Foods You Need to Try While In Stockholm

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Stockholm isn’t exactly the kind of place that you instantly associate great cuisine with. However, one of the great things about visiting Sweden’s largest city is the fact that it offers a wide array of dining options, and above all, it is where you can get all kinds of traditional Swedish food. If you want to experience a foreign city’s culture, there’s often no better way to start than by exploring its dining menu. And so, here are several foods you should definitely try while visiting Stockholm. They are in no particular order.

Herring

This is not just a Stockholm food, but it is a very national, very Swedish food. So if you’ve never had herring before, Stockholm is certainly the place to try it! Herring is a type of fish that moves in large schools near coasts and fishing banks (and much of Sweden borders the Baltic Sea and North Sea, so go figure). A commonly seen form of it is “Surströmming”, originating in the northern part of the country. This is basically just fermented Baltic herring sold in a can, but it is often combined with variations of potatoes, onions, and other condiments. Also popular around Stockholm is pickled herring. Be aware though that many believe the Swedish forms of herring to be an acquired taste.

Prinskorv

These are small Swedish sausages sold in the traditional links they are made in, and they are delicious. You’ll typically see prinskorv Stockholm fried up and served with mustard, very often in hot dog style.

Reindeer

Not necessarily the best thing to try if you have young children with you (they may feel as though they are offending Santa), but seriously, how many other places in the world have reindeer on the menu? Some places in Stockholm will even offer reindeer in the form of burgers. Yum.

Swedish pancakes

These aren’t the pancakes you’re used to. Instead, these are very thin pancakes— called pannkakor— that are more like crepes and fried several at a time in a large pan. Pannkakor are often served with whipped cream and jam, are traditionally eaten by Swedes for lunch on Thursdays with a kind of pea soup. 

Janssons frestelse

Translated in English to “Jansson’s temptation” this very traditional dish consists of potatoes, onions, bread crumbs, cream and pickled sprats (small, oily fish). Potatoes are an incredibly big part of Swedish cuisine, and this casserole basically says it all. It is commonly eaten during the winter holidays, but you can find it at other times of the year as well.

Kroppkaka

These are a traditional kind of potato dumplings that hail from the southern part of Sweden, and they are filled with onions, pork or bacon (or sometimes even a combination of all three). Kroppkaka are typically served with cream, butter and lingonberry jam (the slightly sweet yet slightly tart lingonberries are plentiful in Sweden, so you’ll see a lot of lingonberry jam).

Smörgåsbord

Okay, a Smörgåsbord in and of itself isn’t an actual food, but it does consist of a lot of traditional Swedish cuisine. Although the term is occasionally used in English to refer to a wide mix of things or a diverse group, in Swedish it refers to a meal served buffet-style that includes things like different meats, breads, potatoes, condiments and often a variety of fish (like herring). If you get the opportunity while in Stockholm, try to get yourself invited to a Smörgåsbord meal.

Princess Cake

There are a lot of sweets and pastries you’ll want to sample while in Stockholm, but if you don’t have the time or money to try them all, at the very least try a piece of Prinsesstårta or Princess Cake. This is a light and fluffy confection that has creamy vanilla cutard and marzipan. Swedish legend has it that once upon a time, there were three Swedish princesses who had a teacher name Jenny Åkerström, who taught them how to cook and bake, inventing this cake just for them.

McDonald’s

Okay, okay, hear this one out before you roll your eyes. McDonald’s started in the United States, but today its franchise restaurants can be found all over the world. What’s even better is that they are “localized”, meaning that while the general menu is the same, there are often additions or alterations that come from the region they are in. Whenever you visit a foreign city, including Stockholm, make at least one quick trip to a McDonald’s to see how it is different. 

Even if your trip schedule for Stockholm happens to be pretty tight, be sure to set aside at least some time to visit a restaurant (and not McDonald’s— that’s just for extra fun). Restaurants are one of the best ways to really take in a culture, so open your mind and enjoy.