The Best Scandinavian Recipes, from Traditional to New-School

How chefs and home cooks are preserving and reinterpreting the cuisines of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden

From cured salmon to saffron-tinged sweets to Swedish meatballs, the cuisine of today’s Scandinavia tells the story of how some of the world’s most forward-thinking chefs are interpreting the Northern European landscape around them (and bringing those ingredients elsewhere). Scandinavian cuisine represents the perfect mix of preserving traditions—Finnish crawfish boils anyone?—with looking to the future with sustainable growing practices and a culture of mainstreaming meat-free options. We’ve rounded up our favorite Scandinavian recipes highlight the food of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.

Salted Cucumber Salad

Get the recipe for Salted Cucumber Salad »
Get the recipe for Pan-Seared white Fish with Mussels, Cabbage Shoots, and Cream »
Danish Rye Bread

Finnish Twice-Cooked Pork Belly with Pickled Mushrooms and Leeks

A roast of fresh pork belly is common fare both in Finland and in the American Midwest. The author slow-roasts the belly, then slices and sears it, crisping the meat in its own renderings. “Fresh dill in the pickled vegetable side dish is my own addition,” she says. “Traditionally, they might use dry dill instead of fresh in the winter in Finland.” Get the recipe for Finnish Twice-Cooked Pork Belly with Pickled Mushrooms and Leeks »
Get the recipe for Finnish Creamed Spinach With Crumbled Egg Yolks »
Get the recipe for frøsnappers

Pickled Herring, Orange, and Crème Fraiche Smorrebrod

An open-face sandwich with two Scandinavian classics: pickled herring and tangy dairy. Get the recipe for Pickled Herring, Orange, and Crème Fraiche Smorrebrod »

Pumpkin Soup with Orange and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pumpkin Soup with Orange and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Honey-and-Butter-Baked Pears with Cold Cream

These sticky, caramelized pears get served warm with a glug of fresh chilled cream for a richly-flavored variation on poached pears. Get the recipe for Honey-and-Butter-Baked Pears with Cold Cream »

Pike-perch with Creamed Mushrooms and Horseradish Butter

In Sweden, chef Magnus Nilsson of Fäviken uses pike-perch, a distinct fish that’s neither pike nor perch but is similar in size and taste to American walleye. If you can’t find either, red snapper or any firm, white-flesh fish with moderately sized fillets will work. Get the recipe for Pike-perch with Creamed Mushrooms and Horseradish Butter »

Celery Root, Carrot, and Potato Gratin

Celery Root, Carrot, and Potato Gratin

Fried Herring in Pickling Liquor

The herring in this recipe from chef Magnus Nilsson of Fäviken are “floundered,” a traditional Scandinavian preparation in which the herring sides are removed from the carcass but left attached by the skin over the backbone, forming one large fillet. Ask your fish monger to do this for you, or buy individual fillets and tie two together with kitchen twine for each “floundered” fillet. Get the recipe for Fried Herring in Pickling Liquor »

Swedish “Gooey” Chocolate Cake (Kladdkaka)

Swedish “Gooey” Chocolate Cake

Skyr (Icelandic Yogurt Cheese) With Parsley and Dill

Icelandic Skyr

Danish Dream Cake (Drømmekage)

This delightfully basic white sponge cake, encrusted with a coconut and brown sugar topping, is a dream to make and eat.

Icelandic Langoustine Soup

Icelandic Langoustine Soup

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) »

Almond Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries and Mint

Ground almonds add body and flavor to this creamy Swedish cheesecake, topped with clouds of whipped cream and ripe strawberries macerated with fresh mint. Get the recipe for Almond Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries and Mint »

Rice Pudding with Raspberry Coulis

Lighter than most rice puddings, and not as sweet, this Swedish specialty is eaten both as a dessert and as a breakfast food. Short-grain rice, such as arborio, is essential for creating a deliciously creamy consistency. Get the recipe for Rice Pudding with Raspberry Coulis »

Fiskekrogen’s Fish Soup

Fiskekrogen’s Fish Soup

Cod with Potatoes and Sundried Tomato Pesto

In Norway, most cod-based dishes are served with fresh fillets during the fishing season and stockfish (dried cod) or boknafish (semidried cod) the remainder of the year. If you can find stockfish, follow the package directions to reconstitute and allow for several days of soak time. Adjust the amount of parmesan based on the saltiness of the fish you choose. Get the recipe for Cod with Potatoes and Sundried Tomato Pesto »

Roast Pork Loin with Salted Caramel Potatoes

Roast Pork Loin with Salted Caramel Potatoes

Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad

Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad

Creamed Eggs and Smoked Eel with Chives

Creamy, slow-cooked scrambled eggs make a simple but luxurious starter or breakfast during the holidays. Get the recipe for Creamed Eggs and Smoked Eel with Chives »

Wiener Schnitzel

Battered and fried veal cutlets—scattered with horseradish, capers and lemon juice—is the perfect breakfast cure after a night of holiday revelry. Get the recipe for Wiener Schnitzel »

Vanilla Wreath Cookies

Vanilla Wreath Cookies

Almond Sugar Cookies

These glittering almond squares make a fantastic Christmas cookie on their own, but sandwiched with raspberry jam, they’re even better. Get the recipe for Almond Sugar Cookies »

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

This perfect combination of snickerdoodle and sugar cookie is warmly spiced—just the thing to have with a cup of tea, by a roaring fire. Get the recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Cookies »