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


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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