What to eat in Denmark

Denmark is the foodie’s dream destination in Scandinavia. From hearty traditional dishes to fresh, seasonal cuisine, the country wholeheartedly celebrates and elevates local produce, and with Copenhagen restaurant Noma having topped the list of the World’s best restaurants more than five times, this small but mighty country has established itself as the centre of the Nordic food scene. Whether you’re looking for fine dining experiences or eating on a budget during your trip, you will eat well in Denmark. 

Danish pastries

Denmark’s delicious pastry offerings go beyond the kanelsnegle (cinnamon rolls) associated with Scandinavia. There is a huge variety featuring beautiful buttery pastry and chocolate, cardamom, marzipan, custard, cream… and I suspect they all contribute to the high happiness ratings in Denmark! Interestingly, despite the name, they are in fact something introduced to Denmark by bakers from Austria in the 19th century, and locally known as wienerbrød. 

Danish pastries


A lunchtime favourite, smørrebrød are open sandwiches made with buttered rye bread and served with all sorts of toppings. Traditionally, this might be pickled herrings, shrimp, salmon, or roast beef on a bed of fresh crisp salad and decorated with delicious pickles, but may also feature meatballs, liver pate, pickled cabbage and cheeses. There are so many to choose from, and offerings vary by season and occasion, you could eat a different one every day for a long time!

Smørrebrød – open sandwiches

Fresh seasonal produce

Scandinavian cuisine is impressive in the use of seasonal produce. The region’s ‘hunter gatherer’ approach is partly attributable to the cold winters and short summers but eating seasonally has long been a large part of the Scandinavian eating scene and is increasingly celebrated as a sustainable choice. Expect asparagus and rhubarb in spring / summer, and potatoes, root vegetables and pickles in autumn / winter.

Stjerneskud (Shooting Star)

This one is for fans of fish! I ordered this in a restaurant unwittingly thinking they were being eccentric with their dish naming… Technically a shooting star is a smørrebrød, but taken to the next level. Sometimes using white bread rather than rye bread, the toppings of this open sandwich include fried fish (usually plaice), fresh shrimp, mayonnaise-based sauce and a spoon of caviar. Light, fresh and a touch of salt all at once!

Stjerneskud / Shooting Star (seafood on toast) Denmark

Stegt flæsk (Pork and potatoes)

One of the country’s most popular meals (in 2014 Danes voted it the National dish), this traditional Danish meal consists of thick fried pork belly slices served with potatoes and a parsley sauce. It is a hearty plate, and great comfort food during a long winter.

Frikadeller (Danish meatballs)

The Danes don’t claim to have invented meatballs, but they do eat a lot of them. Made with veal and pork meat, they are often served as a main dish of meatballs with vegetables and sides, but they are so popular in Denmark, don’t be surprised if you also see them on top of smørrebrød. Fiskefrikadeller (meatballs made with fish) are a thing too.

Toms chocolate

Toms is to Danes what Cadbury is to Brits. Their most iconic product is probably their small chocolate turtles filled with rum cream, but they make a huge variety of sweet treats such as caramels and licorice too, so they are definitely worth a try during your visit.

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