Swedish Cuisine

Swedish cuisine

Swedish Cuisine

Swedish tables are usually full of lots of different dishes, Swedish cuisine is not very varied. Because of the almost total absence of spices it can be called rather restrained. But in the Swedish cuisine great importance is given to natural flavors, which makes it unique and memorable.

Peculiarities of Swedish cuisine

The cuisine of this European country was greatly influenced by Scandinavian culinary traditions, as well as climate and geographical position. Exactly because of the proximity to the sea and severe cold climate Swedish national dishes are simple in cooking, do not differ in taste, but they are hearty and delicious.

Most Swedish dishes are prepared from products that can be stored at low temperatures for a long time. You’re unlikely to find fancy desserts or complicated dishes in Swedish cuisine. When preparing food, locals mainly use the following techniques:

  • pickling;
  • smoking;
  • canning;
  • souring;
  • curing;
  • marinating.

Unlike Danish and Norwegian culinary traditions, the national cuisine of Sweden uses more fatty fish and meat. That is why most people in this country are alien to such a concept as vegetarianism. Traditional Swedish dishes contain a lot of fats and sugar, so they are hearty. Also, pork fat is used in the frying of ingredients, which also increases the caloric value of the dish.

Simplicity and monocomponent is the basis for Swedish dishes

The main components of Swedish dishes

Due to the fact that this cuisine can be called homemade or rustic, it is based on the most common and simple components – cheese, sausage, bread, meat and fish, minced meat and game. Mushroom dishes, dairy products and berry desserts can also be considered Sweden’s national food. Some Swedes add lingonberry jam to their meals to enrich the flavors.

Fish (especially herring and seafood) are the main ingredients of traditional Swedish dishes. Local restaurants serve salted herring, herring with mustard or onion, with white sauce or in wine, with lemon, baked or grilled.

As for seafood, Swedish dishes mostly use crabs, squids, crayfish, mussels, and other inhabitants of coastal waters.

As soon as Swedes learned to hunt, elk, venison, pork, and poultry were added to the traditional fish dishes of Sweden.

The national dishes of Swedish cuisine

The first delicacy, which meets every foreign tourist in this country is surstromming – fermented sour herring. For its preparation Baltic herring is fished in spring, fermented in barrels for several months, and then canned in jars. In about 6-12 months of canning, fermentation products are released, causing the jars to take a rounded shape.

Surströmming, the traditional Swedish dish

The finished Swedish national dish is a sour, salty fish with a pungent smell. To mask this unpleasant aroma, herring is served with potatoes, chopped onions, dill, sour cream, aged hard cheese, hard-boiled eggs and large slices of bread. Surströmming is one of the main components of the holiday table at Easter, New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and Midsommar (Midsommar).

Other traditional dishes in Swedish cuisine include:

  • meatballs (Kottbullar);
  • Swedish crayfish (Kraftor);
  • sandwich cake (Smorgastarta);
  • pea soup with pancakes (artsoppa och pannkakor).
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Sweet lovers will also find much of interest in this cuisine. The main component of Swedish desserts are berries (gooseberries, blueberries, lingonberries). They are used to make souffles, pies, cakes, jams and confitures. To enrich the taste of desserts Swedes use almonds, cinnamon, rhubarb, saffron and other spices.

Coffee is Swedes’ favourite non-alcoholic drink, followed by lemonade, fruit and berry juices, mineral water, and light beer. Sweden is among the three countries which are ardent fans of coffee.

Among alcoholic drinks, popular here are liqueurs, whisky, vodka, grog, punch, and herbal and berry tinctures.

About the buffet

The average traveler is unlikely to know what a “smorgasbord” is. But the concept of “buffet” is familiar even to those tourists who have never been to Sweden or even traveled outside their country. “The buffet has long gone beyond the national cuisine of Sweden. It has become the domain of the global restaurant business.

This way of serving food has a long history. The Swedes began serving tables in this way in the days when their feasts were attended by guests from the farthest corners of the world. In order to feed everyone and leave no one hungry, locals began serving tables with self-service.

Each year, from December 1 to 23, each family serves a Christmas buffet, which can consist of 50 dishes. Most often it is the national dishes of Sweden – salted or smoked fish, hot fish and meat dishes, all kinds of sausages, pates, pastries and sweet desserts.

The Christmas buffet

Swedish Food Culture

The simplicity and unpretentiousness of the dishes does not prevent the locals dictate the rules of eating. When consuming traditional food and drink in Sweden, you should not:

  • Leave food on the plate;
  • savor drinks before the first official toast;
  • cutting pies and cakes into portions;
  • eat from a shared plate.

The inhabitants of this country are very respectful of products, so they prefer to bake their own bread, salt fish or make confitters. Despite this, foreign fast food is very popular here. Among other world cuisines, Swedes prefer the cuisine of France, Italy, Asia and America.

Hotels in Sweden are the pinnacle of comfort, homely comfort, original design and excellent service. In any city of the country you can find an accommodation for a simple night, as well as for the royal rest. From this material you will learn about the typical and, conversely, the most unusual Swedish hotels.

Sweden is not the most popular state among domestic tourists, but the rest here will leave the most pleasant impression. The beaches of the country invite lazy time by the sea, the Scandinavian Mountains invite lovers of activity, and the ancient cities will please all travelers.

There are about 24 thousand islands in Sweden. Even the capital is located on the islands of the Stockholm Archipelago. You can visit both the large inhabited islands and small plots of land, each of which will please you with a beautiful nature and an unforgettable vacation.

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Sweden – a country unusual, beautiful, interesting. However, there are strange and ridiculous laws, which must comply and travelers. These include, for example, such things as the prohibition to flush the toilet at night and the need to brush your teeth before leaving your home.

Swedish cuisine – what Swedes eat

Swedish national dishes are undoubtedly close to people with an open Slavic soul. The traditional menu of the Scandinavian country is characterized by the heartiness and simplicity typical of the rustic table. The menu in many restaurants and cafes reminds much of the Slavic menu. If you are interested in the authentic Swedish cuisine and original treats, coming from ancient times, it is better to go to remote areas of the country.

Swedish national dishes

Characteristic features of Swedish national cuisine

Tables in Sweden are often full of pickles, but you can not call the national cuisine diverse. Largely due to the fact that no spices are used for cooking. The uniqueness of Swedish cuisine precisely because of the natural flavors. Because of this, many national foods are memorable and seem special.

Scandinavian Cuisine

For many centuries Swedish national cuisine has been forming under the influence of Scandinavian culinary traditions. Of course, a special influence on the local cuisine had a climate and location of the country on the world map. Taking into account the proximity of the Scandinavian country to the sea and the prevalence of low temperatures, most dishes are simple in preparation technology and accessible set of ingredients, but hearty and no less tasty.

Interesting fact! The basis of Swedish dishes are products that can be stored for a long time in colder climates. The traditional menu does not include any fancy desserts, treats with complex composition.

The main technologies of food processing in the Scandinavian cuisine:

Oily varieties of fish, meat are considered traditional for the Swedish menu. By the way, there are practically no vegetarians in the country – with such culinary principles it is very difficult to survive in a country where a cold climate prevails.

Good to know! To increase the caloric value of the dish, products are fried on pork bacon.

Lingonberry Jam

Swedish cuisine is traditionally called home and rustic; it is dominated by the most simple products – meat, fish, cheeses, game, bread. Mushrooms, berries, and dairy products are also used. Locals add lingonberry jam instead of the bouquet of spices and season a variety of dishes with it.

Yuludo of common herring

Many traditional Swedish dishes are cooked from an ordinary herring, served with special sauce, light wine, mustard, and flavoured with lemon. Be sure to try the dishes with seafood, most often served mussels, squids, oysters, crabs. Swedes are excellent hunters, that is why they can skillfully cook any kind of game: venison, poultry, pork, moose.

Traditional Swedish buffet

Surely people, far from traveling, are familiar with the concept of “buffet”, it has long gone beyond the borders of the country. This method of serving food appeared in Sweden long ago. When guests came to the Swedish castle, and it was necessary to feed a lot of people, the hospitable hosts set the tables with the ability to choose your own meal.

Interesting fact! Every year in December, many Swedish families lay the traditional holiday table, the menu often exceeds 50 dishes. These are sausages, meat delicacies, savory, sweet pastries, pates.

No food left on the plate

The locals strictly follow a certain etiquette at the table. If you are invited to a party, you can not:

  • leave food on the plate;
  • begin to drink before the toast is proclaimed;
  • cut the cake – it is always served in one piece;
  • eat from a common dish.
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Swedes treat food with great reverence and attention, they prefer to salt and bake their own food.

Swedish cuisine – traditional Swedish dishes

Culinary tours to the Scandinavian country are becoming very popular today. The explanation is simple – traditional Swedish dishes are made from organic products and have no synthetic flavors. Local cooks very rarely use spices in their work, the main task of the cook is to emphasize the natural, pure taste of each ingredient.

Swedish dishes

The traditional buffet consists of salads, slices, and a large variety of sandwiches. Be sure to try the canapés with salmon smoked on juniper twigs.

Fish and seafood

Most traditional fish dishes involve herring. The national Swedish dish, surströmming, because of the smell that literally knocks you off your feet, can only be tasted by the most intrepid gourmets. The Swedish dish of rotten herring is definitely one of the top 10 Swedish dishes. The fish is caught in the first half of spring, fermented in wooden containers for several months, and then canned.

Useful to know! Because of the fermentation process the jars become round.

Surströmming - rotten fish

Swedish dish is traditionally prepared for holidays. To hide the specific smell, it is served with potatoes, bread, herbs, sour cream and cheese. In Sweden, they only eat rotten fish outdoors, because it is not easy to stand the smell in the house.

There are traditional crawfish parties in Swedish cities, usually held in August. They catch freshwater crayfish, boil them in large containers with dill, and, seated right on the balcony or terrace, eat them with beer and schnapps. In the 16th century this dish was affordable only for the aristocracy, crayfish gradually became the national dish available to all segments of the population.

Skagen toast

This is what the locals call a special shrimp cocktail served on crispy toast. This national dish is traditionally cooked on holidays, with red caviar on top. In addition to shrimp, the composition includes pickled onions, lemon, dill, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. White bread is toasted on a griddle or in a toaster and placed on top of the shrimp salad.

Interesting fact! On Sundays, many Swedish families cook sea pike, casserole with potatoes and sprats, baked mackerel with cream.

Meat dishes

What to try in Sweden for fans of meat delicacies? A special place in the national cuisine is given to game. The most popular dishes:

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Meat is often served together with homemade dairy products – sour milk, soft cheese. Traditional Swedish dishes are high in calories. Game, as a rule, is fried in lard.

Good to know! Beets and potatoes are used as a side dish for meat dishes. A lot of bread is definitely served. It is noteworthy that in every region the bread is baked according to its own recipe. For example, in Norrland they use barley flour, and in the central regions they prefer crispy bread.

It is an old national dish, preserved since Viking times. There are many recipes for this dish, but all have one thing in common: the composition includes boiled meat (beef, lamb, pork) and vegetables (beans, cabbage, peas).

There is a theory that gruttas recipes have survived in today’s national cuisine only because for a long time in the districts far from the capital there were no gas and electric stoves, respectively, products were cooked in the old way – over the hearth in a large pot.

Insterband - Swedish spicy sausage

It’s hard to imagine a traditional buffet without spicy pork sausages – insterbands. They have a bitter taste that not every tourist from Europe likes.

Pütippana is a national dish that resembles traditional hodgepodge. In Sweden, it is a stew of different meat delicacies and potatoes. Everything left over in the house is used to make it, such as coupes, boiled chicken, cutlets, bacon, and stewed together with potatoes.

Swedish meatballs are well known all over the world. These are ordinary meat balls with spices, fried in a pan. Served with mashed potatoes, cranberry jam or a rich gravy.

Interesting fact! Meatballs are not expensive, so students buy them and eat them all year round.

First courses

This is a soup based on beer. Easy enough to prepare and nourishing national dish. One of the most popular drinks in the world, beer, is used instead of the traditional broth. The dish is widespread in Scandinavian countries and Germany, but it is best prepared in Sweden. The Swedish recipe is considered a classic. In addition to beer, eggs, flour, salt, sugar, and milk are needed.

Swedish beer soup Julebrod

The cooking technology is as follows:

  • boil the beer;
  • whisk the flour in the milk, pour it into the beer;
  • add salt, sugar;
  • Separate egg whites from the yolks;
  • whip the whites with flour, combine with the base;
  • Whip the yolks, pour into the soup before serving.

Serve with breadcrumbs. Originally, the dish was prepared for sailors, as the soup is excellent warming in cold weather.

Pea soup with pancakes will make you feel like a real Swede. Also, the treat is associated with a specific day of the week, because the national dish is only cooked on Thursday. The tradition originated in the past – with a hearty soup people prepared themselves for Friday fasting. Many restaurants on Thursdays serve traditional pea soup and pancakes with lingonberry jam.

Pea soup with pancakes

Interesting fact! There is another version of the emergence of an interesting culinary tradition – pea soup with pancakes was prepared for the servants who worked on Thursday morning.

Nasselsuppa-lead-egg soup

Want to treat yourself to a delicate, dietary dish? Order the oyster cream soup nasselsuppa-lead-egg. It’s topped with liqueur and oatmeal, and served traditionally with a sweet punch.

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Those with a sweet tooth will surely find interesting treats in Sweden’s national cuisine.

Try the traditional waffles, sult, served with confit, chocolate and cream. On March 25, Sweden celebrates Waffle Day, when the whole country enjoys the taste of the dessert.

Sweden's traditional waffle - sult

It is on the list of the most delicious national desserts in Sweden. They prepare a treat of whipped egg whites, jam, chocolate, and various berries.

Spettkaka, Sweden's national dessert

In Sweden, it is difficult to resist the temptation, because before the eyes of tourists flashed a considerable number of treats. To give the dessert a rich flavor, local chefs add almonds, rhubarb.

Interesting fact! As a souvenir bring your friends from Sweden natural marmalade and handmade chocolates.


The most popular non-alcoholic drink among Swedes for a long time keeps coffee. At first glance, local coffees – Zoegas (rich, dark roasted) and Gevalia (with hazelnut flavor) do not seem strong enough, but Swedes drink it only with almonds and marzipan. This fragrant beverage is always accompanied by a sweet. Locals love to sit and chat with friends over a cup of coffee punch and cognac.

Local coffee Gevalia


During the summer, locals drink a lot of lemonades and natural fruit juices. As for alcoholic beverages, liquor, vodka, punch, and herbal infusions are very popular.

An interesting fact! According to statistics, Sweden is third in the world in coffee consumption.

Branvin Tincture


Alcoholic beverages are an indispensable attribute of the local cuisine and festive table. Traditionally punch is prepared, and in winter evenings glögg is mulled wine with vodka and a set of spices. For a gift for a man, experienced campers suggest buying a Branvin or Aquavit brand-name tincture.

Vodka Absolut

Absolut Citron

The Skon region grows grapes and makes quite a good wine. In the north of the country barley is grown – here they make beer and whiskey. The most famous alcoholic brand is Absolut vodka, which has been produced since 1879. The shape of the bottle is used by analogy with an ordinary apothecary container, and the absence of a label allows you to see the contents. Today the concern produces vodka with black currant, black pepper, citrus and raspberry flavors.

Swedish cuisine captivates with its simplicity, natural flavors and, of course, commonalities with Slavic culinary traditions. The best way to learn about the gastronomic habits and traditions of the Swedes is to go on a gastronomic tour.

Author: Julia Matyukhina

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