Danish Kleijner, if you have never had them, are light little almond-flavored bow-tie shaped donuts, covered with powdered sugar.

Growing up, it was never really Christmas until the Kleijner was made. It was a sacred tradition older than my family, stretching back through my mother’s family and her mother’s family.

The recipe I inherited from my grandmother came across with her from Denmark by ship over a hundred years ago. It was so ancient that it called for “Hartshorn”, a leavening ingredient (ammonium carbonate) originally made from the horns of deer. It had also gone through the war, by the time I got it. Cream being unavailable, it was substituted with vegetable oil and milk (I don’t recommend this). I suspect that the original ORIGINAL recipe also called for a pinch of cardamom, a popular spice in Danish pastries, which never really caught on in America and was hard to find.

I restored it (I think pretty well). So now you can make them a part of your holiday tradition.

The trick to great Kleijner is forming them into their complex shape while handling the dough as little as possible. Because as it is worked and reformed, the dough becomes tough.

Kleijner ready for cooking
Kleijner ready for cooking

The first step is to roll out the dough to 1/4-in thick. Working on a cool, floured surface makes this easier.

Then the dough is cut into 1-inch wide ribbons.

The ribbons are cut into 3-inch long pieces with tapered ends. A slit is cut in the middle of each one and it is turned “inside out” by passing one end through the slit. You’ll definitely have to practice this.

The finished pastries are dropped into hot oil and fried, then dusted with powdered sugar.

When done right, they should be light, with just a touch of crispiness on the outside, but tender and doughnut-like in the middle.


Grandmother Hollman
Servings: 24
Preparation Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert, Holiday
Cuisine Scandinavian
Servings 24


  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 2 Whole eggs
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 3-1/2 cup Flour approximately
  • Vegetable Shortening For frying
  • Powdered Sugar as needed


  • Beat together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until very light and fluffy (10 minutes by hand). Add cream, and flavorings.
  • Stir in 1 cup of flour which has been sifted with the baking powder. Add enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. (Probably around 2-1/2 cups, but you have to do it by feel.) DO NOT OVERWORK or they will be tough.
  • Roll out and cut. Fry in hot oil. Dust with powdered sugar.
Keyword Christmas, Holiday