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Finnish Food: 10 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Finland

Finnish Food: 10 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Finland

Finland is known to be the happiest country in the world. Because of that, it is a growing travel destination in the Nordic region as many people are drawn to both the landscapes and the exquisite Finnish cuisine.

Most Popular Finishes Dishes

Other than being the happiest country, Finns are also known for being passionate about food and are very loyal to their culinary roots. Similar to their Scandinavian neighbours of Sweden and Norway, fish is a regular feature of the Finnish diet, along with root vegetables.

So without further ado, these are the Finnish dishes you absolutely must try, along with our favorite chosen recipe.

Karelian Pasty

Karelian pasty

Karelian pasties are small, crusty pastries filled with ingredients such as mashed potato or rice and then oven baked.

They are usually served with sliced boiled egg and are also popular in Estonia and Russia.

Our favorite Karelian Pasty recipe.

Poronkäristys (Sautéed Reindeer)

Poronkäristys

Reindeer are recognized as Santa’s helpers outside of the Nordic countries. However, in Finland, reindeers are a common source of protein.

Reindeer is delicious, and it’s also environmentally friendly to eat them. The animals graze on the native vegetation while roaming free in northern Finland’s woodlands.

Reindeer meat has a strong flavor and is low in fat, just like all game meat. Sautéed with mashed potatoes and lingonberries is the most typical preparation.

Our favorite Poronkäristys recipe.

Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Bun)

Korvapuusti

Kanelbulle is popular throughout Scandinavia so if you’ve ever visited IKEA’s food court, you’ve most likely seen this sweet treat. Kanelbulle is a sweet bun loaded with sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom.

The Finnish name for this treat is korvapuusti, which translates as “a slap on the ear.” No one is sure how this pastry received its name, although it could be because of its shape, which resembles a set of ears.

Our favorite Korvapuusti recipe.

Leipäjuusto (Bread Cheese)

Leipäjuusto

Leipäjuusto is a sweet baked cheese; a regional specialty that has grown in popularity across Finland. When you bite into the cheese it makes a squeaky sound, which is why some Finns, particularly children, call it “squeaky cheese”.

It’s very popular in the North of Finland and it is best served hot with a dollop of cloudberry jam on top. Bright orange cloudberries are only found in high altitude bogs and are unique to Scandinavia.

The flavor is a blend of sweet, sour, and tangy elements that nicely complement the fattiness of the cheese. Although less popular leipäjuusto can be substituted for paneer cheese in salads and Indian cuisine.

Our favorite Leipäjuusto recipe.

Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup)

Lohikeitto

Lohikeitto is a bowl of steaming hot salmon soup served with rye bread is a traditional Finnish way to enjoy it. Fish is abundant in Finnish cuisine, with salmon being the most popular.

This easy soup can be made with either a clear or milky broth, and fresh cream can be added for a more decadent flavor on special occasions. The soup frequently includes potatoes, carrots and leeks in addition to the salmon. Dill is typically used as a garnish, particularly in the summer.

Our favorite Lohikeitto recipe.

Paistetut Muikut (Fried Vendace)

Fried Vendace Paistetut Muikut

Paistetut Muikut is a dish of fried vendace (freshwater whitefish), which comes with mashed potatoes or on its own. Vendace, which comes from one of Finland’s thousands of lakes, makes up for its small size with a rich flavor.

The recipe is simple: gut the fish, cover in a mixture of rye and plain flour, and fry in a generous amount of butter. The best, and the only, right way to eat Vendace is to buy a fresh portion at a market. Buying a fresh portion of Vendace at a market is the best way to try it.

Our favorite Paistetut Muikut recipe.

Ruisleipä (Rye Bread)

Ruisleipä

Ruisleipä is the Finnish word for Rye bread, a staple of the Finnish diet. It is commonly served with ham and cheese or a side of butter for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack.

You’ll find dozens of kinds of Ruisleipä in local Finnish supermarkets or bakeries, including reikäleipä, a large circular bread with a hole in the middle, and jälkiuunileipä, a hard bread baked at a low temperature. 

There are also dry varieties named näkkileipä and hapankorppu, the latter of which is known as Finn Crisps outside of Finland. Because it is prepared from sourdough and is high in fiber, rye bread is a good choice for those seeking a nutritious option.

Our favorite Ruisleipä recipe.

Lihapiirakka (Meat Pie)

Lihapiirakka

Lihapiirakka is a meat pie made with a doughnut-like dough that is filled with boiled rice and minced beef, and then in oil.

It’s also a go-to snack for party-goers returning home after a night out because of its greasiness and saltiness. Lihapiirakka can be found at any of the country’s many late-night grill places.

Our favorite Lihapiirakka recipe.

Uudet Perunat Ja Silli (Spring Potatoes and Pickled Herring)

Uudet Perunat Ja Silli

Uudet Perunat Ja Silli is a quite simple dish consisting of spring potatoes and pickled herring.

June, July, and August bring with them not just nicer weather and longer days, but also an abundance of fresh local foods, some of which are only accessible for a limited time. Spring potatoes are one of the most eagerly anticipated harvests. These potatoes are much smaller than regular potatoes, with a lovely firm texture, and a slightly sweet flavour.

Although Finns eat potatoes all year round, they are served as a major meal rather than a side dish in the summer. Boiling spring potatoes, dill, butter, and pickled herring are all staples of summer supper.

Our favorite Uudet Perunat Ja Silli recipe.

Salmiakki (Salty Licorice)

Salmiakki

Salmiakki is a type of Finnish licorice, seasoned with ammonium chloride to give it a sharp, salty kick. Most people may not like it at first, but salmiakki is quite addictive for Finns who have grown up eating it.

You’ll find the salty licorice flavor in ice cream, chocolate, fudge, and one of the most popular mediums: vodka, in addition to dozens of distinct salmiakki candy.

Starting with a little box of Fazer salmiakki is a smart idea. Turkinpippuri, a hard salmiakki candy loaded with spicy salmiakki powder, is for people who want something very spicy.

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