Food in Norway: Traditional Norwegian Food to Try

When it comes to experiencing a country’s culture, one of the most essential aspects to explore is its traditional food. On a larger scale than most people realize, food is not just a part of the culture it can define culture.

This rings especially true for Norway, a land famous for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Embracing Norwegian food is an integral part of immersing oneself in the Norwegian way of life. Whether you are planning a visit to Norway or simply want to explore its culinary traditions from your location, this guide takes a look at traditional Norwegian foods you can try or make at home.

Beautiful Nature Norway natural landscape. Food in Norway

Food tourism may sound like some kind of new trend but culinary experiences, culinary tourism, gastronomy tourism, travelling for food and travel for food have all been around for a very long time Food is the linchpin of society and it creates a connection between our beliefs, our ethnicity, our individual cultures and our cultural heritage.  

What are the Most Traditional Norwegian Dishes?

Norwegian cuisine has a long history dating back hundreds of years, characterized by fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and simple yet flavorful preparations. From the coastal regions to the inland areas, traditional Norwegian dishes are heavily influenced by the country’s natural resources, including an abundance of seafood and game meats.

Various seafood on the shelves of the fish market in Bergen in Norway. A woman standing behind a counter serving traditional food in Norway. On the counter are platters of fishes including lobster rolls, smoked salmon plates, shrimp and prawn salads and Norwegian smoked salmon on bagels.

Traditional Norwegian Seafood Dishes

Seafood plays a central role in Norwegian cuisine, and the most iconic dish in Norway is lutefisk, a type of dried fish that is rehydrated and served with a variety of accompaniments.

Food in Norway: Norwegian Desserts

For those with a sweet tooth, Norwegian desserts offer a delightful array of treats. From the classic kransekake, a traditional almond cake, to the indulgent verdens beste (world’s best cake), Norway boasts an assortment of confections that are sure to satisfy any dessert lover.

Norwegian Almond cake. A piece of cake on a plate with a fork, with powedered sugar on top and a mint leaf and almonds decorating the plate

Exploring Norwegian Breakfast Traditions

Norwegian breakfasts often include a variety of cheeses, meats, and bread, with brunost (brown cheese) being a staple item. This unique cheese, known for its distinctive caramelized flavor, is a must-try for anyone wishing to experience a traditional Norwegian breakfast.

Breakfast with a view in Norway - cloudy Nordfjord view in Olden. A stone table in front of a lake, showcasing food in Norway.

Ingredients in Traditional Norwegian food

Norwegian Seafood 

Given Norway’s extensive coastline, seafood such as salmon, cod, and herring is a vital component of Norwegian cuisine. These ingredients are often prepared using traditional smoking methods, imparting a distinctive flavor that is synonymous with Norwegian traditional food.

Lamb and Mutton in Traditional Norwegian Dishes

Lamb and mutton feature prominently in traditional Norwegian dishes, with preparations ranging from hearty stews to delicately seasoned roasts.

The unique Norwegian Brown Cheese

One of the most unique products in Norwegian cuisine is brunost (brown cheese), a sweet and tangy cheese made from caramelized milk. This renowned cheese is often served alongside bread and is a beloved element of Norwegian culinary heritage.

A cup of coffee on a table next to a plate of waffles and jam, emulating the cozy food experience in Norway. Norwegian brunost on white table. Breakfast with Scandinavian brown cheese, bread and coffee.

Sour Cream in Norwegian Cooking

Sour cream is a ubiquitous ingredient in Norwegian cooking, used in both savory and sweet dishes. Its creamy texture and tangy flavor add depth to numerous traditional Norwegian recipes, including soups, sauces, and baked goods.

Two glass jars with traditional food of herring in sour cream a favourite in Norway in them.

Waffles in Norwegian Food Culture

In Norway, waffles are a beloved culinary treasure, often enjoyed with a variety of toppings such as sour cream, jam, and brunost. Whether served as a snack or as part of a festive gathering, waffles hold a special place in Norwegian food culture. In contrast to American waffles, which are primarily a breakfast item,

Norwegian waffles are a versatile treat enjoyed at any time of the day. These waffles are thinner and softer than their American or Belgian counterparts and are adorned with a range of toppings.

A plate of Norwegian waffls with raspberry jam and powered sugar

Popular choices include whipped cream, sour cream, brunost (brown cheese), gomme (sweet cheese), berries, jam, and sugar. While sweet toppings are more common, they can also be paired with savory ingredients such as blue cheese, sausage, or eggs.Vafler means “waffles”

Traditional Norwegian Meatball

Another cornerstone of Norwegian cuisine is the traditional meatball, known as kjøttkaker. These delectable meatballs are made from a blend of ground meats, typically served with a rich gravy and accompanied by potatoes and lingonberry sauce.

A plate with meatballs, potatoes, and red cabbage is a classic food in Norway.
Swedish or Norwegian Meatballs With Boiled Potatoes Red Cabbage And Gravy Meal Against A Purple or Blue Background

Traditional Norwegian Christmas Food and Celebrations

During the festive season, Norwegians indulge in a variety of traditional dishes, including the iconic pinnekjøtt (cured and steamed lamb or mutton ribs) and lutefisk, which are central to the Christmas time

Culinary traditions in Norway.

Sour Cream Porridge

An essential part of Norwegian Christmas celebrations is rømmegrøt, a creamy Norwegian sour cream porridge served with sugar, cinnamon, and a generous dollop of butter. This comforting dish holds symbolic significance during the holiday season.

A bowl with cinnamon in it on a table, symbolizing a typical spice used in food in Norway.'Rømmegrøt' is Norwegian porridge made with sour cream, whole milk, wheat flour, butter, and salt. it is thick and sweet and is generally drizzled in butter and sprinkled with sugar and ground cinnamon

Importance of Seafood, Especially Pickled Herring

Seafood remains a big part of Norwegian cuisine, and no matter what region of Norway you visit, you’re likely to be able to sample fantastic locally sourced seafood. Seafood, particularly pickled herring, is prominently featured in Norwegian celebrations and festivals. Whether enjoyed as a part of midsummer festivities or as a traditional accompaniment to Easter meals, pickled herring holds a cherished place in Norwegian culinary customs.

A slate platter of pickled herring on slices of potatoes topped with dill and pomegrante seeds

Where to Find Authentic Norwegian Food?

Food Tours Offering Traditional Norwegian Cuisine

One of the best ways to sample authentic Norwegian food is by embarking on a food tour that takes you to local eateries and hidden culinary gems. These tours provide an excellent opportunity to taste a wide range of traditional dishes and gain insight into the nuances of Norwegian cooking.

Oslo Alternative Culture and Street Food Tour

Discover Oslo’s alternative side—and enjoy an indulgent sampling of the city’s finest street food bites—on this immersive walking tour. Meet your guide in the afternoon in the city’s Vulkan neighborhood, and come prepared with an appetite: you’ll enjoy tastes of everything from traditional Norwegian hot dogs and waffles to hot cocoa and cured meats. In between, learn all about the city’s creative, cultural offerings, and hear insider stories from your guide.

Read more about Oslo Alternative Culture and Street Food  

A group of people on a food tour of Norway with traditional food from Norway in their hands.

Best Places to Eat in Norway

If you are visiting Norway on a cruise please take the time to seek out local restaurants and cafes otherwise you will miss an essential treat on your Norwegian bucket list. For those visiting Norway, seeking out restaurants and eateries that prioritize traditional Norwegian cuisine is essential. From charming family-owned establishments to upscale restaurants, there are numerous avenues to savor the flavors of Norway.

A beautiful brick building in Oslo with a cafe at street level under a blue sky. Street cafe at the Karl Johans Gate, the main pedestrian street in Oslo, Norway. Oslo is the capital of Norway.


Explore the culinary marvel that is Maaemo, nestled at Schweigaards gate 15B, 0191 Oslo, Norway. Hailed as Norway’s premier Michelin-starred dining haven, Maaemo is the brainchild of this Danish culinary virtuoso.

Savour the exquisite seasonal menu. Each dish is a masterpiece, crafted from ingredients meticulously sourced from biodynamic farms and adventurous foraging escapades in the Norwegian mountains.

Securing a reservation at Maaemo is no small feat; booking months in advance is often necessary. However, larger parties of more than two can find availability sooner.

A white plate with a traditional traditional Norwegian dish of reindeer meat in Norway, including a pastry shell with a cream sauce and cloudberry coulis

Huken Pub

Nestled in Tromsø, Huken Pub sits at Strandgata 22 and exudes a charming blend of coziness and character.

Sink your teeth into Huken’s signature burgers, generously stacked and dripping with flavorful sauces. Alternatively, indulge in the beloved American-style pancakes adorned with blueberries and crispy bacon. Despite its intimate size, Huken Pub boasts a commendable selection of beers, drawing in a lively crowd of enthusiasts as evening falls. To enjoy your feast, it’s advisable to arrive early and secure your spot before the pub fills up.

A plate of pancakes with blueberries and bacon, a cherished food in Norway.


Mathallen Oslo, located at Vulkan 5, 0178 Oslo, Norway. This is an outstanding food hall, and a beacon of culinary excellence.

There are 27 diverse eateries, ranging from beautiful cupcakes to tantalizing tapas and flavorful bento boxes. Can’t make up your mind? Head to the Torget stall and indulge in the Taste of Mathallen menu, a culinary journey showcasing the best dishes from across the hall.

A plate of traditional food in Norway with fish, onions, and beets on it. The bread is openfaced dark rye bread with a beetroot saled topped with cucumber and smoked herring, a spring of thyme and raw onions
Sandwich with vegetables and herring on a paper background.

What to eat in Norway – 26 Norwegian Dishes

Norwegian cuisine features a variety of traditional dishes, often influenced by the country’s geography and climate. Here is a list of some traditional Norwegian foods:

  1. Rakfisk: Fermented fish, often trout or salmon.
  2. Rømmegrøt: Sour cream porridge, usually served with sugar, cinnamon, and butter.
  3. Pinnekjøtt: Dried and salted lamb or mutton ribs, typically served at Christmas. Pinnekjøtt is a traditional Norwegian Christmas dish of steamed lamb ribs paired with pureed rutabaga and boiled potatoes.
  4. Koldtbord: A cold buffet with various cold dishes, such as cured meats, fish, and salads.
    A platter with salmon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables, typical of food in Norway.
  5. Gravlaks: Cured salmon, often served with mustard sauce called sennepssaus. Gravlaks refers to Norwegian salmon that’s been cured using salt, sugar, and dill.
  6. Smoked Salmon: Smoked salmon is one of the most internationally famous Norwegian dishes. It’s one of Norway’s biggest exports.
  7. Kjøttkaker: Kjøttboller and kjøttkaker are similar to the more famous Swedish meatball though the Norwegian version is usually larger.
  8. Lefse: Soft, thin flatbreads often served with butter and sugar, or used for wrapping other ingredients.
  9. Lefserull: Rolled lefse with various fillings like butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
    A plate of food in Norway consisting of pancakes with salmon and vegetables on it.
  10. Raspeballer: Potato dumplings, commonly served with meat and a sauce.
  11. Sursild: Norwegian Pickled herring, prepared in various ways.
    A glass jar with food from Norway in it.
  12. Smalahove: Traditionally, a sheep’s head that is salted and dried, then boiled or steamed.
  13. Pølse med lompe: Hot dogs served in a soft, flatbread called lompe.
  14. Fårikål: The Norwegian National Dish is stew made with mutton or lamb, potatoes and cabbage.
    Meat and cabbage in a black pan on a wooden table, traditional food in Norway.
  15. Brunost: Brown cheese, a sweet and tangy cheese made from whey.
  16. Fiskekaker: Fish cakes or fish balls which are a staple food in Norway and made with various types of fish, potatoes, and seasoning. Fiskeboller refers to Norwegian fish balls.
  17. Krumkake: Similar to Italian Pizzelle Norwegian Krumkake is a curved cone of dough cooked on a special griddle. The cone is then filled with cloudberries and whipped cream.
    A person is cutting a Norwegian krumkake with a knife. ©Jonathunder, CC BY-SA 3.0
  18. Lapskaus: Lapskaus refers to a thick Norwegian stew made with different types of meat, vegetables, and potatoes. It’s a rich and filling stew that may be derived from lobscouse – a similarly sailor’s stew called Souse associated with the city of Liverpool.
  19. Fiskesuppe: Fiskesuppe refers to a creamy Norwegian soup made with fresh fish, shellfish, root vegetables, and fresh herbs.
  20. Cloudberries: A type of berry often used in desserts and jams. 
    A woman is picking berries from a tree, a common activity for sourcing food in Norway.
  21. Tørrfisk fra Lofoten: When it comes to the traditional food in Norway, refers to Norwegian stockfish made from naturally air-dried cod.
  22. Reindeer Meat:  The indigenous Sami of Norway herd and hunt reindeer which is known as “røkt reinsdyrskav” or “reinsdyrkjøtt,” Reindeer dishes may include smoked or dried reindeer meat slices served with flatbread, in stews, or as a main course.
    Food in Norway: Traditional Norwegian Food to Try
  23. Finnbiff: Finnbiff is a type of Norwegian stew made with reindeer. Game meats are common in Norway and finnbiff is the most widely consumed dish made with reindeer meat.
  24. Bidos: Bidos is another kind of Norwegian stew made with reindeer meat. It’s native to the Sámi people. The dish is most often served at Sami Weddings and other special occasions.
  25. Pålegg: In Norway, a ‘pålegg’ is essentially an open sandwich featuring a single slice of bread with various toppings. For breakfast and lunch, Norwegians commonly enjoy bread or crispbread paired with an array of toppings.
    Three slices of bread with different vegetables popular in Norway on them.
  26. Skolleboller: A traditional Norwegian dessert of a cardamom flavoured bun with vanilla custard and decorated with icing dipped in coconut.
    A group of donuts, a popular food in Norway, on a piece of paper.
  27. Lutefisk: Dried fish rehydrated in a lye solution, then cooked. The fish is usually dried cod but sometimes Ling is used.
    A plate with traditional food in Norway, peas, potatoes, and bacon on it.

These dishes represent a mix of flavors and textures, reflecting Norway’s culinary traditions and regional influences. Keep in mind that food preferences and traditional dishes can vary across different parts of the country.

Questions and answers about Norwegian food

Q: What are some traditional Norwegian dishes to try?

A: Some traditional Norwegian dishes to try include lutefisk, rakfisk, fårikål, Pinnekjøtt, and rømmegrøt.

A person holding a hot dog wrapped in Lefse, a popular food in Norway, in front of a river.
Wrapped sausage with sald in Norweegian nature

Q: What is a typical Norwegian breakfast like?

A: A typical Norwegian breakfast consists of bread with cheese or jam, along with coffee or tea.

Q: Where can I find the best seafood in Norway?

A: You can find the best seafood in Norway at coastal regions like Bergen, Tromsø, and Stavanger, as well as in local fish markets and seafood restaurants.

Q: What is brown cheese in Norwegian cuisine?

A: Brown cheese, also known as brunost, is a traditional Norwegian cheese made from whey and has a sweet caramel flavor.

Q: What are some popular Norwegian desserts?

A: Some popular Norwegian desserts include krumkake, riskrem, lefse, and multekrem, which are often enjoyed during holidays and celebrations.

A stack of krumkakes before they are turned into cones on a plate, a popular food in Norway.

Q: How is sour cream porridge prepared in Norway?

A: Sour cream porridge, or rømmegrøt, is prepared by combining sour cream, flour, and milk, and is often served with sugar, cinnamon, and butter.

Q: Are food tours popular in Norway?

A: Yes, food tours are popular in Norway as they offer a great way to explore traditional Norwegian food and local culinary experiences.

Q: What are some staple foods in Norwegian cuisine?

A: Some staple foods in Norwegian cuisine include salmon, herring, potatoes, flatbread, and various dairy products like cheese and sour cream.

Smoked salmon served on rye bread and topped with chives and cucumber on a black slate dish

Q: Does Norway have a traditional meatball?

While sharing similarities with meatballs from various cuisines, the Norwegian kjøttkaker stands out with its distinct translation as “meat cakes.” Unlike other meatball variations, the Norwegian version features larger and less spherical patties.

Q: What are Norwegian waffles typically served with?

A: Norwegian waffles are typically served with sour cream and jam, and are a popular snack or dessert in Norway.

Q: What are Norwegian fish balls and how are they prepared?

A: Norwegian fish balls are a traditional dish made from fish, milk, and flour, and are prepared by simmering the mixture in a flavorful broth until they are firm and cooked through.

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Traditional food in Norway you must try.


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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