Sweden is one of the beautiful Scandinavian countries (Nordic countries), located in the Northern Europe. Every year, Sweden attracts tens of millions of tourists. One of the things that attracts visitors to Sweden is its rich and diverse cuisine. Famous for its fish specialties, but besides that, other Swedish delicacy such as meatballs with mashed potatoes or pastries and savory cakes or unique drinks are also what attract diners to explore the cuisine of this beautiful nation. Here are the must try and famous Swedish dishes that any visitor traveling here wants to enjoy once. So, what food is Sweden known for and what to eat in Sweden? Let’s check out our suggested 21+ best food in Sweden, must eat in Sweden, most popular food in Sweden, best food to eat in Sweden including Sweden local food, national dish of Sweden, Sweden famous food, traditional food in Sweden as well as where to find them to find out the answer!
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Swedish cuisine has long been considered traditionally characterized with simple dishes such as cheese, hot dogs and local ingredients. This style of cuisine is called husmanskost in Swedish (equivalent to ‘traditional Swedish food’). It is characterized by the country-style cooking of the day usually made at home (cheese, bread, sausage). And mainly from locally produced ingredients such as fish, pork, game meat and countless grains, potatoes, vegetables, cabbage, onions, mushrooms… Fruits other than apples are only local products such as berries.
Lamb, beef, spices and herbs are valued by the people, used only sparingly. In addition, people in northern Sweden still eat reindeer meat. It is part of the Sami culinary tradition. In addition to typical husmanskost dishes are such as pea soup, boiled potatoes, potatoes, mashed carrots, meatballs, salted fish, vinegar, stews as well as foods produced in Sweden such as milk, cheese and sausage.
Sweden is a Scandinavian country, famous for its savory fish delicacies. In addition to fish dishes, there are many other delectable dishes in Sweden that can be discovered in this vibrant country which using the freshest ingredients, even the street food is enough to satisfy the taste buds of any foodie.
Traditional food in Sweden: Surströmming (Swedish Pickled Herring)
Surströmming is a sour fermented Baltic herring (commonly known as pickled herring or stinky herring), a traditional dish in northern Sweden. There is a theory that in the 16th century, when fishermen could not preserve fish because of a lack of salt, they sold their spoiled fish to people on the Finnish islands. When it is inevitable that the fish will ferment and stink, the locals have the idea of taking rotten fish as a food and turning it into a famous specialty. Surströmming is a clear demonstration of the expression that “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.
Herring is usually caught from May, June, then soaked in salt water for about a day and cut off the head, washed clean. The next step, they put the fish in the barrel, then put it out to dry in the summer sun and leave it for up to 24 hours before the fermentation process will begin. The fish canisters are left empty from 2 to 4 cm at the mouth of the tank to avoid the accumulation of gas inside which can cause an explosion.
After drying, the fish tanks are brought to a cold storage room, the fermentation speed will be reduced. During this process the smell become stronger and only a person with a keen sense of smell can determine when the fish is ready to be canned.
Swedes eat pickled herring with thin crusty bread, boiled potatoes, onions, tomatoes, butter and sauce. They often eat this dish with beer, or milk. Some Swedes enjoy it right away without thinking about the taste as well as its smell, others take the fish out and dip it in soda before eating. It is advisable to open a can of fish and enjoy it outdoors due to the unpleasant smell it causes.
You can find this dish in most Swedish restaurants, street food stalls and vendors, and convenience stores. Even in Skeppsmalen, an ancient fishing village in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, people even built a museum just to display documents, the way of making about Surströmming. The museum is called Fiskevistet (Address: 891 96 Arnäsvall, Sweden) and has been open to visitors since June 2005.
Best food in Sweden: Kottbullar Meatballs
Meatballs is one of the famous dishes, must eat in Sweden and most popular food in Sweden that anyone traveling in Sweden must enjoy even once. Swedish meatballs is also considered one of the best dishes in Europe. Although it is a famous delicious dish, the way to prepare this dish is quite simple. The most common type of meat used to make this dish is beef or pork.
First, chef will mince the meat and then mix it with many different ingredients such as fresh milk, green onions, flour, eggs, butter, and pepper. After the meat has absorbed the spices, it will be molded into small balls and then grilled or deep-fried in an oil pan, when cooked, the meat has a delicious milky smell, combined with other spices to create a delicious flavor, strangely attractive, irresistible, hard to resist. Usually, the meatballs dish will be served with spaghetti, or can be used with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam, pickled young cucumbers… If you come to Sweden without tasting this dish, it’s so regret.
A variety of side dishes are served with this dish including mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, strawberries… For delicious Kottbullar meatballs, head to Bakfickan in Stockholm (Address: Jakobs torg 2-12, 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden/Hours: 11:30AM–10PM; Saturday: 12–10PM; Monday, Sunday: Closed), one of the best spots to try this Swedish specialty.
Sweden famous food: Jansson’s Temptation
This famous Swedish dish with a rather long name is extremely popular every Christmas in this country, also known as Janssons Frestelse. Potatoes, breadcrumbs, onions, dipping sauce and cream sauce are expertly combined with the necessary ingredients and then baked in the oven to create Jansson’s Temptation.
This delicious Swedish dish looks like a piece of potato and you will be surprised to know that its name is inspired by the famous opera singer and songwriter Pelle Janzon. The restaurant Drottninggatan 6 in Stockholm is the ideal place for you to enjoy this dish.
Must eat in Sweden: Swedish Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)
They are the perfect snack for every traveler, this unique dish also known as Kanelbullar has a classic coffee flavor. The best thing is, these Swedish-origin cinnamon buns are found anywhere in this country, often enjoyed as breakfast with milk or coffee. It’s first appeared at tea parties at various homes in Sweden, after which it became a popular snack all over the world.
Kanelbullar is one of the famous dishes in Sweden that is loved by many people. This is a rather special type of buns from Sweden with the characteristic strong aroma of cinnamon. In the important parties of the Swedish people, the Kanelbullar is always an indispensable dish. When enjoying this cake, diners often plus tea or coffee. The party will become even more cozy and crowded when gathering along with Kanelbullar buns.
Traditional food in Sweden: Toast Skagen
Toast Skagen is one of the famous Swedish appetizers that captivate local food lovers to foreign guests. This toast is best enjoyed in the summer with a cool refreshing drink. The bread is toasted until crispy, topped with a topping of mayonnaise, shrimp, dill, and a slice of lemon perfectly placed to make the garnish look as appealing as possible.
What to eat in Sweden: Bread
In addition to delicious dishes, elaborately and sophisticatedly processed, simple cakes made from whole grains such as wheat and barley are also very popular here because they are simple but still delicious, rich in nutrients to ensure the health of users. One of those types of cakes must be mentioned is bread. Swedish bread is also processed in many ways to create variety and richness, attract attention and create more options for diners such as thin bread, hard bread, buttermilk bread, liver pâté and many other flavors.
In Sweden, you will often find crispy bread in your main meal because it is one of the most popular foods here. Once a food for the poor, crispy bread has appeared in Sweden more than 500 years ago and can keep its flavor for at least a year if stored properly.
Swedish crispy bread is quite diverse in shape, thickness, flavor and is widely sold on many shelves in shops and supermarkets. Crispy bread can be eaten with boiled eggs, caviar, cold cut, cheese or sliced cucumber…
Gubbröra (Swedish egg-anchovy sandwich)
This is a Swedish famous sandwich with the main ingredient of seafood. To make this dish, chefs use meat and anchovies mixed with a very special sauce made from milk, cheese and many different vegetables. When enjoying this special food, don’t forget to order another cold beer. It will make the taste of the dish even more attractive.
This salad is often served with bread, so it is often chosen as an appetizer or light late-night dishes. A small tip that you should eat with dill! Its taste is truly irresistible!
Best food in Sweden: Svenska Fisksoppa (Swedish Fish Soup)
Sweden famous for its seafood, so it’s not surprise to know one of the best dishes is from fish, one of them is fish soup called Svenska Fisksoppa. It is one of the most savory and best Swedish dishes served as a soup, also known as Swedish Fish Soup. With flavors of fish meat in a creamy soup, it makes for a soul-satisfying meal with the finest Swedish ingredients.
Enjoying this bowl of soup as a side dish will help you control your hunger perfectly. However, there are only a few places in Sweden (and the entire of Europe) that offer the best-tasting Svenska Fisksoppa, you can visit the Kajsas Fisk restaurant (Address: Hötorgshallen 3, 111 57 Stockholm, Sweden/Hours: 11AM–6PM; Sunday: Closed).
Good food to eat in Sweden: Vasterbottensost Cheese
Cheese is one of the foods that are abundant in many countries around the world with many different varieties and flavors, but there is a unique cheese that only in the village of Burtrask, Sweden gives the great aroma and taste, it’s hard cheese. This cheese has thousands of small holes around it, has a moderate hardness, is often used in many dishes and luxurious menus of the royal family.
Sweden is also famous for its locally produced cheeses in a variety of flavors, including Vasterbottensost, sometimes called Parmigiano of Sweden. This cheese is made from hard cow’s milk that has been aged for nearly a year, creating a strong but unforgettable flavor, so it is not difficult to understand when it appears on the list of famous Swedish dishes.
Baked Hasselback Potatoes
This is one of the famous dishes in Sweden named after the restaurant that created this dish. The potatoes will be sliced into thin slices but still kept together, not cut apart. Next, the chef will spread a layer of butter on these potatoes and then place them in the oven. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes when the potatoes turn golden brown. When enjoying this baked potato dish, you will feel the crispiness of the potato pieces on the outside but still soft inside. The aroma of butter mixed with the salty taste of salt makes the dish even so attractive.
Literally meaning sandwich cake with salmon and shrimps, and when you see it, you know how much Swedish here love their bread and sandwiches. There are different varieties of Smörgåstårta, but they are made in several layers with different coatings and ingredients. This is not something you will find in restaurants, and it is not common to eat at home either. It is very typical for celebrations or large gatherings as it is quite easy to make and most Swedes love it.
Ärtsoppa (Swedish Pea Soup)
This is one of those Swedish dishes that many tourists can’t stand. Especially many other Swedes feel the same way. In schools and the military, it was (and still is in some cases) served every Thursday for lunch. However, there are also many Swedes who love it. Ärtsoppa is a soup made from yellow peas, usually served with bacon. It’s a simple dish and you can find it in every supermarket, although you’ll likely get a much tastier version in restaurants.
A lot of Swedes grew up with yellow pea soup and pancakes, the traditional dishes on every Thursday. The origin of this dish is still quite controversial, including a majority theory that this originates from the concept of Catholics.
Accordingly, Catholics do not eat meat on Friday and will have pea soup on the previous Thursday to replenish energy. This dish is very quick and easy to prepare in the short of time when the maids of many families work only half a day on Thursdays. To this day, most traditional lunch restaurants serve pea soup and pancakes with lingo strawberry jam (Lingonberry jam) every Thursday.
Cured Salmon Gravlax
Did you know that the Swedes ate this dish since the 1600s? It is prepared in different ways, but the concept is the same. It can be with or without herbs, and is great when served with “hovmästarsås” on the side, which is a sauce that goes well with Gravlax. This Swedish dish is also very popular during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Stewed reindeer with juniper berries
One of the unique and strange dishes that you should try when coming to Sweden is reindeer stew with juniper berries! When stewed, reindeer meat is sweet, tender and has a very distinctive aroma, served with fragrant juniper berries along with a rich, creamy sauce that makes an irresistible dish!
Reindeer meat is inherently a sweet, tender and aromatic meat. The meat will be stewed with juniper berries and rich cream sauce to form an extremely attractive dish. This deserves to be a dish not to be missed when coming to Sweden.
Have you ever eaten chicken pate, pork pate… how about reindeer pate? Coming to Sweden, visitors will enjoy this unique dish in many ways such as spreading it on a slice of bread, or with crackers, depending on your choice. The creamy texture makes the pate melt in your mouth, the taste is delicious and there is no smell of reindeer meat. Reindeer pate is popularly sold in many restaurants and food stores in Sweden.
Raggmunk (Potato pancake)
Raggmunk is a famous and delicious Swedish pancake that is often served in the breakfast of the locals here. This traditional dish looks like a thin plate and tastes delicious, especially in winter. These thin potato pancakes are crispy by frying in rich butter and then served with cranberries if you’re a sweetie and fried bacon if you’re a savory eater. Traditionally, it’s served with sour cream and apple sauce.
The name sounds difficult to guess, but this delicious Swedish dish is actually smoked salmon. Pieces of fresh salmon are seasoned with spices and herbs, then smoked with Alder Wood for a mild smoked flavour. When you eat you will feel the soft, smooth texture of the salmon that melts in your mouth and the wonderful taste, delicate and light unlike the smoked salmon you often enjoy elsewhere. The best Varmrokt Lax is sold in many local restaurants in the South of Sweden.
Another traditional dish made with ground veal, egg yolks and cream covered in bread crumbs. It is named after one of the Sweden’s wealthiest families, the Wallenberg family. It usually served with mashed potatoes and peas on the side.
Swedish Christmas Ham (Julskinka)
One of the famous Swedish dishes that you should not miss is Julskinka ham also known as Swedish Christmas Ham – one of the traditional dishes on Christmas day in this country. The ham has a very unique taste and with their own secret recipe, it can be said that when you enjoy it, it will definitely make you unforgettable!
Swedish Gingerbread Cookies (Pepparkakor)
Referring to Swedish cookies or biscuits, it is impossible not to mention its gingerbread cookies, they have a slightly more complex flavor and less sweet. Usually these cookies are enjoyed on every Christmas or holiday. The gingerbread cookies come with all shapes from umbrellas, flowers, hearts or animals, trees… covered with a thin layer of white sugar make them look more lovely.
The famous Swedish drinks
Sweden is not only famous for a variety of signature and attractive dishes, but also has a multitude of equally competitive drinks such as liquors, spirit, beers, sweet drinks, etc.
Some popular wines are very popular here, such as Punsch (a specific type of alcoholic liqueur), Akvavit distilled spirit, etc. In Sweden, there are many different types of drinks, but Akavavit is still the most popular in the country. It is not just an ordinary type of spirits, but it is also a tradition, a cultural symbol of Sweden. Some Swedish special dishes that do not enjoy, sipping with liquors, spirits, it is bland and seems to have lost half of its deliciousness. But there is one thing worth noting when using alcohol here that you should remember that is not allowed to buy alcoholic beverages before 1pm in bars or on Sundays because this is not allow in this country, and drinking while driving here also has to bear a very heavy penalty, you should keep this in mind.
In addition, there is also a very interesting drink called: Fruktsoppa (fruit soup)! It’s really interesting to hear the name, isn’t it! This drink is usually made from fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, rosehips, etc. You can either use it hot or cold depending on your taste. What a wonderful experience for you!
Like ketchup and mustard, Lingonberry jam is used with many dishes in Sweden: from meatballs, pancakes, porridge to pudding. Despite its popularity, Lingonberry jam is rarely used with bread, so you should pay attention to this detail when dining in Sweden.
Räksmörgås (Swedish Prawn Sandwich)
When you try a Swedish sandwich, don’t be surprised to find only one piece of bread instead of two like in other countries. This type of sandwich, commonly known as smörgås, dates back to the 1400s when thick pieces of bread were used for toppings. Here, prawn sandwich (räksmörgås or räkmacka) is considered the “king” of sandwiches. The taste of this dish is extremely unique and addictive when it is grilled with sliced boiled eggs, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, served with romsas cream sauce.
Swedish Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta)
When wandering around in Sweden, you can easily see in the bakery’s display window at all times the sweet blue princess cakes, decorated with a pink sugar flower at the top of the cake. Made from layers of yellow sponge cake bound with jam and vanilla cream, then thickly layered and covered with a sweet green crust, the princess cake started out as a treat for the Royal Family.
Princess cakes first appeared in the 1920s, made by Jenny Åkerström. She was a teacher for the granddaughters of King Gustav V – Princess Margarethy, Martha and Astrid, hence the name “princess cake”. This is a cake that is present in many important occasions of the Swedish people with increasingly rich colors such as: green, yellow for Easter, red for Christmas, orange for Halloween and white for the wedding.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Copenhagen you can refer to
- Copenhagen Card
- Copenhagen Panorama Guided Sightseeing Bus & Boat Tour
- Copenhagen Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus and Boat Pass
- Copenhagen City Walk Tour
- Copenhagen Canal Tour
- Copenhagen City Train Tour
Are you looking for more Copenhagen travel guide and top things to do in Copenhagen: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: 1 day in Copenhagen, Copenhagen blog and Sweden guide here.