Swedish Food

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Bring Sweden to your kitchen with our Swedish Recipes!

Eating in Sweden

Renkott appetizerSwedes love to eat, which is most apparent by the Swedish “fika“, which has many translations. I’ve seen it commonly translated as “coffee break” but I don’t think this does it justice as experiences in Norrland show that the “fika” really revolves around having a snack. So I tend to translate it as “snack time”!

Their food consists of a good deal of bread and meats, some dairy, and jams, cakes, and godis are big at any time of the day. Because of the “fika”, Swedes tend to eat smaller meals multiple times during the day instead of two or three large meals. Which isn’t a bad thing, because Swedish food is yummy! I could eat it twelve times a day. Ok, maybe not that much 🙂

Nourishment isn’t exactly cheap, but as an American authoring this site, what did you expect me to say — that I snap up edibles in Sweden for the equivalent of pennies on the dollar? I wish.

Restaurants in Sweden

Ristorante Pacanini, Väster Långgatan 75

Eating out in Sweden can be expensive, however, if you’re from Paris, New York, or San Francisco, the price is not likely to give you sticker shock.

Because of the cost to hire an employee, and Sweden actually pays everyone a living wage, there is far fewer wait staff than I’m accustomed to.  Sometimes this feels like you wait an eternity to get service.  However, it does teach you to enjoy yourself, your company and take your time.

During the working week, a lot of restaurants will have meal specials.  Most of these are in the form of a buffet, which Swedes love (who doesn’t love a good buffet?)  If you are in Stockholm during the week, try to catch a lunch buffet for around 10 or 11 SEK.

Swedish Fast Food: Max vs. McDonald’s

MaxThe Swedish equivalent of McDonald’s is Max and is relatively affordable at the equivalent of $2-$2.50 USD for a hamburger. Max is very well-liked and patronized regularly by the Swedes. Personally, I greatly prefer Max to McDonald’s and other fast food establishments in the United States. In fact, there was a McDonald’s in downtown Skellefteå but it closed. Go, Max!

I haven’t found my favorite pizza place in Sweden.  It is never cooked the way I like it.

However, I for some reason, I absolutely love Swedish pizza rolled up with some ranch-like sauce.  Then it is no longer a pizza, but a wrap/roll. And oh so good!

Supermarket Shopping

Like the rest of Europe, when shopping for food, you have to bring your own reusable shopping bags or otherwise pay to buy a plastic bag. Contrary to what I’ve heard, I find a fabulous selection of foods available at our local grocery store, ICA (pronounced eek-a).

I am able to find peanut butter, fluff, and marshmallows, surprisingly. Sometimes our small local store may not have all our needs, but a large ICA isn’t far away, and if we feel like fighting the crowds then the big ICA we go to.

ICA, Swedish grocery store in Skelleftea.
Swedish grocery store in Skellefteå.

I find myself having to check expiration dates far more frequently, however. On one occasion I purchased chicken that had expired two days ago and had to take it back to the store, despite attempting to cook with it and failing. It stunk.

Fortunately, I was able to return it without hassle.

Fruits and vegetables are primarily imported, and many are not found fresh on store shelves. Many people complain about it, particularly visitors.

Sweden Food
Bakery cases at ICA in Skellefteå.

Their food generally has fewer preservatives, so you don’t hear me whining about bad and expired food (until I end up purchasing it, that is…).

Traditional Swedish Food

Swedish Meatballs – Swedish meatballs are a classic dish.  They can be served with or without gravy, and usually includes baked or boiled potatoes on the side, along with some lingonberry jam.  We have a Swedish meatball receipt to make it at home.

Potatoe Pancake with Bacon – This is a great snack or main meal, and is super delicious. As you can see, meat and potatoes is a theme in Swedish food. Get the recipe here.

Waffles and Pancakes – These are some of my favorite recipes.  Swedes love waffles and pancakes (which are more like crepes.  In the summer, they even have a day dedicated to Waffles!  Swedish waffles are heart-shaped (not square) and are usually served with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Yummy!  We have recipes for both Swedish pancakes and waffles.

Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar) – These you can see in almost any Swedish bakery and are perfect for a quick fika. Make your own Kannelbullar here.

Surströmming: Better Than Sushi

Fish is one of my favorite things to eat in Sweden. Whitefish served with a Swedish flatbread is rather tasty, and is a popular fika in Sweden.

Equally delightful to consume is surströmming, a rotting fish that tastes far better than can be described in words. Sadly, many are taking issue with this fine delicacy. The scent and flavor of surströmming is not only distinctly Swedish but is as pleasurable as watching the sunset over Stockholm. Lutefisk is also a traditional Swedish fish, not to be confused with candy.

“Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm.”

–Garrison Keillor

Swedish Dessert – Let Them Eat Cake

Princess cake is a favorite dessert of the Swedes. It is light and fluffy, with a cream and usually fruit filling. There is also a marzipan shell over the entire cake, and it tastes fantastic. The marzipan shell is typically green or yellow in color. Some authentic recipes shall be forthcoming.

Finished semlaSemlor is a traditional dessert – well, all day meal, that is served for Fattisdag (Fat Tuesday). It is a very sweet roll, filled with marzipan, topped with whipped cream, more sugar, and then some even pour milk over that.  Oh yes.  You can make your own semlor with this recipe.

Oh, and we can’t forget the amazing cinnamon buns that Sweden eats for breakfast, a fika, desert. Really, anytime. Kanelbullar. And we have a recipe for these awesome Swedish cinnamon buns as well.

In the summer, you are very likely to find strawberry cakes (or any berry cakes). This is because berry picking is a Swedish pastime in the summer.

Strawberries on desert

Buying Swedish Food Online

If you are overseas, a lot of Swedish food can’t be found easily in the local supermarkets. Luckily, we do have a list of great Swedish recipes which you can make yourself. A lot of the ingredients are very easy to find locally. You can also find some Swedish specialties easily online. Check out this great blog post about buying Swedish food online.

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