Christie. Keep at it!

organic Goodness

Anything with cream cheese has to be good! They're really cute too - perfect for Christmas

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

What an interesting combination (but it looks like it really works)! Looks yummy!!


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