Leena’s Finnish Slice Cookies

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Farmhouse entry with flags

When our family traveled to Finland this past summer and entered the farmhouse filled with relatives, some we had never met, little did I know that I would fall instantly in love with every one of them, but also would learn to make some of the best cookies in the world.  What I discovered is that even when two people do not speak the same language and live thousands of miles and an ocean apart, there are two things that will always connect them:  love of family and good food.

Leena mixing slice cookies 2

Meet Leena.  I love her.  I miss her.  I wish everyone had a Leena in their life.  She spoke no English and I spoke no Finnish, but we connected immediately.  It’s like we already knew each other, and we certainly did in the kitchen.  Here is Leena making her famous Finnish Slice Cookies.  Leena did not use a mixer; the dough was completely mixed with her loving and very agile hands.  I’m telling you, she can mix and stir as well as any powerful Kitchen Aid!

Leena mixing slice cookies

The dough is chilled slightly then rolled into long thin logs and placed on baking sheets.  When the logs are baked, they will spread and look like this:

Slice Cookie logs whole baked

While the logs are still warm, they are sliced on the cookie sheet with a sharp knife into long diagonal pieces, then removed to a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice Cookie logs sliced

After the cookies were mixed and baked, the counter was then covered in coffee mugs, awaiting coffee time around 4:00.  Finns never miss their coffee time, and that was another thing I missed so much when we left Finland.  Farmhouse coffee cups

It’s family time every day.  Everyone gathers together and eats delicious items like Leena’s slice cookies, or maybe some pulla bread, doughnuts, or other delectables. It’s Finnish happy hour!  I have wonderful memories sitting around the cozy kitchen table talking, eating, and enjoying each other.

Farmhouse kitchen table empty

Leena’s Slice Cookies are easy to make but do require one ingredient that makes it special, not readily available in the USA.  However, like most everything else nowadays, it can be ordered on Amazon.  The ingredient is a syrup called in Finnish Tumma Siirappi.  The only way I can think to describe it is sort of a cross between molasses, honey, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup.  It has a taste all its own and the cookies will not be the same without it.  When not used in the Slice Cookies, it is good on pancakes, waffles, other cookies calling for molasses or honey, or drizzled on ice cream.  It is worth ordering!  One other ingredient is vanilla sugar, which is a little easier to find at specialty kitchen stores, but can also be ordered online or make your own, which is very easy.  (see recipe for instructions).

Syrup and vanilla sugar

Here are the cookies all ready to eat!  In the second photo, the cookies are in a dish shaped like the country of Finland.  I bought two sizes of the dish one small and one extra-large that I am going to have a fun time using for future Finnish foods.

Slice cookies on reindeer napkin

Slice cookies in Finn bowl on birch

The cookies are crispy, delicate, and full of a warm caramel-like flavor like no other.  Addictive.  That’s all I have to say.  They take me back to Finland and to Leena’s cozy kitchen.  I only wish I had what we have now come to call “The Leena Hug.”  No one gives hugs like Leena, or makes cookies like Leena.  I miss them both more than I can say.

4.8 from 12 reviews
Leena's Finnish Slice Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar* or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons dark syrup** (Dan Sukker "Tumma Siirappi)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Notes:
  • *Vanilla sugar can be found in specialty kitchen stores or ordered online; or make your own: after using a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out, save the pod. Plunge the pod into a container of granulated sugar and let it sit for several days, stirring occasionally. Remove pod and you now have homemade vanilla sugar!
  • ** The dark syrup called Tumma Siirappi from Dan Sukker can be ordered from Amazon. (I do it all the time!) There really is no substitution for it. It has its own unique flavor. It's worth ordering and is also good in other recipes that call for molasses or honey, or it's good on pancakes, waffles, or drizzled on ice cream.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat together butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla sugar (if not using vanilla extract) until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla (if didn't use vanilla sugar), egg yolk, and syrup until well mixed.
  3. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add gradually to butter mixture and beat until well blended. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 20-25 minutes or until firm enough to divide into 6 equal parts to roll into logs.
  4. Roll each part into a log about 9-inches long. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheets, 3 per sheet. I place 2 logs vertical and one horizontal. Use 3 baking sheets with 2 logs per sheet if your pans are not very large. Keep the logs fairly far apart as they will spread.
  5. Bake logs for about 12-14 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and place on stovetop. If the logs have touched each other during baking, don't worry, just take a long sharp knife and gently push them back into shape, keeping them oval.
  6. While still warm, and using a long sharp knife, cut the logs into diagonal slices about an inch apart. After cut, remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 Finnish Slice Cookies 1

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37 Responses to Leena’s Finnish Slice Cookies

  1. December 11, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    I am so happy that you got to have this experience! I know the feeling of meeting relatives abroad and feeling “home”.

    The cookies look delish. I feel I must order the syrup and give these a try.

    • December 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      I hope you will love them, Helen!

  2. December 11, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Would like to subscribe to your site. Enjoyed your sharing and recipe.

  3. December 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Loved reading about Leena and her cookies.

    I might have to order a bottle of that syrup. I always keep vanilla sugar in my kitchen. And if you can’t find it, it’s very easy to make. Just pour some sugar into a jar, tuck a vanilla bean into it, and let it “marinate” for a week or two before using.

    • December 12, 2015 at 12:32 am #

      Madonna, you won’t regret ordering the syrup after you taste the cookies!

  4. December 22, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    What treasured, warm memories for you in Finland! Love your story with dear Leena baking by hand, wearing her lovely Marimekko apron. Makes me think of my dear Finnish Grandma here in the states and all the delightful times we had sharing over a tasty fresh baked treat dipped in our coffee during the ‘Finnish Happy Hour’. Grandma always boiled her coffee the old Finnish way, too, even after we bought her a coffee maker. Somehow she did make everything taste better! Kiitos!

    • December 22, 2015 at 10:10 am #

      There’s nothing like “Finnish Happy Hour!” You are so lucky to have your Finnish grandma here in the states to make you the authentic treats and sit and chat with her. I miss that so much about Finland.

      • March 11, 2023 at 2:34 pm #

        My mom was from Denmark and I spent many summers there growing up. Coffee hour is a big part of the culture there as well. The Danes drink a lot of coffee and I remember it with round sweet rolls with Danish butter and a thin sponge cake topped with custard and fresh fruit. Items with Marzipan as well. Enjoy.

        • March 11, 2023 at 7:37 pm #

          Aly, thank you for sharing your memories. Everything sounds so good, and close to some Finnish treats!

  5. July 3, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    Guess what I am baking up today for a 4th of July party–yes, Leena’s Cookies!!! Thank you, dear friend.

    • July 3, 2016 at 7:01 am #

      I can’t wait to hear how you like them! Happy 4th!

  6. December 15, 2019 at 1:33 pm #

    Where did you buy your dishes shaped like Finland?

    • December 16, 2019 at 12:47 am #

      Hi Sandra- I bought the Finland-shaped dishes at the Karl Fazur Cafe in Helsinki several years ago. They have a small size and large size. I bought both and love them! I did a search online to see if they could be ordered but found nothing. I think it will take a trip to Finland to find them!

  7. March 6, 2020 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi Debbie –
    I got very excited about these – ordered the syrup and made my vanilla sugar – and finally got around to trying them tonight. They REALLY flattened – and I’m thinking maybe I left them in too long? Also mine are very greasy where it looks like the butter didn’t fully bake in. Do you find that it’s better to make them by hand? I’m just wondering if they flattened so much because they were over-beaten. I would love to send you a picture of them to get your suggestions

  8. January 10, 2021 at 12:30 pm #

    I’ve mase these twice now! So delicious!

    • January 10, 2021 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks for writing, Tj! I’m so happy you enjoyed them.

  9. June 14, 2021 at 3:01 pm #

    I have a swedish recipe similar to this one. My grandma called them Swedish Syrup Cookies. She always used dark Karo syrup in her recipe. The same log shape except the swedish variety end up being shorter cookies and they have no egg. A family favorite for sure!

    • June 15, 2021 at 12:18 am #

      I have found a lot of Finnish and Swedish recipes to be very similar. The dark syrup (not Karo syrup) used in the Finnish recipe has Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian instructions for use on the bottle. I would love to see your grandma’s recipe! Thanks so much for writing.

  10. June 15, 2021 at 9:00 pm #

    Swedish Syrup Cookies:
    1 Cup Butter; 1 Cup Sugar; 2 1/4 Cups Flour; 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda; 1 Tablespoon Dark Karo Syrup and 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    Cream butter and sugar. Add sifted flour and baking soda. Then add the syrup and vanilla. Mix dough well and roll into log forms about the size of your finger. Lay 3 rolls on a cookie sheet lengthwise. Bake at 350 until light tan in color. While warm, cut into strips about an inch wide. Do not grease cookie sheets.
    I am going to try this recipe with the special syrup. I’m very curious!

    • June 18, 2021 at 10:29 am #

      Thank you so much, Saralyn! I/m going to try these!

  11. November 23, 2021 at 10:30 am #

    It would be helpful to know length and thickness of each roll since that seems like the secret to success – along with the syrup which I dif get.

    • November 25, 2021 at 12:48 am #

      Candace, the rolls I make are about 8-1/2 to 9 inches.

  12. May 25, 2022 at 4:07 pm #

    These are just fabulous. We love them! Thx for sharing this recioe!

  13. December 24, 2022 at 12:50 pm #

    These are so good! I got beet molasses from a local German import grocer. I think it’s a close equivalent. It definitely gave it a tangy but caramelized taste, different from regular molasses. They turned out very flat, but not hard. I may have over beat or over baked, but still mega delicious!!!!!
    I will be making them a ton

    • December 26, 2022 at 7:11 am #

      Anna, I am always happy to hear when my readers make these family favorite cookies! I still love my memories of learning to make these in Finland with a beloved cousin.

  14. April 9, 2023 at 6:30 pm #

    I have made these cookies twice now, they are the absolute bomb! Glad I got two bottles of the syrup.

    • April 9, 2023 at 8:28 pm #

      Kate, I am thrilled you loved these cookies! They are the best. FYI- the syrup is great on oatmeal too!

  15. May 18, 2023 at 4:28 pm #

    These cookies are sublime! It is good that I got 2 bottles of the syrup because they will be in my regular rotation.

    • May 19, 2023 at 9:02 am #

      I couldn’t agree more, Kate. These cookies are our family treasure! The special syrup gives it that flavor like no other. I’m so happy you tried them! Thank you for writing.

  16. July 14, 2023 at 7:12 am #

    The special syrup is winging its way to me. The cookie recipe looks wonderful, but it was your beautiful writing about Leena and the family visit that drew me to them. Thank you.

    • July 14, 2023 at 7:38 am #

      Thank you, Anita. You are going to love the cookies, and I’m especially happy that Leena was your inspiration to make them. She is one of a kind with such a beautiful soul.

  17. September 1, 2023 at 9:33 am #

    I LOVE this recipe, thank you for posting it, Debbie!

    I made the cookies last night, they have a wonderful unique taste. But I was wondering, are they supposed to be crispy or chewy? I like them either way, but I’d really like to know, what texture Leena’s cookies are.

    • September 1, 2023 at 10:18 pm #

      Hi Carolyn- I’m thrilled you loved the cookies! They are supposed to be crispy. If they come out chewy, maybe they needed to bake a little longer, or they were sliced too thick. They also crisp up as they cool. Leena would be so happy you made them! Thanks for writing.

  18. September 3, 2023 at 8:18 pm #

    I just made these, they are so good. I’m bookmarking and saving the recipe. Thanks!

    • September 3, 2023 at 11:27 pm #

      So happy you liked them, Annie!

  19. November 12, 2023 at 8:19 am #

    Thank you so much for this recipe of Leena’s cookies. They look absolutely delicious and I am definately going to try them.

    Us in South Africa like our cookies crisp….ideal for dunking .

    I know I will have trouble finding the syrup but do you think molasses will be okay substitute?

    • November 13, 2023 at 11:10 pm #

      Hi Gerda- The cookies are wonderful for dunking. They get nice and crisp with a flavor like no other. Many people have asked about substituting molasses for the dark syrup. While molasses could be used, it will not have the same special flavor as the dark syrup. I never have a problem ordering it online so I hope you will try. Thank you for writing.

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