Swedish Christmas Food & Dishes

Swedes love their food and their drinks. Swedish food isn’t very exciting in terms of spiciness or even spices. But Christmas is different. Christmas is full of exotic spices and delicious flavors not normally associated with Sweden. Maybe the cold, dark, endless winter means doing something spunky for food and decorations.
Julskum - A very bizarre Swedish candy
If you are cooking sweets and treats for the Christmas holidays, there are several must haves for the kitchen. Even Christmas dinner has traditions (quite similar to America) but still some surprises like Jansson’s Frestelse (which I dislike).

Also typical during the holiday season is the julbord dinner. Julbord is a Christmas dinner. You can have one at home with a smörgåsbord, an array of food. Usually julbords are organized as a company party. Warning though, I’ve heard that the company julbord is full of debauchery and true drunken spirit. If you’re going, be warned.

But hell, my taste buds won’t die during the winter. Between yummy saffron buns and a burning goat, Christmas traditions in Sweden are strong. If I found a good recipe for the dish, I attached the link as well.

Essential Spices for the kitchen
Cinnamon (kanel)
Cardamom (kardemum)
Saffron (saffron)
Nejlikor (clove)
feels a lot like Indian food, doesn’t it? :)

Julsenep – Christmas mustard

Swedish Christmas Drinks
Snaps – aquavit – Yes, hard liquor is part of Swedish tradition and making toasts. Snaps are strong, flavorful and more than a couple shot implies trouble.

Glögg – Mulled Wine – Glögg is similar to the French mulled wine sold on the streets (you can’t sell Glögg on the streets here- because that would be bad according the government). Blossa Glögg and Tindra are two famous Swedish brands that make different types of glögg. Personally, I would pick a less famous brand (not Åkesson either) since they have more flavor. Each year, Blossa produces a special glögg of the year, which for 2010 is Saffron.

Julmust – Christmas Cola – It’s not Coke. It’s not Root Beer. It’s something in between. Coke has tried for years to beat julmust but hell, christmas tasting soda is way better.

Julöl – Christmas beer– Christmas speciality beer from the major producers. Some are delicious, some are gross. Enough said.

Swedish Christmas Desserts
lussekatter - st lucia buns
Lussekatter or Lussebullar – Saffron Buns – Traditional served on Lucia day, you know, when girls wear candles on their head and sing Christmas songs. Because lussekatter are made with saffron, find a good brand of saffron if you want the real flavor. Santa Maria spices have terrible safforn that looks like leftover colored powder. If you can splurge, get Spanish saffron, you’ll need a small pinch and the leftover can be used in Moroccan and Indian dishes. Lussekatter also have quark, a special ricotta cheese. If you don’t have access to quark, use this recipe.

Pepparkakor – Gingersnaps – They are very close to gingerbread cookies but are hard and thin cookies (more coffee/ tea friendly than milk). I double or triple the amount of spices called for the in recipe because I love flavorful.

Risgrynsgröt – Rice porridge – A rice porridge served for breakfast on Christmas Eve. It’s delicious, creamy, rich, and added cinnamon, brown sugar and milk makes it even more decadent. One almond is hidden in the pot and the person who finds it gets a prize and if you’re slightly older, you’re going to be the first to marry.

Knäck – Swedish toffee – Sugar, sugar, sugar! Cream + sugar + vanilla = delicious gooeyness or delicious hard swedish candy.

Ris à la Malta – {have not figured out the difference between ris à la Malta and risgrynsgröt. will come back!}

Swedish Christmas Meats & Fishes
christmas dinner in sweden
Julskinka – Christmas ham – Quite similar to the American ham. But many families here have the cut ham that can be used as in a smörgås.

Prinskorv – Prince sausage – These are mini sausages that have crown like cuts. They’re nothing super special except for the funny cut.

Köttbullar -Swedish meatballs – The traditional meatballs make an appearance for Chirstmas Eve dinner. A good cook will make them from scratch, so skip the Scan premade icky meatballs.

Janssons Frestelse – Jansson’s Temptation – I have no idea who Jansson is and what is temptation was but this is a casserole dish with potatoes, anchovies, and cream.

Lutefisk – Lye fish – dried fish that’s brought back to life and served with a cream based sauce. I’m not a fan of strong fishes so i stay far away from lutefisk and Janssons Frestelse.

Here is a full list of dishes from DN.

13 thoughts on “Swedish Christmas Food & Dishes”

  1. What about Christmas traditions? I’m getting to see some of them via my boyfriend (Swedish raised and now living in the US). He has a Christmas gnome that shows up “magically” on the first advent Sunday, and of course an advent calendar. I must admit that with his Christmas celebrations beginning early December it makes the holidays extra jolly. And we will be watching the Lucia ceremonies next week.

  2. Yay, I finally made my first solo batch of lussebullar this year, and DAMN, they are great! :)

    @lola – A huge tradition they have here is to watch Kalle Anka. Sweden LOVES Donald Duck. Every December 24th, at 1500 the entire country huddles around the TV to watch Kalle Anka. This has been going on since the 60’s. Between 3 – 4 million people watch it, that’s roughly 33-44% of the country!

    Another ones are Julbords (Christmas Tables), Sankta Lucia with her procession (every section of town has their own Lucia voted in).

    Those are the ones I know, as usually I head home for Christmas and come back in the new year. :)

  3. Oh I love Christmas ham, I made one with a bit of a South African flare to it last year.

    My mother-in-law makes those great saffron buns and combining that with Julmust is heaven. Actually I think Julmust is my favorite Soda.

    I usually make the traditional South African Christmas fish and rice that my mother used to make. It’s always a big hit with the in-laws :)

  4. Erik – Saffron threads will give a stronger, more floral taste. You can use less of them. The downside is that they are expensive.

    Saffron powder is basically the leftover of the threads during separation. It’s not that strong or flavorful, but the price can be more reasonable.

    I’d visit an Asian grocery store if you happen to like saffron. A Spanish saffron box (10-20grams) can be a good investment if you love cooking.

    Nkosazana – How do you make the South Africa Christmas fish? Got a recipe? =)

  5. Ah the most important part is the rice. My mother always made geel rys. It’s rice with turmeric, cinnamon, sugar and rasins. Google it and you find the exact ingredients, it’s a very common dish.

    The fish is marinated and then grilled (Yes bbqing in the winter is not fun in Sweden, but we got a propane grill even if its outdoors) and i usually just season it heavily with whatever i think fits. Not sure if there’s ONE way to do the fish. I usually have my Hubby go out and buy a white flesh fish called Gös, not sure what its called in English.

    It’s not exactly a very Swedish Christmas dish but, then again in SA Christmas is more about the religious part. Well, one thing that’s good about Christmas in sweden. I don’t have to go to the Methodist church.

  6. Ris à la Malta is with wipped cream and sometimes with almond bites..
    thanks for a god lauth!!!

    /Tess in sweden

  7. Wow, can someone simplify this for me. Would like to have a traditional Christmas Swedish Christmas meal for the first time (dont shoot me) . The more I read the more complicated it seems. Can someone help me with a simple plan that I can expand on next year and next etc.

  8. Don’t stress Judan!

    Pick 2-3 items from each course and put it together. Most families combine the cold meats and cold fishes courses. It’s like Thanksgiving but more organized. :)

  9. Hi!

    I couln´t help reading that you don´t like Janssons frestelse. I can tell you that not every swede like that dish. So, for several years we didn´t have Janssons at our julbord until my dear mother found a recipe in a paper on a different kind of Jansson. Instead of anchovies, we nowadays use gravlax (raw spiced salmon) and it´s a dish a can´t think not to have on christmas. People and specially kids love this different Jansson. I took the time to translate the recipe, I hope someone find it useful. Happy holidays!

    8 portioner – recipe for 8 portions

    1,5 kg potatis – 3.307 lb of potatoes
    2 st purjolökar – 2 leeks
    400 g gravad lax – 0.88188 lb of raw spiced salmon
    smör – butter
    1 tsk salt – 1 teaspoon of salt
    4 msk hackad dill – 2.029 oz of dill
    5 dl vispgrädde – 16.91 oz of whipping cream
    2 msk ströbröd – 1.014 oz of small bread crumbs

    Sätt ugnen på 200 Celsius. Skala och strimla potatisen. Strimla purjolöken och grovhacka laxen.
    Fräs purjolöken mjuk i smör i en stkpanna. Blanda potatis, purjolök, salt och dill i en stor ugnssäker smord form. Häll på grädden och strö över ströbröd. Grädda mitt i ugnen i ungefär 40 minuter. Sedan kan du antingen servera, eller låta kallna för att frysas in. Fryser du in laxjansson är det viktigt att den får tina i kylen och att det hälls på lite grädde innan den värms i ugnen i ungefär tio minuter på 200 Celsius.

    Preheat the oven to 392 Fahrenheit. Peel and shred the potatoes. Shred the leeks and roughly chop the salmon.Fry the leeks soft in butter in a frying pan. Mix the potatoes, leeks, salt and dill in a large ovenproof greased dish. Pour in the cream and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Then you can either serve, or allow to cool to freezing. Are you cold in laxjansson it is important to get the thaw in the fridge and it poured on some cream before it is heated in the oven for about ten minutes at 392 Farhrenheit..

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