Top 10 Iceland Christmas Foods

Iceland Christmas Foods
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Speaking about Iceland Christmas foods gets me excited! Lucky for me, I was able to spend my Christmas holiday in Iceland and the country during the Christmas season!

It’s pretty early in December, which means that it’s still pretty warm and summery outside (although definitely not as warm as it has been on other trips to Iceland this year).

But inside, all the stores are decorated with gorgeous Christmas trees, and the Icelandic people are getting into the spirit of the season.

It made me excited to explore Icelandic cuisine during this time of year. So I wrote this list of Iceland Christmas foods to share my experience with others!

1. Ham, Smoked Lamb, and Ptarmigan

Everyone has their own way of celebrating this time of the year, but Iceland has some very special traditions when it comes to food.

You might find a few things on your plate during an Icelandic Christmas dinner. These are typical Iceland Christmas foods: smoked lamb, ptarmigan, bread, butter, and freshly-made cranberry sauce. 

The centerpiece is usually the ham which is accompanied by other meats and a variety of traditional dishes such as rúgbrauð (a hearty rye bread) with butter and freshly baked cookies like kleina (crispy walnut biscuits).

Many people will enjoy hot chocolate or coffee for dessert. If you’re feeling adventurous, then some licorice will also be in order. And don’t forget about the drinks!

2. Leaf Bread

The second on this list of Iceland Christmas foods is Laufabrauð. This is a type of bread traditionally eaten during the Icelandic winter holiday, Yule (jól).

Laufabrauð is made from rye flour and water, with a little salt. The dough is then left out in the cold for two days to ferment, after which it is baked. 

Further, Laufabrauð is traditionally served for breakfast on December 24th (the day before jól) and sometimes on December 25th as well.

One way that Icelanders enjoy laufabrauð is by cutting it into thin slices and frying them in butter or margarine (called brókarlaufabrauð or húsarlaufabrauð). This makes the bread crispy.

3. Fermented Skate

Fermented skate is one of the traditional Iceland Christmas foods for Christmas dinner. The dish was originally made for the poor but has now become a delicacy served on special occasions.

Fermented skate is typically served with boiled potatoes and a horseradish sauce. The dish should be eaten before it spoils, as the smell of rotting fermented skate can turn stomachs.

Skate’s taste and smell are acquired through processing methods: soaking in water, salt and vinegar overnight, drying out in the sun, or smoking over a fire.

Skate’s texture is similar to that of calamari: soft and chewy while also being crispy around the edges when fried properly.

Fermented skate is not only an Icelandic tradition – it’s also a delicacy enjoyed around the world!

4. Brennivín, aka “The Black Death.”

Brennivín (literally burning wine) is a schnapps made from distilled potato, caraway, and angelica root.

It has an alcohol content of 38% and is often drunk in the traditional pre-Christmas feast with pickled herring, smoked mutton, and rye bread.

Brennivín, one of Iceland Christmas foods, is so popular that it even has its own holiday. On the first Sunday after November 11th, Icelanders celebrate Ástrómadagurinn or The Brennivin Day.

In the past, brennivín was used in different ways for medicinal purposes, such as fighting seasickness. It was also used to disinfect wounds during both world wars.

5. Maltöl and Orange Soda

Maltöl is a type of beer that is drunk during the holidays. This drink goes well with the delicious Iceland Christmas foods; it is also called Malt Beer in English. It is a very dark, sweet, and rich beer. 

The malt flavor comes from roasted barley that has been heated and mixed with water and yeast to ferment into alcohol.

Maltöl tastes best when it’s served cold or ice cold. Orange soda, called drykkjarvatn in Icelandic, sounds like something you would drink on a hot day.

But Icelanders know better than to drink this stuff on a hot day because it’s made with carbonated water, which makes it bubbly and fizzy!

6. Clementines

Clementines are a type of citrus fruit grown in the Mediterranean region. They are often eaten as a dessert but also make for an excellent snack.

As one of Iceland Christmas foods, Clementines can be enjoyed by themselves or with other treats such as chocolate and cake. 

Going further, Clementines are often peeled and eaten like an orange, but there are more creative ways to prepare them for this holiday season.

One popular way is by cutting clementine rounds and dipping them in chocolate or drizzling honey over them before adding coconut shavings.

Another tasty treat that can be served alongside clementines is a traditional gingerbread cake with whipped cream frosting.

7. Christmas Cookies

The Traditional Iceland Christmas Foods list is not complete without a cookie called Jólabakelse. It is shaped like a wreath and can be served with coffee.

The cookies are typically made with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Also, there are variations of the recipe that include cardamom or cinnamon.

Some people also use raisins as decoration in their cookies. If you want to make these delicious treats at home, many online recipes are available. These Christmas sweets have been eaten in Iceland for centuries!

8. Marinated Herring

Marinated herring is a common food in Iceland during Christmas because it is traditional and festive. The herring are marinated in vinegar, sugar, and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper for a couple of hours before they are eaten. 

Traditionally, the marinated herring is served with boiled potatoes and chopped onion on top of rye bread that has been cut into rectangles or squares.

In some parts of Iceland, people also eat pickled beets with marinated herrings instead of potatoes or onions on rye bread.

This can actually add a different flavor to the dish. All in all, Marinated Herring is not excluded from our list of the best Iceland Christmas foods!

9. Liquorice Tops

Liquorice tops, also known as lakkrís toppar in Iceland, are one of the traditional Iceland Christmas foods. It is made by boiling sugar and water until it becomes a thick syrup. 

Then, the mixture is poured over a sheet of dough that has been stretched out on a cutting board before being cut into small pieces with a cookie cutter.

Liquorice tops are also prepared using rice cereal instead of dough. They are typically dark brown or black in color and are eaten as a snack during the holidays.

10. Ricepudding

Lastly, on this list of Iceland Christmas foods is Ricepudding, a traditional dish served during the Christmas season. It is often made with rice pudding, milk, sugar, salt, raisins, or other dried fruit.

The mixture is boiled for about 20 minutes until it becomes thick and creamy. Meanwhile, Ricepudding can be served as a dessert on its own or with whipped cream or ice cream.

It can also be baked in the oven together with apples and cinnamon. Other common ingredients include oranges, vanilla extract, marmalade, or sultanas, which are mixed into the rice pudding just before serving. This wraps up our list of awesome Iceland Christmas foods!


The Christmas and New Year seasons often bring with them the desire to reconnect with family and friends, eat delicious food, and give gifts to those closest to us.

It’s also a time of year when many people make resolutions to improve themselves in some way. Equally important, it is also a time to savor the delectable Iceland Christmas foods! 

With its long days (nearly 20 hours of daylight during the summer solstice) and cold winter months, Iceland has its own unique Christmas traditions that could help you achieve these goals!

Here’s our guide to Iceland Christmas foods to make this Christmas the healthiest yet! We are sure you are enlightened; till later!

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