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.

Danish Salted Cucumber Salad

Salted Cucumber Salad
As is true in much of northern Europe, pickles are very traditional in Danish cooking. "In many classic dishes, cucumbers are thinly sliced and pickled in a sweet-sour brine, then served as a side to fried meats like chicken," says Copenhagen chef Niclas Grønhøj Møller. Instead of using a brine to season his cucumbers, he salts them heavily and squeezes them with lemon, giving them a pickly saltiness and slight acidity. Get the recipe for Danish Salted Cucumber Salad »Chris Tonnesen

Pan-Seared white Fish with Mussels, Cabbage Shoots, and Cream

Pan-Seared white Fish  with Mussels, Cabbage  Shoots, and Cream
Danes have always loved white fish like pike and perch, which are abundant locally and are often simply breaded and fried. They're now warming up to their coastal bounty of mussels, which are increasing in popularity on menus, according to Møller. This preparation incorporates the best of old and new, with a lightly briny and delicately foamy cream sauce, crispy seared fish, and robust cabbage shoots (another local favorite) infused with the fresh juice of the mussels. Get the recipe for Pan-Seared white Fish with Mussels, Cabbage Shoots, and Cream »Chris Tonnesen

Danish Rye Bread

Danish Rye Bread
Sour Danish rugbrød is just barely leavened, dense in flavor as well as texture, and full of crunchy seeds and grains. Get the recipe for Danish Rye Bread »Matt Taylor-Gross

Finnish Twice-Cooked Pork Belly with Pickled Mushrooms and Leeks

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 »Kyle Johnson

Danish Rye Bread Porridge (Øllebrød)

ollebrod
In Denmark, the regional rye bread, called rugbrød, is debatably sacred. Many bakeries stock upwards of five or six varieties of the nutty, rich, nutritious loaves. And when crumbs fall off while slicing it for smørrebrød, they're not tossed. They're saved (and soaked in beer) for this tangy, earthy breakfast treat. Get the recipe for Danish Rye Bread Porridge (Øllebrød) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Finnish Creamed Spinach With Crumbled Egg Yolks

Finnish Creamed Spinach With Crumbled Egg Yolks
The author's creamed spinach is an ultra-fine, silky version of this traditional staple, puréed with parsley leaves for a vivid green color and vermouth for a pop of acidity. For the brightest green color, cool the spinach mixture down fully before puréeing, then reheat. You can eat this dish by the spoonful or use it as a sort of sauce through which to drag meat and vegetables on the plate. Get the recipe for Finnish Creamed Spinach With Crumbled Egg Yolks »Kyle Johnson

Danish Seeded Pastry Twists (Frøsnappers)

Danish Seeded Pastry Twists (Frøsnappers)
A quick, buttery, sesame- and poppy-seedy snack from Denmark. Chef Claus Meyers of Meyers Bageri makes his traditional frøsnappere using a yeasted, laminated danish dough. Our quick version substitutes packaged puff pastry for a lightly sweetened twist that you can have ready in under an hour. Get the recipe for Danish Seeded Pastry Twists (Frøsnappers) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Pickled Herring, Orange, and Crème Fraiche Smorrebrod

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

Pumpkin Soup with Orange and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pumpkin Soup with Orange and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Caramelized roasted pumpkin gets an unorthodox hit of flavor from orange zest and juice, stirred in just before serving to brighten this wintry soup. Get the recipe for Pumpkin Soup with Orange and Parmigiano-Reggiano »Anders Schonnemann

Honey-and-Butter-Baked Pears with Cold Cream

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 »Anders Schonnemann

Pike-perch with Creamed Mushrooms and Horseradish Butter

Sweden, recipe, Magnus Nilsson, pike-perch, creamed mushrooms, 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 »Magnus Nilsson

Celery Root, Carrot, and Potato Gratin

Celery Root, Carrot, and Potato Gratin
This simple, comforting root vegetable gratin is perfumed with fragrant thyme and bay leaves before being baked with a bubbly Gruyère crust. Get the recipe for Celery Root, Carrot, and Potato Gratin »Anders Schonnemann

Fried Herring in Pickling Liquor

Sweden, recipe, Magnus Nilsson, fried pickled herring, 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 »Magnus Nilsson

Swedish "Gooey" Chocolate Cake (Kladdkaka)

Sweden, recipe, Magnus Nilsson, gooey chocolate cake
Chef Magnus Nilsson's wife likes to serve this beloved Swedish cake, similar to a fudgy American brownie, chilled, but it's just as good piping hot from the pan with a scoop of ice cream. Melting the butter in this recipe first and then stirring it with the other ingredients helps ensure that as little air as possible gets incorporated into the batter. The result: a gooey, more moist cake. Get the recipe for Swedish "Gooey" Chocolate Cake (Kladdkaka) »Magnus Nilsson

Skyr (Icelandic Yogurt Cheese) With Parsley and Dill

Sweden, recipe, Magnus Nilsson, skyr, cheese, parsley, dill
While you can buy skyr, Icelandic fresh cheese similar in texture to yogurt, you can control its taste, quality, and texture if you make it at home. As with homemade yogurt, you'll need to buy a small amount to get started. Get the recipe for Skyr (Icelandic Yogurt Cheese) With Parsley and Dill »Magnus Nilsson

Danish Dream Cake (Drømmekage)

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. Get the recipe for Danish Dream Cake (Drømmekage) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Icelandic Langoustine Soup

Icelandic 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. Get the recipe for Icelandic Langoustine Soup »Ingalls Photography

Leaf Bread (Laufabrauð)

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

Almond Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries and Mint

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 »Farideh Sadeghin

Rice Pudding with Raspberry Coulis

Rice Pudding with Raspberries
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 »Matt Taylor-Gross

Fiskekrogen's Fish Soup

fish soup
Fiskesuppe, as it's called in Norwegian, can be found at nearly every restaurant on the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway. Local cooks sometimes swap out cod for other seasonal fish, such as salmon, or add accents like red pepper, chunks of bacon, or chive oil. Get the recipe for Fiskekrogen's Fish Soup »Michelle Heimerman

Cod with Potatoes and Sundried Tomato Pesto

cod potatoes
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 »Michelle Heimerman

Roast Pork Loin with Salted Caramel Potatoes

Roast Pork Loin with Salted Caramel Potatoes
Tart red currant jelly compliments the buttery-rich sweetness of these show-stopping potatoes and delectable holiday pork roast. Get the recipe for Roast Pork Loin with Salted Caramel Potatoes »Anders Schonnemann

Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad

Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad
Sweetly acidic green grapes off-set the funk of creamy Danish blue cheese in this seasonal salad tossed together with a creamy cider vinegar–walnut dressing. Get the recipe for Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad »Anders Schonnemann

Creamed Eggs and Smoked Eel with Chives

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 »Anders Schonnemann

Wiener Schnitzel

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 »Anders Schonnemann

Vanilla Wreath Cookies

Vanilla Wreath Cookies
This buttery, vanilla-bean-flecked cookie batter is scraped into a piping bag and can be formed into wreaths, bows, or any shape your holiday heart desires. Get the recipe for Vanilla Wreath Cookies »Anders Schonnemann

Almond Sugar 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 »Anders Schonnemann

Cinnamon 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 »Anders Schonnemann