Eat Like a Local: Top Foods to Try in Sweden

Next month, I’m headed to Sweden for the TBEX (Travel Blogger’s Exchange) conference in Stockholm. It’s my first visit to Sweden, or indeed to any Scandinavian country, so I’m really excited to explore. And, as I’ve said before, what better way is there to discover a new country than by eating it’s food?

The only thing is, I know absolutely nothing about Swedish food culture or their traditional cuisine. I mean – what do they eat in Sweden? I have no idea! So, like a good little travel blogger, I sat down to do some research to find out all about the top foods to try in Sweden.

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Much like the rest of Europe, the trend at the moment is on a revival of traditional Swedish food. Classic dishes and ancient cooking practices are being given modern twists by Sweden’s top chefs. There’s also a strong focus on sustainability, and on using high-quality local produce. The result is some seriously high quality new restaurants and an exciting food scene, especially in the capital of Stockholm. So, it’s with an emphasis on tradition that I’ve put together this round up of the top foods to try in Sweden…

Sill & Potatis

This awesome video from Visit Sweden says it all, really. Sill & potatis (herring and potatoes) is one of the most iconic dishes of Sweden, one that’s often served up at family gatherings.

“A simple dish, once classed as poor man’s food, that has been elevated to it’s now lofty position by famous Swedish chefs revisiting Sweden’s pantry for new taste sensations.”


The Swedish history of knäckebröd (crispbread) dates back a thousand years. Crispbread baker Joel Lindblad, working at the Skedvi bakery, was one of Peter Hammarbäck’s “Original Hipsters” in his great article for Visit Sweden. Skedvi are the crispbread on the market still baked in wood-fired ovens. As Hammarbäck observes, today’s worldwide hipster culture is constantly seeking to swing the clock back to traditional concepts that are considered more “genuine”, but here at Skevi Joel and his fellow bakers have always done things traditionally – whether it was trendy or not.

Speaking of the hipster scene which is currently dictating Swedish food culture (it’s all microbreweries and home-backed sourdough right now), Wanderlust Chloe published a great round-up of Cool Foodie Hangouts in Sweden, which I’ve bookmarked for my upcoming trip.


Eat Like a Local: Top Foods to Try in Sweden

You can’t write a list of the must-try traditional Swedish food and not include köttbullar (meatballs). Brought to the world’s attention by IKEA, Swedish meatballs are fairly simple, usually made from ground beef and breadcrumbs, broth, onions, and a little cream. Traditionally, köttbullar are served with gravy, boiled potatoes, and lingonberry jam. Definitely one of Sweden’s most iconic dishes.


Eat Like a Local: Top Foods to Try in Sweden

Remember that bright green cake they made on The Great British Bake Off last year? I do, not only because that show is my number one guilty pleasure (roll on summer), but also because the cream-filled, marzipan-coated green prinsesstårta (princess cake) looked so far up my street that it’s practically knocking on my door. Well, that gloriously green, creamy monstrosity is Swedish – so I get to try it soon. All in the name of research, of course. Possibly the most famous cake in Sweden, prinsesstårta is traditionally a celebration cake – and it has it’s own week! 


Eat Like a Local: Top Foods to Try in Sweden

There are dozens of must-try desserts and sweet treats in Sweden. Apparently, the Swedes eat more sweets per capita than any other nation – consuming about 50% more than the average EU citizen. These are my people! In Sweden, supermarkets have entire aisles dedicated to pick n mix, and Saturdays are a day for indulging in lördagsgodis (literally “Saturday sweets”). This was born when the Swedish Medical Board advised parents to curb candy consumption to just one day a week, but by all accounts it’s now a huge tradition in Sweden.

All this research has got me so excited about heading to Stockholm next month. I’m particularly excited about the concept of Fika, the Swedish tradition of taking time out for coffee and a slice of cake. Massive sweet lovers, big on desserts, and big coffee drinkers… I’m starting to wonder if I might be part Swedish without knowing!

What have I missed? Suggestions for the top foods to try in Sweden will be much appreciated. Scroll down to leave a comment! 

This article was written in collaboration with Visit Sweden. As usual, all words and opinions are my own. 

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Eat Like a Local - Top Foods to Try in Sweden

About Emily Luxton

Award-winning writer and solo female travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper travel. Lover of fun, adventure, food, Harry Potter, hiking, beaches, and chatting about the weather. Can be bought with cake.


  1. Thanks for the great tips! Looking forward to eating far too much in Stockholm in a few weeks now :)

  2. Your video just made me hungry. I am a big potato fan (Most Indians are) and I think I am going to love Sill & potatis. Sweden looks like such an interesting country. I would love to go there someday!

  3. The food does look awesome, though being a vegetarian, probably I would settle for the desserts, which look enticing anyways.

  4. Emily! I’ve been researching Swedish food too. I loved your article and I can’t wait to meet you at TBEX. Are you going to Dalarna or any of the other fam trips?

  5. Ah, you make me miss Sweden – even though I stayed there this year again for two months. Love how kanelbullar were the first picture. Yum!

  6. Everything is so pretty! I’d love to try out some of the varieties of sill & potatis. Hope you have an amazing time at TBEX!

  7. I had no idea that Sweden has such a sweet tooth! i’d also heard of none of these foods, besides meatballs obviously. I need to get to Sweden one day!

  8. You have to try the cinnamon buns kanelbullar amazing. My son lives in Stockholm and we visit often. Amazing city. Veta Katen is a must cafe for fika

  9. Barbara Kusanovich

    Both my mother and father were Swedish so I grew up with all these foods and more. My mother used to make the most amazing rye bread. Hope you had a chance to try that also. I also found when we visited relatives all over Sweden that healthy foods were the norm. And as for Fika, no one ever left our house in the afternoon without coffee and pastry–even if we’d had dinner only a short time before! I love being a Swedish American, and hope you had a wonderful trip to Sweden.

    • Thanks so much for commenting Barbara. I had such a great time in Stockholm, and I was able to try a load of the food. It’s amazing! Not a cuisine I knew much about until I started researching :) I loved the rye bread, had it a few times with dinner and it’s awesome.

  10. You should try potatis karv (potato sausage), Swedish Pancakes, Osta Kaka (Swedish cheesecake) with lingonberry sauce, reindeer sausage, breakfast smorgasbord, pickled herring and much more. I am 100 percent Swedish, plus I visited Sweden in 1999.

  11. I believe it’s called Limpa the rye bread you are referring to, I love it too. I am second generation American with all four grandparents from Sweden married in USA. Our family have several favorites I grew up with and continue to enjoy. Limpa is difficult to find here in the USA. I’m not that savy as a baker have never tried to make it myself.

    You must try the Swedish Pancakes ” we use the small round cast iron pans but also grew up making the larger ones like crepes. Served with Lingonberry sauce and as americans we also add maple syrup….yumm

    My other favorite is the Pepparkakor cookies and cake. “Annie’s” make them really well almost like my grandmothers. I have never had the cake other than in our family homes…it’s a memoralbe spice cake moist and delicisous.

    • Thanks so much for all the tips and recommendations!! I really want to go back to Sweden – I keep hearing about amazing food that I missed when I was there.

      I did try the pancakes though with lingonberry sauce. SO GOOD!! Loved Sweden :)

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