10 culinary specialities to discover in Lapland

10 culinary specialities to discover in Lapland

Discovering Lapland also means discovering its culinary specialties. But what are the must-haves? What do we eat in this bitter cold? Is it good? We answer all your questions.


Let’s face it Finland is not renowned worldwide for its cuisine. For centuries, Finns have fed themselves directly from the forest, lakes and fields, and this is still the case today. Reindeer, wild goose, mallard duck and fish are just some of the local delicacies often found in Finland, whether you’re looking for a refined dinner or a wilderness snack. They are often accompanied by potatoes, vegetables, mushrooms and berries. Finns often harvest their fruit and vegetables in summer, and enjoy them in winter! And yes, there’s not much growing this season. But what I love is that their food is healthy and generous, with seasonal produce.


We’ve written a few articles about the destination to help you plan your trip to Lapland



I was looking forward to getting to know the gastronomy in Lapland and tasting the many Finnish specialties. It was in December, at the famous Christmas dinner, that I enjoyed my first dishes. Their extensive buffet includes everything from marinated herring and salmon to oven-roasted hams with mustard, sausages, pâtés and potées. The meat, mainly reindeer, is served with a variety of mashed or sautéed vegetables, such as potatoes, rutabagas, carrot, turnip, beet and herring salads. It’s best to love the potato, as it’s served in a variety of sauces in almost every meal: mashed, fried or au gratin. You’ll also find liver pâtés, cheese and wild mushroom salads. Finns also love sweet things, with a wide variety of desserts. Their traditional Christmas pastries called “Joulutortut“, star-shaped puff pastries stuffed with prune compote are eaten with a kind of mulled wine made from spices and blackcurrants, called glögi or glögg. We also eat dry cookies called “Piparkakut “spiced with cinnamon, ginger and orange peel, as well as gingerbread, nuts, raisins and apples.




Salmon, perch, arctic char, lightly salted raw lavaret and herring are often found on your plates in salads, on toast or marinated. In Finland, fish is highly prized and prepared in a variety of ways, with smoking being very popular. They are hot-smoked, cold-smoked, grilled, wood-fired, toasted or wrapped in paper. They are often accompanied by potatoes and small berries.




This famous hearty soup, also known as “Loikki”, is a traditional soup made with crème fraiche, dill, diced salmon and potatoes. It’s a treat for the taste buds and perfect for facing the polar cold.




Reindeer can be found all over Lapland – there are more reindeer than inhabitants, to tell you the truth! Finns eat it in stews, soups, terrines and sausages. I’m not a meat lover, but I wanted to sneak a taste of this animal whose texture is reminiscent of beef. The authentic dish “Poronkäristys” is a particularly popular reindeer stew that can be enjoyed in any season, accompanied by mashed potatoes and lingonberries. Here’s some information: reindeer meat is one of the healthiest and leanest meats, with a high concentration of vitamin B and Omega 3. Poro means « reindeer » andfrying means « stir-fry». Other meats are sold in supermarkets, and I’ll leave you to discover them below. And yes, bear and elk are eaten in Finland!





These unpronounceably-named cakes are also known as Karelian pirogues because they come from Karelia, the historic eastern province of Finland. So it’s not a typical Lapland specialty, but we do eat it. They barely fit in your hand, and they melt in your mouth with their potato, rice or carrot filling.





You can’t escape it! A trip to Lapland wouldn’t be worthy of its reputation without the presence of those famous grilled sausages known in Finnish as grillimakkara. Finns love them and devour them under a kota grilled over a wood fire, with mustard.




Berry picking is almost a national sport in Finland, with forests teeming with wild berries just waiting to be picked. The characteristic wild berry of Finnish nature is the cranberry, often used in pies and pastries, but also in jams and fresh juices. The swamp blackberry or polar/arctic blackberry, also known as “Lakka” is very special and much appreciated by Finns, who enjoy it with all kinds of sauces. A bright yellow-orange color, rich in vitamin C, it belongs to the raspberry family and is surely the most exquisite. Berries and cranberries are available in tarts, jams, fruit mousse, coulis and fresh fruit juices. Drink hot or cold.




In July and August, the Finnish forests are overflowing with blueberries, so many Finns can’t resist picking as many as they like before freezing them for the winter. Abundance means preparing delicious blueberry tarts (or « black pie » in Finnish).




What I could eat… The Leipäjuusto, is a special soft cheese made from cow’s milk, also known as cheese bread or Kainuu cheese. This dessert grates under the tooth because of its rubbery texture. It’s often eaten cold with blackberry jam, but I prefer it warm, slightly melted in the pan. You can find them just about everywhere, from supermarkets to restaurants all over the country.




These are buns, round brioche buns with cinnamon. The ear tree are usually served with coffee.




And to complete this culinary journey, you must try the country’s most emblematic sweet that is the salmiakki, otherwise known as salted licorice, chocolate Fazer Blue, one of Finland’s favorite sweets. Believe me, it’s very good.




Did you know that the Finns are the world’s leading coffee consumers? They drink it mainly in big mugs and the taste is more like sock juice! Suffice to say, Georges Clooney wouldn’t be happy in Lapland! For lovers of discovery, mix your hot chocolate with Minttu, a local mint-flavored liqueur that warms your body. The taste is very good, like mint chocolate.

Living in a country for a few months also means tasting its local alcohol of course, Kippis! (Well, I can tell you that some of them gave me a real headache. Taste, for example, the liqueur of Ammonia with liquorice, with liqueur of Lakka, a delicious golden liqueur distilled from Arctic blackberries and sold under a number of Finnish brand names, as well as vodka. Finland ou de Koskenkorva to get it all across! Ladies, I’ve enjoyed drinking hot rum with a little sugar on a cold day. Finally, the Finns are big beer drinkers, especially the “lapin Kulta“, the Karu or “Olvi“. Remember to drink them chilled in the sauna!




Be aware that Finns generally eat early in Finland. In the order of meals, breakfast is saltier, with potatoes, eggs, bacon and cheese. Then comes lunch around 11am-12pm (small structures adapt to the activities and European clientele) and dinner, often as early as 6:30pm.


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