4 Traditional Icelandic Foods That You Need To Try

If you're planning a visit to Iceland in the near future, you're undoubtedly looking forward to the getting a firsthand look at the island country's legendary natural beauty. You'll be in awe at the sight of deep fjords filled with some of the purest water on the planet and framed by lush vegetation and at the abundant natural hot springs, lava fields, geysers, and other wonders of the world. If you're lucky, you'll even see the aurora borealis while you're there. However, travel isn't just about seeing stunning sights—you'll need to eat during your visit, and part of the fun of traveling to another country is experiencing the culture. 

Iceland's unique cuisine scene has been sculpted over the centuries by the country's relative isolation, access to abundant seafood, and limited agricultural opportunities due to short growing seasons and low seasonal temperatures. The abundance of geothermal energy combined with advances in greenhouse technology has allowed Icelanders to have local sources of fresh fruits and vegetables on a year-round basis, and globalization means that you can pretty much find any kind of food you want in Iceland's larger cities. While you're there, however, be sure to try at least a few regional culinary traditions. 

Following are four stars of Iceland's culinary cuisine scene that you should make sure to try during your sojourn to Iceland. 


This simple-but-delicious staple of Icelandic coastal communities is basically a fish stew based on whitefish, potatoes, onions, flour, and milk. Every community seems to have its own special version of plokkfiskur, and individual home cooks as well as commercial chefs have their own well-guarded secret recipes for this dish. It can be embellished in a variety of ways with spices, herbs, sauces, and even different types of cheese. Some cooks even add a pinch of curry powder for a bit of added heat. 


Because grains have historically been extremely difficult to grow in Iceland, the country never developed the type of flourishing bread traditions found in other parts of the world. Flatbreads have been historically popular in Iceland because they take far less flour than other types of bread, and laufabrauð is one of Iceland's national treasures. Made of simple ingredients such as flour, baking soda, milk, sugar, salt, and butter, this deep-fried bread is typically served during the holiday season in Iceland. Its name translates to mean "leaf bread," and it's cut in geometric patterns meant to replicate the appearance of leaves. If you're lucky enough to be able to try laufabrauð, be prepared to be just a little bit reluctant to eat it because of its extreme aesthetic appeal. 


There are more than twice as many sheep in Iceland as there are people, so it makes sense than sheep are well-represented in the country's culinary scene. Kjötsúpa is a delicious lamb stew that's closely related to Irish stew. Because Icelandic sheep stocks are so isolated, the sheep raised there are among the most pure strains on the planet, resulting in meat that is fine-grained and delicious. Like other traditional foods of Iceland, kjötsúpa has many regional variations, with the common ingredients being lamb or mutton along with various root vegetables, depending on what's available and what's in season. 


Considered a staple in many Icelandic homes, harðfiskur is dried fish that's been salted and seasoned—many Icelanders enjoy harðfiskur the way that Americans enjoy chips, serving it as snack fare while watching movies and during family gatherings. Harðfiskur is commonly made from cod or haddock and is cured in the bracing Northern Atlantic air. Although it can be enjoyed plain, many residents of Iceland prefer it with salted butter. 

To learn more about visiting Iceland, contact a company like Glacial Experience.