Photo: Christin Eide
Fjord Tours Articles / 3 May 2019

Traditional Food Experiences in Norway

Norwegian cuisine has evolved in recent years with the influx of global influence but the traditional food experience remains at large. In many ways, the Vikings played an important role for habits and customs in this part of the world but the truth is, the mountains, rivers, ocean and raw materials available have shaped what we know as traditional Norwegian cuisine.

Photo: Thor Brødreskift

Traditional Food Experiences in Norway That You Should Actually Try

It’s true, local meats, grains and vegetables are readily available at every turn in Norway and when it comes to the waters, this land is home to some of the most incredible seafood. When you consider the long, cold winters, locals have needed to craft their methods, while the wildlife in Norway ensures that this is one of the number one destinations to sample lamb, sheep and even game meats.

Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com

About the Local Meats and Game Meat in Norway

While many locals are quick to recommend “smalahove”, not every visitor wants to sample sheep’s head which is a delicacy in certain pockets of Norway. On the other hand, Norwegian lamb is a huge favourite and this is especially tender due to the wide expanses and clean pastures on which these lamb graze. From mutton cured in sea salt to cutlets and racks of lamb, the variety of ways in which you can try the meat is just as impressive as the taste.

You should also know that Norwegians treat sustainability with the highest respect and every inch of the animal is used for one purpose or another. While this is unlikely to please vegetarians, it’s a much better approach than the more industrial meat production you can find many other places.

Game meat is also incredibly popular in Norway and this is served both at home and in local restaurants. Moose meat is common and this tastes a little like venison, while the Sami people herd reindeer to the north and this meat is particularly lean. Meanwhile, grouse breast has an intense and tender taste, and due to the increased population of deer, you will also find this meat smoked, cured or dried.

Photo: The Oslo Tour

About the Bread and Cheese in Norway

Bread is a staple for most Norwegians and this comes in many forms such as "kveldsmat" (supper or evening meal) and "knekkebrød" (crisp bread). In fact, bread has been common since medieval times and the grains, fibre and nutrient along with various health benefits ensure that this variety continues to increase by the day.

Just so you know, the Norwegians also invented the ostehøvel which is used for slicing cheese and brunost is a common favourite which is usually eaten on waffles of bread. Needless to say, the surroundings and environment is ideal for producing goat or cow milk which enables local cheese makers to focus on creating some excellent cheeses. However, Norwegian cheese mongers have really expanded their horizons in recent times and introduced a long lineup of cheese to the locals including blue cheese, brie, gamalost and camembert.

Some of the Most Popular Traditional Food in Norway

As already mentioned, many ‘global’ foods or influences have seen an influx of pizzas, pastas, tacos and common foods that you might associate with other prominent cities in Europe. But many Norwegians still prefer traditional food and here are just a few examples of what you might like to sample:

Kjøttkaker

Kjøttkaker is a combination of seasoned minced meat with many minor ingredients such as rusk or onions. After shaping them into small meatballs, this delightful mix is pan-fried and simmered in gravy before being served with creamy cabbage or mushy peas.

Pinnekjøtt

Although most often served at Christmas, Pinnekjøtt is a hearty meal of ribs of lamb on mashed kohlrabi. Consisting of a rich and salty taste, these ribs are full of flavour and nicely balanced by the sweetness of the mashed kohlrabi.

Pickled Herring

Another common delicacy in Norway, pickled herring is a very simple recipe in which brined herring is treated with salt and vinegar to preserve the fish. For many visitors, the taste is quite sweet and sour, while onions and various spices can make pickled herring especially unique.

Photo: Best Western Hotell Hordaheimen

Raspeballer

After creating a nice stock with fatty cuts of pork, small balls of potato are simmered in this stock and then served with pan-friend bacon. As a rule, this is very much a farmer’s favourite, for the mix of salt and fats can also protect the body and mind from the cold temperatures outside.

Lutefisk

Lutefisk is one of the more traditional meals in Norway. Simply put, dried cod is soaked in lye to create this festive dish and the tradition dates back to the 16th century. After being soaked in lyre, the cod is rinsed in water several times and then the fish is served with potatoes, bacon and mushy peas.

Rakfisk

Freshwater trout can be found in many landlocked pockets of Norway and this fish is fermented to create Rakfisk. In fact, this trout is placed into wooden barrels of salt and spruce branches are then placed on top for months on end to ferment the fillet. When serving this delicacy, soft flatbread covered in sour cream is common, while beetroot salad also makes a nice addition

Photo: Christin Eide

As you can see, the Norwegians really love their delicacies and meat lovers in particular are sure to remember this food experience as a unique encounter with some very ancient traditions. If you feel inspired to get an educational taste of Norwegian culinary traditions, take a peek at our Norwegian Food Tours.

Food tours in Norway

Dog sledding in Lyngsfjord, Tromsø

Enjoy a dog sledding trip into white landscapes, through beautiful wilderness. After your trip you can relax with a hot meal served in the traditional Sami herdsmen’s tent- lavvu!

The Taste of Oslo Food Tour

The Taste of Oslo Food Tour is a guided walking tour that aims to let you experience Oslo like a local, and sample traditional Norwegian dishes, snacks and drinks. Truly the best way to see the city and try traditional Norwegian food!

Snowshoe hiking and Ægir Viking dinner in Flam

Come and experience the Norwegian winter on snowshoes! After an amazing trip to Stegastein viewpoint, you can enjoy a delicious dinner at Ægir Brewpub in Flåm!

Winter fjord safari and viking dinner in Flam

Join in on a winter adventure with a RIB-boat tour on the the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, followed by a delicious dinner at Ægir Brewpub in Flåm!

Jazz Cruise on the Oslo Fjord

Join in on a 3 hour cruise on board a traditional wooden sailing ship passing through a maze of green islands on the Oslo fjord! Shrimp dinner and live music by the Dixie jazz band Aspheim Oldtimers.