What are popular foods that Swedes regularly eat?
It’s a really interesting question because Sweden is a country with extremes of darkness, light and weather. Historically, this meant that foods varied a lot by season, creating this eclectic variety you see in Sweden today.
Traditional Swedish Meals
There are many food traditions so let’s go through the staples that people eat on week nights.
Yellow Pea Soup and Pancakes
On Thursdays, Swedes eat yellow pea soup, with pancakes afterwards. Traditionally they ate this hearty meal, because of Friday religious fasting.
Yellow pea soup is like split pea soup, but with yellow peas. Swedes eat it with a dab of grainy mustard in the bowl.
Alongside the traditional soup, Swedes enjoy brown limpa bread. Made with rye and molasses, this slightly sweet bread is topped with spreadable butter and sliced cheese.
The pancakes are a lovely sweet treat that compliments the soup. People will either top the pancakes with fresh whipped cream and lingonberry or strawberry jam.
Raggmunk and Lingonberries
Raggmunk (potato pancakes) and lingonberries are another weeknight staple. Served with fried, thick bacon on the side, this is a hearty meal.
Swedish meatballs are not just an Ikea product. The locals regularly eat them. Served with boiled potatoes, brown gravy and plenty of lingonberries, this is a hearty weeknight meal.
Meat soup is another hearty meal staple. Made with beef, pork, moose or a combination, this soup includes hefty potatoes, carrots, celery and lots of pepper.
Flying Jacob is a chicken dish that has been written up about as a “weird” Swedish food. Really, what it is like is chicken korma.
This is a dish that was created by an airline employee. It includes chicken, sweet chili sauce, whipping cream, bananas and peanuts on top.
Although this dish was first created in the ’70s, it is still a Swedish staple. They serve it with Jasmine rice as a weeknight casserole.
“Laxsoppa” (Salmon soup) is another Swedish staple in the winter. Salmon, potatoes, leeks, dill, cream and carrots are boiled in a flavorful fish stock.
Falukorv is a large Swedish sausage staple. It is used in a variety of ways, including Korv Stroganoff.
American Foods, Swedish Style
Swedes love to emulate American culture. There is an entire subculture of people who drive vintage Americans cars.
While some Swedes love American food, it’s not without a Swedish twist.
In Sweden, Friday night is taco night. Friday nights is called “fredagsmys.” It is translated as “Friday cosy.”
Most Swedes abstain all week from chips, candy and the like. Friday night, they go all out with these treats. But, the main event is tacos and a movie.
What makes a Swedish taco different? It is all the fillings. Swedes will make tacos out of a combo ground beef and pork, along with pre-made spices.
Then, they will stuff their soft or hard shell tortilla with a cornucopia of fillings. This includes the usual lettuce, onions, tomatoes, guacamole, creme fraîche and shredded taco cheese.
Other fillings include crunched up tortilla chips, banana chunks, pineapple, canned corn, diced mango, and cucumber. They will also put hot sauce on top, eat and repeat.
Swedes love American burgers all the fixings. Going out for a great burger is considered a “thing” in Sweden.
Food bloggers like Burger Dudes have worked with Swedish burger chain Bastard Burgers for different monthly burgers that include decidedly American names like the “Yankee Burger,” or the “Bronx Burger.”
When dining out, expect to see some very Swedish ingredients on burgers, such as cloudberries, or, in mozzarella sticks, such as Västerbotten cheese.
Swedes like to include everyone, so there are a lot of meat alternatives, including the ubiquitous Halloumi burger. The melty Cypriot cheese is at every mom and pop joint, or fast food chain.
Pizza is its own thing in Sweden. You generally do not just find a pepperoni or cheese pizza in Sweden. If you are a person who doesn’t think a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple is sacrilegious, then avoid Swedish pizza.
There is an almost casserole-type of approach to ingredients on the Swedish thin-crust pizza. Don’t be surprised to see tuna, peanuts, kebab (generally called gyros or shawarma in the states), banana, raisins, salami, corn, Swedish meatballs and curry.
The names are creative like Indiana (curry pizza), Mexicana (taco-like pizza) and kebab pizzas are some of the most popular.
Then add the sauces. Swedes love sauces on everything, so you may see some tzatziki or béarnaise sauce streaked across your pizza before it goes into the oven.
If you are looking for a thicker crust pizza, then look for an American pizza. Generally, Swedish pizza crusts are wafer-thin.
The size of pizzas are about a 12-inch, which is standard. Then, there is the family-sized, the humongous pizza that takes up an entire Parisian cafe table. Each slice is what would expect at a New York pizzeria.
Swedish Food Tidbits
Swedes exercise all year round. So, it’s no surprise that the most common diet in Sweden is the low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet.
This is similar to the paleo diet, where you eat a lot of high-fat dairy, meat and non-starchy vegetables.