Want to know more about Swedish food and cuisine? As a Swede, I can give you an insider guide to the Swedish food world. There are several yummy things to try.
From traditional Swedish food dishes to Swedish snacks – I’ll tell you everything you want and need to know about the Swedish food culture.
It’s time to get hungry! Here are 25 traditional dishes from Sweden that you can eat for a local experience:
Table of Contents
Toast Skagen is one of the most popular and common appetizers in Sweden. Toast Skagen consists of bread fried in butter, and on top, you have a mix of mayonnaise and shrimps. On top of that, you have dill and lemon.
Some Toast Skagen is also served with whitefish roe.
Toast Skagen is no doubt one of my favorite Swedish dishes!
Köttbullar & potatismos – The most popular dish in Sweden
This is probably the most famous dish in Sweden. Meatballs (köttbullar) served with potatoes or mashed potatoes (potatismos), cream sauce, and lingonberries.
When it comes to Swedish food, this is one of the dishes you have to try during your stay in Sweden. It’s possible to get both vegetarian and vegan versions of this traditional dish.
Swedish pancakes are simply delicious. They’re thin, a bit crispy and on top, you can have both jam and whipped cream. They’re very different from the American pancakes and is not the same thing as French crepes.
This is a dish Swedes eat for both breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
PS: Some Swedes, including myself, likes to have sugar and squeezed lemon on the Swedish pancakes. It’s a bit different, but really good if you love sweet and sour flavors!
Wallenbergare is a pork steak that consists of finely ground veal and calf meat. It’s also made out of cream, egg yolks, salt, pepper, and fresh breadcrumbs.
It’s served with boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes, green peas, and lingonberry jam.
Kalops is a Swedish and Finnish meat dish that contains beef, onions, bay leaves, and different kinds of spices. The dish is often served with boiled potatoes and red beets.
Kroppkakor is a popular dish along with the coast of Småland, in Blekinge, and on the islands of Öland and Gotland.
It’s potato-based balls (approximately the size of a tennis ball) that’s filled with pork and onion. But there are also other local versions of kroppkakor where they have a bit different ingredients.
Kroppkakor are often eaten together with cream milk and lingonberry jam or with melted butter and ”rårörda lingon”, which is a type of lingonberry jam.
In the city of Piteå in Sweden, there’s a smilier dish called pitepalt.
Most people associate herring with the pickled herring we eat during Christmas, Easter, and Midsummer. But, we actually have another popular dish with herring.
This dish contains fried Baltic herring that’s served with melted butter, mashed potatoes, green peas, and lingonberry jam, etc.
It’s a fresh and healthy dish, and a must to taste if you like eating fish!
Pyttipanna is a popular dish that Swedes likes to make at home. It consists of diced potatoes and meat (beef, pork, sausage, or pieces of meatballs), and chopped onion.
It’s traditionally served with fried eggs and pickled beets.
This is one of my childhood favorites!
Raggmunkar consists of grated potatoes mixed with flour and milk, and sometimes eggs as well. This mixture is then fried and served on a plate with fried pork and lingonberry jam.
Raggmunk is the traditional dish of the province of Östergötland in Sweden.
Similar dishes are found in England and also in Central and Eastern Europe. In England, they call this dish Potato Pancake.
Falukorv & Gräddstuvade Makaroner
This is a dish that might not be easy to find in restaurants in Sweden, but it’s a dish that’s very popular to cook at home. It consists of macaroni that has been cooked in milk, together with fried “Falukorv”, which is a type of sausage we have in Sweden.
On top of this, we normally have some ketchup.
Surströmming – One of the smelliest Swedish food
This is one of the Swedish dishes that I haven’t been brave enough to try yet since it’s famous for its awful smell. Actually, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to try it.
I’ve heard that this is a dish that you either love or hate. I know people who love it and people who absolutely hate it.
During the production of surströmming (fermented herring), they put in just enough salt to prevent the raw herring from rotting. It’s a fermentation process of at least six months to give the fish it’s strong smell and acidic taste.
A newly opened can of surströmming, is known to have one of the strongest and most disgusting smells in the world. Just watch the video down below to see how foreigners react to the Swedish delicacy.
In Sweden, we eat sill (pickled herring) during important holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Midsummer.
To make pickled herring, they put the fish in salt, vinegar and different kinds of spices. Some of the most popular pickled herring flavors are ”matjessill”, ”löksill” (onion flavor), and ”senapssill” (mustard flavor).
If you’re not invited to a Christmas, Easter, or Midsummer dinner, or if you’re simply not in Sweden during those specific holidays, you can always buy a jar of pickled herring in a supermarket and try it.
A jar of sill can be bought in all supermarkets all year round!
Yellow Pea Soup is a classic traditional dish in Sweden. It consists of yellow peas, broth from boiled pork, onions, and spices (usually pepper, mustard, thyme, and marjoram).
Ärtsoppa represents the type of cooking from the traditional Norse kitchen, where you cooked the food in a kettle over the open fire.
There’s also vegetarian versions of the yellow pea soup.
The classic Swedish meatloaf is made of minced meat, salt, white/black pepper, egg, milk/cream, onions, and breadcrumbs. It’s mixed together and then shaped like a long loaf of bread.
The meatloaf is usually made with minced cow’s meat, but can also be made with ”wild meat” or lamb. It’s also very common that the meatloaf is covered with bacon and filled with mushrooms, cheese, or vegetables.
You eat it with boiled or mashed potatoes, brown sauce/cream sauce, lingonberry jam, and pickled cucumber.
Fläskpannkaka, or oven baked pork pancake, is a thick pancake made with eggs, milk, wheat flour, salt, and smoked or fresh side pork. You mix it all together and then pour it into a pan and baked it in the oven.
This Swedish dish is traditionally served with lingonberry jam.
Biff Rydberg is a luxurious version of the Swedish dish pyttipanna. It consists of diced beef tenderloin, potatoes, and yellow onions. Unlike the dish Pyttipanna, Biff Rydberg is not mixed together but put in separate groups on the plate.
Biff Rydberg is usually served with chopped parsley, and raw egg yolk.
Renskav are thin slices cut from frozen reindeer meat that have been fried in a pan. Reindeer meat can be served in different kind of ways. For example, it can be served stewed with onions or mushrooms, together with spaghetti, rice, boiled or mashed potatoes, or as a filling in a pie.
It can also be served as a stew or on your sandwich for breakfast.
Renskav is a traditional Sami dish that has become very popular in big areas of the Nordics.
Kåldolmar is a Swedish version of the Dolma from Eastern Europe, Armenia, and Turkey. But instead of wine leaves, we use cabbage.
The Swedish cabbage rolls are usually filled with minced meat mixed with boiled rice, salt, and pepper. You cook the cabbage and then peel off the leaves, add some of the meat/rice-mix, and roll them into small packages. Then you fry them in a pan or cook them in the oven.
In Sweden, we often eat kåldolmar with the ”sauce” from the meat and veggies in the oven, lingonberry jam, and potatoes.
Tunbrödsrulle is more of a fast-food meal that you find at some hot dog stands and street kitchens.
It’s a thin bread that’s rolled up and filled with mashed potatoes, sausage, shrimp salad, and also raw or roasted onions. It’s common to have both ketchup and mustard in the tunbrödsrulle as well.
At the restaurant Sibylla you can buy a tunbrödsrulle. There are several Sibylla restaurants all over Sweden, so it won’t be that hard to find!
Tacos is obviously not a type of Swedish food, but it’s still one of the most popular dishes to eat at home in Sweden – especially during the weekends.
Tacos in Sweden is very different from the Mexican tacos. We have big soft tortillas or hard shell tortillas filled with minced taco spiced meat, together with a variety of chopped veggies (such as salad, cucumber, tomatoes, sweet corn, Jalapeños, etc). To this, we also have taco sauce (similar to salsa sauce), guacamole, grated cheese, and sour cream.
We usually put everything up on the table in small bowls and share it with our friends and family.
If you ever going to stay with some locals in Sweden, ask them if you can have tacos for dinner one night! This is not something you’ll find in restaurants in Sweden.
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In Sweden we love our sandwiches, so we came up with an idea to eat it during more occasions as well.
Smörgåstårta literally means sandwich cake and comes with various ingredients.
This is not something you’ll find at restaurants in Sweden, but at some supermarkets and bakeries. It’s not a dish we normally eat at home, but more during celebrations.
My favorite is the smörgåstårta with shrimps. It’s simply delicious, but also quite expensive to buy.
Våfflor is very popular in Sweden and have been eaten since the early 1600s. It’s even that popular that the Swedish waffle has its own day where it’s a tradition to eat it every year.
Unlike Belgian waffles, Swedish waffles are much thinner and made without yeast. They’re made into the shapes of hearts with the help of a waffle machine, and is served with jam and whipped cream.
This is no doubt one of my favorite Swedish foods. It’s simply delicious and can be eaten at any time during the day – for breakfast, lunch, or as dessert!
Nyponsoppa is a soup made of dried and pitted rose hip, water, sugar, and potato flour. Some recipes also includes milk or cream to make it thicker.
This is not a common dish at restaurants in Sweden, but you can buy it in most supermarkets.
It can be eaten warm or cold. It’s normally served as a snack or as a dessert with mandelbiskvier (almost macarons), sliced banana, peeled almonds, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
Cured salmon is a classic thing to eat in Sweden, especially during Christmas, Easter, and Midsummer.
The salmon is marinated in dill and then cut into thin slices. Gravad lax can be bought at most supermarkets throughout the country.
Korv Stroganoff is a popular dish to make at home in Sweden. It’s made with sliced falukorv (a Swedish sausage), tomato puree, cream, onions, and French mustard.
It’s most commonly served with rice, but can be served with boiled or mashed potatoes as well.
This is a classic Swedish dish that today even can be bought ready-made in Swedish supermarkets. The brand is called ”Gooh” if you want to buy it and taste it.
Swedish breakfast items to taste
- Ostfrallor (cheese buns)
- Pannkakor (Swedish pancakes)
- Kallas Kaviar (bread/egg spread)
- Messmör (bread spread)
- Tunnbröd (hard flatbread)
- Sandwiches with leverpastej (liver paste) and smörgåsgurka (pickled cucumber)
- Knäckebröd (hard bread)
- Rågkakor (a type of bread)
- Kaffe (Swedish coffee)
- Skorpor (crips rolls)
Swedish desserts to taste
There’s no secret that Swedes loves sweets. When you’re in Sweden, there are a few Swedish desserts that you must taste during your stay. Down below you have some recommendations of what to taste:
- Kladdkaka (chocolate cake)
- Kanelbullar (cinnamon buns)
- Lussebullar (saffron buns)
- Semlor (cream buns)
- Princesstårta (princess cake)
- Havreflarn (oatmeal crisp cookies)
- Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies)
- Chokladbollar (chocolate balls)
- Hallongrottor (Swedish raspberry cookies)
- Chokladbiskvier (chocolate biscuits)
Swedish drinks to taste
- Swedish Beer (Falcon, Spendrups, Pripps Blå etc.)
- Äppelmust (apple drink)
- Swedish Cider (pear, apple, elderberry etc.)
- Mjöd (mead)
- Julmust / Påskmust (a soft drink we drink during Christmas and Easter)
- Björksav (birch sap)
- Snaps (Swedish distilled spirit)
- Fläderblomssaft (elderberry non-alcoholic drink)
- Glögg (mulled wine)
- Pommac (Swedish soft drink)
Swedish food traditions
Swedish Christmas food
During Christmas, we put up a big buffet that we call ”Julbord” (translates to Christmas Table in English).
On the Julbord we have several dishes such as julskina (Christmas ham), köttbullar (meatballs), Janssons Frestelse (anchovy gratin), sill (pickled herring), potatoes, gravadlax (cured salmon) boiled eggs, rödbetssallad (beetroot salad), knäckebröd (hard bread), and prinskorv (small sausages).
In addition to this, we drink lots of Julmust (a Christmas soft drink) and eat lots of Swedish candy such as knäck (butterscotch), ischoklad (“ice chocolate”), pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies), lussebullar (saffron buns), juleskum (soft Santa Claus-looking candies), and not forget to mention a box of Marabou Aladdin/Paradise chocolates!
When it comes to Swedish food, Easter is a lot like Christmas. We have the buffet with more or less the same things as we have during Christmas. The only difference is the candy. We eat lots of the “normal” candy you find in Swedish supermarkets and also Easter-themed candy.
During Easter, we also drink lots of Påskmust, which is very similar to Julmust that we drink during Christmas.
Kids often get a big egg filled with candy that they have to search for in the garden. It’s a fun tradition that’s loved by both kids and adults!
During midsummer we eat lots of delicious things. Just like Christmas and Easter we put up several Swedish food dishes on the table and share with our friends and family.
There are several dishes that are same during midsummer as during Christmas and Easter, such as cured salmon, herring, and eggs.
In addition to this it’s popular to eat nypotatis (which is a special and the most delicious type of potatoes during summer), västerbottenpaj (pie made from cheese made in the region of Västerbotten), and strömming (Baltic herring).
For dessert, Swedish strawberry cake and fresh strawberries with whipped cream or milk and sugar is very popular.
If you’re in Sweden during August you can attend a crayfish party if you know some locals.
This is a celebration where friends and family gather to eat lots of crayfish, drink snaps, and sing silly songs while wearing funny hats.
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Do you have more questions about Swedish food and cuisine? Leave a comment below!