Christmastime is without a doubt one of the most important celebrations for people from all around the world. If you are coming to Iceland around that special time of the year, you are in luck as there are plenty of delicious foods for you to try. Isn’t eating just the best way to dive into Icelandic culture? Believe me, there are so many restaurants on the island that you can check out during your stay. Our most beloved and traditional Icelandic Christmas foods will please your palate and have you begging for second and third helpings.
Delicious Icelandic Main Courses
Typical Icelandic foods at Christmas include roasted lamb, pork loin and even horse meat. Each and every dish comes prepared using unique local recipes that will most definitely delight your senses. Let me tell you about hangikjöt, a very tasty and savory dish often served with potatoes, peas and creamy sauce. Tradition tells us that the key to a nice hangikjöt is to cure the meat first with salt and spices. Then you slowly smoke it with dry horse manure (yes, you read that correctly!) until the meat reduces to half of its weight. Nowadays people simply hang a large piece of meat to smoke it for a while with manure (or without). They boil the meat as the final touch.
Just ask any Icelander you meet about the importance of this dish in their lives, and they will tell you that the smell alone instantly evokes memories of Christmas.
Even if lamb or pork isn’t really your thing, don’t panic! There’s always a silver lining. Smoked Arctic char or guillemot will also be a tasty alternative to trying hangikjöt. Make sure to include Hereford steakhouse on your list.
What about meat-free dishes? You should know that Icelandic cuisine has been introducing vegan and vegetarian options for this increasingly growing community of locals and tourists. There are so many exciting and unique creations to try while in Iceland. Stews made with tofu, delicious carrot and mushroom soups, and even nut loaves are among the meatless dishes you should sample. Another recommended restaurant is The Red House (Rauða Húsið). They’ve got lots of options for fish lovers and vegetarians.
Sweet Treats For Everybody!
We all love desserts, don’t we? Some of the typical Icelandic foods at Christmas will, of course, include homemade butter cookies. There are also delicious cakes such as Lagkaka. This baked treat is quite famous for its rich texture and whipped cream, jam, and fruity filling! This one is my personal favorites. Another great dessert is Vínarterta or often called Randalína. Its quite similar to Lagkaka but this cake is vanilla flavored, and its layers are filled with plum jam. Lastly, let me tell you about Brúnkaka which means “brown cake”. The cake is very no frills compared to the ones mentioned before but its filled with buttercream. It’s simply delicious! You could add some Rhubarb jam or prunes on top for a fancier look.
Try looking up recipes and baking some of these desserts at home. I am sure that you will love sharing some of these traditional cakes with your friends and family. If you’d like to grab a bite or maybe take a cake to go, visit this local bakery when in Iceland.
Special Drinks for Christmas
Last but not least, let’s talk about some of the beverages we could enjoy at a traditional Christmas celebration in Iceland. Maltöl (not beer, technically) and Appelsín (orange soda), a classic mix that everyone drinks. Even children are allowed to have some! It is a non-alcoholic soft drink, locally produced for generations. Just think of the classic Fanta but with a slightly sweeter taste. You should definitely give it a try as it has been in the life of Icelanders for about 80 years now.
Looking for a cool bar in town? Lewbowksi Bar in downtown Reykjavik is one of your best bets.
As you may probably have guessed, beer is another very traditional refreshing drink we all enjoy this time of the year. There are some local creations that most tourists would love to try. Bjólfur Grenibjór is an interesting mixture of caramel and pine (yes! pine) flavors and quite tasty. My special pick is Einstök Icelandic doppelbock. Its bittersweet taste and special aroma are wonderful. It is perfect for a Christmas mood. Find out more at their website.
Typical Icelandic Foods at Christmas
Typical Icelandic foods at Christmas are at the heart of Icelandic traditions. They invite all tourist that come to visit this island every year to learn and enjoy the diversity of its people, drinks and unique specialties. From tasty meat, new recipes and refreshing beverages, we think that you are going to remember Iceland best through its culinary traditions.