Top 5 Icelandic Christmas Foods you’ll love and 1 that will gross you out!

icelandic christmas food - photograph of homemade gingerbread biscuits. 

by Lucky Byfleet

Gleðileg jól! Happy Christmas!

With the long dark days spending time eating with our friends and family is important to keep our spirits up, and some of our Icelandic Christmas food is universally considered delicious – leaf bread anyone? Other foods… take some getting used to; we are looking at you fermented skate! Have a look at our top Icelandic Christmas foods.

  1. Leaf bread – laufabrauð. This thin, deep fried, wafer like bread is delicious and beautiful, the patterns are made using special rollers, and families take time to get together to make these. Within Iceland you see them everywhere and Icelanders abroad will miss them terribly as they are hard to find outside of the country. Dusted with icing sugar, they are melt in the mouth heaven. For an English language recipe watch this!
Recipe from the Icelandic Food Centre

2. Marinated Herring – síld. Loved by all Nordic countries, pickled herring is best served on heavy rye bread, maybe with some raw onions…but a cheeky forkful straight from the jar when no one is watching goes down a treat too! It is more tangy than fishy, and full of vitamins and omega 3 for healthy hearts. Nothing is stopping you from trying this delight.

We have a museum to herring we love it so much!

3. Almond Rice pudding – möndlu grautur. We don’t want to cause arguments here, so we acknowledge that whilst some eat it as a dessert others (us) eat it as a Christmas breakfast food! It’s basically rice pudding with chopped almonds in, and ideally a caramel sauce with it, oh and white chocolate. There’s a lot of variations on when to eat this and how to make it, but however your family does it, oh it’s so good.

A recipe for almond porridge can be found here at Kitchen Stories

4. Smoked lamb – Hangikjöt. We have a lot of sheep here, 2.5 sheep for every person. So if we aren’t eating fish we are eating lamb. It is traditionally served with uppstúfur, like a bechamel sauce, potatoes, and peas, but it is also great cold, a slice on flatkökur (flat cake) goes down a treat. As we don’t have many trees here it was originally smoked over sheep dung! But that would be a rare delight to find now. If you want to learn how to make it watch this video below.

Really lovely English Language recipe by Well Hung Food

5. Malt drink and fizzy orange – Jólabland – Malt og Appelsín -. This is a hard one to describe, these are two of our most popular fizzy drinks, and at Christmas they are mixed (orange first to prevent overflowing) to create this almost non-alcoholic drink (malt is 1%). You can buy it premixed or make your own, but it’s not Christmas without it! Malt extract has been made since 1915 and they made this deeply Icelandic advert to celebrate its centenary.

One that we aren’t a big fan of;

Fermented Skate (flat fish) – kæst skata. Not for the faint of heart, this is possibly more pungent than the infamous rotten shark – kæstur hákarl – it used to be a Christmas stable, specifically on the Feast of Saint Thorlak, Þorláksmessa -December 23rd. Nowadays fewer and fewer people are eating it and we totally understand why. It’s so pungent that people living in apartment buildings might deeply upset their neighbors, multiple floors away, but serving this * cough * delicacy.

A great little video from www.getlocal.is

If you enjoyed learning about Icelandic Christmas food, and want to learn more about Iceland why not look at our favorite animals that we see on our yacht tours. Or our favorite waterfalls near Reykjavik?

What is your favorite Icelandic Christmas food? Do you cook any of these?

Happy Christmas!


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.