Swedish Giftas

Last year, our good friend Peggy told me about a family favorite they make for Thanksgiving.


Giftas (pronounced Yiftas)

I had never heard of Giftas before, but in the spirit of friendship and Thanksgiving, Peggy brought us Giftas for our Thanksgiving feast.


What a treat.  Every single bit of Giftas was consumed.

This year I decided to make Giftas for Thanksgiving.  I didn’t want to bother Peggy, so I went online to find the recipe.  How hard could this be?

It turns out, there are several different versions of Giftas.

Most recipes called for whipped cream (some even suggested Cool Whip!).  Some recipes featured vanilla pudding (AND whipped cream).  Most recipes suggested cranberries (after all, Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state and produces more than half of the entire world’s supply!).

While I didn’t find any recipes featuring lingonberries, they were evidently in the original recipe.  They are a staple in Sweden and since this is a Swedish recipe….

As for the Saltines…..the Saltines are the key to a good Gifta.  I did see a couple of recipes that called for graham crackers, but I’m a sucker for tradition (and I didn’t have any graham crackers in the house).

The melted butter/Saltine cracker mix?  I don’t think I need to explain butter, do I?

I wasn’t sure which recipe Peggy’s family used.


So I decided to do a bit of research.

(I love research).

Actually, all the combinations were pretty darned good, but I especially liked the cranberry/lingonberry combo.  The cranberries are pretty and the lingonberries soften the tartness of the cranberries.  The whipped cream was nice and fresh tasting and the buttery, salty wonderful Saltine crackers?  Yum.

Giftas (pronounced Yiftas)


  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce (your own recipe or canned)
  • 1/2 cup lingonberries (if you can't find lingonberries, use cranberry sauce)
  • 2 cups whipped cream
  • 4 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (use pure extract, you'll be happier)
  • 2 cups saltines, crushed (one sleeve of saltines = 2 cups crushed)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  • Mix the cranberry sauce and lingonberries together.
  • Whip the cream with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla.
  • Crush the saltines (I put them in a zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin).
  • Melt the butter.
  • Mix the butter and saltines together.
  • Layer the ingredients in a clear straight sided bowl.
  • 1st layer: 1/2 the crumbs
  • 2nd layer: 1/2 the cranberry/lingonberry mixture
  • 3rd layer: 1/2 the whipped cream
  • 4th layer: the remaining crumbs (reserve just a little for the top)
  • 5th layer: the remaining cranberry/lingonberry mixture
  • 6th layer: the whipped cream
  • Sprinkle a few of the buttery crackers on top
  • Chill for 2 or 3 hours.

Here’s what I know for sure about this dish.

It’s Swedish.

It’s very popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota

It was originally made with Lingonberries

It’s pronounced Yiftas!

It’s a lovely gift from a lovely friend.


Thank you, Peggy.  You are now officially part of our tradition.






Category: Christmas, Cook, Create, Desserts, Holidays and Entertaining, Memories and Traditions, New Traditions, Old Memories, Other Treats, Salads, Smile
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(6) Comments and (5) Replies

  1. Peggy | November 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply

    I am honored to be part of your family tradition. Yifta certainly has been a part of my life since I was born (and that was a long time ago!!) Our version is cranberries, saltines and whipped cream and we thought it was German. Hope your Thanksgiving was great.

    • jill | November 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Reply

      Oh, you are more than welcome. We enjoyed it once again this year and everyone gave thanks for you. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Love to you all..

  2. Dina | January 9, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Reply

    this looks like an amazing dessert!

    • jill | January 12, 2014 at 10:04 am | Reply

      Oh, it really is a great dessert. We also serve it as a side dish….and with breakfast…and a snack (although we run out way before we get to the breakfast bit…but that’s my dream) Let me know how you like it when to make it. My sister used LIngonberry Jam and not very much of it and she didn’t seem to like it as well, so see if you can find the actual lingonberries….. At any rate. Love to hear how it goes! Have a great day!

  3. Kari Serkland | November 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Reply

    My family makes this every year at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes again at New Years. I think it is best if you make it and let it sit in fridge overnight. This way the liquid soaks into the graham cracker crumbs and makes them more of a cake like consistency. The word giftas translates into “marriage” in swedish which is sort of what all the layers do in the dish- they marry and combine/come together. We always do several layers, cooked cranberries, whipped cream, plain graham cracker crumbs, and repeat until you run out of ingredients. If you are very careful layering the dish it looks so beautiful! Thanks for sharing this with others- more people should know about this amazing dish!

    • jill | November 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Reply

      I am so very jealous that your family makes this for all your holidays!! It’s obvious that you have a great and abundant love for the giftas! I love your description. Makes me want to whip up another … right now!!. I didn’t realize that giftas meant marriage. Thank you for that additional piece of (very important) information.

      I need to try the graham cracker version. I like the idea of the gingery, butter layer….yumm. Thanks again for the interest and the info. Have wonderful holiday, full of giftas and loving family and friends!

  4. Ylva Bergstrom | June 6, 2015 at 5:47 am | Reply

    Our family version is simpler but still very nice. 3dl whipping cream, 7 skorpor, and 2 coffee cups of lingonjam. Skorpor is halved dried wheat buns.
    Just whip the cream, break up the buns into pieces and mix in the lingonberry crem. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

    • jill | June 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Reply

      Thank you so much for your version!. Now I am going to have to go find some skorpor!!! I suspect your version is much closer to the traditional version, so I will absolutely give it a try! Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!!

  5. Twisha | March 15, 2016 at 10:55 am | Reply

    This dessert looks DELISH!!
    I must try this out.

  6. Kim | December 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Reply

    I am doing some research about the recipe Giftas. I am a swede and I have never eaten it. 0_o But i have just started a Youtube-Chanel with Swedish Recipes and the next recipe i am doing is named Änglamat (Angel’s food). And I just want to let you know that they are simular recipes. The original Giftas (marrage) is wipped cream with lingonberry sause in an ice cream cone and the other (Angel’s food) is crakers, raspberry sause, apple sause and wipped cream. Even the swedes mix these recipes up, it seems. But now you know! 🙂

    Btw do you what to follow me on my new youtube channel or Facebook page, please seach for Swedish Homemade Recipes. There you will find my videos together with the history of each dish (in both Swedish and English). Hopefully the Änglamat-video will be up and running on new years
    Br Kim

    • jill | January 7, 2017 at 9:10 am | Reply

      I can’t wait to check in to your youtube channel. I love “discovering” new recipes and especially love them when there is history and tradition attached. I love the idea of the raspberry sauce and applesauce so will certainly give that a try! Thanks for dropping in and have a great day!

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