If you’ve never been to Norway – or any of the Scandinavian countries for that matter – then you’re missing out on a whole spectrum of fantastic foods that you won’t typically come in contact with in America. When you visit, it’s a great opportunity to tuck into some traditional Norwegian dishes.
We are always discovering new foods when we visit Norway. There are so many delicious dishes utilizing the ingredients that can readily be found in the country. With such a varied landscape, the array of choices are vast and oftentimes unique to the area, meaning you won’t really find it anywhere else.
In this article, we will share with you 25 Norwegian dishes that you should definitely try when visiting this beautiful country.
If you’re looking for a great itinerary in Norway, we definitely recommend the typical Norway in a Nutshell tour that was designed to take tourists to the major sights in the country, from Bergen to Oslo. You can book the trip as a whole or plan your own version, which is slightly cheaper but requires quite a bit of planning on your part.
» Visiting other Scandinavian countries on this trip? Check out our guide to food in Sweden and food in Finland as well. Here’s our travel guide to Stockholm, one of our favorite places to visit.
What Do They Eat in Norway?
I’ll just give you a quick overview of what types of food you can expect to find in Norway, before we go into all of the separate dishes you might find.
Because Norway is almost completely surrounded by ocean, you can bet that one of the major foods eaten there is seafood. You’ll find some of the freshest seafood possible, especially at places like the Bergen waterfront, where the fish is practically hauled right up the to the stands where they’re cooking it.
Seafood stews and soups, plus freshly grilled lobster, shrimp and langoustines can be found everywhere. You’ll also find the freshest sashimi and raw fish.
Aside from fish, you can also expect to find quite a bit of wild game in Norway, like grouse, reindeer, moose, and deer. Lamb is also a big part of many traditional Norwegian dishes.
The best thing about Norwegian cooking is that many things are farm to table and the ingredients used are super fresh and locally sourced. Even the cheeses and fruits are coming from farms and dairies throughout the country.
Top Norwegian Foods to Try
Bidos is a popular form of Norwegian stew cooked with reindeer meat – including the heart – that is a favorite amongst the Sámi people.
It is generally eaten at important occasions, such as weddings, and is slow cooked alongside additional components such as veggies and seasoning.
Brunost is unquestionably one of the most well-known dishes in Norwegian culinary culture.
The Norwegian name for this is ‘mysost’, a variety of Scandinavian brown cheeses recognized for their distinctive color and fudgey constancy.
Despite the fact that this is not a legitimate type of cheese (it is actually made of whey), the Norwegian word ‘brunost’ literally translates to ‘brown cheese’.
Cloudberries are sweet, golden berries that are fairly rare, usually grown in areas of Norway, Finland, and Sweden. They grow in cloud-shaped clusters, which is why they are given this name.
Despite their small size, these berries possess up to four times the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges, as well as a significant amount of Vitamin A and E.
Eplapai is, essentially, a Norwegian type of apple pie, although this dessert resembles a cake more than a pie.
Instead of being a pie filled with apples, the batter is typically mixed with apple slices, so the apple becomes part of the cake instead of forming a filling. It is typically served warm with a side of cream or ice cream.
Fårikål is considered by many to be the national dish of Norway, and is extremely popular amongst its citizens.
Largely popular during the colder months of the year, this dish is a simple casserole cooked with vegetables, potatoes, and meat, typically mutton or lamb. It is usually served on a Sunday amongst families, or large groups of people.
This delicious Norwegian stew, made from reindeer meat, is best served during the colder months of the year, alongside some veggies and mashed potatoes as side dishes.
Finnbiff is mainly popular in Norway’s northwestern regions, but is also largely consumed throughout Sweden’s and Finland’s Sápmi regions.
Fiskeboller is the Norwegian term for fish balls, and is a dietary staple that can be discovered in practically every family home in this country.
The texture of Norwegian fish balls is described as being velvety, and the flavor is somewhat bland. Fiskeboller is commonly accessible in cans in Norwegian markets, but the finest ones are prepared handmade.
The smooth Norwegian broth composed with fish, shellfish, vegetables, and fresh herbs is known as fiskesuppe.
Fiskesuppe is served in a variety of ways around Norway, but, like many western soups, it’s usually served as a starter alongside some warm, crusty bread.
Julekake is a form of bread that is usually served as a dessert throughout the holiday season.
Typically served with a side of jam and butter, it is usually filled with dried fruit and spices, and can be served throughout the year with a cup of coffee.
10. Kjøttboller / Kjøttkaker
The traditional form of Norwegian meatballs is referred to as kjøttboller or kjttkaker. They are quite similar to the well-known Swedish meatballs, with the exception that Norwegian meatballs are much larger than Swedish meatballs.
The difference between the two are that kjøttboller are round-shaped like traditional meatballs, whereas kjøttkaker are flatter and more oblong, similar to hamburgers.
Kransekake is a classic Norwegian dessert made consisting of layers of ring-shaped cakes arranged in a tall, cone-like structure.
Despite their soft and chewy consistency when eaten, they feel quite firm to the touch. They’re usually eaten at weddings, baptisms, and other special occasions in Norway.
Krumkake is a popular form of dessert in Norway. It is, essentially, a cone made from a thin waffle/cookie combination.
It is rolled into a cone-shape while it is still hot, and then filled with sweet ingredients such as sugared fruit – typically cloudberries (see number 3 in this list) – and/or whipped cream. This dessert is very popular around Christmas time.
Lapskaus is a hearty, satisfying Norwegian stew typically cooked combining leftover meat, veggies, and potatoes, and is served with some flatbread.
This dish is usually made with lamb or beef, but other types of meat can be substituted.
Lefse is a typical Norwegian soft flatbread that resembles a tortilla, and is a staple dish in Norway. It is somewhat similar to a pancake, except slightly thicker.
This flatbread, or flatbrød, is typically manufactured using flour as the primary ingredient, but it can also be made with potatoes.
Lefse can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, either filled with sweet to be served as a dessert, or filled with savory fillings. Or it can simply be eaten on its own.
Not only is lutefisk a typical Norwegian meal, but it’s also popular in portions of Sweden and Finland. This is a gelatinous fish delicacy produced from tørrfisk (see number 23 on this list) pickled in lye.
Lutefisk is frequently served in Norway with boiling potatoes, mushy peas, and fried bacon bits. Most Norwegians have a love-hate connection with this meal because of its slimy consistency.
Pinnekjøtt is a typical Norwegian cuisine consisting of cooked lamb ribs, creamed rutabaga, and boiled potatoes, often consumed alongside akevitt – a form of distilled spirit – and beer.
This delicacy is traditionally offered around the holidays, but it may be eaten at any time of the year.
Pinnekjøtt is inherently connected with Norway’s western areas, although, in recent years, it has become more popular throughout the entire country.
Rømmegrøt is a sweet, creamy, traditional Norwegian sour cream porridge. The word ‘rømmegrøt’ actually means ‘sour cream porridge,’ as ‘rømme’ translates into ‘sour cream’ in English, and ‘grøt’ translates to ‘porridge.
This creamy Norwegian dish typically served with savory accompaniments, such as cured meat, or it can be eaten as a snack served with milk and crackers.
Rosettbakkels are a sweet, crisp type of cookie that are baked into small, decorative forms. They are typically drizzled with honey, or sprinkled with sugar, after they have been baked.
While they can be eaten all year round, they are particularly popular around Christmas time due to their snowflake/star shapes.
Sandbakelse is a form of Christmas cookies, popularly served in Norway during the winter months.
The dessert roughly translates to ‘sand cookies’ in English, due to the crumbly, sand-like texture of the cookie dough. They are usually filled with sweet fillings, such as cream and/or jam.
Skolebrød is another Norwegian dessert, consisting of a sweet, light roll topped with shaved coconut pieces, and filled with a custard-like filling.
These rolls can be served alone, or they can be filled and topped with dried fruit, jam, or chocolate.
21. Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon has become one of Norway’s most well-known delicacies, and is highly popular in many countries throughout the world.
This type of fish is among Norway’s most important exports, as well as being, perhaps, the most significant Scandinavian addition to regional food.
Norwegian salmon has the highest nutritional content of any other salmon on the planet, making it ideal for smoking.
Sursild is the term applied to a classic Norwegian fermented herring dish.
Salted herring slices, onions, and a variety of spices (black peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, etc) are stored in a container with a fermenting fluid composed of water, vinegar, and sugar to create sursild.
This Norwegian pickled herring is a year-round meal in Norway, although it is typically served around the festive season.
23. Tørrfisk fra Lofoten
Norwegian stock fish produced from air-dried cod fish is known, in Norway, as tørrfisk.
Atlantic cod is left to dry outdoors on wooden shelves (hjell) for 3 months before curing indoors for another couple of months to make this food item.
This item is usually enjoyed as a snack in Norway, or it is utilized in Norwegian cuisine such as lutefisk (see number 15 in this list).
Vafler is a type of food that is very similar to the American waffle, except they have a softer consistency, and are slightly thinner.
They are typically served as a dessert, along with toppings such as jam, berries, cream, and/or a simple sprinkling of sugar.
25. Whale Steak
Lastly, this is perhaps the most unusual dish on this list. Whale steak is a delicacy served in Norway, and it is, obviously, made from whale meat.
Although whale meat is not consumed as often in Norway these days, it still remained a popular source of food throughout many regions of the country. It is said to taste similar to reindeer meat, or moose meat.
Even if some of these dishes seem unusual to you – e.g., the ones that use reindeer and whale meat – there is a reason that they are so popular throughout Norway, and even other parts of the world.
We truly recommend that you try each of these dishes. Who knows? You may find your new favorite dish in our list.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.
2 thoughts on “25 Traditional Norwegian Dishes You Must Try”
Wonderful post with relevant recipes. As a native Norwegian this is a list I will keep to share with others! However, you should change the info in the Rømmegrøt list as grøt does not translate to oatmeal. Grøt actually translates to porridge, while oatmeal is havregrøt. Rømmegrøt has no oats in it at all.
Thanks for letting me know. I wasn’t aware of that slight difference.