Laufabrauð – Icelandic Leaf bread

Laufabrauð or Icelandic leaf bread is a very thin circular fried bread, usually made and consumed for Christmas. We say bread, it’s more of cracker.

Laufabrauð is a story of necessity. Iceland is a bit of a bare desert, the cold kind, not the hot kind, like the Sahara desert. (Although the Sahara desert is freezing cold during winters). We have long winters and short summers. Our climate is mild; not so cold winters, not so hot summers. We’re also windy. That means growing stuff is difficult. Sure, we can grow potatoes and turnips but through the years growing wheat has been difficult. So making bread hasn’t been our thing. But we did start trading with our neighbours, Denmark, but also England. We sold them stuff and in return, we bought flour among other things. But what do you do with the little of flour you bought? You can’t use it all to make bread, only for it to be stale in a few days. You have to make something that keeps for weeks! Enter laufabrauð. Laufabrauð is the perfect way to stretch the little of the flour you have. Literally. It’s very thin, it’s low moisture and it’s fried! If you make at the beginning of Advent it’ll last you till the end of the year, at least, but you’ll eat it up way before. Laufabrauð is quite unique to Iceland. There aren’t any references to in the neighbouring countries, so most likely it’s our invention. The first mention of it is from the 17th century from the Westfjords. There, described as one of the most national food around. It’s must be a lot older.


It’s circular. You can make a square or a triangle if you’re such a rebel. It’s circular for reason, it the biggest size you can make that fits you pot aaannnddd it just so happens to fit nicely into big tin cans like Quality Street cans. It’s paper-thin. Firstly to make the best use of the flour, secondly to make it low-moisture so it keeps for longer, thirdly it’s more fun to eat, it’s crunchy!. The dough has to be so thin that you can read a newspaper through it, or at least the online version of it, you privileged Millennial. It’s decorated. Not all Icelandic food looks good, we admit. Look, we don’t have time for it, we’re busy people. But Laufabrauð is one of the exceptions. You HAVE to decorate it. See our video how-to, but feel free to cut it any way you want.

The fry

Before you started dumping them in the oil you need to make sure of a few things. The bread has to be ready; it must fit into the oil, it has to be flat in the oil, you see. You have prick a few holes here and there, either with a knife or fork, otherwise, you run the risk of big bubbles. You have to make sure the temperature is right, 180c or 356F, you can choose which one you pick. The oil of choice is usually some sort of neutral vegetable oil, that hasn’t got any taste. In Iceland, you buy ‘Frying fat’ that’s just palmin oil. It has been fried in clarified butter and tallow, which is probably delicious, but we’ve never tried it. But go ahead, dream big.

Don’t get caraway’d

Caraway is a hot topic. We wouldn’t say it’s our Marmite, but well, it kind of is. We ran a poll among and it’s was almost 50/50 with cumin barely winning it. But, we are caraway-boys all the way. We grew up on it. If you’re not that fond of caraway, we got a simple solution: don’t use it.

When do I eat it?

Laufabrauð is winter food. Mostly associated with Christmas, but it’s also eaten at þorrablót. Now, Christmas and Þorrblót don’t have much in common. But wait.. dramatic pause.. there just might be something in common, hangikjöt! Smoked leg of lamb! On Christmas day two-thirds of Icelanders eat hangikjöt and you just have to eat it with laufabrauð. They somehow go very well together, at least according to our nostalgia. Since þorrablót is just about eating the food we learned to preserve with whey, smoke and salt, hangikjöt fits well into it. Like the saying doesn’t go: where there’s hangikjöt, there’s laufabrauð. But please, eat it when you want to. During Christmas, we eat it all the time as a snack with beer or ‘Malt’ (think sweet very-malty non-alcoholic beer… think really hard). Before you eat it, you have to make it. There is a beautiful tradition of families making laufabrauð on Sunday that marks the beginning of the Advent. Where generations pass down their knowledge. With the older generation making the dough and flattening it, passing it on to the younger generation for decorating, before they receive it back for frying. Enough about us, here’s the recipe.



  • 300gr all-Purpose Flour
  • 200gr wholemeal Flour
  • 20gr sugar
  • 4gr salt
  • 5gr baking powder
  • 60gr butter
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 1tsp caraway seeds (optional)
  • Oil for cooking in.


  1. Combine milk and butter(and optionally, Caraway) in a hob and bring up to simmering, but do not let it boil. Once melted and combined let it cool to 37’c (98.6F).
  2. Sieve out the dry ingredients and combine it with the butter/milk mixture and knead until soft. We kneaded around 8-10 minutes. The dough should be damp, but not so sticky it sticks to your hands.
  3. Split the dough in half and split each part into about 10 pieces – it should be about enough to make 20 portions.
  4. Make sure you have a bit of flour on the side before you start rolling out. Take the first portion and roll out it out as thin as you can, around 1mm thin. It’s said it should be thin enough to read a newspaper through!
  5. Once you’ve made it thin enough, lay a small plate face down and cut along the edges to form a circle – We use a pastry cutter but you can use any old knife (or pizza cutter!) and stack them to one side. It might be a good idea at this point to start heating up the oil – You’ll need it around 180c (356F)
  6. Now, if you have a little minion in the kitchen they can get to work with cutting out the shapes that are so distinct to the Icelandic Leaf bread. We normally use a speciality tool which is pretty rare, so we’ll just do it with a Knife! If you’ve got a glass of water you can wet your finger to seal the cutouts.
  7. Once your oil has reached the temperature you need to drop each disk carefully in and manoeuvre them carefully making sure they remain flat – It’ll only take 1-2 minutes each side as they are so thin.
  8. Stack them on one side and let them cool.

Gjörið svo vel!

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