10 Recipes for an Iceland-Inspired Christmas

When Þorláksmessa rolls around on December 23, a holiday which honors Iceland's patron saint Saint Thorlak, friends and family celebrate the end of the Christmas fast with everything from caramel-glazed potatoes to creamy langoustine soup. These recipes first appeared in our December 2014 issue with the story Northern Lights.

Creamy Langoustine Soup (Humarsúpa)

Creamy langoustine soup
Similar to an American lobster bisque, the broth for this warming Icelandic soup is reinforced with langoustine shells and reduced before being bolstered with cream and curry powder.Ingalls Photography
Icelandic christmas grouse with berry sauce

Christmas Grouse with Berry Sauce (Jólarjúpa með Berjasósu)

Icelandic home cook Þorgerður Gunnarsdóttir serves ptarmigan, or wild grouse, with a sweet-tart sauce made with thyme and bilberries. Here, we substitute blueberries, a slightly sweeter cousin of bilberries. See the recipe for Christmas Grouse with Berry Sauce »Ingalls Photography
Icelandic cod with egg and butter sauce

Cod with Egg and Butter Sauce (Þorskur með Eggja og Smjörsósu)

Icelandic home cook Kjartan Ólafsson serves this baked cod dish drizzled with a luscious sauce of butter and chopped hard-boiled eggs at Þorláksmessa, Saint Thorlak’s mass on December 23. See the recipe for Cod with Egg and Butter Sauce »Ingalls Photography
Venison Terrine (Dádýrakæfa)

Venison Terrine (Dádýrakæfa)

Venison is a great substitute for the traditional reindeer meat in this rustic cranberry-and-pistachio-studded terrine.Ingalls Photography
Spiced Cabbage with Blueberries (Kryddað Rauðkál með Bláberjum)

Spiced Cabbage with Blueberries (Kryddað Rauðkál með Bláberjum)

Cookbook author Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir braises ruby red cabbage with warm spices, fruit, and jam for this festive, sweet-tart side dish that rounds out an Icelandic Christmas menu.Ingalls Photography
Icelandic caramel glazed potatoes

Caramel-Glazed Potatoes (Brúnaðar Kartöflur)

A classic Christmastime side dish in Iceland, these butter-and-sugar-glazed potatoes are ubiquitous on many Icelandic holiday tables. Any small, waxy potato will do. See the recipe for Caramel-Glazed Potatoes »Ingalls Photography
Icelandic leaf bread

Leaf Bread (Laufabrauð)

Made of a thin, waferlike dough, this crisp flatbread is a holiday tradition in Iceland. See the recipe for Leaf Bread »Ingalls Photography
Icelandic dark rye bread

Icelandic Dark Rye Bread (Dökkt Rúgbrauð)

Slow baking gives this loaf, from Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir's Icelandic Food and Cookery (Iðunn, 2014), its dense crumb and deep color. See the recipe for Icelandic Dark Rye Bread »Ingalls Photography
Icelandic shortbread and prune jam layer cake

Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake (Vínarterta)

This special-occasion cake features layers of cardamom-scented shortbread baked until golden and lightly crisp, sandwiching homemade prune filling under a thin coffee glaze.Ingalls Photography
Icelandic chocolate cornflake cookies

Chocolate-Cornflake Cookies (Marens-Kornflexkökur)

Cornflakes bring a pleasing crunch to these fluffy, chewy chocolate meringues.Ingalls Photography