Traditional Icelandic Food: 5 Must-Try Dishes

more than a year ago

Fermented shark

Fermented shark, also called Hákarl, is one of the most iconic dishes in the country, apart from the lamb meat. As you can presume, this specialty can be produced neither all-year-round nor in enormous quantities. It is a relatively high-priced yet state-of-the-art culinary masterpiece that even locals do not consume daily, but that needs to be experienced when in Iceland.
© Kirk K / CC license Fermented Shark and Smoked Trout - Cafe Loki, Reykjavik

Puffin meat

Puffin meat is probably the only specialty that is even rarer, more unusual, and more expensive than the fermented shark we mentioned above. Puffins are Icelandic seabirds that look a lot like penguins, and well... Some say that that they taste like seafood beef. If you have the heart to examine and validate that statement, you can go ahead and try.

Lamb meat

This is undoubtedly the single essential ingredient that the entire Icelandic cuisine is constituted on. Icelanders had been consuming lamb meat for centuries, and it has been their primary source of nutrition before the world opened up, and pineapples came along. So, Icelandic lamb dishes are a definite must. You can try them roasted, stewed, grilled, dried, salted, or whatever suits your taste.

Icelandic meat delicacies

We will use the term "delicacies" to refer to some genuinely revolting food picks traditional for the Icelandic cuisine. The list here may be potentially infinite, but it involves culinary abominations such as blood pudding, sheep's head, sour ram testicles, raw Minkle whale, boiled whale fat, fish belly and guts, and so on.
© BrotherMagneto / CC license Whale Kebab


We can literally feel vegetarians and vegans mentally collapsing and canceling their flights to this hell of a country by now, so here is a tiny little treat for their tortured souls - the Icelandic dark rye bread. It's dark brown, cooked in a pot, crustless, and slightly sweet in taste. You can buy it in most grocery stores around the country or try it as a part of the restaurant menus. It is often served with smoked lamb or pickled herring, but vegetarians and vegans can ignore that fact and ask for (vegan) butter instead.


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