15 Most Popular Swedish Christmas Dishes

Swedish people don’t celebrate Christmas Day, but instead gather on Christmas Eve, because Christmas table a great smorgasbord or banquet, with starters (herringbone), sumptuous main courses and delicious desserts (we’ll get to that later).

Whether it’s a Christmas party at work or at home with family and friends, the Christmas table is the central part of our Christmas meals, and an absolute must if you ever visit Sweden around Christmas time.

Sweden is a long and narrow country, so the gastronomic culture differs between the south, the middle and the north, but what we have in common is our love for all kinds of holiday foods, especially potatoes, fish, game and red meat. It’s almost impossible to just pick 15 favorite dishes, but I’m going to try! Here we go…

Meatballs / Swedish meatballs

The most beloved Swedish delicacy, eaten as an everyday treat with gravy and potatoes. They are eaten all year round and are also a must during the Swedish holidays, when these bite-sized balls are specially flavored with allspice and nutmeg. One of the most popular side dishes, for sure.

2. Jansson’s seduction

JANSSON'S seduction

Jansson’s seduction is a relatively new dish created by the Swedish opera singer Per Janzon at the end of the 19th century or by the Swedish housewife Elvira Stigmark after seeing a movie of the same name in the year 1928. Whoever invented it, we are very grateful !

Juliennes Potatoes, onions and anchovies are mixed in an ovenproof dish with salt and pepper, milk and cream, and finally sprinkled with breadcrumbs before being baked in the oven until golden brown. temptation means temptation, and that’s the best way to describe this delicious dish.

3. Christmas ham

Swedish Christmas ham

The classic Swedish Christmas ham is a joint of cured pork cooked in brine, dried and cooled, the fat then coated with mustard and breadcrumbs, and finally decorated with cloves, and baked in the oven until golden brown. The juices are usually saved for a bread dipping pot (dive into the pot), or used as part of a stewed kale side dish.

4. Louse cats

louse cats

louse cats are sweet S-shaped wheat pretzel rolls, flavored with saffron (which gives them their distinct yellow color), and topped with a few raisins. They are made especially for Christmas and are traditionally eaten from December 13, the celebration of St. Lucia, until the end of the holiday season.

5. Game

Roasted game birds

Hunting and game are important in Sweden due to our vast number of forests. Game is served in a variety of ways with favorites including elk or wild boar steaks, deer seeds, and wild boar ribs.

Black grouse and pheasants are highly sought after woodland birds for their delicious flavor and are a Christmas favorite in the center and north of the country. The birds are roasted and served as a main dish or as a side dish. Swedish meatballs and sausages made from chopped elk or wild boar are also very popular around Christmas.

6. Sill table

sill table
credit: blacklake_bbq

Pickled herring, or threshhold as Sweden call it, is for many the most important item on the Christmas table, and the word herringbone means “herring table” – a smorgasbord of various types of usually cold appetizers.

on a typical herringbone you will find pickled herring such as curry, onions, Christmas spices, dill and new versions such as whiskey flavored herring. It is also customary to serve eel, fried herring, breaded plaice, liver pâté with bacon, various types of cabbage, beetroot coleslaw, veal pâté, cheese and bread. Typical bread is wort bread that is a dark bread ether made using the booze wort or beer and crispbread – Swedish dried crispbread.

Tradition dictates that one must eat the herringbone for the main course, but most of us ignore this and pick it up throughout the meal. A mandatory act, however, is to take one (or many) shots of schnapps, Swedish 38% flavored vodka, so the fish can swim to the stomach!

7. Salmon


Sweden is full of beautiful lakes and is surrounded by three seas: the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat. With all this water comes great fishing opportunities.

Salmon is one of the most sought-after delicacies and is eaten in a variety of ways at Christmas: oven baked, cold or hot smoked salmon, or gravad lax. Literally “buried salmon,” the name comes from the ancient way of preparing the fish, where the salmon was buried in the cold ground for days or weeks until preserved. Nowadays everything can be done in the fridge!

After being topped with a dry rub of salt, sugar and spices such as dill, the salmon is wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in the fridge with a weight on it. After a few days, the moisture will have disappeared from the fish and the meat will be tender and ready to be served in thin slices.

8. Glögg and Julmust

Mulled wine

Mulled wine and Jul-must the delicious Christmas drinks are loved by young and old. Mulled wine is a spiced warm wine that is perfect for the cold Swedish winter climate. Alcohol is optional, but chopped almonds and raisins are often added. Enjoy a glass of gingerbread and sweets.

Christmas must

Christmas must is a traditional carbonated soft drink, similar to cola, and sold only during the holiday season, usually served with a variety of Christmas dishes.

9. Prince sausage

Prince sausage

Sausages of all kinds are a big part of Swedish celebrations, the most popular being Prince sausage, “Princewurst”. They are smoked sausages 5-7 centimeters long and very popular all year round.

They were originally called sister in law, from the French “little sausage”, and later “syskonkorv”, meaning “brother sausage”, as it is sold in lengths where several sausages are tied together.Prince sausage are usually fried, and often served with mustard.

They are in fact a shorter variant of the Viennese sausage, which was made in 1805 by the butcher Johann Georg Lahner in Vienna. Their small size makes them a favorite of children, while adults with fond memories are transported back to their childhood munching on a prince basket.

10. Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts and Kale

Swedish Kale Salad

The cold Swedish autumn is perfect for growing crops such as kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, which have become a big part of our fall and winter diet. My grandfather always said that it was a really successful Christmas if you were served at least four kinds of cabbage, kale or Brussels sprouts!

credit: tina160995

Cabbage is cooked and served in a variety of ways, such as: brown cabbage (brown cabbage), Red cabbage (red cabbage), and sauerkraut. Boiled and then baked with a seasoning of vinegar, salt and syrup, brown cabbage gets its brown color from the long cooking time.

Red cabbage

Red cabbage is a sweet dish of red cabbage, apple slices, herbs, syrup and apple cider vinegar, which are baked over a low heat for a long time.

Kale Pie Kale Pie
credit: furubackens_tradgard_och_djur

Kale is eaten boiled and stewed with cream and Christmas ham juices, or in a kale pie.

11. Gingerbread, Tough Caramel, Butterscotch and Christmas Chocolate

gingerbread house

Gingerbread cookies are only eaten around Christmas in Sweden. Adults bake them together with their children or eat the dough just as it is. These cookies come in all shapes and sizes such as hearts, animals and stars. Some people bake beautiful gingerbread houses decorated with candy.

Crack and ice chocolate
Crack and ice chocolate. credit: marie_franzen_weber

Other types of small cakes and chocolates are also popular, such as chewy caramel, butterscotch with almonds and special chocolate called iced chocolate (ice chocolate).

12. Eel


Eel is typical in the south of Sweden, where even a summer party is mentioned lagille (eel feast). Since eel is such an important part of the Southern Swedish diet, it is a must on the Christmas table.

Harsh fishing rules and higher prices have made eel extremely expensive, so today it is usually reserved for special occasions such as Christmas. The eel is baked in the oven, pickled or cold smoked and eaten as an appetizer.

13. Beet Salad

beet Salad

beet Salad (beet cabbage salad) is a popular side dish, which is also delicious on a meatball sandwich. A popular snack all year round, beet Salad is made from pre-cooked beets that are finely diced and mixed with mustard, mayonnaise and sour cream.

14. Risgrynsgröt and Ris à la Malta

Rice pudding

When it comes to our Christmas dinner dessert, many Swedes come first Rice pudding (rice pudding), or laughing at Malta, which is the same thing, but with slices of tangerine and cinnamon. Both types are served with juice soup, a sweet plum or berry juice, thickened with potato flour. Somewhere in the pudding is hidden an almond, and the person who receives it will, according to legend, get married the following year.

Laughing at Malta
credit: tryswedishjapan

Tradition says that you should put a bowl of pudding in front of the leprechaun on Christmas Eve so that he will be kind to your family, animals and livestock. Old legends are part of Swedish culture and although many no longer believe them, these traditions are still a fun part of Christmas for younger children.

15. Sylta

muscle strength
credit: gunillabexilt

muscle strength is a type of meat hash, which today is mainly eaten by the older generation. It is made with meat from the head of a calf or pig, which has been cooked for hours until tender, mixed with carrots, onions and seasoned with allspice and bay leaf. muscle strength is served on the sillbord as a starter and definitely has a required taste!

With Christmas just around the corner, hopefully you’ll be inspired to give one of these Swedish Christmas dishes a try. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Related: Top 20 Favorite Swedish Foods


Catja Kroon

Catja Kroon is a Swedish freelance writer and cookbook writer based in Spain. Food and drink are her lifelong passion. She left the professional kitchen to pursue her dream as a writer, which has given her the opportunity to work with food in a variety of ways.

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