Brunede Kartofler (Danish Caramelized Potatoes)

5 from 18 votes

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Danish Brunede Kartofler, or Caramelized Browned Potatoes, are a great side dish to any meal! They are a small potato with a sweet caramelized coating.

Spoon scooping Brunede Kartofler.
Featured with this Recipe:
  1. Ingredients in Brunede Kartofler
  2. Learn Some Danish Words While Cooking
  3. Brunede Kartofler the Old Fashioned Way
  4. Tips For Making Danish Caramelized Potatoes
  5. Variation Suggestions
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Other Danish Recipes
  8. How To Make Brunede
  9. Brunede Kartofler (Danish Caramelized Potatoes) Recipe

Brunede Kartofler or Caramelized Browned Potatoes is a delicious Danish side dish that my husband introduced me to. He lived in Denmark for a couple of years and fell in love with the food. We have this every year with our Traditional Danish Christmas dinner and I love having different Christmas celebrations! This brunede kartofler also goes really well with pan-roasted pork chops, pork tenderloin, roast duck, juicy tenderloin, and ham, and is a staple at most dinner tables in Denmark, especially on special occasions. They end up tasting kind of like your favorite sweet potato recipes, with a sweet caramelized coating on every potato.

Ingredients to make Brunede Kartofler including small canned potatoes, butter and sugar.

Ingredients in Brunede Kartofler

You won’t believe how just a few simple ingredients come together to make such a tasty side dish for so many Danish meals. Home chefs like you and me can do this easily and can really wow our guests! The caramelized sauce is a staple for Danes in much of their cooking. Here’s how to create this dish in your own kitchen:

  • Small new potatoes – you can find these in a can with canned veggies. You’ll want about two cans of these bite sized potatoes for this recipe.
  • Sugar – regular white cane sugar is perfect for this recipe
  • Butter – some like to use margarine. I like use the best quality butter for this recipe. The mixture of butter It really helps create that sugary caramel sauce that is the perfect combination of sugary potatoes.

Learn Some Danish Words While Cooking

Danish chefs have a list of common words they use and you can learn some of those words while you cook this dish! Learn some Danish words while you learn some culinary tips that you may have not known before.

  • Brune kartofler- caramelized brown potatoes
  • Lækker- delicious
  • Opskrift- recipe
  • Karamel- caramel
  • Smag- taste
  • God tid- good time
  • Kartoflerne- the potatoes
  • Glaedelig jul- Merry Christmas
  • Julemiddagen- Christmas dinner
  • Sukker- sugar
  • Smør- butter
  • Kog- boil
  • Pande- pan
  • Varme- heat
  • Gryde- pot
  • Vandet- the water
Mixing Brunede Kartofler in a skillet.

Brunede Kartofler the Old Fashioned Way

If you have a bag of baby new potatoes you can make this crowd-pleasing dish the old fashioned way by boiling the potatoes and peeling them yourself. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then reduce to medium heat. Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, until the potatoes are cooked until almost tender (just barely under done). Place the potatoes in ice cold water. You should be able to peel the potatoes easily by scraping them with a knife. Pat the potatoes dry and place in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least an hour and up to overnight. Remove from the fridge and start with step 2 of the recipe below.

Close up view of Brunede Kartofler in a bowl.

Tips For Making Danish Caramelized Potatoes

  • Depending on the price of potatoes, it’s totally okay to use canned “new potatoes”. It is SO much easier than peeling all the little regular potatoes and then boiling them for just the right amount of time. Trust me, we have tried it all the ways. Getting the canned, pre boiled smaller potatoes are so worth it.
  • Leave the sugar alone. When cooking the sugar, you will want to let it caramelize without stirring it. If you mess with it too much, it will get clumpy. Follow the recipe for the perfect buttery mixture of caramelized sugar that makes the most tasty potatoes.
  • The recipe below is the authentic way of making the caramel for really good caramelized potatoes. However, if you read the notes below the recipe, you will find we have found an easier way to make these satisfying morsels that tastes the same with the same preferred level of caramelization. Either method works great, it’s totally up to you how you want to prepare it!

Variation Suggestions

While these ideas stray from the traditional Brunede recipe, you can switch things up to accommodate different dietary needs and tastes:

  • Add salt and pepper for additional flavor.
  • Toss the potatoes in a bowl with a little olive oil, garlic and salt for a more savory flavor.
  • Add a sprinkle of parsley on top for garnish.
  • Use red potatoes, russet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, any type of potato chunk, as long as they’re all the same size.
  • Season with fresh herbs, thyme, basil, rosemary or oregano.
  • Serve leftovers alongside eggs for a delicious breakfast.
Fork cutting Brunede Kartofler.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is Brunede Kartofler traditionally served?

It’s been a custom since the Middle Ages to serve this dish with Christmas dinner and is a dish that many look forward to every year on any Danish holiday.

What’s the history of this dish?

This dish was originally made with caramel-coated chestnuts instead of potatoes, but many couldn’t afford the luxury of chestnuts at that time and many came to prefer using sweet spuds instead. It’s served for Christmas dinner in the colder months with goose.

Is there an easier way to make this?

Yes, we’ve found if you just add the sugar and butter into the pan at the same time and let it melt on high heat until it turns into a light brown, deep caramel color, you’re able to add the potatoes and stir without any concerns of it burning. This isn’t the “authentic” way of making it, but it still retains the same effects and flavor.

READ NEXT Christmas Dinner Ideas

Other Danish Recipes

We have a tradition of cooking a Danish dinner the night before Christmas Eve. It is a dinner that we look forward to every Holiday season because all the food is a special treat and is perfect to serve a group of hungry Danes. This traditional side dish is always on the menu! Some of our other favorite Danish dishes we love to make are:

How To Make Brunede

Mixing Brunede Kartofler in a skillet.

Brunede Kartofler (Danish Caramelized Potatoes)

5 from 18 votes
Danish Brunede Kartofler, also known as caramelized brown potatoes, are a great side dish to any meal! They are a small potato with a sweet caramelized coating.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Danish
Servings 4



  • 2 cans small new potatoes (you can find these in a can with canned veggies)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter


  • Drain potatoes and pat dry.
    Baking sheet with small potatoes drying on a paper towel for Brunede Kartofler.
  • In a large skillet, cook the sugar on medium-low heat until completely melted. Try not to stir unless necessary to prevent burning.
    When melted and slightly darkened around the edges, add the butter and stir until it becomes kind of a syrupy mixture.
    Skillet boiling sugar and butter for Brunede Kartofler.
  • Add the potatoes (if the mixture starts to stiffen and form lumps, turn the heat up and it will melt again).
    Moving the skillet around, gently cover each potato in the mixture, continuing to cook for about 6-8 minutes. If you want more of a caramelized crust, you can raise the heat a little and cook longer.
    Mixing Brunede Kartofler in a skillet.


Recipe Tips:

  • ***UPDATE: We have actually found that it is easier to add the sugar and butter in the pan at the same time and let it all melt together until the sugar dissolves and turns a deep caramel color. This way you can actually stir it without ruining it. In fact, it is best if you stir it often so it doesn’t burn. This isn’t the “authentic” way, but we have found the end result is the same!
  • It’s totally okay to use canned “new potatoes”. It is SO much easier than peeling all the little potatoes and then boiling them for just the right amount of time. Trust me, we have tried it all the ways.
  • Leave the sugar alone. When cooking the sugar you will want to let it caramelize without stirring it. If you mess with it too much, it will get clumpy.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 394kcalCarbohydrates: 67gProtein: 7gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 118mgPotassium: 1184mgFiber: 6gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 355IUVitamin C: 55.4mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 2.5mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is just like the ones my mother in law (first generation Danish-American) makes for Christmas Eves during our traditional Danish Christmas Eve dinner. Now that we found your recipe, we enjoy them a couple of times each year.

  2. 5 stars
    My mother in law is Danish, and she loved is recipe. She has been making these for 50 years, and this recipe is tastes just like hers. Thanks for posting!!!

  3. 5 stars
    I have been making Brunede Kartofler for years, taught to me by my Mum who in turn learned from her Mother, my Mormor. Although you say it’s not the authentic way to add the sugar and butter at the same time there’s three generations here that have been doing it this way so it might be more authentic than you think seeing as my Mormor would be 126 if she were still alive today.

    Usually serve our Sweet Potatoes with Frikadeller and red cabbage with a small amount of pork gravy. Although the red cabbage is not always the best as I can’t get my hands on Danish Lager Vinegar any more which is disappointing. Do you know of a good alternative?

  4. 5 stars
    My goodness, this sounds so good. I will be using canned potatoes. Thank you for this recipe & will be trying it very soon.

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you! for posting the recipes for Frikadeller and Carmelized/Browned Karttofler. When I was a child my mother use to make Frikadeller and Carmelized new potatoes she grew in the garden with Rodkal. This was one of my favorite meals. My brother mentioned to me that he made these recipes that he got on the internet YOUR RECIPES! So here I am! I am in my glory eating the meals of my childhood. We are as well from Denmark living in Canada for over 50 year.

    1. Hi Carina- Thank you so much for this comment! We love hearing how our recipes bring back fond memories of being together with family. That is our goal with our website. Your comment brings a smile to my face. Thank you for sharing 🙂 Tell your brother “thank you” for finding us! 😀

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve always thought “um no” to canned potatoes but never tried them I based my thoughts on trying canned peas one time which were not my cup of tea… I’ll have to try the canned potatoes for this recipe as purchasing baby potatoes that are small enough locally is difficult especially in the winter months

  7. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this! We are planning to do “Danish Christmas” for the first time this year. I’m looking forward to it, but I don’t know if I will be able to find a pork roast with the skin on.

  8. 5 stars
    We served these yesterday with a bone-in crown pork loin roast and red cabbage in the center and the potatoes, they were an instant hit! We added the cabbage just before we put it on the table…great dinner.
    Dessert…Danish rice pudding!

  9. Try stuffing a leg of pork (like a ham, but fresh pork, not salted or smoked) – have the butcher remove bone and fill that cavity with apple slices and dried (but pre-soaked) prunes – Close in and roast..Fantastic flavor and a great garnish!

      1. We haven’t tried making them ahead, so I can’t say for sure. Let us know how it turns out if you try it!

  10. Sounds good but why would you use canned New potatoes when the fresh are oh so much better?
    New potatoes fresh from the garden are a Christmas tradition in our family.
    Please I implore you to use fresh!

      1. They need to be fork-tender. If you are using the little potatoes that are in a jar or can, they are already booked enough– you don’t need to boil them at all. Does that make sense?

    1. 5 stars
      I have made these dozens of times over the years as this is a very traditional Danish dish. Having used both canned and fresh new potatoes I really think the canned potatoes are better and easy, easy! Just make sure to drain and dry the potatoes well. This was always served with a pork roast with the rind and the roast would be garnished with poached apple halves with a dollop of current jelly in the center. This is festive Danish Comfort food at it’s best!

          1. We haven’t tried freezing this so I can’t say how it would turn out! Sorry! Let us know how it goes if you try it!

  11. 5 stars
    We have this dish with our Danish Christmas Dinner every year. My family thinks it is the best dish in the meal.

    1. 5 stars
      we also have these at our Danish Christmas and we have to set a limit of how many each person can have lol its like fighting over deviled eggs at a bbq

    2. 5 stars

  12. 5 stars
    These were really yummy! I didn't have new potatoes, so I just cut up the potatoes I had into large chunks. I also ended up cooking the sauce too long, so it kind of crystallized on me 🙁 But the flavor was there (more subtle than I expected, but really good). I'll definitely try making these again!