Food in Scandinavia – Our Guide to Scandinavian Cuisine

food in Scandinavia

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden are commonly referred to as Scandinavia. These countries may have a lot of things in common, but their cuisine differs quite a lot from each other. The food in Scandinavia is usually fresh and healthy; most meals can be prepared in a few minutes.

The cuisine of Scandinavia is a unique mix of cultural influences from its neighboring countries and indigenous ingredients, resulting in a wide variety of tastes and styles. If you’re curious about the food in Scandinavia, read on to learn more.

Crayfish are a popular food in Scandinavia
Freshwater crayfish have been eaten in Sweden for centuries

Top Food You Should Have A Taste Of In Scandinavia

The Nordic countries’ cuisine is characterized by using simple and natural ingredients that often taste better. It is also known for its high-quality, locally sourced food products such as meat, fish, and dairy. The traditional Nordic diet is based on seasonal products and local ingredients. In addition, several traditional dishes have been passed down from generation to generation.

Some of the most popular dishes in Scandinavia include:


Smorgasbord is a traditional Swedish buffet meal, and it is served at restaurants, cafes, and parties. The name means “sandwich cake,” consisting of a layer of meat, such as sliced cold cuts or cured salmon, topped with vegetables, like pickled cucumbers or other types of salads, cheeses, and hams. A smörgåstårta can have up to five layers, and it’s among the most popular food in Scandinavia!


This is a Scandinavian soup made with fish broth and chunks of boiled whitefish. Lohi is the Finnish word for salmon. So some people make this soup using salmon instead of whitefish.


The kanelsnegl is a Danish pastry made with a cinnamon twist, filled with whipped cream and vanilla custard, and topped with icing sugar. This is among the most popular pastries in Denmark, and it can be found in every bakery.

Surströmming or Matjessill

Surströmming or matjessill is a popular type of food in Scandinavia. It is a fermented Baltic herring that has been canned with lye to prevent putrefaction. It was developed by necessity because of the lack of refrigeration in the olden days when fish was caught during the winter months and needed to be preserved quickly.

The cans are placed in barrels where they ferment for several months to several years, depending on the variety of fish used and personal preference. The taste is strong, pungent, and salty, with a hint of sweetness from the added sugar or molasses. It takes some time to get acclimatized, but once you have tried it, you can’t help but fall in love with it!

Kvikk Lunsj

Kvikk Lunsj is a Norwegian sweet and salty snack sold in almost every supermarket in Norway. It consists of a layer of chocolate and a layer of rice crisps, covered with a thin layer of chocolate and more coconut. Kvikk Lunsj means “quick lunch,” but it’s also a typical treat for children. This snack has been around since 1921 when it was first introduced by the Norwegian chocolate manufacturer Freia. It was initially intended as an energy bar for people who were out hiking and skiing, but now it’s also popular as an afternoon pick-me-up for adults!

Pylsa (or Pulsa)

The hamburger is already well known in most countries around the world, but there are some countries where the concept of a burger hasn’t been adopted yet. One of those countries is Norway! In Norway, they have their version of the hamburger called pylsa (or pulsa). A pylsa consists of minced pork or beef meat on a bun with mustard and raw onion. They have grilled meat over an open fire or on top of an electric grill before being placed between two slices. It can be grilled or fried and comes in beef and pork varieties.


Gravlax is the food you must try while visiting Sweden! This dish is made from raw salmon cured with salt and sugar until it becomes a paste. Spices such as dill and juniper berries are added along with peppercorns. The fish is then left in a cold environment for about two days so that it can be served with bread or crackers for breakfast or an appetizer for dinner.


This is a dish you should try if you’re exploring the food in Scandinavia.
Ræstkjøt is an Icelandic dish that consists of beef that has been hung and dried for many months or even years in a cold, dark space. The meat will then be hung in the open air or smoked to continue drying out. It is mainly served with potatoes and vegetables such as cabbage or carrots.

Blåbärssoppa (Blueberry Soup)

Scandinavians love their berries and make them into everything from desserts to pastries to soups. Blåbärssoppa is a traditional Swedish soup made with blueberries, cream, and sugar, and it’s usually served chilled on warm summer evenings. That’s a great choice if you want to try an alternative type of food in Scandinavia.

Köttbullar (Meatballs)

No matter where you go in Scandinavia, chances are there will be meatballs on the menu. They’re that popular! Typically made with ground beef or pork, these balls of meat are served either fried or baked with gravy. They can either serve as a main course or a snack. They’re also often served at smorgasbords. Smorgasbords are large buffets that typically include many different types of salads and appetizers along with other hot dishes. There are meatballs made from reindeer, moose, or elk meat instead of beef or pork.


This is a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. It consists of slices of bread topped with various toppings such as meat and fish. The open-faced sandwiches can be served with beer or wine, which makes them even more delicious.

Geothermal heated Rúgbrauð

This type of bread is usually made in Iceland. It’s cooked inside an oven that uses volcanic steam to simmer the bread over many hours. This process allows the bread to absorb all the nutrients from the volcanic rock and underground water sources, making it very nutritious and healthy for consumption.

food in Scandinavian restaurants
Food in Scandinavia is served in beautiful restaurants

Restaurants that Offer the Best Scandinavian Food

The Scandinavian region has been a culinary wonderland for decades. It’s home to very innovative chefs who are constantly pushing the limits of what we think of as “food in Scandinavia”. The best Scandinavian restaurants take traditional dishes and make them even better. They use new techniques and ingredients to create dishes that are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Here are some of the best Scandinavian restaurants in the world:


Geranium is a Michelin-starred restaurant in Scandinavia, and it’s also one of the most expensive. The chef’s menu is inspired by modern Nordic cuisine. This means you’ll find dishes like local lobster with pickled cucumber and fermented cream on the menu. Geranium has three Michelin stars. It is located in Copenhagen, and it serves some of the best gourmet food in Scandinavia.


AOC is a restaurant in Copenhagen serving a menu of Nordic cuisine. It’s been named one of the best restaurants in the world by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and it has two Michelin stars. The Scandinavian food at AOC is seasonal and local, using ingredients from the Nordic region. The menu often changes. But you can expect to find dishes like swordfish with mussel sauce and slow-cooked venison with root vegetables.


Kadeau is another Copenhagen restaurant that serves great Nordic food in Scandinavia. You’ll find traditional dishes like smoked duck breast or braised lamb shoulder alongside more modern creations like pan-fried foie gras with beetroot emulsion and celeriac creme brulee.


Ambar is a Scandinavian restaurant located in Reykjavik. It serves traditional Icelandic dishes such as smoked lamb and fish stew. The restaurant also provides an impressive wine list and live music on weekends.

Babette bistro

Babette Bistro is another popular restaurant in Oslo. You will experience a great selection of French and Scandinavian cuisine here that will leave you feeling satisfied. The interior design of this restaurant is fantastic. So if you want to impress someone with your choice of restaurant, then this would be it!


Scandinavian cuisine has become synonymous with some of the best food in the world. The Scandinavian diet relies mainly on fish and meat but also heavily on dairy products. Food in Scandinavia is usually served with potatoes, rice, or pasta. There is a long tradition of baking and confectionery. Many food products have unique regional recipes and varieties. Scandinavians also have a penchant for pickled or smoked food as additives. Such as smoked salmon, herring, or anchovies which are common to find served alongside other dishes. So, if you’re not familiar with Scandinavian cuisine yet, get ready for an exciting journey!

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