Sweden is a beautiful European island nation with a rich history and flourishing Scandinavian culture. Here you can find pieces of history frozen in time, spectacular coastal views, and a temperate climate that allows you to enjoy the best of all the Nordic seasons, but what makes Sweden truly spectacular is its food. Swedish food and cuisine are a true testament to the local culture and the perfect inroad to discovering more about Sweden.
What Is Special About Swedish Foods
The Scandinavian countries are all well known worldwide for their clean, natural, and minimalistic style. Swedish cuisine is a true celebration of that special Scandinavian style. The food in Sweden focuses on fresh produce, local meats and fish, and simple, yet scrumptious, preparations.
Influences on Swedish foods come from neighboring nations like Finland, Norway, and the U.K. The residents here have a high quality of life and you will understand why with one taste of their delicious local fare! The Swedish commitment to culture and art comes through in every deliciously simple bite of their local cuisine.
Most Famous Food In Sweden
Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)
Thanks to a certain furniture powerhouse that Sweden is famous for, this traditional Swedish food has gained worldwide acclaim.
This is a dish that looks humble but tastes amazing. Locals use a blend of pork and beef in their meatballs, along with onions, local herbs, breadcrumbs, and eggs to bind.
The meatball itself is not what makes this dish so iconic, but rather their rich and delicious sauce that has earned it acclaim. The balls are often served with a traditional Swedish cream sauce, or gräddsås. This special sauce has notes of beef, salt, and dairy. It is the perfect balance for the hearty meatball.
This dish is often served with another local favorite lingonberries for a colorful and mouth-watering presentation.
Traditional Swedish Food
Smörgåsbord (Swedish Buffet)
This is a traditional Swedish way of feasting seen around the holidays and other large group gatherings. Large buffet tables are set with a wide variety of local Swedish foods. Traditionally both hot and cold offerings would be available in this buffet.
A smörgåsbord for the holidays may include Swedish favorites like crayfish, salmon, sandwich cake, falukorv, and more! If you can experience a smörgåsbord, it is a great way to sample everything Swedish cuisine has to offer!
The Swedish people love lingonberries. They serve these tart treats with everything! Little lingonberries are a variety of wild mountain cranberries, and they have a tart and sweet flavor.
They grow in abundance in Sweden and the locals love incorporating them into every dish they can! Lingonberries are made into jams and sauces to be served on bread or with rich local meats. They add a little bite of tartness that will excite your palate for more great Swedish foods!
The Swedish people have been fishing for and eating crayfish for centuries. In the summer these shellfish are fished off the Swedish coast, so their rich flavor has become synonymous with seasonal Swedish food.
Crayfish have a flavor similar to their cousin the lobster, they are rich with oceanic flavor. The Swedes throw big parties to celebrate these shellfish every August, where they will boil the crayfish with dill and enjoy eating them with friends and family.
Gravlax (Dill-Cured Salmon)
Two things that repeat across many dishes in Sweden are seafood and dill. Swedish cuisine truly embraces their amazing ocean access to bring fish to every table; additionally, easy to grow, hardy, and flavorful dill brings wonderful herbaceousness to so many traditional Swedish dishes.
Gravlax is a Swedish dill-smoked salmon that highlights all the great things about the simple Swedish style of cooking. This tasty salmon can be enjoyed on toast, bagels, with potatoes, or by itself. Gravlax is a staple dish for a traditional smörgåsbord.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Breakfast Foods In Sweden
Pytt i Panna (Swedish Hash)
Pytt i panna means “small pieces in the pan,” and that is exactly what this Swedish food is, a hash made from small pieces of potatoes and meat.
This local favorite can be made from the previous night’s leftovers and is basically a medley of potatoes, small bits of sausage, and/or bacon, topped with a fried egg. It’s a breakfast that will keep you satisfied for hours!
Filmjölk (Fermented Milk)
This fermented dairy is a real treat, because of the process used to ferment it. A special bacteria is introduced to the milk that metabolizes the lactose, making this milk product easier for people with lactose intolerance to handle.
Filmjölk, or fil for short, has a thickness somewhere between whole milk and yogurt and a slightly more sour taste than traditional milk. This Swedish food is enjoyed in porridge or on its own topped with granola or fruits.
Knäckebröd (Crispy Bread)
This dry rye cracker is an absolute staple of the average Swedish diet. Knäckebröd is a very crispy and dry flatbread with a cracker-like crunch. Sometimes these crisps are seasoned with caraway seeds.
This Swedish food is eaten at all times of the day, but it’s especially popular as a quick breakfast or snack. Knäckebröd topped with gravlax or lingonberries are the perfect Swedish breakfasts!
Swedish Food: Snack and Appetizer
Surströmming (Fermented Baltic Herring)
This dish may be Swedish in origin, but it can be divisive among locals with some loving it and others hating it. Foreigners trying it share the same diverse sentiments.
Surströmming is a traditional Swedish food consisting of canned fermented Baltic herring. Unlike other forms of canned or jarred herring, this fish is raw fermented, not smoked. It has a particularly pungent smell and a very fishy, salty flavor.
This stinky fish is typically eaten outdoors throughout the last few weeks of August into early September. This has been consumed in Sweden for centuries, so some consider it a required tradition.
Toast Skagen (Swedish Shrimp Toast)
Toast Skagen is deceptively named. Skagen may be a Danish town, but this is a modern Swedish dish. Toast Skagen is a Swedish shrimp toast that is named after a popular fishing port in Denmark.
This lux dish combines shrimp salad, caper, and a dash of lemon to make a gorgeous topping for toast triangles. The whole thing is covered with beautiful fresh shrimp for an elegant and tasty presentation. This dish is synonymous with fine Swedish dining.
Smörgåstårta (Sandwich Cake)
The only thing that could make cake better would be making it savory, and that is just what this fun classic dish does. Smörgåstårta is basically a large layered sandwich typically using rye bread and lots of fresh vegetables and creamy salad fillings.
This beautiful Swedish food is just as pretty as a sweet cake, but with so many tasty surprises inside.
Kroppkakor (Potato Dumplings)
Most global cultures have a rendition of the dumpling, and Kroppkakor is Sweden’s dumpling. These are beautiful potato dumplings that are traditionally filled with a blend of meat and vegetables.
Typical kroppkakor will be boiled and then fried so the potato exterior gets a delightful crispness. Top these delicious dumplings with local lingonberry spread for a quintessentially Swedish snack.
Swedish Food: Mains
Räkmacka (Shrimp Sandwich)
The bountiful ocean is a frequent star of Swedish cuisine. Local fishing and catching offer so much beautiful and delicious sea life to the people of Sweden.
Räkmacka is the perfect example of the Swedish love of all things from the sea. It is a decadent open-faced shrimp sandwich that uses a few additional ingredients to allow the shrimp to shine.
This simple dressed sandwich allows the craveable flavor of the local crustaceans to come through.
Ärtsoppa & Pannkakor (Pea Soup & Pancakes)
Much of how locals in Sweden eat has been decided by tradition. That said, rating ärtsoppa and pannkakor is considered by many to be an important local tradition. Rich and rustic pea soup is made with delicious bits of pork.
The Swedish locals eat this soup with Swedish pancakes, or crepes on Thursdays. The sweet and savory pairing has some legendary roots. Eating it on Thursdays comes from historically catholic Swedes eating extra rich meals on Thursdays to prepare for Friday’s meat restriction throughout Lent.
Falukorv (Swedish Bologna)
To call this dish bologna is a bit of a disservice to falukorv because it has a much fuller and more satisfying flavor than its cousin bologna. Falukorv is a Swedish sausage made from smoked meats, onions, potato flour, and spices.
One reason this Swedish food is so beloved is because kids love it. Therefore, this familiar meat tastes like childhood for many locals. It is often pan-fried and served with macaroni or potatoes.
Kalops (Beef Stew)
This is the answer to meat and potatoes in Swedish foods. Kalops is a hearty beef and potato stew that will bring comfort to the cold Swedish winter. It features typical beef stew ingredients like carrots, onions, potatoes, and of course beef. However, the secret to this tasty meal is in the spice blend.
Traditional kalops are seasoned with allspice to bring a rich and warming spicy flavor to the stew. It is a wonderful representation of the warmth of the people and the cuisine here.
Flygande Jakob (Chicken Casserole)
This Swedish dish is as unique as they come and it combines some very unexpected flavors. People may not expect to find a curry dish on the Swedish menu, but this curried chicken casserole is a local favorite.
It is creamy and full of funky flavors like chicken, banana, peanuts, chili, and bacon. The combination may sound wild for this island nation, but one bite of the flavorful sauce in this casserole and you will be hooked!
Swedish Food: Desserts
Prinsesstårta (Princess Torte)
Prinsesstårta may be one of the most famous of all Swedish dishes. Princess torte is a beautifully layered sponge cake with pastry cream and raspberry jam that is topped with light green marzipan. This cake makes appearances in bakery windows worldwide, but no one makes it better than the Swedish.
In the late 1940’s one of the teachers of the Swedish Prince’s daughters crafted this beautiful recipe to celebrate the girls. It is enjoyed by millions today and is always a show-stopping dessert.
This is just one of the many tasty Swedish desserts and cakes in Sweden you get to try.
The Swedish spin on cheesecake may be a little unexpected, but it is delicious. Ostkaka, or Swedish cheesecake, is made with cottage cheese and almond flour and has a little less sweetness than an American cheesecake.
This velvety dessert is often topped with seasonal strawberries, but it is a treat on its own. Ostkaka is a wonderful way to taste the sweeter side of Swedish foods.
Saffransbullar (Saffron Buns)
Sweet, yeasty, and buttery saffransbullar are the perfect bite of Swedish baked goods. Saffransbullar, or saffron buns, are a holiday staple, but they taste amazing all year round.
These yeasted buns are flavored with saffron and spiked with raisins for a deliciously spicy and fruity holiday treat. Some Swedish children will even use these buns in their gingerbread castles.
You can find saffransbullar outside of the Christmas season, but they may substitute the saffron for cinnamon in the off-season. No matter which variety you try, they are a should-not-miss sweet food in Sweden.
Discovering Traditional Swedish Food
Some traditional Swedish dishes have existed for centuries, yet the people here eat them regularly. This is because Swedish food is a true celebration of what it means to live in this beautiful Nordic wonderland.
Swedish food will fill and sustain you and will delight your palate with its comforting flavors. They also set you up well to explore the beautiful landmarks in Sweden. See for yourself what beautifully simple Swedish food is really all about when you visit!