Jansson’s temptation

Jansson’s temptation (Janssons frestelse) is a traditional Swedish gratin-style dish made of potatoes, leek or onion, anchovies or sprats  and cream. This dish is also common in Finland and known as “Jannssonin kiusaus”.

At least here in Finland Jansson’s temptation has been used as a late night dish, which obviously means that it was eaten very late at night, for example when having a party continuing far into the small hours of the night and guests are starting to feel like having something salty. Jansson’s was a good choice to serve and it still is.

I recently came across the following claim: “NEVER make the mistake of using anchovies, as many English-language recipes suggest. The Swedish word ‘ansjovis’ actually means sprats, not anchovies. Whoever originally translated it that way condemned many a poor person to a very salty dish!” I really do not agree:  anchovies are just excellent when used in this dish (I have always used them, not sprats because they are really tasteless compared with anchovies). The only important thing to remember is that you should not use too much of anchovies: too much of them can be really overwhelming, and you can’t talk about a great taste sensation any more.

I can recall my mother making Jannsson’s Temptation on several occasions, but never as a late night snack, it was more the main dish of the banquet table. I too make Jansson’s as an everyday dish, quite often as well now that my children have moved out. They didn’t like this one very much because of the taste of anchovies and they ate it reluctantly… if at all.

Most of the recipes advise you to use regular yellow onions. I have learned my way of making Jansson’s from my mother and she used only leak, absolutely leak and even lots of it.

PORTION: 4 servings
TIME TO MAKE: preparation about 20 minutes, baking a little over one hour


  • 6 big sized potatoes
  • about 10-12 tinned anchovy fillets
  • 1 big sized leek
  • 3 dl cream
  • black pepper (but no extra salt)

Preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F)

Line a deasant size and oven proof dish with oil or butter.


Peel the potatoes and chop or grate them into small piece sticks – a bit thinner than French fries. (The photo above). If you happen to have a grinder such as the one in the photo, chopping is a breeze!


Cut the whole leek into small pieces. Heat up some oil in a saucepan and sauté the cut leek for about five minutes or until soft.
Add a layer of potatoes in an ovenproof dish and then from five to six anchovy fillets (that really is enough, the taste will be just perfect). Sprinkle some black pepper on them.



Layer half of the leek on the potatoes and anchovies. Then add another layer of potatoes and 5-6 anchovy fillets. Sprinkle some black pepper on them and add the rest of leek. Make the last layer from the rest of the potatoes and pour in some of the remaining anchovy juice.


Pour the cream over the dish, but don’t fill the whole pot with it – cream will boil over if you put in too much of it.

Bake for about one hour or until the potatoes are evenly cooked and smooth.


Tags: anchovy and potato stew jansson’s temptation jansson’s frestelse Swedish cuisine

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