While the Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden, are known for their fish dishes, there are many other flavors, recipes and foods worth discovering. Dive right in and explore Swedish gastronomy, one flavorful meal at a time.
Meatballs & Macaroni or Mashed Potatoes, Cream Sauce and Lingonberries
Have you ever been to Ikea? If yes, you know this typical delicious Swedish dish. This hearty Swedish meal is either served with macaroni or mashed potatoes along with cream sauce and lingonberries, of course. The best-known recipe is the concept of ‘Mom’s meatballs,’ which are naturally intended to be homemade. The northern part of Sweden does not mix the meat with fat. The farther south you go, you will find more fat and less pork in the meatballs.
Each country has their own specialty when it comes to cakes and pastries, and Sweden has its own green princess cake topped with a bright pink sugar rose. The third week in September is officially the week of the princess cake since the Swedish princess, Märtha, was born on the 22nd of September. However, the cake itself can be seen during special festivals or birthdays. The story behind the cake’s name comes from Prince Carl Bernadotte’s daughters: Princesses Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid, who loved the cake their teacher Jenny Åkerström made them for their birthdays.
Marinated Salmon with Dill Potatoes
Gravlax, or dill-cured salmon, is a real foodie’s heaven. The dish has origins from France, but the Swedish twist is that they recommend the dish to be served with mustard sauce. Gravlax is often present on the Swedish smorgasbord but is also very delicious served as thin slices, often accompanied with cold potatoes and dill.
The month of August is the time to eat shellfish and crayfish. From the 1500s, crayfish was a popular dish among the upper-class citizens. Over the years, the specialty trickled down to all classes of people across the country. Usually reserved as a special dish in the late-summer months, crayfish is served as the main course with lobster for a seafood celebration.
Knäckebröd: Crisp Bread
The crisp bread, often known as knäckebröd in Swedish, was once considered a poor man’s food, but nevertheless, it has been a popular bread baked in Sweden over the last 500 years. The bread is also one of the most common sides served together with a main course dish. While the bread can be topped with basics like cheese and ham, most Swedes prefer to eat it with delicious caviar. This is an option to be served on the breakfast table.
Chives and Sour Cream
A specialty often prepared for celebrations, chives and sour cream is a dish that can be found on the table from traditional Midsummer festivities to holiday celebrations. During mid-summer celebrations, the typical Swedish way to eat chives and sour cream is together with fresh potatoes and salmon or pickled herring as a traditional lunch.
Yellow Pea Soup, Punch & Swedish Pancakes
This is a meal mostly known among the university students who created songs and ate yellow pea soup and punch during their dinners together. The songs mainly became a tradition because it made the atmosphere and ambiance much better while drinking the typical Swedish snaps for their dinner. Today, Thursdays are the day of the week most Swedish families, especially with younger children, choose to eat their yellow pea soup as a starter. This is followed by pancakes served with cream and jam.
Smörgåsbord, Not Without the Pickled Herring
This fishy favorite, and yet most typical and basic Swedish dish, is the pickled herring. Iit’s most commonly found at the center of the famous Smörgåsbord. The Smörgåsbord is a Swedish buffet which consists of meatballs, mini sausages, called prinskorvar in Swedish, or cured salmon. The pickled herring also comes with different flavors such as onion, garlic, dill and mustard, often served with potatoes, sour cream and at times, boiled eggs. Fishing for herring in Sweden has been a tradition since the Middle Ages. One of the many places to fish herring outside the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, is an island called Vaxholm.
There’s no doubt seafood is a Swedish culinary tradition, and in this case, Gubbröra is an egg-anchovy salad, served on a thin slice of dark bread and mostly presented during celebrations. It can also be served as a starter or midnight snack. Does it sound odd? Not for the Swedes who love this traditional dish.
A typical Swedish favorite type of bread, which can often be seen as a starter or in cafes, is toast Skagen. This includes sautéed bread along with prawns, whitefish roe, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and fresh dill. The name of the specialty came from a fishing port in the northern part of Denmark. Since World War II, it has been a Swedish culinary tradition for special occasions.
Jansson’s frestelse (Jansson’s temptation) is a classic Swedish Christmas dish which consists of a creamy potato and anchovy casserole. The dish can be served at any time of the year, but the Swedes prefer to eat it during the holiday season. The dish was named after Pelle Janzon, who was a Swedish opera singer in the 1900s and was known for being a food lover.
Raggmunk & Lingonberries
Raggmunk is a typical Swedish winter dish, but of course, no one will judge if you decide to eat it any other time of the year. The Swedes prefer not to use newly harvested potatoes, which is one of the reasons why the dish is typically eaten during the winter period. Raggmunk is a Swedish potato pancake that is fried in butter and is usually served with fried pork or the well-known Swedish lingonberries. According to most Swedes, lingonberries go with everything.
Saffransbullar & Cinnamon Buns
Saffron buns are typically served during the Christmas season, starting from the end of Halloween until New Years. The saffron buns are often baked for the time of ‘Lucia’ in the beginning of December. Another popular pastry is the cinnamon bun, which arguably could be a Swedish favorite. The sticky treat can be served year-round in Sweden and is most often paired with a coffee during the morning or for special occasions.
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