Food + Drink + Friends + Family

Cooking for Christmas: Janssons frestelse.


My mother is Swedish, which is a wonderful thing foodwise at Christmastime! Last year, my siblings and I each took over a part of the traditional recipes to help her out a bit. I really enjoyed learning how to cook all of the yummy Swedish Christmas dishes I’ve been eating my whole life, and I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.

Here is my mother’s recipe for Janssons frestelse (Jansson’s temptation). So easy, and so unbelievably delicious.

Janssons frestelse (Jansson’s temptation)

2 yellow onions, sliced thinly
3 tbsp butter
6 medium raw potatoes, peeled and cut into small strips (julienne style)
20 Swedish sprats/ansjovis (save the brine)*
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

– Saute onion in 1 tbsp butter until nicely browned
– Butter a baking dish
– Layer potatoes, onions, and anchovies (finish with a layer of potatoes)
– Drizzle 1 tbsp of the brine from the can over the top
– Dot with remaining butter (2 tbsp)
– Pour 3/4 cup of the cream over the top
– Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, adding the remaining cream (3/4 cup) after 15 minutes

Janssons may be covered and reheated at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes or so and kept warm until serving. Aahh!


*Authentic Swedish ansjovis (available at IKEA and specialty food stores, a common brand name is Abba) are larger and much less salty than the “anchovies” we buy here. They are actually sprats (a different kind of fish), pickled in sugar, salt and spices. If you can’t get to IKEA or find true Swedish ansjovis elsewhere, you can use good quality Italian anchovies. Use the same number—the saltiness makes up for them being smaller. The taste will not be absolutely authentic, but it will still be yummy!


Brown the onions in plenty of butter.


All ready to go in the oven!

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  • Reply lottie December 18, 2007 at 11:45 am

    That sounds (and looks) fantastic! I might have to give it a try.

  • Reply nicole December 18, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    loving these food posts. i’ll have to try and think of a veggie alternative, so i can make it at home.

    (those global knives are the best ever, aren’t they?)

  • Reply sandra December 18, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    oh yum! do you speak swedish as well?

  • Reply Anna at D16 December 18, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Nicole: You can make it without the sprats (my mother made a fish-free version for me for years!), but it will be a completely different dish. Sugar, cinnamon, sandalwood and ginger are the spices used in the brine — maybe you can experiment and see what works in terms of quantity? (And yes, Global knives are the best!)

    Sandra: No, sadly I do not speak Swedish. You can blame my mother for that (I’m sure she’s reading this)!

  • Reply sandra December 18, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    I know what it’s like, my father didn’t give me his language either. That’s really a shame, I would have loved to be bilingual. Föräldrar… 😉

  • Reply Kathy December 18, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    YUM! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply Barb McMahon December 19, 2007 at 8:51 am

    I saw a recipe for this years ago and have been wanting to make it ever since. Didn’t save the recipe, though, so Thank You!

  • Reply Mommy December 19, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Anna, I’m so happy to see Swedish food being promoted this way! As for my not teaching you to speak Swedish… In my defense, it’s hard to teach that second language to your kids unless both parents are from that country – especially a language that you virtually never hear anywhere else. When both parents do speak a foreign language in the home (as did mine who spoke only Danish at home) it’s not necessarily that much fun for the child. I felt a great deal of anxiety when I started school because this other language was spoken in the home. Of course, I had been a fairly isolated kid until then since I didn’t attend nursery school or day care; other children thught I sounded weird. Anyway, it’s never too late to learn another language!

  • Reply jan January 8, 2008 at 4:51 am

    there seems to be a few of us with the same problem, i only know some swedish nursery rhymes (learned from my grandfather)! this recipe sounds delicious, and i’m definitely going to give it a go! more swedish recipes please….another thing lost….

  • Reply Lotta January 12, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Anna!
    I have just started to “blogg” around and today I “found” your site. It was fun to see all your photos and of course the recipe to Janssons Frestelse. I´m living in Sweden so this is what my family and I eat (a lot!) during Christmas.
    I sorry to hear that you don´t speak Swedish..but you can learn!! My father came from Denmark (my mother was Swedish) So I´m half swedish/danish 🙂 My english is a little bad so I hope you can understand this!?
    Hej from Lotta

  • Reply Melanie February 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Yummy yummy yum… The best recipe for Jansson’s Temptation I’ve found in years.

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