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Authentic Norwegian Food: Eat Like a Local

When people think of Norway, they often think of mountains, skiing, nature… but what about food? From fish and potatoes to porridge and pastries, you might be surprised to learn just how unique the Norwegian cuisine can be. Traditional Norwegian food comes in many forms and flavors, with stews and soups being staples during the long winter months and meats of all varieties being served at Christmas time. While Norway may not exactly be famous for its food, Norwegian food recipes are most definitely worth a try.

Fårikål, Mutton and Cabbage Stew

What better way to start a list of traditional Norwegian food than with the country’s national dish itself? The mutton and cabbage stew is a hearty meal and has been Norway’s national dish since 1972; Norwegians even have a day in September, Fårikål Day, that is designated to it. This is a very minimalistic one-pot stew consisting of mutton (sometimes replaced by lamb) and cabbage, which are boiled together with whole black peppercorns.

Brun Lapskaus, Brown Potato Stew

Norwegians love their stew, and this meat and potato stew is another favorite. The traditional lapskaus recipe calls for meat leftovers or cheap cuts of meat, usually lamb, pork, or beef. The meat is then tossed together with potatoes to give the dish a thick base, and a variety of root vegetables such as carrots and leeks. It’s a perfect way to use up leftovers or make cheaper cuts of meat go a long way.

Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus, Meat Cakes with Gravy

You may be catching onto the fact that meat is a large part of the Norwegian diet. Kjøttkaker, also known as kjøttboller, are Norwegian meatballs that usually consist of a combination of beef, pork, and veal. The meat is drowned in gravy and most commonly served with potatoes and cranberry sauce. These meat cakes usually have an important place on the dinner table at Christmas time.

Pinnekjøtt, Dried Mutton Ribs

Another popular Norwegian recipe at Christmas is ‘stick meat’, a lamb-based dish made from ribs of mutton that have been salted and dried. This process results in a salty, chewy, and tender piece of meat which many consider a ‘must-have’ during the holidays. This particular meal can have various side dishes, but more often than not it is served with boiled potatoes and mashed swede.

Lutefisk, Cod Cured in Lye

Moving on from the meats, fish is another large component of the Norwegian cuisine. Lutefisk is a name given to dried cod, or sometimes another whitefish, which has been rehydrated in a lye solution for several days before being rinsed in cold water and either boiled or baked. Once the fish is ready to be eaten, it is topped with butter, salt, and pepper, and accompanied by the typical Norwegian side dishes such as potatoes and green peas.

Kremet Fiskesuppe, Creamy Fish Soup

This hearty soup is another favorite way that Norwegians like to include fish in their diets. The exact contents vary from recipe to recipe, ranging from cod and salmon to shrimp and scallops, or a combination of a few. Butter, flour, heavy cream, and fish stock make up the creamy base of the soup and an assortment of vegetables are usually thrown into the mix as well.

Rømmegrøt, Sour Cream Porridge

Porridge is widely eaten around the world, but sour cream porridge is a very unique dish to Norway. Those who have not grown up with it will most likely find this Norwegian recipe to be quite weird, but it’s a special food that is worth giving a try. The savory sour cream base is topped with cinnamon, sugar, and butter and is enjoyed all year round.

Skolebrød, Custard and Coconut Buns

For Norwegian desserts, bakeries and cafés will not disappoint. Skolebrød, also known as skolebolle, is a sweet bun filled with vanilla cream and topped with coconut shavings. These pastries are sold in most bakeries and cafés and pair nicely with a warm cup of coffee. Skolebrød is also a fun dessert to make at home with the family.

People are often surprised to learn just how many authentic Norwegian recipes there are, especially because the cuisine is not often what first comes to mind when people think of Norway. While the country’s location on the fjord definitely lends itself to delicious fish-based meals, the Norwegian cuisine is much more varied and diverse than shrimp and salmon. As this list shows, much of the Norwegian diet consists of meat and potatoes, but there are also a handful of other special dishes, all of which are unique to the Norwegian culture.  

Immerse yourself in authentic Norwegian culture with a Scandinavian vacation.  Authentic Vacations has a number of inspirational itineraries, all customizable to create an experience tailor made for you.