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Swedish Christmas Classic – Jansson’s Temptation

Swedish Christmas Classic – Jansson’s Temptation

Janssons Frestelse Temptation

This lovely Swedish Christmas dish is essentially a potato gratin, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, soft on the inside and spiced up with small pickled sprats to add an almost undefinable sweet saltiness to the dish.

An ultra classic Swedish dish, one of my personal favorites and an absolute legend on the Swedish Christmas table. Say hello to Janssons Frestelse – Janssons Temptation.

This is essentially a potato gratin, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, soft on the inside and spiced up with small pickled sprats to add an almost undefinable sweet saltiness to the dish. But don’t be alarmed by the sprat thing. It doesn’t taste like fish – the sprats are just seasoning – a Temptation tastes smooth and creamy with just a tiny hint of the ocean.

Many English Jansson Temptation recipes use anchovies – due to a very common translation mistake. The Swedish word ansjovis is often translated (and understandably so) into the English anchovies, but the fact of the matter is that ansjovis in Swedish actually means pickled sprats.

Why Sweden decided to be all rebellious about this subject – and name anchovies sardeller, and pickled sprats ansjovis – we’ll never know, but I guess that’s how some countries try to stand out from the crowd.

See Also
Tartiflette Recipe

Now, you can actually substitute the sprats for matjes herring if you have a hard time finding pickled sprats (and a surprisingly easy time finding matjes herring). My personal tip is to visit that huge Swedish furniture store you might have close by to see if they carry these small salty snorklers. But please stay away from using anchovies.

Now, if you don’t feel like “Swedifying” your Christmas this year – don’t despair. Save the recipe for any cold dark night – Janssons Temptation deserves to be eaten all through the winter, served as it is without any accessories, or together with a few good barbecued bangers.


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Janssons Frestelse Temptation

Swedish Christmas Classic – Jansson’s Temptation

  • Author: Kalle Bergman
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


An absolutely classic Swedish dish, not only served during Christmas – but as a late night snack at many Swedish parties throughout the year.


Units Scale
  • 46 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup of heavy cream (and additional cream if you are reheating it the day after)
  • 3/4 cup of whole milk
  • 7 oz of pickled sprats or matjes herring (keep the marinade)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 2 Large onions
  • 1 Stick of organic butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 430°F.
  2. In a sauce pan, gently simmer the potatoes with about half of the marinade from the sprats / herring, the cream and milk for 10 minutes.
  3. Slice and cut the onion. Fry it gently in butter until translucent. Layer onions, potatoes and finely chopped sprats in a large buttered oven dish (or in several smaller ones like in the picture above). Grind some black pepper on top, spread bread crumbs over the potatoes, and top with a few slices of butter.
  4. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, for about 50-60 minutes. Place some aluminum foil on top during the last 10-15 minutes if you think it has gotten too much color.


TIP: You can make the Temptation the day before and re-heat it – but if you do, add a little extra cream during re-heating.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Oven Baking
  • Cuisine: Swedish

Keywords: Christmas, christmas recipe, swedish food, swedish recipes, swedish christmas recipe, swedish christmas, janssons frestelse recipe, holiday recipes, potato gratin, dauphinoise, potato recipes

View Comments (9)
  • I could not get sprats, living in Brooklyn, USA. I used anchovies, I added leeks white only cut fine and used fresh dill and some carrots. Dry marjoram and nutmeg added on top with German dark wheat flour bread crumbs. I used fresh heavy creme from the farmers market throughout. I served it up with green beans, (outa season) and a nice piece of halibut. I think it would go well with a German stylee sausage with a mustard to match. I flushed it down with a Stillwater Premium beer (usa) I also think a German Bamberger stylee smoked beer would also work. Combine some fresh fruit on the side and finish with a bitter chocolate. Balance of creme I put in a bourbon coffee and diped peperidge farm cookies in it.

  • I genuinely enjoy looking through on this site, it holds wonderful posts . “The longing to produce great inspirations didn’t produce anything but more longing.” by Sophie Kerr.

  • I very much miss eating many classic Swedish dishes especially Jansens Tempation. My husband is Swedish and a chef and makes the best I have had including in Sweden. He uses anchovies and straws the potatoes and does layering not mentioned here but definitely makes a difference in texture.

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