Norwegian Cuisine – Typical Norwegian Dishes and Food

Norwegian cuisine , its food and typical dishes, represent an experience in the flavors, traditions and culture of the country, knowing what to eat in Norway during your trip. Traditional Norwegian recipes include simple dishes, influenced by its climate, geography and history of the Scandinavian area. Among the main ingredients, we will find fish such as its prized salmon , but also meat and dairy products. So let’s discover the best typical dishes and Norwegian foods, thus making your trip to Norway complete and unique!

Norwegian Cuisine

If you’re wondering what Norwegians eat, you’re in the right place. The history of Norway and the cultural influences that have reached this country have created today’s Norwegian cuisine, joining the tradition of Scandinavian cuisine . The history of Norwegian cuisine, its foods and typical dishes are influenced by various factors, including the historical events that occurred here. Furthermore, its geography and climate have also influenced the ingredients used and cooking methods. With its very long coastline and fjords, fishing has always played a fundamental role, while sheep farming developed in the hinterland as early as the Viking era .

Norwegian cuisine is a rich and varied experience, combining traditional flavors with today’s modern influences. Furthermore, its cultural heritage is always reflected towards sustainability in its farms. In addition to salmon, fish include herring and cod. Eaten smoked, marinated or in soup. As for meat , we will find pork, lamb, but also elk and reindeer. Among the most common cooking methods we find seasoning or braising. Dairy products also play a fundamental role in Norwegian cuisine, such as the famous brown cheese: brunost.

So let’s see what to eat in Norway during your trip!

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Read also: History of Norway in Brief – Guide 2024

What to Eat in Norway and Where, Typical Norwegian Dishes

1. Salmon

If we talk about Norwegian food and typical dishes, we can only name its delicious salmon in first place among the things to eat in Norway. Whether raw, in soup or smoked , this fish is at the top of the Norwegian cuisine specialties. In addition to being delicious, salmon farms are famous around the world for their sustainability standards . Along the very long Norwegian coasts, the longest in the world after Canada, there are hundreds of farms with a low density of specimens inside the tanks and many investments are dedicated to the research and development of these structures.

A savory and rich flavor that can be enjoyed in many places and ways in Norway during your trip, such as on Hardangerfjord in Salmon Eye: a picturesque floating structure. This fish has been swimming in the country’s waters for thousands of years and goldfish were widely consumed already by the Vikings . Since the 19th century, fishermen called Salmon Lords have been coming to the Norwegian coast to fish for salmon, contributing to the growth of the local fishing industry. Furthermore, Norwegian salmon has been present in Japanese cuisine since 1980 to create excellent quality sushi .

salmon fillet - traditional norwegian cuisine - norway cuisine
Norwegian salmon fillet

2. Lefse

Traditional Norwegian food, which accompanies many of its typical dishes and which you will often find during every meal to eat in Norway. Lefse are a dish that can be both sweet , as with kling lefser , and savory . A soft and flat bread from the Norwegian tradition that we can compare to our local piadina , present with different names and variations depending on the region throughout the country. This, in fact, is filled according to preference, cooking it first on a cast iron plate, traditionally, or in a non-stick pan.

Among the most classic versions we find the one with butter and cinnamon , delicious in its simplicity. They are also a typical dish that is very popular on farms during the summer. A much loved savory version with these wraps is filled with smoked salmon , of course! Lefsers are inspired by ancient flatbrød , the crunchy traditional flat bread served mostly with seasonal soups and meats, but also with fermented trout.


3. Chop meat

Considered one of the typical national dishes of Norwegian cuisine, Pinnekjøtt cannot be missing from the things to eat during your trip to Norway. A dish based on lamb chops , it is a Norwegian food typical especially of the holidays, especially Christmas . Traditionally paired with mashed potatoes, sausages and potatoes, rutabaga puree and accompanied by Akevitt or beer. To prepare pinnekjøtt, many cooking and preservation methods are used, such as curing, drying and often even smoking to avoid the spread of bacteria in the meat during storage.

In fact, even though nowadays you can buy fresh or frozen lamb everywhere, Norwegians still love to use traditional methods to prepare this typical dish , especially because it makes the flavor of the meat truly unique. The loin is seasoned with coarse salt or in brine, leaving it in the cold to dry. Smoked mainly in the Sunnmøre and Hordaland areas . Before cooking, the ribs are “washed” to remove the brine, and then steamed in a large pot.

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Lamb ribs

4. Lamb’s cabbage

National dish of Norwegian cuisine and truly typical, Fårikål cannot be missing from the things you eat in Norway. Elected national dish in the 70s during a radio program, this Norwegian food is so famous that it even has its annual celebration on the last Thursday of September. The dish is made from mutton , with bones, black pepper, cabbage and wheat flour. The ingredients are cooked for many hours in a saucepan and, according to tradition, it is served accompanied by potatoes in their skins and is considered by Norwegians to be an autumn food . A delicious mutton-based stew among the most loved foods in home cooking.

Today, it is often also prepared with lamb, as its flavor is more delicate, or with ungsau: young sheep. Furthermore, in all supermarkets in autumn you will find the meat for its preparation, called fårikålkjøtt . Often the dish is also accompanied by tyttebær , a cranberry jam, and flatbrød . Akevitt and dark beer cannot always be missing from the table, a must with typical Norwegian meat-based dishes.

Lamb’s cabbage

5. Brown cheese

For Norwegians, a true delicacy of traditional cuisine, brunost, the popular brown cheese . Among the most popular dairy products among Norwegian foods, it is characterized by its brownish color, caused by the caramelization of the sugars inside the milk following boiling. The most famous varieties of this cheese are Gudbrandsdal and fløtemysost . Considered among the most popular and iconic traditional Norwegian foods in the national cuisine, it has also arrived in South Korea, where it is much loved. Its main ingredient is whey and it is a by-product of cheese production, as there is no milk present .

Therefore, it cannot technically be defined as a cheese, even if it is sold and consumed as if it were. Its shape, although hard, does not crumble when cut like hard cheeses. The flavor is sweet, caramelized, but also spicy. To consume it, it is spread on bread and cut with a special tool, combining it with jam. Furthermore, it is also used in many recipes, such as for the preparation of some desserts , such as pancakes, muffins and biscuits, but it is also used in finnbiff : venison stew. Absolutely among the things to eat in Norway to discover an icon of the country’s cuisine.

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Brown cheese

6. Gravel salmon

A typical dish not only of Norway, but widespread throughout the Scandinavian peninsula, Gravlaks is more a preparation of traditional Norwegian cuisine and a much loved food. This term, in fact, indicates the marinade that is done to fish, especially salmon , based on dill, salt and sugar. Following marination, which lasts over 70 hours , the salmon is sliced, accompanied by the typical Scandinavian mustard . One of the ideal places to taste this much loved food among typical Norwegian dishes is certainly the Bergen fish market .

Its flavor is very intense, perfectly highlighting that of the fish. The origin of this marinade can be found historically in the ancient methods of preserving fish, when the Scandinavians invented buried salmon , i.e. gravad lax from which the name derives. In fact, the fish was salted, immersed in spices, placed in a hole and then covered with birch bark. Thus the salmon marinated taking on a very strong flavor and lasting longer. Another ingredient that today cannot be missing from this typical Norwegian dish is certainly dill .

gravlax salmone
Salmone gravlax

7. Raspeball

Similar to our local potato gnocchi , raspeballs are a typical gnocchi of national cuisine based on potatoes. These are grated, combining them with wheat or barley flour and can have different sizes and consistencies. Depending on the area we are in, these dumplings can take different names, such as komle, klubb or potetball. In the Vestlandet area , this typical Norwegian dish, among the things we recommend you eat during this trip, is eaten according to tradition on Thursdays . You can therefore find it this day of the week in all the pubs or restaurants that serve typical cuisine, often with the name Komle-torsdag .

Depending on the region, we can find various types of this typical Norwegian food, served with different condiments. One of the favorite variations of this dish is simple, just with crispy bacon and sauce, but it can also be served as a side dish with lamb or shank. However you prefer to serve it, the fundamental ingredient of this dish is potatoes, introduced into Norway in 1750 and which immediately became a fundamental ingredient of Norwegian cuisine. Finally, depending on the size, they can also look like dumplings .

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8. Lutefish

A typical dish not only from Norway, but also widespread under different names throughout the Scandinavian peninsula, which arrived in the USA thanks to the immigration of the Nordic peoples, Lutefisk is an unmissable dish of Norwegian cuisine. But what is it? Absolutely among the things to eat during your trip to Norway, it has been a pillar of home cooking for many years. Composed of cod or stockfish marinated in lut , that is, lye: the water in which the ash is boiled. Before cooking, the fish is washed carefully, as this marinade gives it a very pungent smell and a gelatinous consistency . The basic ingredient of lutefisk is salted and dried fish with fatty, white flesh and is left to marinate for up to 1 week.

During this process with cold water and lye , the fish increases in volume and loses proteins and fats, taking on its gelatinous appearance. To make it edible, it must remain after marinating for another 6 days in cold water, changing every day. The true birth of this typical Norwegian dish and its preparation is unknown, but it appears for the first time in a 1555 work by Olao Magno. Today, this dish is especially typical of the Christmas holidays and the term lutefisklag indicates eating lutefisk in company.

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9. Raisin balls

Let’s move on to the sweet side of Norwegian cuisine to find out what to eat in Norway if we love sweets! Soft sweet rolls also called boiler, Norwegians love this food very much and we can find it during our trip practically everywhere and at any time of the day, from petrol stations to pastry shops. One of the most popular places in Norway to enjoy rosinboller is located in the Gudbrandsdalen valley , and is the famous Lom Bakery. Furthermore, their simple preparation also makes it a popular Norwegian food cooked at home, to which chocolate, berries, raisins and much more are added, making them truly perfect for any preference.

As with croissants in France, boilers are unmissable in Norway for breakfast, during a coffee break, for a snack during a mountain hike and at any time. This milk-based bun is slightly sweet and contains a pinch of cardamom in the dough . We can often find them on sale with raisins , but there are really many versions. Its special feature, however, is its incredible softness thanks also to the starch added during cooking, which also makes it very light. A special version of this Norwegian sweet food is prepared to celebrate the return of the Sun with Solboller, a version with custard and icing.

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Raisin balls

10. Sour cream porridge

What do you eat for breakfast in Norway? Among the typical Norwegian dishes that are a must for a truly typical breakfast, you cannot miss Rømmegrøt, or rjomegraut: the typical Norwegian porridge . This is made with whole milk, sour cream, butter, salt and wheat flour. The word Rømme , in fact, means sour and grøt porridge . Not just for breakfast but this typical Norwegian dish is prepared above all for parties and special occasions, finding it in many variations depending on the region. With a very dense consistency and a sweet flavour , sugar and cinnamon powder are often added, as well as butter to make it even richer, serving it in cups and garnished with cream.

Among the little ones this Norway food is also popular thanks to the children’s book What’s in Rømmegrøt? which tells of a grandmother who prepares dessert for her granddaughter. In western areas, semolina is also added , making it more similar to a semolina, and there are also variations with raisins . Furthermore, it is traditionally served during weddings, baptisms and even funerals. We can find it accompanied by focaccia, cured meats, eggs and smoked trout

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Sour cream porridge

Visit Norway along the Ways of Taste

Gone are our tips on cuisine and typical Norwegian dishes, with the foods you absolutely must try during your trip. Furthermore, one thing that cannot be missing among the things to eat in Norway is the kaffebord : a rich buffet with sweets and snacks accompanied by coffee, an excellent snack. Furthermore, the Norwegian breakfast is perfect for starting the day with the right energy with smoked salmon, brown bread and various cheeses. For a snack, don’t miss a tasty Kanelboller , a brioches with cinnamon and butter, and the raspberry cream: the Multekrem . Finally, to accompany every important meal, as for the holidays, a glass of Akervitt cannot be missing ; which is also an excellent digestive.

If our article What to Eat in Norway has awakened your appetite, it is the perfect time to think about a trip to Norway. A fantastic experience among wonderful landscapes, culture and taste is waiting for you.

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Read also: NORWAY What to See and Do – Guide 2024

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