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◀️ Swedish customs — Previous Lesson Next Lesson — Swedish holidays ▶️

SwedishCulture0 to A1 Course → Swedish Culture → Swedish Food

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Welcome to the lesson on Swedish food! In this lesson, we will explore the diverse and delicious world of Swedish cuisine. Food is an essential part of any culture, and by learning about Swedish food, you will gain a deeper understanding of Swedish culture and traditions. From iconic dishes like meatballs and herring to unique Swedish ingredients and cooking techniques, this lesson will take you on a culinary journey through Sweden. So grab your apron and let's get started!

Traditional Swedish Dishes[edit | edit source]

Swedish cuisine is known for its simplicity and focus on natural flavors. Traditional Swedish dishes often feature ingredients like fish, potatoes, berries, and dairy products. Let's explore some of the most popular traditional Swedish dishes:

Meatballs (Köttbullar)[edit | edit source]

Meatballs, or "köttbullar" in Swedish, are perhaps the most iconic Swedish dish. These delicious bite-sized balls of ground meat, typically made from a mixture of beef and pork, are seasoned with spices like allspice and nutmeg. Meatballs are traditionally served with lingonberry sauce, creamy gravy, and a side of mashed potatoes or lingonberry jam. They are a staple of Swedish cuisine and can be found in many Swedish homes and restaurants.

Swedish Pronunciation English
Köttbullar [ˈɕœtˌbɵlːar] Meatballs

Herring (Sill)[edit | edit source]

Herring, or "sill" in Swedish, is a popular fish in Swedish cuisine. It is often pickled and served in various ways, such as with onions, dill, or mustard sauce. Pickled herring is a common dish during holidays and celebrations in Sweden, especially during Midsummer. It is typically enjoyed with boiled potatoes, crispbread, and sour cream.

Swedish Pronunciation English
Sill [ˈsɪlː] Herring

Gravlax[edit | edit source]

Gravlax is a traditional Swedish dish made from raw salmon that is cured in a mixture of salt, sugar, and dill. The salmon is thinly sliced and often served on crispbread or rye bread with a mustard and dill sauce. Gravlax is a popular appetizer in Sweden and is enjoyed during festive occasions and holidays.

Swedish Pronunciation English
Gravlax [ˈɡrɑːvlaks] Gravlax

Smörgåstårta[edit | edit source]

Smörgåstårta is a unique Swedish dish that translates to "sandwich cake" in English. It is a savory layered cake made with bread, fillings such as shrimp, smoked salmon, ham, and cheese, and topped with mayonnaise, cream, and decorative garnishes. Smörgåstårta is often served at special occasions like birthdays and weddings and is a true centerpiece of Swedish culinary culture.

Swedish Pronunciation English
Smörgåstårta [ˈsmœrɡɔstˌoːrːta] Sandwich cake

Cinnamon Bun (Kanelbulle)[edit | edit source]

No exploration of Swedish food would be complete without mentioning the beloved kanelbulle, or cinnamon bun. These sweet, aromatic pastries are made with a soft and fluffy dough flavored with cinnamon and cardamom. They are often topped with pearl sugar and can be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. Cinnamon buns are a staple of Swedish fika culture, which is a cherished tradition of taking a break with coffee and a sweet treat.

Swedish Pronunciation English
Kanelbulle [ˈkɑːnɛlˌbɵlːə] Cinnamon bun

Regional Variations[edit | edit source]

Swedish cuisine varies across different regions of Sweden, with each region having its own unique dishes and flavors. Let's explore some of the regional variations in Swedish food:

Norrland[edit | edit source]

In the northern region of Norrland, the cuisine is heavily influenced by the Arctic climate and the availability of ingredients such as reindeer, game meat, and freshwater fish. Traditional dishes from Norrland include suovas (smoked reindeer meat), kålpudding (cabbage pudding), and palt (potato dumplings). Norrland cuisine is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, perfect for the cold winters.

Skåne[edit | edit source]

Skåne, located in the southernmost part of Sweden, has a cuisine influenced by its proximity to Denmark. Traditional dishes from Skåne include rödkål (red cabbage), fläskesvål (pork rind), and spettekaka (a layered cake made from egg whites and sugar). Skåne is known for its delicious pastries and sweet treats, making it a paradise for those with a sweet tooth.

Gotland[edit | edit source]

Gotland, a picturesque island in the Baltic Sea, has a unique cuisine that combines traditional Swedish flavors with influences from the island's history as a trading hub. Traditional dishes from Gotland include saffranspannkaka (saffron pancake), raggmunk (potato pancake), and lamb from the island's lush pastures. Gotland cuisine is known for its use of local ingredients and its rustic and hearty flavors.

Practice Exercises[edit | edit source]

Now that you've learned about Swedish food, let's put your knowledge to the test! Here are some practice exercises to help you reinforce what you've learned:

1. Match the Swedish dish with its English translation:

  • Köttbullar
  • Sill
  • Gravlax
  • Smörgåstårta
  • Kanelbulle

a) Meatballs b) Herring c) Gravlax d) Sandwich cake e) Cinnamon bun


  • Köttbullar - a) Meatballs
  • Sill - b) Herring
  • Gravlax - c) Gravlax
  • Smörgåstårta - d) Sandwich cake
  • Kanelbulle - e) Cinnamon bun

2. Fill in the blank with the correct Swedish term: "During Midsummer, it is traditional to enjoy pickled __________ with boiled potatoes and sour cream."

Solution: herring

3. True or False: Smörgåstårta is a savory layered cake made with bread.

Solution: True

4. List three regional variations in Swedish cuisine and one traditional dish from each region.


  • Norrland - Suovas (smoked reindeer meat)
  • Skåne - Rödkål (red cabbage)
  • Gotland - Saffranspannkaka (saffron pancake)

Congratulations! You've completed the practice exercises.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we delved into the world of Swedish food and explored traditional Swedish dishes, regional variations, and cultural aspects of Swedish cuisine. Swedish food is not just about the flavors and ingredients, but also about the traditions, celebrations, and stories that are passed down through generations. By learning about Swedish food, you have gained a deeper appreciation for Swedish culture and a taste of the culinary delights that Sweden has to offer. So go ahead and try some Swedish recipes, visit a Swedish restaurant, or even plan a trip to Sweden to experience the flavors firsthand. Smaklig måltid (bon appétit)!

Videos[edit | edit source]

Swedish Food & What You Should Eat in Sweden - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Eating Traditional SWEDISH Food (SUPER TASTY!!) - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Try Swedish - Swedish food culture - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Traditional Swedish Christmas food - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Other Lessons[edit | edit source]


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