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 (Humarsúpa)

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 »

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. Get the recipe for Cod with Egg and Butter Sauce »
Venison is a great substitute for the traditional reindeer meat in this rustic cranberry-and-pistachio-studded terrine.

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. Spiced Cabbage with Blueberries (Kryddað Rauðkál með Bláberjum) »

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. Get the recipe for Caramel-Glazed Potatoes »

Leaf Bread (Laufabrauð)

Made of a thin, waferlike dough, this crisp flatbread is a holiday tradition in Iceland. Get the recipe for Leaf Bread (Laufabrauð) »
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 »

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.

Chocolate-Cornflake Cookies (Marens-Kornflexkökur)

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