20 "Must-Try" Scandinavian Foods


Breathtaking Scandinavia is a dream holiday destination, boasting incredible landscapes, impressive sights, and plenty of amazing cities to explore. But fantastic sightseeing opportunities are not the only reason to add this wonderful region to your travel bucket list. The unique culture, fascinating traditions, welcoming locals, and extraordinary Scandinavian cuisine can steal even the most skeptical traveler's heart. Relying only on the best-quality local ingredients and age-old traditions, classic Scandinavian recipes don't favor any heavy spices, so the resulting dish boasts a very clean, perfectly balanced taste. We know how challenging Scandinavia trip planning can be, there are so many things to see and try that it seems almost impossible to decide what to put on your travel agenda. To help you find your way in the delicious world of traditional Scandinavian dishes, we've put together this list of the classical Scandinavian specialties you should try at least once, exploring the magnificent land of the Vikings.


What to Eat & Drink in Scandinavia


Norway Cuisine

The traditional Norway diet is very typical for the region. It's based on high-quality local ingredients and mainly focuses on seafood. But due to the tough weather conditions and long winters, specific to the Scandinavian region, many traditional Norwegian recipes feature various conserved items, such as pickled fish and vegetables. You are welcome to read more about the mouthwatering Norwegian specialties here.


Swedish Cuisine

Of course, the most common things associated with picturesque Sweden are IKEA, ABBA, and their legendary meatballs. And we don't question the amazingness of this iconic dish, especially when served with the famous brown sour cream gravy and lingonberry jam, but the traditional Swedish foods offer plenty of other wonderful things to explore. To know where to start, check out our list of the "must-try" Swedish dishes below.

1. Swedish meatballs
Swedish meatballs

Impossible to think of a more suitable Sweden's food to start our list with than the famous meatballs, already mentioned above. A lot of people equate the meatballs you can enjoy at IKEA with the traditional Swedish recipe, but that's not the case. Although it may be hard to believe, the classic Swedish recipe is even more delicious than the signature dish of the most famous ready-to-assemble furniture store in the world! Interestingly, the traditional recipe of the meatballs doesn't include the famous gravy, only the lingonberry jelly, served on the side of the plate.

2. Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon

This Swedish dish is so popular that you can find it in any classy local restaurant as well as at your neighbor's weekly barbeque. But regardless of the setting you enjoy it in, there are no doubts that the grilled salmon will be the star of your plate. Cooked right, salmon tastes amazing even when it was prepared with nothing but salt and lemon, but if you marinade it in the special mix of herbed yogurt, Vasterbottensost cheese, sugar, and soy sauce, it will be hard not to lick your plate after you eat the last slice!

3. Toast Skagen
Toast Skagen

This traditional appetizer can be found at any high society dinner party in Sweden. It was created by one of the most famous Swedish restaurateurs, Tore Wretman, who helped to redefine classical Swedish cuisine after WWII. At the time, home cooking was substituted by foreign fast-food takeaways and Tore Wretman worked hard on giving classic Swedish recipes the status of haute cuisine. And he succeeded, toast skagen is quite a simple dish, boasting rich flavor and elegant look, making it a perfect one-bite dinner party food.

4. Gravlax

Without a doubt, this ultimate luxury food is known and loved all around the globe. And the best part is that it can be easily cooked at home! All you need is raw salmon and a bit of salt, sugar, and dill. Since the Middle Ages, fishermen used to cure the fish fillets in the listed spices for at least 12 hours (for a more intense flavor, you can leave salmon to marinate for a few days). When the dish is ready, you need to thinly slice it and serve the treat with freshly baked bread or hot boiled potatoes.

5. Kanelbulle

What hides behind the melodic name is a traditional Swedish cinnamon roll, the most popular pastry in the beautiful country. The classical Swedish recipe is quite simple and includes the ingredients you can find in the kitchen at all times, such as flour, milk, yeats, eggs, water, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. But the resulting dish is so full of flavor, especially when freshly baked and generously flavored with cinnamon, that this pastry got its own celebration in Sweden, October 4th is known as the Cinnamon Roll Day!

6. Princess Cake
Princess Cake

The Cinnamon Roll Day is not the only holiday, dedicated to a popular Swedish dessert. The third week of September is known as the Week of the Princess Cake. This period wasn't chosen randomly, it is dedicated to the Swedish princess Martha who was born on September 22nd. The princess loved the cake that her teacher baked for her birthday and that exact recipe has survived to our time. Don't worry, it's possible to find this delicious marzipan cake even if you didn't happen to catch the princess cake week during your Sweden travel. 

7. Swedish Glogg

It's just as hard to imagine Christmas without a glass of warm mulled wine as it is without Frank Sinatra's songs or a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Sweden's favorite drink during the most magical time of the year is called Glogg and although it features the spices rather similar to German's Gluhwein, there are several differences. The Swedes prefer to add a bit of vodka and a dash of cardamon while heating the drink. Also, it's common to fish out all the spices before serving and add a bit of slivered almonds and raisins to the mug.


Danish Cuisine

In 2019, spectacular Denmark rightfully prides itself on a total of 35 Michelin stars which is more than in any other Scandinavian country has! The classical Danish foods are mostly about meat or fish, filling garnish, and mouthwatering gravy. However, Danish cuisine has gone through some changes during recent years and now the Danes prefer to cook using healthier, organic materials. This improved way of cooking got the name of New Danish cuisine.

1. Danish Breakfast
Danish Breakfast

Although not as widely known as Full English Breakfast, Danish Breakfast is just as delicious and much healthier. As a rule, traditional Danish Breakfast consists of granola mixed with skyr (Icelandic famous dairy product made out of sour milk and boasting a similar consistency to Greek yogurt), fresh fruits or berries, and a rundstykker (a Swedish bread roll). On weekends, people like to treat themselves with a traditional Danish dessert, wienebrod (a delicious multilayered Danish pastry).

2. Karbonader

Karbonader is a breaded pork pattie, one of the most popular Sweden's everyday foods. The traditional recipe includes frying karbonaders in butter and serving them with a hearty garnish, such as mashed potatoes and creamy gravy. Nowadays when most people are looking for healthier alternatives, there are several variations of the classic recipe for those who want to reduce the number of consumed carbs and fats. It's possible to order baked karbonaders, served with a garnish of peas and carrots or vegetable salad and a slice of rye bread.

3. Stegt Flaesk Med Persillesovs
Stegt Flaesk Med Persillesovs

If you ask Danes to name their national dish, probably the most common answer will be stegt flaesk med persillesovs. In Danish, the word "Stegt" means "fried" and the word "Flaesk" can be translated as "the strips of pork belly", giving an idea of what to expect when you order this dish in a restaurant. As you guessed, this popular comfort food consists of crispy fried pork with fat, served with boiled potatoes, vegetable garnish, and bechamel sauce with chopped parsley.

4. Smorrebrod

Although stegt flaesk med persillesovs boasts the "National Danish Food" title, the most famous food in the country is, without a doubt, smorrebrod. Even if you have never heard that name before, you've definitely heard of the famous Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches. This popular lunch food is cooked with a slice of buttered Danish rye bread, topped with a source of protein, such as a piece of meat, fish, cheese, egg or avocado and with a mouthwatering garnish to top it all.

5. Juleand

Every country in the world boasts unique Christmas traditions and classical holiday recipes. And breathtaking Denmark is no exception. If you happen to travel the Nordic country during the festive season, you shouldn't miss a chance to try juleand, the traditional roasted duck, served with the caramelized potatoes and delicious gravy. Another Christmas dish to check out is called risalamande. This delicious pudding made with whipped cream, sugar, vanilla, and chopped almonds definitely won't leave you disappointed.

6. Christmas Beer
Christmas Beer

When it comes to traditional Chrismas drinks in Denmark, of course, there are different variations of mulled wines, but most citizens prefer to enjoy another holiday drink, the Tuborg Christmas beer. This drink is available only for a short time during the holidays and on the day when the beer becomes available, Carlsberg employees go to the local bars and pubs, sing the traditional Tuborg Christmas brewing song, and offer free bottles of long-awaited dark-golden pilsner to the guests.


Finnish Cuisine

Probably, the best word, describing Finland's food is "simple". As a rule, the traditional recipes don't involve any top-class cooking technics, species you've never heard of or impossible ingredients. Most of the classical Finnish dishes are based on the local materials, plus the Finns favor organic ingredients, so their cuisine is very health beneficial! Below, we've gathered some delicious Finnish foods everyone should try at least once.

1. Varilimppu

Bread is an essential part of Finland's cuisine and it is served with almost every meal. There are numerous types of traditional bread in the country, including ruisleipa (traditional rye bread), limmpu (dark sour bread), and jalkiuunileipa (almost black bread that can be compared with a fruit cake in a matter of density). But only one type was nominated as the ultimate Finnish food, flavorful varilimppu. This sweet rye bread boasts rich flavor, provided by the seeds of cumin and orange peel.

2. Lasimestarin Silli
Lasimestarin Silli

Probably every country around the globe has one (or quite a few) dishes that are widely loved by locals bun can raise quite a few eyebrows when presented to the foreigners. The Finns have lasimestarin silli or marinated herring. As a rule, this Finnish specialty is cooked during the summer months with a freshly caught herring and special marinate, made out of the water, vinegar, sugar, and some spices. All the ingredients are mixed in a jar and kept marinating till winter. This dish is also one of the most popular Finland's Christmas foods.

3. Salmiakki

There is no unanimous opinion about black liquorice, people either love it or hate it, there is no in-between. And if you are part of the first group, there is Finland's dessert you can't miss. Salmiakki or salty liquorice is one of the most popular treats in Finland and some say that its taste slightly resembles red wine. Salmiakki is usually eaten as a candle but it can also be used to add flavor to various dishes, such as ice cream, meat or alcoholic drinks. Those who feel adventurous can try extra salty liquorice, additionally covered in salmiak salt.

4. Mustikkapiirakka

This light Finnish dessert is way less controversy but just as popular, especially during the summer months. Mustikkapiirakka is a delicious bilberry pie with a crispy golden crust and rich yogurt filling. Can you imagine something more delicious than freshly baked mustikkapiirakka, served warm with vanilla ice cream or sweet vanilla sauce? Although this simple pie works amazing with a mug of hot tea or coffee, it tastes just as good, accompanied by a glass of milk.

5. Kiisseli

Kiisseli is a popular non-alcoholic Finnish drink, made out of sweetened juice of fruits and berries and starch, providing the iconic texture and smoothness. If you have never heard of this dish, kiisseli is a peculiar cross between a fruit soup and a jelly that can be both a sweet drink (most common in Russia, Poland, and Ukraine) and a dessert, served with pancakes, pudding, and ice cream. Interestingly, there is a Russian expression that can be translated as "milk rivers and kissel banks", meaning paradise on Earth.

6. Lakkalikoori

There are various famous alcoholic beverages, originated from Scandinavia, including Akvavit, Absolut Vodka, and Brannvin. And Finland didn't stay away and gave the world quite a few interesting drinks. One of them is Lakkalikoori or, for those who can't easily pronounce all the mouthful Nordic names just yet, simply Lakka Liqueur. This sweet beverage is made out of cloudberries, sweet orange berries, local to the Arctic region. It's possible to find cloudberry jams and even dessert all around the world, but only Finland produces delicious liqueur.

7. Mesimarja Likoori
Mesimarja Likoori

There is one very special berry that can be found only in Northern Finland. Its name is Rubus Arcticus or Bramblebarry and it's a relatively rare plant. And one of the iconic Finnish beverages is made, using this unique berry. Mesimaraja Likoori (also known as Mesimaraja Liquor) is produced in limited quantities out of brambleberries, using an authentic extraction method, allowing to get as much flavor and color from the berries as possible and providing special honey taste and bright color of the drink.