10 Popular Icelandic Dishes you Need to Try

10 Popular Icelandic Dishes you Need to Try

James Taylor James Taylor
23. Nov 2020 ∼ 6 min. read

While there are countless articles about Iceland’s traditional food, more popular Icelandic dishes receive far less attention. If you’re wondering what it is that Icelanders eat, we’ve got you covered. Here are the 10 popular Icelandic dishes you need to try.  

1. Fish Stew – Plokkfiskur

One of the most popular Icelandic dishes today is plokkfiskur, which is basically a fish stew. This is the country’s ultimate comfort food, best enjoyed on cold days when the snow builds up by the door. The stew is traditionally made from haddock, although nowadays it’s just as often made with cod as well. The other main ingredients include the basics of stew-like potato and onions, but together it’s delicious. Creamy, rich, and fishy, it’s a hearty dish enjoyed by everyone from young families to hardened fishermen.

2. Langoustines

The Icelandic Norway Lobsters, or langoustines, are small but delicious staple of Icelandic menus. They come in a range of different dishes, from on their own grilled in butter and garlic to whipped up into a bowl of lobster soup. For some reason they just taste that much fresher in the town of Höfn, southeast Iceland. This town is famed in the country for their langoustines, but don’t take out word for it. If you’re in town, splash out on a dish at a restaurant, or opt for the more affordable lobster soup.

3. Icelandic Lamb

We can’t go much further in this article without talking about the succulent Icelandic lamb. And no, we’re not talking about lamb’s head here – save that for the articles about traditional food. We’re talking about slow cooked shanks of lamb, drizzled in garlic and wild Icelandic herbs. Icelandic sheep are free-range, roaming across the island throughout summer and feeding on nothing but what grows naturally. As such, it’s a gourmet meal, and one of the most expensive dishes you’ll try. But we think it’s the perfect way to celebrate the end of a successful campervan trip in Iceland.

4. Meat Soup - Kjötsúpa

Another one for those chilly winter days is the famous Kjötsúpa, or meat soup. This dish has been wolfed down by hungry Vikings for centuries. Filled with lamb, potatoes, carrots, and other varied ingredients, it’s a rich and filling meal that will warm your soul. Most Icelandic families have their own special recipe, so it can vary greatly depending on where you try it.

5. The Icelandic Hot Dog – Pylsur

No article about Icelandic food would be complete without mentioning the hot dogs. Icelanders love them with a fierce passion and trying one (or five) while you’re in the country is a must. Of course, most travellers opt to try them from Reykjavik’s famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu. But the truth is you can find hot dogs everywhere around the country. We love a good service station hot dog, the perfect snack to keep you going during a long day exploring.

6. Salmon or Trout

Iceland is amongst the best destinations in the world when it comes to some serious angling. During summer, the rushing glacial rivers are brimming with salmon and trout, and you’ll often see fishermen wading out into rivers looking to catch them. To fish the Icelandic rivers, you’ll need to buy one of the expensive licenses – how much it costs depends on the river or lake where you want to fish. To save your money, instead just opt to buy a dish from a restaurant. Both types of fish are the quintessential taste of the Icelandic summer.

7. Cod

Another of the most popular Icelandic dishes is cod. There’s an almost endless amount of ways that cod is cooked or served, from being made into fish balls to just plain old fried up with garlic and some fresh Icelandic herbs. Fish on restaurant menus is rarely a bad choice, but for a more affordable option drop in at lunchtime to get a special price for the catch of the day. It could be cod, or it could be something else – whatever the fish, it’s going to be good. And in general, it’s also one of the most affordable dishes you’ll see on your trip.

8. Hamburgers

Hamburgers? Yes, hamburgers. Iceland has embraced the American food culture with a vengeance, and no trip around the country would be complete without trying a big, juicy hamburger. It was the influence of the American military that kicked off the country’s love affair with grilled meat patties, but since then the country has developed their own identity. Today, juicy burgers pad out menus in almost every restaurant, usually served with a heap of fries on the side and loads of cocktail sauce, the only thing you should dip your fries in when in Iceland.

9. Harðfiskur - Dried Fish

Harðfiskur, or dried fish, is the quintessential Icelandic snack to have on any journey. Dried fish is exactly that: fish that has been strung up to dry on outdoor wooden racks. As you travel around the country, keep an eye out for these harðfiskur racks, usually kept slightly outside of towns to help mitigate the strong smell. You can easily buy this tasty snack in supermarkets. Pull it apart and smear each piece in salted butter – it’s not for everyone, but you can’t get more local than this.

10. Skyr Cheesecake

Almost every camper in Iceland picks up some delicious skyr to take along for their adventure. It’s another classic Icelandic food, but for the last item on this list, we thought we’d draw some attention to another way it can be used – to make a cheesecake. Keep an eye on the dessert menus around the country for this incredible dish. Often, you’ll see it in the autumn covered with freshly picked berries that appear on the heaths during this time. Morning or afternoon tea, pair it with a warm coffee and you’ll truly feel like a local Icelander on your trip.

Read: The 5 Strangest Foods to Eat in Iceland

Read: Take advantage of your budget for your trip to Iceland

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