8 Icelandic Foods and Drinks You Must Try
Find out all you need to know about the best Iceland food and drinks before your trip.
Some say that the entire Icelandic cuisine revolves around three things: lamb, fish, and skyr. There is much more to explore once you begin the culinary side of your journey, but these three essential Icelandic food are righteously the most famous. Thanks to greenhouses, there are now a wider range of vegetables in Icelandic dishes. You will be more likely to find plant-based food in the modern restaurants, while meat remains a main ingredient in the rural areas. Learn about the exquisite dishes and desserts in Iceland with our Icelandic food guide. Before you arrive, also keep in mind these Icelandic food tips:
Must-Try Iceland Foods
Here are the top dishes of the Iceland food scene that will help you eat like a local:
The most famous dish in Iceland is as simple as butter over dry fish. The plain but delicious Harðfiskur is a common snack across the Icelandic land. Its chewy, salty taste will make you want more—luckily it is the most available Icelandic food you will find available at markets and cafes. Harðfiskur has roots in the Viking heritage of Iceland, and traditionally cod fish were hung on the coastline to be dry in the salty ocean wind.
It should be clear by now that Icelanders are fond of meat, whether it is coming from the sea or the farm. Hangikjöt means hung meat and it is essentially smoked lamb salted and consumed as a hot or cold dish. One of the best ways to eat hangikjöt is in thin slices on the traditional flatbread ‘flatkaka’. There is also a Christmas dish in which hangikjöt is accompanied by boiled potatoes and green peas, which is a perfect way to experience authentic food in Iceland.
Icelandic food has essentials that you simply cannot ignore, and lobster soup is one of them as a common starter to the heartiest meals. It involves a good amount of curry and cream, which makes it an ideal comfort food in the cold Icelandic days. If you try it at a restaurant, they will be serving it with heavy cream and chives on the top. Reykjavik is one of the best places to try lobster soup, ‘humarsupa’ in the local language.
Iceland was introduced to grain agriculture very late due to the cold climate. But nowadays, cereals occupy a large part in the Icelandic diet. You will find impressive varieties of wheat, barley, and rye bread across the island. One of the most iconic is leaf bread, cooked traditionally in Christmas and served with butter. More common in the every-day food scene is ‘rugbraud’, the famous Icelandic rye bread. Don’t leave before having a bite of this dark, thick, and sweet bread with the topping of your choosing.
Centuries ago, the first Viking settlers brought skyr to the Icelandic land and it has been the favorite dairy product on the island ever since. There are ongoing debates on whether it is a cheese or yogurt, but you can go on imagining it as a thick yogurt with a rich and sour taste. It accompanies almost everything from meat dishes to desserts. You will find flavored versions, such as berries, banana, and vanilla, in the markets. Skyr shows the simplicity of Icelandic food at its best.
Kleinur is what comes to mind when you think of Icelandic desserts. It holds a dear place in the hearts of locals and travelers with is availability and unique flavor. It is dough with a twisted shape deep-fried until the outer crust is crispy and the inside is fluffy. Find it in a local grocery store or bakery to give your stomach a quick feast.
Must-Try Iceland Drinks
Brennivín, or as the locals call it ‘the black death’, is a cumin-flavored local spirit of Iceland that carries the liqueur scene to the next level. It is a true Viking drink and exalts the spirit-making traditions of the Nordic cultures. Locals consume it as a shot or as a base for cocktails, and the go-to dish to accompany it is fermented shark meat. It works just as well as Russian vodka when it comes to warming you up in the cold Icelandic nights.
Craft beer is a serious business in Iceland, and there are a wide selection of local beers to try. Lava, Einstök, and Ulfur are among the most popular. You will love Ulfur if you are into aromatic beers, as it has traces of grapefruit and pine in its taste. So choose yourself a local pub and say Skál to Icelandic beer.
Tours visiting Iceland
Land of the Northern Lights