Traditional Danish Food Evolves into the New Nordic Cuisine

Local and seasonal ingredients were the basis of traditional Danish food.  Due to a short summer growing season, cool-weather crops such as cabbage, and root vegetables like beets were important to their diet along with hearty rye bread, fish and pork.  

Here are some iconic Danish dishes and drinks!

Æbleskivers—Danish pancakes that are spherical and cooked in a special pan.  The Danish Windmill features a variety of æbleskiver pans, recipes and its own æbleskiver mix.

Agurkesalat— A pickled cucumber salad flavored with black peppercorn and fresh dill.  May be served on a Danish hot dog.

Danish Hot Dogs—What makes a hot dog Danish?  It’s the toppings!  The hot dog (pølser) itself is often dyed bright red, cooked on a grill and extends far beyond the bun.  Toppings include French fried onions, raw onions, slices of pickled cucumber (agurkesalat), and sauces such as Danish remoulade, ketchup and mustard. For the full Danish experience, enjoy your hot dog with chocolate milk.

Frikadeller—Special meatballs usually made from pork, a mixture of beef and pork or fish.  It is commonly served with boiled potatoes and parsley sauce.  Fish Frikadeller is popular to eat cold with remoulade.

Kringle—Traditional old world pastry made of 32 layers of delicate buttery flaky dough filled with fruits and nuts (almond is one of the most popular flavors). It takes three days to make this rich and tasty treat.  They are usually baked in an oval shape and topped with vanilla frosting and delicious with a cup of hot coffee.

Liverpostej—Liver pate that is baked and a favorite smørrebrød spread.  Usually served on festive occasions.

Medisterpolse—A thick spicy pork sausage.

Remoulade—A favorite condiment to top off open-faced sandwiches, fish, hot dogs and even for dipping French Fries.  Ingredients include sweet relish, mayonnaise and yellow mustard so it tastes similar to tartar sauce but is sweeter.  

Rødkål—Danish red cabbage is cooked with vinegar, sugar and elderberry juice.  It’s a popular side dish that is enjoyed year around as well as with Flæsketeg at Christmas dinner.  

Rugbrød—Danish rye bread is the basis of many meals.  It is rich in whole grains and may include dark rye, cracked rye and whole wheat flours, flaxseed and contains no sugar and little fat.

Smørrebrød—These open-faced sandwiches originally were a Danish farmer’s lunch because they were made from leftovers.  They are made of a single slice of rye bread topped with raw or pickled fish, hard-boiled eggs, meat and vegetables and sauce such as horseradish or remoulade.  Today smørrebrød are one of Denmark’s most popular dishes and served with a wide variety of toppings.

Stegt Flæsk—Known as the “national dish of Denmark”, Stegt Flæsk is pieces of pork fried until crisp served with boiled potatoes and parsley sauce.


Akvavit (Aquavit, Snaps)— The Danes have been drinking akvavit for 500 years. It is distilled from potatoes and wheat, often flavored with dill or caraway. This vodka-like elixir is consumed at holidays and on special occasions but moreover…it is believed to have distinctive health benefits and drinking it is filled with ancestral ritual.  Skål!

Beer—Pale lager, known as Pilsner in Danish, is the most popular style of beer in Denmark. Carlsberg, which dates back to 1845, is the most well-known brand of beer and served in bars all over the world.  Tuborg Brewery, another historic brewery, was acquired by Carlsberg in 1970.  The annual J-Dag (J-Day in English) celebration is when the Tuborg Julebryg (Christmas beer) is released at 8:59 pm on the first Friday in November.  

Gløgg—Mulled red wine (or mead) mixed with brandy, dried fruit and spices.  Gløgg is a “hygge-friendly beverage and especially enjoyable when shared with family and friends around the holidays and in winter. Gløgg spices and concentrated gløgg mix are available at the Danish Windmill.

Mead—An alcoholic drink popular in the Viking Age that is still enjoyed today.  Mead is made by fermenting honey with water.  Flavors can range depending on the source of the honey and whether spices or herbs are used.   Mulled mead is popular at Christmas flavored with spices and sometimes fruits.  The Danish Windmill offers several varieties of Viking Mead available for sale in the museum store.

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