Swedish cuisine

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Swedish cuisine (Swedish: svenska köket) is the traditional food of Sweden. Due to Sweden's large north-to-south expanse, there are regional differences between the cuisine of North and South Sweden.[1]

Historically, in the far north, meats such as

Sami culture, while fresh vegetables have played a larger role in the South. Many traditional dishes employ simple, contrasting flavours, such as the traditional dish of meatballs and brown cream sauce with tart, pungent lingonberry jam

General features

Swedish cuisine could be described as centered around cultured


The importance of fish has governed Swedish population and trade patterns far back in history. For preservation, fish were salted and cured. Salt became a major trade item at the dawn of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, which began c. 1000 AD. Cabbage preserved as sauerkraut and various kinds of preserved berries, apples, and other fruit were used once as a source of vitamin C during the winter (today sauerkraut is very seldom used in Swedish cuisine). Lingonberry jam, still a favourite, may be the most traditional and typical Swedish way to add freshness to sometimes rather heavy food, such as steaks and stews. Black currant jelly is often served with wild game such as venison, elk or moose.[citation needed]

Sweden's long winters explain the lack of fresh vegetables in many traditional recipes. In older times, plants that would sustain the population through the winters were cornerstones; various

rutabaga) (aptly named "swede" in British English) were gradually supplanted or complemented by the potato in the 18th century. A lack of certain spices made everyday food rather mildly spiced by today's standards, although a number of local herbs and plants have been used since ancient times. This tradition is still present in today's Swedish dishes, which are still quite mild but flavourful due to the usage of such herbs.[citation needed

Both before and after this period, some new

kåldolmar) being one example. An early version of kåldolmar was first published in 1765 in the fourth edition of Hjelpreda i Hushållningen för Unga Fruentimber by Cajsa Warg, though it was closer to the Turkish dolma
than later dishes.


Swedish husmanskost denotes traditional Swedish dishes with local ingredients, the classical everyday Swedish cuisine. The word husmanskost stems from husman, meaning 'house owner', and the term was originally used for most kinds of simple countryside food outside of towns. Genuine Swedish husmanskost used predominantly local ingredients such as

kroppkakor). Many of the dishes would be considered comfort food for the nostalgic value.[citation needed

Dishes akin to Swedish husmanskost and food traditions are found also in other Scandinavian countries; details may vary.

Sweden is part of the

distilled beverages, such as brännvin and snaps
, have been a traditional daily complement to food. Consumption of wine in Sweden has increased during the last fifty years, partly at the expense of beer and stronger alcoholic beverages.

Husmanskost has undergone a renaissance during the last decades as well known (or famous) Swedish

value or flavour of the dishes. Many Swedish restaurateurs mix traditional husmanskost with a modern, gourmet approach.



Swedish traditional dishes, some of which are many hundreds of years old, others perhaps a century or less, are still a very important part of Swedish everyday meals, in spite of the fact that modern Swedish cuisine adopts many international dishes.

Internationally, the most renowned Swedish culinary tradition is the

, including well-known Swedish dishes such as gravlax and meatballs. In Sweden, traditionally, Thursday has been "soup day" because the maids had half the day off and soup was easy to prepare in advance. One of the most traditional Swedish soups, ärtsoppa, is still served in many restaurants and households every Thursday,
pannkakor). The Swedish Armed Forces
also serve their conscripts pea soup and pancakes every Thursday.

Potatoes are eaten year-round as the main source of carbohydrates, and are a staple in many traditional dishes. Not until the last 50 years have pasta or rice become common on the dinner table. There are several different kinds of potatoes; the most appreciated is the "new potato", a potato which ripens in early summer and is enjoyed at the traditional midsummer feast. New potatoes at

, and sour cream, and the first strawberries of the year are traditionally served as dessert.

The most highly regarded

Charles XIV John
(Karl XIV Johan) who introduced its use as food.

In August, at the traditional feast known as kräftskiva,

crayfish, boiled and then marinated in a broth with salt, a little bit of sugar, and a large amount of dill
umbels (krondill, lit. crown dill).


Meals consists of breakfast in the early morning (frukost), a light lunch before noon (lunch), and a heavy dinner (middag) around six or seven in the evening. It is also common to have a snack, often a sandwich or fruit, in between meals (mellanmål). Most Swedes also have a coffee break in the afternoon, often together with a pastry (

secondary schools, a hot meal is served at lunch as part of Sweden's welfare state. According to Swedish school law, this meal has to be nutrient-dense.[4]


crisp bread

cornflakes. Muesli, or porridge (gröt) is sometimes eaten at breakfast, made of oatmeal or cream of wheat, eaten with milk and jam or cinnamon with sugar.[5] Common drinks for breakfast are milk, juice, tea, or coffee
. Swedes are among the most avid milk and coffee drinkers in the world.

Swedes sometimes have sweet toppings on their breads, such as jam (like the French and Americans), or chocolate (like the Danes), although many older Swedes choose not to use these sweet toppings. However, orange marmalade on white bread is common, usually with morning coffee or tea.

Many traditional kinds of Swedish bread, such as sirapslimpa (less fashionable today, but still very popular) are somewhat sweetened in themselves, baked with small amounts of syrup.[5] Like in many other European countries, there are also many non-sweetened breads, often made with sourdough (surdeg). Swedish breads may be made from wholegrain, fine grain, or anything in between, and there are white, brown, and very dark (like in Finland) varieties which are all common. Barkis or bergis is a localised version of challah usually made without eggs and at first only available in Stockholm and Göteborg where Jews first settled but now available elsewhere.

Main courses

Swedish English Definition
Ärtsoppa Pea soup Yellow pea soup.
Blåbärspalt Dumplings with blueberries
Blodpalt Dumplings made out of blood
Blodpudding Black pudding The Swedish name literally means 'blood pudding'. Sweetened and spiced, it is eaten with lingonberry jam, and sometimes bacon.
Blodkorv Blood sausage Other than pig blood, the ingredients include flour, pork, raisins and spices.
Bruna bönor och fläsk Brown beans and pork A classical Swedish dish consisting of pork with stewed brown beans.
Falukorv Sausage, big and thick, originating from Falun. The lifts and pumps at the Kopparberg copper mine in Falun were, during the 16th and 17th centuries before the introduction of steam engines, powered by oxen. When these oxen died from strain or old age, the skin was turned into leather ropes used in the mine, and some of the meat was turned into Falukorv sausages.
, made from minced white fish meat.
Fläskkorv Pork sausage Sausages, pork.
Fläskpannkaka Pork pancake A thick pancake with diced pork, baked in a form in the oven.
Flygande Jacob Flying Jacob Casserole based on chicken with cream, chili sauce, bananas, peanuts and bacon. Invented in the 1970s.
Gravlax Salmon cured with salt and sugar with herbs.
Inkokt lax Boiled
, together with onion and carrots, in a mixture of water, vinegar, salt, sugar and some other spices. Usually eaten cold, commonly together with mayonnaise spiced with dill and lemon.
Inlagd sill Pickled
Isterband Sausage, from Småland, made of coarsely ground pork, barley and potatoes. It is prepared by first fermenting it and then lightly smoking it. This method of cooking creates a distinct, both acidic and slightly smoky flavour. It is traditionally eaten with dill-stewed potatoes and pickled beetroot.
Janssons frestelse
Jansson's temptation Potato
anchovy and cream; the fish used is usually the sprat, a different species spiced with herbs.[6]
Cured ham, boiled and breaded with mustard, bread crumbs and egg; translates as Christmas ham. The Swedish equivalent to Christmas turkey.
Charles XII returned to Sweden from the Ottoman Empire.[7]
Kalops Meat stewed with onion, vegetables and spices.
Meatballs made from meat and herbs tightly rolled together, frequently served with mashed potatoes and pickles.
Korv Stroganoff Sliced sausage pieces (usually falukorv) served in a creamy tomato sauce, a cheaper Swedish variation of beef Stroganoff.
Köttsoppa med klimp Soup, made from beef and root vegetables, served with klimp, a Swedish dumpling.
Dumplings made of pre-boiled potatoes, filled with pork.[8]
Leverpalt Dumplings with liver.
Lutfisk Lye fish made of stockfish.
Palt Dumplings made of unboiled potatoes, filled with pork.
Paltbröd A type of tunnbröd baked with blood. Traditionally served leached with white sauce and fried pork.
A thin pancake fried in an ordinary frying pan. In some parts of Sweden, all thin pancakes are called plättar.
Pitepalt Dumplings from Piteå.
Plättar A plätt is a very small pancake, usually made in a plättlagg, a sort of normal size frying pan with indentations to allow for several, normally seven, smaller (usually around 10 cm in diameter) pancakes to be made at once. See
Pölsa Similar to hash or Scottish haggis without casing.
Prinskorv Prince's sausages Small sausages, hot dog-style.
Pyttipanna Mix of chopped and fried meat, onions, pre-boiled potatoes, often prepared from leftovers. Other ingredients are often added as well, such as sausages, beetroot, fried egg, bacon or even salmon (instead of the meat).[9]
Raggmunk Potato pancakes. Usually eaten with lingonberry jam and sometimes fried slices of pork belly.
Rotmos med fläsk Mashed roots with pork Mashed root vegetables, usually rutabaga, carrots and sometimes potatoes, served with long-boiled salted pork loin.
Räksmörgås Shrimp sandwich Open sandwich with shrimp, egg and mayonnaise. Lettuce, tomato or cucumber are commonly added, usually topped with lemon and dill.
Sillsallad Herring salad A Russian-style chopped cold-salad side dish made with pickled herring, boiled cold potatoes, boiled cold beets, minced raw onion, fresh dill, and sour cream.
Smörgåstårta Sandwich cake Like a very big multi-layer sandwich. Comes with many different fillings and toppings, often including shrimp, ham, mayonnaise, salad, and preserved fruits.
S.O.S. (smör, ost och sill) Butter, cheese and herring Appetizer dish made with butter, cheese, and herring.
Stekt fläsk med löksås och potatis Pork with onion sauce and potatoes.
Stekt strömming Fried herring Fileted fresh herring, two filets put flesh to flesh, skin out, with dill, salt and ground white pepper between and breadcrumbs on the outside, and then fried in butter until golden. Eaten with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. Very different from surströmming.
Surströmming Fermented Baltic herring Being fermented, surströmming has a strong odour and unique flavour and is considered an acquired taste even among Swedes. Usually eaten with thin, hard bread.
Sylta Swedish head cheese Made primarily from finely chopped pork pulled soft from a boiled pig head and mixed with the gelatin from the skull and various spices and pressed to form a loaf that is served chilled so that the gelatin sets.
Wallenbergare Patty of ground veal, cream, and egg yolks, coated in breadcrumbs.


Fish and other seafood are an important part of Swedish cuisine. Farmed salmon from Norway has become increasingly popular. Pickled, sweetened

Baltic herring
famous for its pungent aroma, both loved and hated.


Ris à la Malta (Ris à l'amande), a Christmas dessert.

Common desserts include:

Swedish English Definition
Gotländsk saffranspannkaka Rice pudding dessert with saffron originating in Gotland usually served with jam or whipped cream, or dewberry jam.
Kalvdans A classic Scandinavian dessert made from unpasteurized colostrum milk, the first milk produced by a cow after giving birth.
Klappgröt Semolina pudding mixed with juice from either red
lingonberries, raspberries, blackberries
, or comparable fruits, then stirred or blended until the texture is fluffier. Eaten cold.
Ostkaka Swedish cheesecake (very different from American cheesecake).
Pannkaka Pancakes are almost never served for breakfast ('American-style') but either as dessert with sweet jam or whipped cream, or as a meal in itself, using fewer sweet toppings. Pancakes for dinner can be thick oven-baked pancakes with pork meat or apples inside.
Smördegspaj Butter dough based pie. Various kinds of pies and cookies are typical desserts, mostly served with coffee. Typical pies are apple pie, blueberry pie and rhubarb pie.
Smulpaj Crumb pie
Spettekaka A sweet dry hollow Swedish cake, shaped like a cylinder, and similar to meringue, found only in a southern province of Sweden, Scania.
Våfflor Waffles Often served with jam and whipped cream or ice cream. Waffles also have their own day on 25 March.
Äggost A dish originating from Bohuslän. In the southern parts of the county it is traditionally served as a dessert along with whipped cream, sugar and blackberry jam, but in the northern parts it is usually seen as a main dish or breakfast and often served with pickled herring.

Pastries and treats

Cinnamon roll (kanelbulle)

Kaffebröd (coffee bread)

Bakelser and other types of kaffebröd (or more colloquially fikabröd) are various forms of

) include:

Swedish English Definition
Kanelbulle Cinnamon roll, optionally made with cardamom dough
Wienerbröd A Danish pastry; comes in several varieties and shapes; very similar to a Danish pastry in the US.
Chocolate ball. A round
pearl sugar
A small
pearl sugar
on top.
Punschrulle Punsch-roll A small cylindrical pastry covered with green marzipan with the ends dipped in chocolate, and inside a mix of crushed cookies, butter, and cacao, flavoured with punsch liqueur. This pastry is often called dammsugare ('vacuum cleaner'), referring to its cylindrical shape, similar to many older vacuum cleaners. Other names are arraksrulle (as arrak (arrack) is an ingredient in punsch) and '150-ohmer' (owing to the brown-green-brown colouring, resembling a 150 ohm resistor).
Biskvi A small round pastry with a base: made from
butter cream
and covered with a thin layer of chocolate. First made in France during the 19th century.
Prinsesstårta Princess cake A large cake, made of sponge cake layered with whipped cream, and custard under a green marzipan coating with powdered sugar on the top; often decorated with a pink marzipan rose.
Budapestbakelse Budapest pastry Basically made from sugar, egg white, hazelnuts, whipped cream, and pieces of fruit like apricot or mandarine, decorated with a little chocolate and powdered sugar.
Napoleonbakelse Napolitain Made of pastry dough, whipped cream, custard and jam, topped with icing and currant jelly.
Napoleon pastry
Kladdkaka A chocolatey and sticky flat cake.
Toscakaka Light sponge topped with caramelized almonds.
Arraksboll A ball flavoured with
, similar in appearance to a chokladboll but very different taste.


Saffron bun, also called St. Lucia bun (lussebulle)

During the winter holidays, traditional candy and pastries include:

Treats Definition
Knäck Christmas toffee. (Hard, usually to be sucked, not chewed. The soft variety is called kola, which is chewy, and may be flavoured. )
Ischoklad Coconut oil mixed with chocolate.
Marmelad 'Marmalade candy', rectangular fruit and pectin based candy in various colours.
Saint Lucia
celebration (13 December).
Pepparkaka Similar to a ginger snaps (has been eaten since the 14th century and baked at the monastery of Vadstena since 1444); associated with Christmas.
Semla With the new year, the fastlagsbulle (Lenten bun), or semla, is baked. It is a wheat bun with a cream and almond paste filling, traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday.[2]

Other typical Swedish candy includes:

Candy Definition
Saltlakrits Liquorice candy flavoured with ammonium chloride.
Polkagris Traditional peppermint stick candy from Gränna, also made in other flavours.
Ahlgrens bilar A marshmallow candy shaped like a car. Marketed as "Sweden's most purchased car" (Swedish: Sveriges mest köpta bil).
Sockerbitar Similar to square, chewy marshmallows.
Geléhallon An early form of
-based candy.
Daim Formerly called Dime in the UK.


Sweden is in second place among the heaviest

coffee-drinking countries in the world.[10] Milk consumption in Sweden is also very high, second only to Finland. Milk is bought in milk cartons; Tetra Pak
, the world's largest maker of milk cartons, was founded in Sweden. Milk is considered the standard drink to have with meals during weekdays in many families, for both children and adults.

Christmas beverages

Drink Definition
Mumma A traditional Christmas beverage.[11] Usually a mix of porter or another dark beer, some light beer (pilsner), port wine (or some other wine), and something sweet (sockerdricka or julmust); commonly spiced with cardamom.[12]
Glögg Mulled wine

Sweet drinks

A cup of blueberry soup, (blåbärssoppa) topped with cereals
Swedish English Definition
Blåbärssoppa Bilberry soup Sweet soup or drink made from
, served either hot or cold
Enbärsdricka Juniper berry soft drink
Sockerdricka Sugar drink Sweet-sour soft drink (carbonated)
Fruktsoda Traditional
soft drink (carbonated)
Champis Soft drink alternative to sparkling wine (carbonated)
Trocadero Soft drink with the taste of apple and oranges, with its roots in the north of Sweden
Julmust Sweet seasonal carbonated soft drink (jul ‒ a cognate of the English yule ‒ means Christmas in Swedish)
Lingondricka Lingonberry drink
Rose hip soup Sweet soup or drink made from rose hips, served either hot or cold


Caloric punsch advertistement c. 1885

The production of

ABV, limiting access. Hembränt
(moonshine) used to be made in rural Sweden, but production has lessened in recent years due to more liberal rules for the import of alcohol as well as increased smuggling.

Punsch is a traditional liqueur in Sweden that was immensely popular during the 19th century. It was adopted as the drink of choice by university students, and many traditional songs from that time are about the consumption of punsch or are meant to be sung during the collective festivities that were part of the cultural life in the universities' student associations at the time and still is.


Beer is also widely consumed in Sweden and the typical Swedish beer is

American IPA

Food and society

Brödinstitutet ('The Bread Institute') once campaigned with a quotation from the

Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, recommending[13] eating six to eight slices of bread daily. Drinking milk[14] has also been recommended and campaigned for by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare;[citation needed] it is often recommended to drink two[15] to three glasses of milk per day.[16][17][18] A survey conducted on behalf of Mjölkfrämjandet, an organisation promoting consumption of Swedish milk, concluded that 52% of Swedes surveyed drink milk at least once a day, usually one glass with lunch and another glass or two in the evening or morning.[19]

Low-fat products, wholemeal bread and other alternatives are common; grocery stores usually sell milk in four or five different fat levels, from 3% to 0.1%.[20]

In Sweden, it is often considered inappropriate to feed children from another family. Visiting children may be asked to leave at dinnertime or to wait in another room, or the host family may call the visitor's parents and ask for permission.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "Food in Sweden – Swedish Food, Swedish Cuisine". www.foodbycountry.com. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b Rob Hincks, "Swedish semla: more than just a bun Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine", 20 February 2012.
  3. ^ Nationalencyklopedin
  4. ^ "School lunches". www.livsmedelsverket.se. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "DLC.fi". Archived from the original on 8 May 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2006.
  7. ^ Ringström, Jenny (30 November 2012). "the Cabbage rolls historical day". Svenska Dagbladet.
  8. ^ "Swedish Kroppkakor Recipe". Food.com. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Pyttipanna Recipe". Honest Cooking. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  10. ^ Jones, Lora (13 April 2018). "Coffee: Who grows, drinks and pays the most?". BBC News. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  11. ^ Carl Deleen, Tysk och swensk ordbok Örebro 1836, p. 554.
  12. ^ "Mumma recept". Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Regionkansliet". Archived from the original on 11 February 2009.
  14. ^ "Norrmejerier.se".
  15. ^ "2glasomdagen".
  16. ^ Mjölkfrämjandet Archived 11 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Ostfrämjandet[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Mjölk". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  19. ^ "93 % av svenska folket tycker mjölk är nyttigt". June 2004. Archived from the original on 7 November 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
  20. ^ Mjolkframjandet.se[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Amanda Holpuch (2 June 2022). "Do Swedish People Feed Their Guests?".

Further reading

External links