Skip to Content

Swedish Food – 15 Traditional dishes to eat in Sweden

Swedish Food – 15 Traditional dishes to eat in Sweden

Want to know more about Swedish Food and Cuisine? Then you’ve come to the right place because I’m born and raised in Sweden, and have tried almost every traditional Swedish food that you can imagine. 

In this article, you will see 15 traditional dishes that you should eat in Sweden as well as other facts about Swedish cuisine and food traditions.

Worldwide, there is in reality only one Swedish dish that has become famous and that is Swedish meatballs, thanks to IKEA. But there are many delicious dishes from Sweden that shouldn’t be missed while visiting. 

As a foreigner, it can be difficult to know what Swedish food is and where to find it because most Swedes eat at home. The restaurant culture is not the same as countries such as Spain or France, and most of the restaurants serve international food. 

Traditional Swedish food

Swedes generally go out to restaurants on weekends or when they want to celebrate something. The big exception is lunch because many restaurants have cheap lunch offers from 70-120 SEK (Dagens lunch). 

But as a tourist, you’re likely to be eating out in restaurants every day, so if you want to try some traditional food from Sweden, you should definitely look out for these typical dishes that Swedes love (and hate). 

Sill (Herring)

This is a dish that you will either love or hate, there’s about a 50/50 chance of either. I love sill, especially in mustard sauce. There are many varieties and you can even eat fried herring fillets, but the most common way to eat herring in Sweden is the pickled herring. 

You can buy it in almost any supermarket, and they have the most popular choices. Abba (not the music band) probably has the most famous supermarket herring, and it’s really good, so you don’t have to visit a restaurant to taste this Swedish food. 

Swedish sill


Another traditional dish made from ground veal, egg yolks, and cream coated in breadcrumbs. It is named after one of the wealthiest families in Sweden, the Wallenberg family.

It usually comes with mashed potatoes and peas on the side.


Köttbullar (Meatballs)

Swedish meatballs might be the most iconic dish from Sweden, thanks to IKEA who has put Sweden on the World Map. There are actually several ways you can serve meatballs, but the most common is with mashed potatoes, creme sauce, and lingon. 

Meatballs and macaroni with ketchup are especially popular among kids. 

Swedish Meatballs


Basically, a potato pancake that is fried in butter and served with bacon and lingonberries. Raggmunk is a very typical dish, but it’s no longer one of the most common dishes that Swedes eat on a regular basis.



Literally meaning sandwich cake, and when you see one of these, you will know how much we love bread and sandwiches. There are many different kinds of Smörgåstårta, but they are made in layers with various toppings and ingredients. 

This is not something you will find in restaurants, and it’s not common to eat at home either. It’s very typical for celebrations or large gatherings since it’s quite easy to make and most Swedes love it. 


Toast Skagen

Another favorite of mine and other Swedes alike, Toast Skagen. A toast with a mix of shrimp, mayonnaise, and sour cream.

If you want the “fancy” version, you should add some “löjrom” on the top, which is an expensive type of caviar from Northern Sweden. 

Toast Skagen

Gravad lax (salmon)

Did you know that Swedes ate this already in the 1600s? It was prepared differently then, but the concept was the same. 

It can be made with or without herbs, and it’s very nice to have some “hovmästarsås” on the side, which is a sauce that fits very well to Gravad lax. This dish is also very common during Christmas and Midsummer celebrations. 



When it comes to Swedish food, Kalops is my favorite. It’s a tasty meat stew that has been cooked slowly for a long time. Its origins are from Skåne, which is the region in the Southernmost part of the country. 

Many restaurants serving traditional food from Sweden will serve Kalops, and I can warmly recommend you to try it. 


Ärtsoppa (yellow pea soup)

This is one of the Swedish foods that I can’t stand, and I know many other Swedes who feel the same way. In school’s and the military it was (and still is in some cases) served for lunch every Thursday. 

However, I also know many Swedes who simply love it. Ärtsoppa is a soup made of yellow peas, usually served with bacon. It’s a simple dish, and you can find it in every supermarket, although you will probably get a much tastier version in restaurants. 

traditional swedish food

Knäckebröd (Crispbread)

Hard bread might seem strange, but they keep for a long time which is very convenient. It’s a staple food and you will find crispbread in many Swedish homes. 

It’s very traditional and the earliest known source for making crispbread dates back to 500 AD.



Another popular dish among Swedish kids, Falukorv, which is a special kind of sausage. It is usually served with stewed macaroni and ketchup, but can also be baked in the oven with mustard and cheese. 



You might chuckle a bit when you understand what the name means in Swedish, It means “Old man’s mix” and it’s an egg-anchovy salad, but it can also be made with herring.


Photo: Jakob Fridholm/


If you want a unique food experience while visiting Sweden, then Surströmming is for you. The smell is unbearable, but it’s a real classic. If you get it on your clothes or even on yourself, the smell will stick for some time. 

You can buy a can of Surströmming in every supermarket, and I can promise you that it will be memorable. I suggest that you film the experience so that you have your first reaction recorded for life. 



Another classic family food that is easy to make at home. Pyttipanna is basically potato cubes, ham, and chopped onions. 

It usually comes with one or two fried eggs and red beets on the side. You can also add ketchup. 


Bruna bönor med fläsk (Brown beans and bacon)

Last but not least, another simple dish. A common saying is that you will fart a lot when eating this, so don’t try it before you have an important meeting or a romantic date. 

If you were to buy this in the store, you could get a full meal for about 20 SEK, and all you have to do is to warm up the brown beans and fry the bacon. 

Bruna bonor

Swedish desserts and pastries

Kanelbulle (Cinnamon bun) Mazariner
Dammsugare  Prinsesstårta 
Chokladbollar  Kladdkaka
Pepparkakor (Gingerbread) Semlor
Lussebullar  Chokladbiskvier

Swedish pastries

Swedish beverages and liquor

  • Snaps
  • Cider
  • Glögg

blossa glögg

What do Swedes eat for breakfast?

Well, every person usually has their own preference, but some of the most common things you will find in a Swedish breakfast includes: 

  • Various cold cuts, known as “pålägg”
  • Filmjölk (fermented milk)
  • Yogurt and various cereals
  • Bread and buns – Swedes love their sandwiches
  • Leverpastej & Smörgåsgurka (Liver paste and pickles)
  • Boiled egg
  • Caviar

Swedish breakfast

Swedish Christmas Food

Swedes celebrate Christmas on the 24 December, which is Christmas Eve. Normally, the whole family will celebrate together and have a big Christmas dinner.

The traditions vary from family to family, and also from region to region, but some of the foods to expect on a Swedish Christmas celebration include: 

  • Gravad lax
  • Prinskorv (small sausage)
  • Meatballs
  • Various kinds of Sill (herring)
  • Christmas ham, known as Julskinka in Swedish
  • Red and brown cabbage
  • Egg Halves
  • Jansson’s temptation
  • Red beet salad
  • Ribs
  • Rice porridge
Christmas food in Sweden

Photo: Carolina Romare/

Kräftskiva (Crayfish party)

If you visit Sweden during August and are lucky to be invited to one of the crayfish parties, you can expect to eat a LOT of crayfish, and of course, some snaps to wash it down. 

Crayfish party

Photo: Carolina Romare/


Food is an important part of the Swedish midsummer celebration, and typically we eat lots of sill (herring) and fresh potatoes as well as gravad lax (smoked salmon), västerbottenpaj (pie) and large amounts of strawberries. 

A midsummer wouldn’t be the same without snaps, and most Swedes will have one or two “too many” snaps on midsummer eve.

swedish midsummer

Photo: Sussi Hj /

More about Swedish Food

All of the above dishes are traditional food from Sweden, and while Swedes eat most of them once in a while, we commonly eat more international types of food on a daily basis.

Swedish cuisine shares a lot of similarities with Norwegian cuisine, Danish cuisine, and Finnish cuisine. This is due to the countries’ shared history, dating back to the Vikings

Meatballs and Pyttipanna are very common to eat within families as it is quick to make and the kids love it. The rest of the dishes are mostly eaten occasionally for festive days or at least not as frequently anymore, but they are still well-known and traditional. 

Some of the most common dishes in Sweden are Tacos (Swedish version), fish sticks, chicken with rice, some meat with potatoes and sauce, lasagne, chili con carne, korv stroganoff, and pasta to mention a few. We also eat a lot of pizza, kebab, Thai- and Chinese food. 

I highly recommend tourists to try some Swedish food while visiting. It is truly unique and delicious. My all-time favorite is Kalops, which is a juicy stew from Southern Sweden (my region).

If you need some suggestions on restaurants serving traditional Swedish food, send me a message, and I will be happy to give some recommendations. 

Other traditional dishes from Sweden

  • Isterband (sausage)
  • Kroppkakor (Swedish version of dumplings)
  • Palt
  • Blodpudding (blood pudding)
  • Räksmörgås (Shrimp sandwich)
  • Våfflor (waffles)
  • Pannkakor (pancakes)
  • Kåldolmar
  • Renskav (reindeer meat)
  • Salmon and potatoes
  • Pannbiff

Swedish cuisine

More reading from Sweden

Which is your favorite Swedish food? Leave a comment below!

spanish food
Spanish Food - 15 Traditional dishes to eat in Spain
← Read Last Post
Facts about the Earth
25 Interesting Facts about the Earth
Read Next Post →


Sunday 29th of August 2021

My dad and grandparents, direct from Sweden, always had lutefisk, which wasn’t ever mentioned in your article, on Christmas Eve. Along with that, we had boiled potatoes with white cream sauce and lefsa. Was always told that was a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve meal.


Tuesday 25th of May 2021

I love your website, so many interesting dishes. I just tried the fermented herring. What a hilarious experience. Got it from If I can come with a suggestion, please write an article about Swedish drinks.

Jon C Ohman

Friday 21st of May 2021

All four of my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in the the late 1800's. My parents and all of the children were practically raised on Palt, the family favorite. Whether for breakfast (fried), lunch or dinner, this simple meal is both filling and delicious. Especially during cold winter months.


Wednesday 28th of August 2019

Hi Alex,

Thanks for your posts that are so rich with info. What’s kind of meat is used in meatballs and Kalops? Am I out of luck if I don’t eat beef?


Alexander Waltner

Wednesday 28th of August 2019

Hello Stephen,

Swedish meatballs are available in pork, chicken, turkey and even vegetarian version. Some luxury meatballs can be made from beef, but the traditional ones are made of pork. Kalops is usually made with beef and I'm not sure if there are some other versions available. I'm from the south of Sweden were that dish comes from and haven't tried any other version, so you might be out of luck with Kalops.


Saturday 22nd of June 2019

Tack! I am in Sweden now for about the 5th time, but have not tried but about half of your recommendations.