What Do Swedish People Eat?

Food transcends borders and is one of the few things that are common to people all over the world.

However, each country has a unique cuisine often dictated by the crops that readily grow there and the animals that inhabit the land.

Swedish people eat lots of fish due to their proximity to open water. Additionally, they enjoy open-faced sandwiches, lingonberry jam, and plenty of coffee.

This article discusses what Swedish citizens eat for each meal and how they prepare their meals.

Also, see What Flavor Are Swedish Fish? to learn more.

Typical Swedish Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal, and Sweden takes that seriously. A typical Swedish breakfast is hearty and includes open-faced sandwiches, boiled eggs, and oatmeal or porridge.

Swedes seldom go out for breakfast, which they call frukost, preferring to enjoy it at home.

Sandwiches And Boiled Eggs Are Common in Swedish Breakfasts 

Breakfast includes open sandwiches called smorgas on crisp bread called knackebrod.

These sandwiches often feature a tubed fish paste called kaviar, made with cod roe fish meat and beloved by Swedes despite being incredibly salty to foreigners. 

However, most Swedish breakfast sandwiches are comprised of buttered bread, topped with hard cheeses, cold cuts, caviar, ham (skinka), tomatoes, cucumbers, and messmor, a sweet spread made of butter and whey. 

Swedes love boiled eggs, cut in half and covered in kaviar. It may seem strange to western sensibilities to top your eggs with more eggs, but the combination is a Swedish favorite, either alone or served on crispy toast.

Swedes Often Drink Porridge and Fermented Milk During Breakfast

Swedes are particularly fond of filmjolk, a fermented milk product akin to buttermilk. Diners often mix filmjolk into their cereal or muesli.

When filmjolk isn’t available, they use yogurt.

Porridge, called grot, is made of oatmeal and the cream of wheat and eaten with milk and jam or cinnamon and sugar, with both options equally popular. Swedes typically top these breakfasts with fruit or berries.

Swedes Typically Wash Down Their Breakfast With Coffee

Swedes wash down their morning nourishment with lots of strong coffee.

They are passionate about coffee and are among the top five coffee-consuming nations worldwide.

However, those who don’t enjoy coffee may partake of a tall glass of milk, tea, or juice. 

Typical Swedish Lunch

Lunch for Swedes is typically a light, mid-day affair. Swedes generally eat lunch between noon and 2 pm. 

Lunch is simple and involves diners enjoying a warm meal accompanied by warm bread, butter, and cheese. They then wash the meal down with a cup of coffee. 

Swedes Have Pea Soup for Lunch on Thursdays

Swedes usually eat pea soup and pancakes for lunch on Thursdays. 

The practice stems back to the Middle Ages and is associated with Friday fasting among the Roman Catholic population.

Pork, which is used to make the soup, was common in Swedish homes, and the stew was hearty enough to sustain believers through the long foodless Friday.

Pancakes usually accompany the soup. Swedes top the carbs with jam and preserves, often strawberry or lingonberry. [1]

Typical Swedish Dinner

The final Swedish meal of the day is called middag. Swedes typically enjoy this repast between five and seven pm when they’re eating at home and between five and nine pm when they’re dining out. 

31 percent of Swedes admit to eating takeout at least once a week.

One in three Swedes enjoys dinner in front of a computer or television screen at least once a week. 

Middag is the largest meal of the day, comprised of a hearty entree and sides. A Swedish survey revealed the country’s five favorite dinner meals to be:

  • Spaghetti bolognese and meat sauce
  • Chicken and sides
  • Pasta dishes
  • Fish
  • Korv, or sausage, stroganoff

Due to Sweden’s geographic location, fish plays a major role in the national cuisine. [2]

Swedish Cuisine Heavily Features Baked Goods and Seafood 

Husmanskot is the name of the traditional Swedish cuisine made with locally-grown ingredients.

There is a subtle difference between the cuisines of northern and southern Sweden based on what readily grows there.

The north eats a lot of reindeer and game meat dishes, while the south includes a bigger presence of fresh vegetables.

Husmanskot often heavily features dairy, berries, stone fruit, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, eggs, seafood, and crisp, soft, sweetened bread. Potatoes are often used as a side dish.

Crispbread, called knacerbrod, is popular with meals.

A Swedish staple for over 500 years, the bread can last for a year when properly stored. But Husmanskot also features other loaves of bread, which are made from:

  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Oat
  • White
  • Dark
  • Sourdough
  • Whole grain

Swedes usually eat their sandwiches as open-faced, layering toppings on just one slice of bread, a practice that dates back to the 1400s.

Shrimp open-faced sandwiches (raksmorgas) are enormously popular: boiled egg slices, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, topped with creme fraiche mixed with dill sprigs and roe (romsas)

The sandwich is so popular in Sweden that it features in a common aphorism, which translates to “glide in on a shrimp sandwich” and means to have it easy.

Sweden’s famed meatballs are usually served with lingonberry jams. The preserves, which are hugely popular and a utility condiment, are not limited to sweet foods and can go on meatballs or pancakes.

Rosehip and blueberry soup, served hot or cold, are beloved menu choices. Also, most Swedish cuisine relies on butter and margarine as a source of fat.

Swedes enjoy a wide variety of pastries, which they usually take with coffee, including: 

  • Yeast buns
  • Cookies
  • Biscuits and cakes

Sweden lacks a wide range of distinctive spices, and its food is often quite bland.

Apples and berries are the most traditional fruit and often factor in mellanmal, snacks enjoyed between meals. 

Seafood is a big part of Swedish cuisine: Norway-farmed salmon is very popular, and inlagd sill, or sweet, pickled herring is a traditional Swedish appetizer.

Surstromming is a fermented Baltic herring that people either love or hate, partially because of its acrid aroma.

Swedes enjoy a traditional dessert called princess cake (prinsesstarta), a confection that constitutes a green cake topped with pink sugar roses.

Other times, it consists of a yellow cake layered with jam and vanilla custard, topped with a healthy dose of whipped cream, and sealed with green marzipan.

The treat debuted in the 1920s when Jenny Akerstrom, who taught Princesses Margaretha, Martha, and Astrid, created it for her charges. [3]

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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