what to eat when you visit norway

After getting back from my fourth trip to Norway, I wanted to create a guide of where to go, things to do, and what neighborhoods have the best shopping, but I came to the realization that the only guide that I am fit to write at this point in time about Norway is what to eat…Because let me tell ya, I am well equipped when it comes to that subject! I feel like from the moment our plane lands at Gardermoen, we grab a pølse i lompe in the airport and have a kvikk lunsj in the car all before sitting down to frokost when we arrive at Thomas’ house in Rælingen.

So here you have it! My guide for everything you must try when you visit Norway! At the bottom, I wrote the list of food/dishes that I like but didn’t make the list as well as things I haven’t tried but would like to!

Vær så god 🍴

1.pølse i lompe

aka the Norwegian hotdog. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my good ol’ fat American brat with a fluffy bun, relish, and as many condiments as possible, but I think the Norwegian way takes the cake now! Some people in Norway even put shrimp salad on this… not me. My favorite way is with potato salad, raw onion, sweet mustard, and crispy fried onions. Lompe is a thin potato bread, similar to lefse just not as sweet.

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2. kjøttkaker

This is one of my favorite meals when we come to Norway. It’s basically meatballs with a good brown gravy - and the meal isn’t complete unless you have cabbage with béchamel, boiled potatoes, and tyttebær (like a cranberry sauce but made with lingonberries).

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3. Reinsdyr

Reindeer, but not like Rudolph I promise..well kind of. It’s delicious though! I’ve had reindeer meat several ways - as a cured dried meat, as a delicious reindeer tenderloin for a fancy dinner, on crostini with horseradish for a NYE party, and this last time our friend made a yummy stew with ground reindeer and served it over mashed potatoes!

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4. Elg

Moose! I always get confused when they say ‘elg’ because I think they are saying ‘elk’. Same same.I hope you’re a carnivore reading this, if not i’m sorry! Norway is big on wild game meat - but if you’re vegetarian you can just eat lingonberry jam, totally fine 😅 I have had moose stew, but I prefer it like it is below - medium rare and a knife cuts through like butter! My mother-in-law soaks it in buttermilk for a few days which makes it so tender!

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5. Julemat

Christmas food! Typically whatever part of Norway you’re from dictates what you eat for Christmas dinner. I like that Thomas’ family has both of the most common Christmas dishes, pinnekjøtt and ribbe. Pinnekjott is cured lamb that you then steam. It’s definitely a unique taste but I love it, especially with mashed rutabagas! And then you have ribbe, which is the whole side of the pork so you get the tender meat, pork belly, and the crispy cracklings on top! Sauerkraut is always served with this to cut the richness. The dinner is rounded out of course with boiled potatoes and gravy and a shot of akevitt to wash it down!

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6. Sjømat

Seafood - The gangs all here! We always have an epic seafood night when we first arrive. Whole sweet shrimp, mussels, langoustines and stone crab are all musts. The best way to eat the shrimp is to tear the heads off, suck out the juices (please don’t leave the page lol), peel the shrimp and pile them up on top of a piece of white bread with a squeeze of lemon and mayo. They have the best squeezable mayo in Norway and I feel like it tastes so much better than brands in the U.S.!

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7. Crabbe

This goes along with #6 above, but I feel like crab deserved it’s own spot on the list! King crabs as well as stone crabs are very common in Norwegian waters. King crab is going to be really pricey, but if you happen to be visiting Bergen and want a great experience definitely go to the seafood market and eat king crab while looking out at the boats coming in the harbor! Or just pick up stone crab claws and have a feast at home!

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8. Cured and Dried Everything

Back in the day everything was salted and dried because you had to do that to get through the winter in Norway. Cured meats and fish is still such a big part of their daily diets to this day! I really like smoked mackerel like in the picture below or Bacalao which is a salted cod dish. The below photo is when we first visited Thomas’s mormor (grandma) whom speaks zero English - Thomas walked off to the bathroom before we starting eating and me and mormor just chatted away, me in English and her in Norwegian, before we ate lunch together. I will forever remember meeting mormor for the first time when I eat mackerel or bacalao!

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9. Frokost

Breakfast! In the U.S. it’s typical to have eggs and bacon, a big stack of pancakes, and an overindulgent hot breakfast - not in Norway! I had to get used to the Norwegian breakfast concept at first, but now I love it! On their typical breakfast table in the morning you’ll always find bread, cured meats, multiple kinds of cheeses, maybe lox or picked herring, a few sliced veggies like cucumbers and peppers, and a bountiful amount of tubes of mayo, tubes of caviar, and tubs of butters/spreads. This changes i’m sure from week to week, family to family, but overall this easy-going custom is country wide.

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10. Vaffel

Any time is waffle time in Norway! Thinner and softer than it’s American or Belgium friends, they are best topped with either brunost (sweet brown cheese) or strawberry jam and sour cream!

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11. Kvikk Lunsj

Better than a Kit Kat, there I said it! This is my favorite chocolate bar ever! Tastes just like a Kit Kat but better! The blurry photo below with my french tip nails circa senior year of college was when I first tasted the glory of kvikk lunsj and had to snap a pic.

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12. Akevitt

a spirit produced primarily in Scandinavia which is the liquid devil 👹 but a must to drink when you’re in Norway nevertheless. So bad/good that we even served it at our wedding! I had a fun relationship with akevitt before I had a little too much last Christmas! This is typically served alongside Christmas dinner to digest all of the heavy food. It’s meant to digest not eject, Hillary 🙄

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13. Jagermeister in the snow before after ski

My first winter in Norway we went northwest of Oslo to go skiing for the weekend. I experienced some of the best slopes, drank Jagermeister chilled in the snow (sans red bull since they’re “vikings”), and then danced on tables at 4pm for “After Ski”. If you’re in Norway over wintertime then do yourself a favor and get to the slopes, or just skip that and go straight for the after ski. No judgement here!

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Other good things that aren’t pictured

- Rakfisk - okay some might not say this is “good” but I actually like it! It’s a salted fermented trout that packs a pungent punch - served with potato bread, sour cream, and onions. Try this if you’re feeling adventurous!
- The yellow package of melkesjokolade - yummy milk chocolate. Pick up a bunch on your way home in duty free at Gardermoen to bring home as gifts!
- Smash - it’s like Bugles but covered in milk chocolate! So good and can be used for witches fingers just as easily 😆
- Krumkake - a cone shaped Norwegian waffle cookie
- svele - hot sweet pancake. I remember thinking it was like a chocolate chip cookie in pancake form!
- Gløgg - a mulled wine typically drank around Christmas

What I haven’t tried yet but is on my list!

- Lutefisk - okay I don’t really want to eat this, but I feel like I have to try it once! It’s a gelatinous mix of dried fish and lye if you’re wondering…yum.
- Rømmegrøt - a Norwegian porridge made with lots of rich cream. We’re making this the next time we’re home for Christmas!
- fiskeboller - literally “fish balls”. I know it doesn’t sound appealing but Thomas said he ate them growing up with a curry béchamel sauce - sounds pretty good to me!
- Smalahove - literally sheeps head. Please still be my friend.

Enjoy your Nordic adventure and please comment below if you try any of this on your trip to Norway!