30 Traditional Finnish Food In Finland To Try

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When you are in Finland you might not realize you are in the arctic because of the warmth of their people. One of the greatest delights you will find in this Nordic paradise is the excellent Finnish food and cooking style.

This is a truly happy place with a landscape that feels straight out of a dream. From lakes to sea lush forests there is so much to take in here. Get ready to try out all the delicious food in Finland so warm you will forget you’re in the tundra!

What Is Special About Finnish Food

Traditional Finnish cuisine is full of richness and complexity. Food in Finland is very much determined by the landscape. Oceanic fish is common along the coast but with so many lakes freshwater fish reign supreme.

Oats, grains, and potatoes fare well here so they are common players in the cuisine. One local animal that the Finns take particular pride in serving is the reindeer.

The Finns are a masterclass in using basic ingredients to their fullest in the most creative and satisfying ways. Food in Finland has been influenced by Russia, Sweden, and other European nations, but they have a style of their own.

Finnish food is designed to comfort and sustain people in the cold arctic climate so soups and stews are common.

Most Famous Finnish Food

Karjalanpaisti (Karelian Stew)

A generous dish that is the perfect warm welcome to the world of Finnish cuisine. This rich meat stew is one of the most recognizable Finnish foods and it is one of the locals’ most beloved dishes.

It is filled with succulent meats, sauce, and crunchy vegetables, so it has everything you need from a meal in this Nordic paradise. This dish has been lovingly crafted by chefs in Finland for generations and some variations do exist.

The basis of this hot-pot style stew is a mixture of succulent meats, often including elk, beef, pork, or lamb. Crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery are often added, and the traditional seasoning for this stew is ground peppercorn.

This Finish food was designed to be made with what is on hand so everyone has their own signature style.

Traditional Finnish Food

Ruisleipä (Rye Bread)

Rye bread is the iconic bread choice of Finland and they make it in a unique way. The rye bread in Finland is commonly leavened with dough root which is a mixture of wild yeast and bacteria. This special leavening process gives the rye its traditional earthy and sweet flavor.

Rye bread is served with almost every meal in Finland. It is used for sandwiches and soaking up a Karelian stew. No matter when you sample this traditional Finnish food you will fall in love with the well-rounded flavor of this bread!

Kalakukko (Fish Bread)

This traditional Finnish food is a fish lover’s delight! Kalakukko is a special Finnish bread with an oceanic surprise inside. This dish is a traditional bread baked with fish inside it.

Commonly rye bread is used and the fish ranges between vendace, perch, and salmon. This northern Finnish dish is so beloved they host an annual contest to see who can bake the best loaf.

The traditional way to enjoy this is to break the top open and then eat the fishy bread with butter. It is delicious when warm or cold.

Leipäjuusto (Finnish Bread Cheese or Squeaky Cheese)

This noisy Finnish cheese uses a very special type of dairy to impart a big flavor to this traditional Finnish food. Leipäjuusto is made using the milk of an animal that has recently calved. This gives the cheese a mildly sweet and salty flavor.

However, it’s the texture of this cheese that has gained it the colorful nickname it wears. This cheese is chewy and firm and it’s said that if you listen you can hear it squeak against your teeth while you chew.

Leipäjuusto is commonly served as dessert with fruity sauces or honey, but it is a delectable bite of Finnish snack to try with any meal!

Hernekeitto (Pea Soup)

The residents of Finland have found a way to enjoy deliciously vegetative peas all year-round with this amazing Finnish dish. Hernekeitto is a classic Finnish soup that is made from dried peas and ham.

This colorful soup is so lush and unctuous from the fatty meat meeting the green peas. It is the perfect warm dish after a day exploring the Finish landscape. Pair this dish with some Finnish ruisleipä.

Finnish Pulla (Holiday Wreath)

For many locals in Finland, the holiday season is synonymous with Pulla. This is a beautiful braided bread that has been baked in Finland for decades.

This holiday-inspired Finnish food uses a classic yeasted and enriched dough, but what makes it so tantalizing is the warm flavor of cardamom that is added to the dough.

Often the bread is dusted with sugar or glazed and served at holidays or celebratory events in Finland.

Finnish Food: Breakfast

Riisipuuro (Rice Pudding)

This classic dish is a Finnish breakfast favorite. Riisipuuro is the traditional Finn version of rice pudding. It is made using local dairy and often infused with a little warm spice like nutmeg.

The locals in Finland tend to use brown rice for this Finnish food but otherwise, they can get creative with the rest of the recipe. This dish is more than just an easy breakfast, though, it is often served as a comforting Christmas dessert.

Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Hand Pie)

This is one of Finland’s most Iconic and well-loved foods. Karjalanpiirakka is a hand-held pastry that has been produced in the Karelian region of Finland for centuries.

This rye pastry has a typical hand-pie shape, but the top is left exposed. This allows the rich filling to bake along with the crust. The filling is perfect for breakfast food in Finland.

It usually uses rice, potatoes, carrots, and butter to make a satisfying creamy base. These personal bites are perfect to fill you up for a busy day!

Perunarieska (Potato Flatbread)

Finnish breakfast usually involves bread with simple toppings, like the delicious Finnish potato bread that is Perunarieska. This classic Finnish food is the perfect hybrid of potatoes and bread with a satisfying chew.

Perunarieska usually uses mashed potatoes and grain, often barley flour, to make the perfect flatbread. They are baked in the oven until they are beautifully crispy outside. Top this Finnish delicacy with jam, butter, or cheese for a delicious breakfast.

Kauraleipä (Oat Bread)

This wonderful breakfast bread is the perfect way to greet the day in Finland. Kauraleipä is the traditional Finnish food of oat bread. Locals in Finland love this bread for toast in the morning with local jam or as the base of an open-faced breakfast sandwich.

Kauraleipä is made from a large oat dough with a little wheat flour for structure. This gives the bread an excellent body and chew, in addition to the earthy and nutty flavor of the oats.

Toast some oat bread and top it with puolukkahillo, Finnish lingonberry jam, for a true bite of tasty Finnish cuisine.

Kaurapuuro (Oat Porridge)

Europeans tend to favor a light breakfast, and Finland is no exception. They are a health-conscious nation that often chooses light breakfasts like kaurapuuro or oat porridge.

Porridge or oatmeal is a great way to start the day against the cold in Finland. Top this common favorite with local blueberries for a perfectly light yet satisfying breakfast.


Finnish Food: Lunch, Sides, and Snacks

Makaronilaatikko (Macaroni Salad)

This traditional Finnish dish is the picture of comforting cuisine. It is a frequent side dish you can find everywhere from cafeterias to parties and beyond.

Makaronilaatikko is a delicious medley of noodles, cheese, and meat that will indoctrinate your stomach with the deliciously comforting ways of Finnish foods.

This is not your typical mac-and-cheese, it uses beef, cream, and so much cheese then the whole dish is baked into a decadent nostalgia bomb of a Finnish dish.

Lihapiirakka (Meat Hand Pie)

The Finns understand so many truths about flavor including that every meat pie only gets better when fried! Lihapiirakka is a sensationally flavorful Finnish food that is a meat-stuffed pastry that is fried to crispy perfection. The filling is a mix of mincemeat, rice, onions, and seasonings that will fill you up and please your taste buds.

This is a staple for street food in Finland because it is easy to eat on the go. You will find them served with condiments like relish, ketchup, and mustard.

Uudet Perunat ja Silli (New Potatoes and Pickled Herring)

Herring is a great snack when in any of the Nordic nations, but this Finnish food elevated the fish to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Uudet perunat ja silli is a dish consisting of creamy new potatoes and a rich dressing made from pickled herring. To locals new potatoes represent summer so this dish tastes like a summer party.

The herring is mashed with other ingredients like creme fraiche or soft cheese to create a smooth briny dressing for the freshly boiled potatoes. Enjoy this dish on a summer evening in Finland to taste some true local flavor.

Graavilohi (Cured Salmon)

The chefs in Finland know how to handle fish beautifully and the perfect fish dish in Finland is graavilohi. This is a traditional Finnish food that is replicated throughout the Nordic region.

Graavilohi is a classic way of curing salmon using salt, sugar, and dill. The fish can be cold-smoked but it is not necessary. The flavor of this salmon is so decadent, salty, and sweet that it is the perfect topping for toast or a simple protein-rich snack to be enjoyed on its own.

Paistetut Muikut (Fried Finnish Fish)

Living with the sea has its distinct advantages and paistetut muikut is a big one! This is the traditional Finnish serving of fried fish. What makes this dish so special and unique among other fried fish dishes is the type of fish used.

Locals in Finland love vendace a small freshwater whitefish. This lake fish has less saltiness than oceanic fish and its edible bones-and-all. The tiny fish are pan-fried in butter to make the perfect rich and crispy fried fish dish.

Lapin Poron Kylmäsavuliha (Smoked Reindeer Slices)

Reindeer (caribou) wander freely in certain regions of Finland so it has become a Finnish delicacy to eat smoked reindeer. This dark meat is cold smoked in slices and enjoyed cold, on bread or with potatoes.

The locals attribute the lush flavor of this traditional Finnish food to the years of expertise from Finnish chefs and butchers; as well as the positive environment the reindeer enjoy during their lives.

Rosolli (Finnish Beetroot Salad)

This colorful cold beetroot salad is an awesome vegetable side and celebration staple in Finland. Rosolli uses crunchy and satisfying vegetables like red onion, beets, carrots, apples, and pickles to build a colorful salad base. The veggies get tossed in a tangy yogurt, cream, or mayo-based dressing. This bright pink Finnish food is the perfect side for pork or fish.


Finnish Food: Dinner

Kaalilaatikko (Cabbage Casserole)

Cabbage casserole or as locals call it, cabbage box, is a layered and flavorful Finnish food you must try! This baked dish is as close to the cabbage patch as you can get on a plate. It is full of earthy cabbage flavor as well as breadcrumbs, beef-infused grains, and interestingly lingonberry sauce.

The unique combination of funky cabbage and bright lingonberry gives this Finnish dish a level of interest that will keep you coming back for more.

Poronkäristys (Sauteed Reindeer)

Finland, to locals, is where Saint Nick lives which means that locals here go all out for the holiday season. One favorite Finnish meat to serve at holiday time is poronkäristys or sauteed reindeer and potatoes.

Don’t weep for Santa’s helpers, they thrive in the nordic conditions of Finland and live long happy lives. When that comes to a conclusion, this dish celebrates their lives.

The dark-colored meat is known for its luxuriously rich flavor. When the meat is sauteed it is able to brown and crisp into a satisfying savory treat.

The potatoes and lingonberries that are typically served with this add balance to the rich reindeer meat. This Finnish food is a true testament to the native wildlife and produces found here.

Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup)

This lush Finnish soup has what it takes to warm up any cold Nordic day. Lohikeitto is a wonderfully creamy soup that highlights the wealth of the Finnish coastline.

Salmon is the traditional protein in this soup, but some will add additional fish for even more flavor. The base is creamy and chock-full of flavorful stew vegetables like leeks, carrots, and potatoes. This soup is perfect when paired with Finnish rye bread on a cold arctic circle evening.

Kaalikääryleet (Cabbage Rolls)

This hearty Finnish dish of baked cabbage rolls is so tantalizing and filling you will want it every week. A lot of different cultures prepare their own cabbage rolls, but what sets the Finnish version apart is its luscious filling.

The filling for these rolls uses minced meat, rice or grains, and onions, but where other cultures may use a tomato broth or sauce the Finns prefer a cream-based sauce for their filling. This rich traditional Finnish food is sure to become one of your favorites!

Lihapullat (Meatballs)

This simple meaty dish is a beloved weeknight meal for Finns. Lihapullat is often served with mashed potatoes. Finnish meatballs are made from ground meat, breadcrumbs, onions, and spices.

The traditional sauce served with these meatballs is a velvety dream made from cream, spices, and meat drippings. This Finnish food has perfectly elevated simple ingredients and will fill you up with goodness!

Siskonmakkarakeitto (Sausage Soup)

The flavorful Finnish soup of siskonmakkarakeitto is the perfect hearty dish for evenings in the arctic circle. This classic soup is named after its star, the sister sausage. Sister sausage is a type of uncased sausage, usually pork.

The light-colored sausage is stewed in this Finnish dish with carrots, potatoes, and herbs. The end result is a chunky and interesting soup that tastes like Finnish generosity in a bowl.

Mykyrokka (Blood Dumpling Soup)

This Finnish soup has its roots in the eastern part of the country and it is a farm-inspired specialty. Mykyrokka is a classic that features dumplings made from blood and barley. The broth part of this soup is rich in savory flavor and includes stew-style veggies.

The blood dumpling stew is simply seasoned with salt and peppercorns. It is a hearty dish that uses the whole animal to create a satisfying bowl of Finnish goodness.


Finnish Desserts

Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Buns)

These Finnish treats are nicknamed “slapped ears” but their flavor certainly will not remind you of ears! Korvapuusti is Finn’s version of cinnamon rolls or buns. This layered sweet treat is a Finnish favorite for dessert, especially around the holidays.

Cardamom is a traditional add-in for the dough and they are often topped with coarse sugar. You can find these Finnish treats at bakeries or from street food vendors throughout Finland.

Mustikkapiirakka (Blueberry Tart)

This Finnish food is the perfect sweet treat for summertime in the Arctic. This special fruity tart combines the flavors of fresh fruit and tangy dairy. Part of what makes this tart so special is the variety of blueberries used.

The tart uses bilberries, a wild form of blueberry that is collected in Finland. The filling is composed of bilberries and sour cream or yogurt to make this tart into an almost cheesecake-like treat. This Finnish pastry is perfect with an after-dinner coffee.

Joulutorttu (Star Cookies)

This sweet Finnish treat is a Christmas must-have in the land of Saint Nick. It is part cookie, part pastry, and all delicious! They are jam-filled celestial bites that will put you in the mood to celebrate.

The dough is enriched with sweet ricotta cheese and it bakes into a flakey star-shaped shell for sugary jam. The most common flavor choice for the jam is prune but variations exist. It’s a challenge to eat only one of these Finnish sweets, just be sure to leave some for old Saint Nick!

Rönttönen (Lingonberry Pastry)

This sweet specialty in Finland looks a lot like their beloved pastry, the karjalanpiirakka, but its flavor profile shows a whole different side of Finnish cuisine. This sweet treat is an open-faced pie with the delectable flavor of lingonberry.

Rönttönen uses a rye pastry, mashed potatoes, and delicious lingonberries to make a soft filling and the whole pie is baked to sweet perfection! This dessert food in Finland is often enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee.

Mämmi (Easter Pudding)

This uniquely Finnish treat is hard to describe without eating it. It is considered a pudding but its texture is closer to honey or jam. Mämmi is a blend of rye flour and malt, sugar, and Seville orange zest. This sweet and complex Finnish dessert is made in celebration of the Easter holiday or is even found in supermarkets year-round.

Discovering Traditional Finnish Food

Being in Finland can feel like you’ve fallen asleep and found yourself in a dreamland where the sky is made of rainbows and majestic reindeer wander freely. It is a truly spectacular country with so much interest to offer, especially within the local Finnish cuisine. The delightful savory and sweet flavors of Finnish foods will warm you even here in the arctic!



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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