Traditional Danish Food: 14 Recipes You Must Try

February 7, 2020  - by 
two women eat danish food

Danish food is known for meats, rye bread, and fruit-and-cream desserts. If you have ancestors from Denmark, you may be able to gain a bit of insight into their lives through the foods they ate. Better yet, visit Denmark to experience the food and the culture for yourself. 

If you have family recipes passed down from your Danish ancestors, record the recipes on FamilySearch Memories to save them for the future and share them with your relatives.

Traditional food in Denmark is based on what could easily be farmed or gathered during the country’s short summers. Cabbage, root vegetables, meat, fish, and rye bread were all staples. Wild berries are also a favorite in Danish cuisine. Try these recipes to get a taste for Denmark’s native ingredients.

1. Smørrebrød 

If there is one food that Denmark is famous for, it is their open-faced sandwiches. A smørrebrød is typically made with buttered rye bread topped with any combination of meats, cheeses, and garnishes.

trays of smorrebrod

Try the recipes.

2. Kartofler

These caramelized potatoes are often used as a side dish for Christmas dinner. At one time, they were eaten only by the wealthy because butter and sugar were costly.

Try the recipe.

kartofler, a danish dish

3. Stegt flæsk med persillesovs

This dish is known as the “national dish of Denmark.” It is a simple and tasty combination of crispy pork, potatoes, and parsley sauce.

Try the recipe.

a plate of Stegt flaesk med persillesovs

4. Risalamande 

This almond rice pudding is typically served after Christmas dinner. To make it, mix rice pudding with whipped cream, chopped almonds, and vanilla. As the final touch, top it off with warm cherry sauce.

Try the recipe.

bowls of risalmande

5. Frikadeller 

This savory pork meatball is a favorite in Denmark. It is often served with brown sauce, potatoes, and cabbage.

Try the recipe.

A plate of frikadeller

6. Flæskesteg 

Try this recipe for roast pork. In Denmark, the dish is always made with the crispy pork rind intact.

Try the recipe.

a plate of flaekesteg

7. Koldskål 

The word Koldskål means “cold bowl.” This dish is traditionally a summer dessert that consists of cold buttermilk soup, biscuits, and fruit.

Try the recipe.

a bowl of koldskal

8. Karbonader

These breaded pork patties are a popular dinner item in Danish cuisine. 

Try the recipe.

tarteletter, a danish food

9. Rødgrød med fløde

This traditional Danish food is a red berry pudding served for dessert with whipped cream. Soak the berries in sugar and water. Then heat the mixture up. Easy as pie!

Try the recipe.

rodgrod med flode

10. Æblekage 

Apple cake isn’t your average cake. Rather, this Danish food is similar to a trifle with layers of stewed apples, caramelized oats, and whipped cream. Some variations are more closely related to a typical cake and are made with a cake base, sliced apples, and spices.

Try the recipe.


11. Tarteletter 

These flaky tartlets are filled with a chicken and asparagus mixture. The flavor may differ somewhat from the original dish because it was traditionally made with hens too old to lay eggs.

Try the recipe.

tarteletter, a danish food

12. Rugbrød 

Rye bread, or Rugbrød in Danish, is a nutrient-rich bread filled with seeds, grains, and rye. In Denmark, it is the bread most often used for the country’s famous open-faced sandwiches.

Try the recipe.

rugbrod, a danish food

13. Forloren hare

Danish meatloaf is known as “mock hare,” most likely because it is cooked similarly to game—wrapped in bacon and served with a jelly sauce.

Try the recipe.

Danish dish forloren hare

14. Pølser 

Pølser is the ultimate street food and is known as a kind of gourmet hot dog. It is made with a red sausage, bun, and various toppings. If you can’t go to Denmark to get one, try making one in your own home. 

Try the recipe.

polser, a danish food

Exploring your Danish Heritage

a family laughs on a pier in denmark

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  1. My great grandparents came from Denmark. Our favorite Danish food are Aebleskivers. They are like a small round pancake, made in a special pan. I have my great grandmother’s pan that came from Denmark. The story is that if you eat them on New Years day, just after midnight, you will have good luck all that year.

  2. We enjoyed a ‘heritage’ vacation to Denmark in June, 2019 and sampled many of the dishes featured in your article. Enjoyed every one of them and every moment of our trip.

    1. My grandmother was born on the isle of Bornholm. I enjoyed staying there, the foods and people. Fun to read about food it is so part of culture.

  3. I found Tarteletter very common. They were sold all over the city when we visited the country last year. I was surprised to see they occupy 14th place of importance 🙂 The pictures are very nice though.
    By the way, for those who are not from EU and are planning to visit Denmark, you can check your visa requirements on here: I came across it today while planning my next trip. Shame the borders are still closed 🙁

  4. I am exploring Danish food and life. My Danish daughter-in-law, prepared Danish Christmas Eve dinner, find the almond in the rice and play easy games where we squealed and laughed in excitement.. . I love all the traditions. I want to move to Denmark when they return in December 2020. I love the Danish sweets.

  5. My Grandfather was Danish from Bornholm. My Dutch husband and I visited Copenhagen in 2003 and I would love to go back. Loved the food.

  6. From copemhagen chef education been in the US since 1976 miss the great danish kitchen happy to read that you enjoy it bad the quality of ingredients in the US are not as good as in Denmark

  7. looking for reicpe for my mom that a friend used to make in the early 70’s . her friend called it oogli googli she thinks. I thought I heard it mentioned on an old black and white movie in the 80’s as danish although someone told me maybe hungarian. Can anyone help? It was a stew like dish. Thanks

  8. What is this place in NYC where the red polse is produced? Is it a retail location? My family would love to have these again