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Foods in Iceland

Top 20 Most Popular Foods in Iceland

These traditional foods in Iceland, ranging from pickled herring to a full sheep’s head, are sure to liven up your next dinner party! Because, while Iceland is a small country, it surely packs a culinary punch.

Nordic cuisine emphasizes fresh and simple ingredients such as pork, seafood, lamb, and wild game.

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Unfortunately, some meals, such as hot spring rye bread, do not have recipes because most of us do not have a hot spring handy!

So, if you want to experience these Icelandic cuisines, all you have to do is get a ticket and visit!

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Popular Foods in Iceland

So you’re eager to discover Iceland’s culinary side, aren’t you? Great! Here are 20 delectable foods in Iceland to try while visiting or to make at home if you’re feeling brave.

There’s something for everyone, from traditional Icelandic soups and stews to sweet snacks and drinks.

1. Plokkfiskur – Fish Stew

 Plokkfiskur – Fish Stew
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Plokkfiskur – Fish Stew

When the temperatures in Iceland drop during the winter, plokkfiskur, or fish stew, is a popular traditional Icelandic dish. It’s not only delicious, but the hearty aspect of the dish will help you get through those cold winter nights.

The fish stew includes several Icelandic culinary classics, such as boiled cod or mashed potatoes, haddock, and raw onions, all topped with a beautiful white sauce.

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Because this dinner is so popular, many local houses will have their own twist on it.

2. Braudterta (Icelandic Sandwich Cake)

Braudterta (Icelandic Sandwich Cake)
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Braudterta (Icelandic Sandwich Cake)

A savory Icelandic Sandwich Cake is a Braudterta. It’s similar to a layered cream cake. The bread is often toasted before being used to stack the contents. The filling can be whatever you wish.

Salmon, either fresh or smoked, is frequently utilized. A typical filling is ham and/or smoked lamb. The icing is usually made of mayonnaise. The cake is topped with hard-boiled egg slices.

Veganism is becoming more popular in Iceland. You can occasionally get a variation with vegetables and vegan mayo!

There was even a Sandwich cake competition in Reykjavik in 2019. They awarded prizes for the most attractive, best-tasting, and best-looking cakes.

3. Pylsur’s Lamb Hot Dog

Pylsur’s Lamb Hot Dog
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Pylsur’s Lamb Hot Dog

If you have the opportunity to visit Iceland, you must taste one of these hot dogs. You might be thinking that a hot dog is a hot dog. What is so special?

These infants, on the other hand, are made of lamb and taste like a meal from culinary heaven.

4. Skyr

Skyr
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Skyr

Skyr is a traditional Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt but with a thicker and creamier consistency. It has been a part of Icelandic culture for centuries and is enjoyed as a breakfast staple or a healthy snack.

Skyr is often paired with fresh fruits or topped with honey for added sweetness.

5. Lamb

Lamb
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Lamb

Icelandic lamb is renowned for its tender and flavorful meat, owing to the animals’ free-range grazing on the island’s wild landscapes.

Lamb dishes are prevalent in Icelandic cuisine, from roasted leg of lamb to hearty stews like kjötsúpa, reflecting the country’s reliance on this sustainable protein source.

6. Hangikjöt – Smoked Lamb

Hangikjöt – Smoked Lamb
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Hangikjöt – Smoked Lamb

Since sheep husbandry is popular in Iceland, smoked lamb has long been one of the country’s most enduring culinary traditions.

Smoking the lamb by hanging it up was traditionally the preferred method of preserving lamb meat, with the added bonus of improved taste. In fact, Hangikjöt (hanging meat) is how this traditional Icelandic dish earned its name.

If you visit Iceland during the holiday season, you may see an abundance of smoked lamb at grocery stores. Hangikjöt is a popular Christmas dish.

To make this at home, the smoked pork is boiled before being sliced and served with boiling potatoes, green peas, red cabbage, and Icelandic leaf bread.

7. Harðfiskur – Dried Fish

Harðfiskur – Dried Fish
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Harðfiskur – Dried Fish

When visiting Iceland and looking for cheap, quick eats, eat like the locals and get some Harfiskur. This dried fish is an Icelandic dish and one of its most popular dishes.

The fish of choice is usually wolffish, cod, or haddock, which is dried in the bitter North Atlantic air before being cured by bacteria culture. Overall, the procedure is similar to that of maturing cheese.

Although the dish can be eaten simply, local Icelanders prefer to top it with salted butter and eat it as a movie snack or on the go. Something to consider the next time you watch a movie at home!

8. Rúgbrauð (Rye Bread)

Rúgbrauð (Rye Bread)
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Rúgbrauð (Rye Bread)

Rúgbrauð, or Icelandic rye bread, is a dense and dark bread with a slightly sweet taste, traditionally baked in geothermal ovens buried in the ground.

Served with butter, smoked fish, or cheese, this hearty bread is a delicious accompaniment to many Icelandic meals.

9. Kleinur

Kleinur
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Kleinur

Kleinur is Icelandic doughnuts, deep-fried and flavored with cardamom and hints of nutmeg.

These delectable treats are often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, making them a popular choice for morning or afternoon indulgence.

10. Kjötsúpa: Lamb Soup

 Kjötsúpa: Lamb Soup
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Kjötsúpa: Lamb Soup

If you visit Iceland in the fall or winter, you will most likely come across a number of eateries that serve kjötspa. It’s a comforting soup made with potatoes, lamb, and carrots.

The soup is weak, but the huge chunks of tender beef and vegetables more than compensate. It’s a simple, straightforward soup with no more than five or six ingredients. And it’s simple to replicate at home!

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11. Flatkaka Með Hangikjöti – Flatbread with Smoked Lamb

Flatkaka Með Hangikjöti – Flatbread with Smoked Lamb
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Flatkaka Með Hangikjöti – Flatbread with Smoked Lamb

Flatkaka, or hot spring rye bread, is a traditional Icelandic dish that may be found in every home.

It is one of the traditional foods that may be made in the comfort of your own home. The flatbread dough is made by simply combining lukewarm water and rye flour. The dough can then be fried over a hot stove.

Later, for a truly Icelandic experience, top the flatbread with a variety of Icelandic foods such as hangikjöt, cream cheese, or lamb liver pâté.

12. Icelandic Fish

Icelandic Fish
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Icelandic Fish

Iceland’s waters are teeming with some of the world’s freshest and most succulent fish. Cod, haddock, and salmon are among the popular fish varieties in Icelandic cuisine.

Whether grilled, pan-fried, or served in a stew, Icelandic fish dishes are a true delight for seafood enthusiasts.

13. Hrútspungar (Sour Ram’s Testicles)

Hrútspungar (Sour Ram’s Testicles)
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Hrútspungar (Sour Ram’s Testicles)

Icelanders need to warm up in the middle of winter, and there is no better way to do so than with a feast! Orrablót is a traditional Nordic winter feast, and this feast will not be completed without hrútspungar, or ram’s testicles.

Pickled ram’s testicles are used to make this adventurous Icelandic dish. It’s a no-waste dish that adds flavor and protein to cold winter days. If you’re feeling brave, try this unusual pickled rye meal.

14. Svið (Boiled Sheep’s Head)

Svið (Boiled Sheep’s Head)
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Svið (Boiled Sheep’s Head)

Ranchers in the old days were frugal with their spoils. Icelandic herders did not want to waste any of their delicious sheep meat, therefore svi was created.

Svi is an Icelandic traditional dish prepared from boiling and halved sheep’s heads. The meat on the cheeks is tender, and it is sometimes served with rhubarb jelly or butter and rye.

15. Humar–Icelandic Lobster

Humar–Icelandic Lobster
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Humar–Icelandic Lobster

Humar is a popular, though often pricey, dish to try when dining in Icelandic restaurants. Because the lobster is smaller and only the tail is cooked, it is more similar to langoustine.

Humar, like many other Icelandic fish, comes in a wide range of forms, all of which are worth tasting when traveling. The lobster can be grilled, fried, roasted, or even used as a pizza topping. It can also be found in soup or humarspa.

The important thing about this traditional dish is that you can easily find the ingredients in your neighborhood grocery.

16. Ponnukokur (Icelandic Pancake)

Ponnukokur (Icelandic Pancake)
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Ponnukokur (Icelandic Pancake)

Icelandic pancakes are more like crepes for breakfast. Ponnukokur are thin pancakes that are baked in a large griddle or pan to achieve a gorgeous crisp on the outside and edges.

These softly sweetened crepes are a delightful way to begin an Icelandic day. Whipped cream, jam, honey, or fresh fruit complement Icelandic pancakes.

17. Snúđur (Sweet Rolls)

Snúđur (Sweet Rolls)
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Snúđur (Sweet Rolls)

This delight is a type of Icelandic dough that is twisted into a variety of delectable sweets. Snur is the name given to the sweet roll dough that has become a staple in Icelandic cuisine.

It’s a simple yeasted and enriched sweet dough, but what sets it apart is how it’s filled and topped! Some of these rolls will be filled with cinnamon, while others will be filled with more daring flavors like cocoa and hazelnut.

They have a sweet buttery icing or a thick chocolate covering on top. Whatever is on top or inside, snur is an Icelandic dish that will satisfy your sweet craving!

18. Laufabrauð (Leaf-Patterned Flatbread)

Laufabrauð (Leaf-Patterned Flatbread)
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Laufabrauð (Leaf-Patterned Flatbread)

This winter treat is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. Laufabrau is a pretty-patterned flatbread that is traditionally cooked during the winter holidays.

This lovely bread is decorated with foliage, snowflakes, and braids. The dough is incredibly thin and fried to a crunchy, cracker-like texture. laufabrau can be found on Christmas tables all around Iceland.

19. Brúnaðar Kartöflur (Caramelized Potatoes)

 Brúnaðar Kartöflur (Caramelized Potatoes)
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Brúnaðar Kartöflur (Caramelized Potatoes)

Because potatoes are cold-hardy, they are frequently used in Icelandic cuisine. Brnaar kartöflur, or caramelized potatoes, is a popular local preparation of these potatoes.

This Christmas side dish mixes fresh potatoes and sugar before cooking them in a small amount of animal fat. The entire meal is a savory and sweet delicacy that complements the rich local lamb nicely.

20. Rugbraudsis (Rye Bread Ice Cream)

Rugbraudsis (Rye Bread Ice Cream)
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Rugbraudsis (Rye Bread Ice Cream)

Icelanders simply do not feel the cold, as seen by their love of ice cream! No matter the weather, locals like eating ice cream. Their favorite baked item, rye bread, inspires Icelandic ice cream’s most popular flavor.

Rugbraudsis is cinnamon-flavored ice cream packed with delicious rye bread pieces; it is genuinely an Icelandic cuisine flavor. One advantage of eating ice cream in the cold is that it does not melt!

Summary

Icelandic cuisine may be influenced by its rugged terrain and coastal surroundings, but it offers a delightful range of flavors and traditional dishes that will leave you with a lasting impression.

From the fresh catch of the day to the sweetness of rye bread and doughnuts, exploring the top 20 most popular foods in Iceland is a journey worth savoring.

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