The Swedish capital of Stockholm is a fascinating place to visit. With unique architecture, interesting history, and a Nordic culture that's all its own, the city has an amazing ambiance that keeps visitors coming back year after year.
But what about the food? Traditional Swedish food doesn't have anything like the stellar global reputation of Italian, French, or Chinese cuisine. But as with everywhere else, Swedish cuisine is an indelible part of Swedish culture, and enjoying Swedish food is a great way to embrace the country when you visit Stockholm. Plus, you may find that traditional Swedish cuisine offers some surprisingly great food, and you may even come away with some new favorites.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Stockholm, and you'll be ready to start your Swedish food odyssey. Whether your tastes run more toward fine dining in exclusive restaurants or hunting down the best street food in Stockholm, the Swedish capital is sure to have something to offer you. As you would expect from such a seafaring nation, seafood features heavily on menus around the city. But Stockholm is also a place that embraces the new and the trendy, so if you're trying to stick to a plant-based diet, the best vegetarian restaurants in Stockholm can help you eat ethically while you enjoy your trip.
Stockholm Food: Pea Soup and Pancakes
No visit to Sweden is complete without pea soup and pancakes. This hearty dish is traditionally served on Thursdays, but you'll be able to find it in restaurants all week long. Pea soup is made with yellow peas, pork, and spices, and it's usually served with pancakes, which are then used to mop up the soup. It's a filling meal that will help you get through a long day of exploring Stockholm.
The origins of this Swedish dish date back to when Sweden was mainly Catholic, and a hearty meal was required on Thursday to get through the Friday fast. Of course, modern Sweden is a very secular state, but this delicious food has remained popular even when the rituals around it have faded.
Stockholm Food: Fried Herring
This dish is a must-try for seafood lovers, and it's one of the most popular street foods in the city. Fried herring is usually served with mashed potatoes, onions, and lingonberry jam, and it's a great way to get your fill of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you're not a fan of fried food, don't worry – you can also find herring served in a variety of other ways around the city. Pickled herring is particularly popular, and you'll find it served as an appetizer in many restaurants. It's often flavored with things like dill or mustard, and it's a great way to whet your appetite for the main course. Really, herring is more or less unavoidable in the restaurants of central Stockholm, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by this classic dish.
Stockholm Food: Vasterbotten Cheese Pie
This dish is a Swedish classic, and it's one of the best things to eat in Stockholm if you're looking for a hearty meal. The pie is made with Vasterbotten cheese, which is a type of hard cheese that originates in the Vasterbotten region of Sweden. The cheese is combined with eggs, cream, and butter, and it's all encased in a flaky pastry crust.
Vasterbotten cheese can be difficult to find outside of Sweden, so this is definitely a dish that you'll want to try while you're in Stockholm. And even if you're not a huge fan of cheese, the pie is worth trying for the pastry alone.
Stockholm Food: Kanelbullar
If you're in the mood for something sweet, head to a bakery and pick up some kanelbullar. These cinnamon buns are a Swedish classic, and they make for a perfect snack or dessert. The buns are made with a variety of different flours, and they're usually flavored with cardamom as well as cinnamon.
Kanelbullar are often served with coffee, and they make for a great way to break up a long day of sightseeing. You'll find them in pretty much every bakery in Stockholm, so you won't have any trouble finding them while you're in the city.
Stockholm Food: Burger Patties with Onion Sauce
If you're looking for a quick and easy meal, head to your nearest hamburger chain and order a burger patta med lok. This dish is simply a hamburger patty served with onion sauce, and it's one of the most popular fast foods in Sweden. The sauce is made with either cream or mayonnaise, and it's usually flavored with things like mustard or ketchup.
While this dish might not be the most exciting thing on the menu, it's definitely worth trying if you're looking for a taste of Swedish culture. And besides, who doesn't love a good burger every now and then?
Stockholm Food: Janssons Frestelse
This dish is a bit of an acquired taste, but it's definitely worth trying if you're looking for something truly unique. Janssons frestelse is a casserole made with potatoes, anchovies, and cream, and it's usually served with a dollop of sour cream on top.
The dish is supposedly named after opera singer and gourmet Pelle Janzon. However, others claim the name comes from a 1929 film that popularized the dish. It might not sound like the most appetizing dish in the world, but trust us – it's delicious. If you're feeling adventurous, give it a try!
Stockholm Food: Swedish Potato Dumplings
If you're looking for a hearty and filling meal, look no further than Swedish potato dumplings. This traditional dish is made with potatoes, flour, and salt, and it's usually served with some kind of gravy or sauce. The dumplings are often boiled in water or broth, and they can be either soft or firm, depending on your preference.
There are many different ways to enjoy Swedish potato dumplings, but one of the most popular is to serve them with kottbullar (Swedish meatballs). This classic combination is sure to fill you up and leave you satisfied. As with seemingly all the food in Sweden, these filling treats are a great way to stave off the cold of a Stockholm winter, and you'll find them on offer in restaurants throughout the Old Town, often at relatively reasonable prices.
Stockholm Food: Beef Stew
This is another dish that's perfect for a cold winter day, and it's one of the best things to eat in Stockholm if you're looking for something warm and comforting. The stew is made with beef, carrots, potatoes, and a variety of other vegetables, and it's usually flavored with things like thyme or rosemary.
It's a fairly simple dish, but it's packed with flavor, and it's sure to leave you feeling full and satisfied. You'll find beef stew on the menu at many different restaurants around the city, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find. Just be sure to ask for it in Swedish – kobe stuvning – to avoid any confusion.
Stockholm Food: Brown baked beans with pork
This is a dish that's popular all over Scandinavia, and it's one of the best things to eat in Stockholm if you're looking for something hearty and filling. The dish is made with brown baked beans, pork, and mushrooms, and it's usually served with some kind of bread or potatoes.
The beans are cooked in a savory sauce, and the whole dish is then baked in the oven until everything is nice and hot. Although the ingredients are quite simple, it's packed with flavor, and it makes for a great winter meal. You'll find this dish on the menu at many different restaurants around Stockholm.
Stockholm Food: Risgrynsgrottor
If you're looking for a sweet treat, look no further than risgrynsgrottor. These little balls of rice pudding are a Swedish classic, and they make for a perfect dessert or snack. The balls are made with rice, milk, and sugar, and they're usually served with some kind of fruit sauce or jam.
Risgrynsgrottor are often served during the Christmas season, but you can find them year-round at many different cafes and bakeries around Stockholm. So if you're in the mood for something sweet, be sure to give them a try. A key element of Swedish food, these are the perfect sweet treat to try when you visit Stockholm.
Stockholm Food: Layer cake
If you're in the mood for something else that's sweet, you can't go wrong with a Swedish layer cake. These cakes are typically made with sponge cake, custard, and whipped cream, and they're often decorated with things like berries or chocolate.
There are many different varieties of Swedish layer cake, so you're sure to find one that suits your taste. And while they're usually reserved for special occasions, you'll find them on offer at many different cafes and bakeries around Stockholm. So if you're in the mood for a treat, be sure to give one of these cakes a try.
Stockholm Food: Swedish hash
This is a dish that's popular all over Scandinavia, and it's one of the best things to eat in Stockholm if you're looking for something to stick to your ribs. The dish is made with potatoes, onions, and beef, and it's usually served with some kind of bread.
The dish is simple but flavorful, and it's another great winter meal. It fits into the category of filling food designed to be warming that's so popular in Sweden. It's the kind of dish that is designed to clear out the cupboards and is versatile enough that you can add almost anything to it, and it will still taste great. For that reason, you'll find many variations on this classic dish throughout the city.
Stockholm Food: Swedish meatballs
Probably the most famous Swedish food item around the world, this classic Swedish food is just about everywhere in Stockholm. And forget about IKEA; true Swedish meatballs are far fresher and more delicious than you'll find at the international furniture giant.
These little balls of meat are usually made with beef or pork, and they're served with a creamy gravy, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry jam. They're a staple of Swedish cuisine, and you'll find them on the menu at just about every restaurant in Stockholm. So if you're looking for something classic and delicious, be sure to give Swedish meatballs a try.
Stockholm Food: Cabbage pudding
Cabbage pudding has its origins in Turkish food that came to Sweden during the 17th century. The original Turkish version was wrapped in vine leaves, but grapevines don't grow so well in Sweden, so instead, local chefs replace them with cabbage leaves.
Don't let the name fool you; cabbage pudding is not sweet. Instead, it's a savory dish of cabbage, minced meat, and rice. Just like so many other items on this list, it's a very filling dish that's great in the winter, though a little heavy for smaller appetites.
But no matter what time of year it is, cabbage pudding is a great way to experience a little bit of Swedish history. And it's just one more reason why Stockholm is a great place to eat.
Swedish food may not be as well-known internationally as other cuisines, but maybe it should be. The truth is, Swedish food has plenty of tasty treats to offer, and as you would expect, it's especially good in a cold climate. Hearty and flavorful meals like fried herring and Swedish meatballs are designed to stave off the cold of the Scandinavian winter and also do a great job of keeping you fueled up to explore this vibrant city.
Of course, times have changed. Most of us don't labor on farms and live in houses without central heating anymore, and so may not require all the calories traditional Swedish food offers. Luckily, the area around Stockholm has an answer to that, too. Check out this guide to the best hikes in Stockholm for some ideas on how to work off all that pickled herring and mashed potatoes.