Jansson’s temptation (Janssons frestelse) is a creamy potato and anchovy casserole like no other. It’s truly one of the most decadent side dishes imaginable and reserved for special occasions in Sweden, usually for Christmas and Easter.
Such a mysterious dish, who is this Jansson and why was he so tempted after all? Certainly he’s had many dinners in his life, but what is so special about this one? And why can’t he settle for just any potato casserole?
Oh it’s coming back to me now — having eaten this many times also, it’s not too difficult to understand where he’s coming from.
I mean, the luscious cream sauce…
The tender matchstick potatoes…
The sweet or salted anchovies (depending on the type you use and what mood you’re in) that melt into the buttery cream.
And it creates a flavor so unique that you would not guess anchovies are in there (unless you use two cans for the full flavor experience), but are delighted by the savory je ne sais quoi that exists because of them.
Ah yes, savory, creamy, rich, satisfying, and
as promised in the name – tempting!
If it’s in your fridge I would dare you to stop thinking about it…
Content in this Post
What is Jansson’s Temptation (Janssons Frestelse)?
Jansson’s temptation is a potato casserole mainly served during Christmas and Easter in Sweden and Finland. The dish is made up of potatoes, onions, anchovies, cream, butter, breadcrumbs, and butter.
The name of the casserole (Janssons Frestelse) came about around 1928 in Stockholm, Sweden. The background of the name of the dish is not clearly defined as there are three theories behind its origin:
- An opera singer named Per Adolf Janzon, who lived during the later half of the 19th century, was known for throwing evening dinner parties. At one of these occasions he only had an anchovy casserole to offer, which turned out to be a crowd pleaser.
- A more widely accepted story (according to the gastronomical academy in Sweden) names a house cook (Sofie Pauline Brogårde) as the person giving the dish its name after watching a movie with the same name (Janssons Frestelse). Sofie cooked the dish for a society dinner party and the name stuck since.
- There is also a third theory that explains the name to originate from a wife named Jansson who made the dish during the Swedish famine of 1867-1869. To make the most of the thin selection of ingredients available during this time she made a large casserole with the ingredients known in Jansson’s temptation.
Regardless of the origin of the name, this anchovy casserole has been tempting people for over 150 years and is now deeply rooted in the Scandinavian cuisines.
How to Cook Jansson’s Temptation (Janssons Frestelse)?
It is typically layered in a casserole dish and baked in oven. However, we have also experimented with a slow cooker version that we liked, but our latest method, the Instant pot recipe, is our preference, hands down.
It’s fast, and the flavor is retained much better than with the slow cooker method, in our opinion.
To ensure the instant pot does not get the “BURN” message, this recipe is cooked using LESS temperature and LOW pressure. You may also want to change the order of the potato and onion layers, starting with the potatoes instead.
Ingredients used in Jansson’s Temptation
- Potatoes — cut into match sticks, using a mandolin set to French fry like setting.
- Onions — sliced
- Cream — use half-and-half or whipping cream.
- Side note: we actually made this without cream accidentally one time, and it still ended up being a great dish. Although we will always choose to add cream, it was a happy accident that one time and we didn’t mind the mistake.
- Milk — We use 3.25% homogenized milk
- Anchovies — Swedish anchovies have a sweeter sauce, other types are salty, we have used both and both types are fantastic, you can’t go wrong. If you like, you can reduce the amount to one tin of anchovies instead of two.
- Butter — Salted or unsalted, your choice. If using salted you may want to reduce or eliminate the additional salt.
- Salt and Pepper
Alternative Cooking Method for Crispy Top Layer
The nature of the instant pot cooking method is that it cooks the Janssons tender through all the layers. Since the dish is not cooked in the oven, it will not have a crispy top layer. If you are accustomed to the traditional Janssons Frestelse where the dish has a crispy top layer, adjust the recipe with the following steps:
STEP 1 – Reduce the pressure cooking time to 10 minutes. When the pressure cooker starts counting down, preheat the oven on BROIL.
STEP 2 – When the cooking cycle has completed, carefully transfer the content to an oven safe baking dish.
STEP 3 – Spread a layer of breadcrumbs on top of the potatoes.
STEP 4 – Place the baking dish in the middle of the oven and BROIL for 10 minutes. Keep a close watch on the dish so it doesn’t burn.
The dish is now similar to the traditional oven baked Janssons Frestelse with a crispy top layer and tender potatoes all the way through. In addition, this method cuts the cooking time in half when compared to only baking the dish in the oven.
What to Serve with Jansson’s Temptation (Jansson’s Frestelse)?
Swedes typically eat this as a side dish during Christmas and Easter meals. It is served with ham, meat balls, all types of pickled herring, red beet salad, brown beans, and cabbage salads.
In addition to ham and meatballs, you can serve with a variety of meats including bacon, instant pot BBQ ribs and mini sausages (little smokies) that are great also.
You can try some festive mulled spiced wine (Glögg) that is perfect for the holiday season.
More Swedish Recipes
- IKEA Shrimp Sandwich (Räksmörgås)
- Instant Pot IKEA Swedish Meatballs
- Toast Skagen Swedish Shrimp Toast
- Swedish Meatball Sandwich (Köttbullemacka) With Creamy Pickled Beet Salad (Rödbetssallad)
- IKEA Smoked Salmon Gravlax Salad With Mustard Dill Sauce
- Seafood Sandwich Cake (Läx och Räk Smörgåstårta)
- Instant Pot Doner Kebab (Kebabkött)
- Doner Kebab Plate (Kebabtallrik)
- Doner Kebab Roll (Kebabrulle)
- Kebab Pizza Pita Bread Recipe (Kebabpizza)
- Swedish Pizza Salad (Pizzasallad)
- Kebab Sauce (Kebabsås)
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Swedish Gubbröra recipe is made with similar ingredients (anchovies, potatoes and cream) with the addition of finely chopped eggs, fresh dill and caviar (or IKEA seaweed pearls).
It’s an extremely flavorful mix, perfect as a tasty appetizer or midday snack.
Instant Pot Jansson’s Temptation (Jansson’s Frestelse)
- 5 Potatoes, large, yellow or white
- 1 Onion
- 4 ounces Anchovies, canned in oil
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1 cup Milk, 3.25% homogenized
- ½ teaspoon Salt, Himalayan
- 3 tablespoons Butter
- Butter the bottom of the instant pot using ⅓ (1 tablespoon) of the butter.
- Peel and rinse the potatoes. Place them in a medium size bowl of cold water (so they don't turn brown while preparing the dish).
- Cut the onion in half and cut each half into ⅛ inch strips.
- Using a mandolin, cut one potato at a time into ¼ inch thick "French fries" sticks.
- Evenly spread ¼ of the sliced onions on the bottom of the instant pot.
- Evenly spread enough potato sticks to cover the sliced onions.
- Place half a can of anchovies randomly across the potato and onion layers.
- Repeat the layering steps (onions, potatoes, and anchovies) three times.
- Evenly spread the last of the potato sticks as the top layer. Place the rest of the butter on top of the potatoes and pour in the milk and heavy cream, evenly spreading it across the pot. Top it off with the salt.
- Close the lid on the instant pot and set the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on LESS temperature, LOW pressure (very important to prevent BURN!) for 20 minutes.
- Quick release when done. Let the dish cool without lid for 20 minutes before serving.
The above nutritional values are estimates and should only be used as a guide. If you are following a specific diet or have dietary restrictions, please use your preferred nutritional calculator. If you have a food allergy please ensure that none of the listed ingredients are part of your restrictions. As well, always use a food thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperature of the food items.