Kringle is a popular kind of Danish pastry consisting of a flaky, buttery crust surrounding a rich filling and topped with a powdered sugar glaze. The pastry is only about an inch high and several inches wide. Traditional pastries were shaped like a pretzel and filled with a sweet ground almond paste. Today kringle are commonly found as an oval or horseshoe shape and numerous fillings include pecan, walnut, cherry, apricot, and chocolate. They have become a popular Christmas treat in America, but in Denmark the pastry is eaten year-round.

The kringle was originally made hundreds of years ago in Denmark. During this time Danish bakers were on strike for better wages and bakers were brought in from Austria. These bakers introduced the concept of incorporating butter into dough to make rich, flaky crusts that eventually were used to make kringle. In the 1880s thousands of Danish immigrated to Racine, Wisconsin and brought their kringle recipes. Today Racine well known for its kringle and several bakeries there sell the pastry online to anywhere in the world.

Below is a recipe for making your own pecan kringle. Please note that this recipe was taken from my brother and I have not had the opportunity to make it myself due to kitchen renovations. An update with any corrections should follow soon. This recipe makes two oval kringle, enough for a brunch or Christmas party.


The dough:

  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk (heat milk until almost boiling, and then allow to cool to lukewarm temperature)

The filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter

The glaze:

Combine the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water and let sit for about five minutes. During this time mix the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Use a fork or pastry cutter to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like fine crumbs. Add the yeast solution along with the egg and scalded milk, mixing thoroughly with a sturdy spoon or electric mixer until smooth. The dough will be rather soft. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge from 2 to 24 hours.

When you are about ready to assemble the kringle make the filling by mixing the toasted pecans, sugar, and softened butter. Take the dough out of the fridge, divide it in half, and return one half to the fridge. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 15 by 6 inch rectangle. The dough will be soft and sticky, so be sure to thoroughly flour both the pin and the surface to make this process easier. Place half the filling in the middle of the dough making a long 3 inch strip. Wrap the sides of the dough over the top of the filling, pinching well to seal. Assemble the other kringle in the same manner.

Gently transfer both kringle to two greased cookie sheets. Shape the kringle into either a horseshoe shape or an oval. If using the latter shape, pinch the two ends of the dough together to seal well. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 ° F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. During this time assemble the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Once the kringle are done let them completely cool and then drizzle the glaze over the top.

Kringle are delicious either cold or warm. They keep surprisingly well for months when wrapped and frozen.

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