6 must-try traditional Finnish dishes. There’s a lot of talking about the Nordic cuisine revolution. People are just starting to realize that food up here is tasty, healthy, and unique. Sweden and especially Norway are hitting the headlines often, but Finland has lots to offer too.
Finnish food is straightforward but incredibly satisfying. Fresh fish is always on the table, hearty stews and casseroles, high-quality agricultural produce, and meat also play their part.
If you want to know what Finnish food is all about, read on, and have a look at our 6 favorite traditional Finnish dishes.
6 must-try traditional Finnish dishes
This creamy, buttery soup with all the flavors of the local salmon is a great winter soup, although the Finnish enjoy it all year round! If you are looking for something delicious and comforting in dark winter days — the salmon soup should be your go-to.
Onions, carrots, and potatoes give texture to the soup, and the ubiquitous dill gives it the trademark Nordic taste.
If you want to make it at home, cook your vegetables in butter, add (four cups) of fish stock until the veggies are tender, add cream (one cup), bite-sized pieces of salmon and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Finnish people eat healthily. Their dishes are often hearty, made with fresh ingredients, and usually made for sharing. Their casseroles are legendary, and there are many variations of them. The cabbage casserole is one of the best known.
Cabbage is the main ingredient here, but it’s actually the ground meat that goes in it is what makes it a whole meal, and rice gives the food body.
This dish remains as part of the country’s culinary traditions, although it’s not made as often anymore. Cabbage is not very popular these days, but this casserole is astounding! This dish is easy to prepare. It can be served at dinner time with rice.
Meatballs and mashed potatoes with lingonberry jam
The Finnish call their meatballs lihapullat, so maybe we should just call them meatballs. Although almost every country in the world has some type of hand-rolled ground meat, the Finnish meatballs are quite distinctive. It’s the use of kermavili, a local, sour curd cream that makes the meatballs feel delightfully silky and smooth.
A customary way of enjoying these prime meatballs is with mashed potatoes. These are no regular mashed potatoes neither; if made traditionally, with oven-baked potatoes, egg, cream, butter, and breadcrumbs, they become a fluffy, intensely flavorful mash.
Enjoy some pickles on the side to contrast your meal’s richness or enjoy a scoop of lingonberry jam, an arctic berry with enticing sweetness, to elevate the dish to celebratory heights. If you are a meat lover, this is definitely your go-to.
Karelia is an eastern province in Finland, and they’re especially known for their stews and pastries. The Finnish name for the recipe is Karjalanpaisti.
The dish can be prepared using meat (beef, lamb, etc) along with other ingredients like carrots, onions, and any vegetables. Although, it takes longer to prepare as it needs to be cooked in a pot (oven braised). The Karelian stew is typically served at traditional events and Sunday dinners.
Casserole Pea Soup
This is a heartwarming soup full of tradition; It’s what you’d have at grandma place, occasions such as skating, skiing, school events, outdoor events, etc. Restaurants serve it too, and it’s interestingly served as a special on Thursdays.
What you might not know is that you can only get fresh peas in the spring; the rest of the year, you have to make the soup with dried peas — they’re two different dishes altogether!
The secret is the soup’s base: meat, onions and local seasonings — they give the soup all its character. There is also a vegetarian version. You’ll probably get rye bread or crackers, or a Finnish pancake to complement your green, creamy plate.
Minced meat, macaroni, and cheese, this is an easy one, but a crowd-pleaser for sure. Kids love it and even some die-hard fans of Finland like me.
Would you have imagined that one of the most popular dishes in Finland has to do with macaroni pasta? It is, and it’s clear why: Macaroni, like any pasta, is a blank slate for creativity. Having said that, Finns make a delicious casserole with it.
The Finnish name for the recipe is makaronilaatikko because “laatikko” is a casserole-style dish. The dish is an everyday favorite: uncomplicated, easy to prepare, and utterly satisfying.