Ástarpungar – Love balls

We better address the name right away. Love balls doesn’t sound good, does it? The Icelandic word ástarpungar, ástar = love, pungur = sacks (yeah, like ballsacks) or a small purse. So these are balls filled with love. (Our attempt to make it sound better or more appetizing somehow failed).

Ástarpungar is essentially a lot like kleinur. Sweet enriched dough fried golden brown, basically ball-shaped doughnuts. They are usually made with raisins in them. I guess that’s the love part, I don’t know. Ástarpungar are often made alongside kleinur. I mean if you’re going to the trouble of making the dough and heating a heck a lot of oil you may as well. I’m guessing the addition of raisins is so kids won’t eat them all up on the first day.

The first mention of ástarpungar we can find is in 1920 from  “Heimskringla” a newspaper published in Winnipeg, Canada for Icelandic speaking community. So ástarpungar must’ve been a pretty common thing by then. The first mention of it in Icelandic newspapers is in 1939. So we’ve no idea when it became a common thing for people to fry up a batch on a Sunday morning. 

Today you can find them at bakeries and grocery stores. They’re not as ubiquitous as kleinur but they’re there, somewhere, lurking in the shadow.



  • 2 eggs
  • 75 gr. sugar
  • 400 gr. flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/​4 tsp. salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp. lemon essence
  • 1 tsp. cardamom essence (optional)
  • 70 gr. raisins
  • 1 ltr vegetable oil for frying


  • Beat the sugar and eggs together until light, white and frothy. 
  • Combine and mix the dry ingredients. Then add the other wet ingredients; the milk and essences combine well.
  • Lastly, add in the egg/sugar mix and combine gently. 
  • Make small balls using teaspoons or an ice cream scoop and add to the vegetable oil (180°c / 356°F).
  • Fry for a couple of minutes or until golden brown. 


Enjoy with cold milk or freshly brewed coffee.


Verði þér að góðu!


Ps. we’re on Instagram. See you there.