Danish cuisine refers to food, cooking, food culture and culinary arts in Denmark. Denmark is renowned for its new Nordic cuisine, Danish cuisine originated from the peasant population’s own local produce. In addition, cooking is influenced by agricultural, social and technical development, and was enhanced by cooking techniques developed in the late 19th century and the wider availability of goods during and after the Industrial Revolution. International cultural exchange, food imports and exports have changed eating habits in Denmark over time. Denmark is also known for “good food” and enjoyment around the meal.
Traditional Danish food is based on what was historically available nearby or could be farmed during Denmark’s short summers. Danish cuisine is known for rye bread, smørrebrød, meatballs, pastry and in recent decades also the new Nordic cuisine. Cabbage and root vegetables like beets were an important part of the diet, along with rye bread, fish, and pork.
The basis of the Danish cuisine is the food that can be caught, gathered or grown in the country. Natural and climatic conditions in Denmark give these life forms their character. As the home-cooked food in Denmark, a typical lunch in Denmark consists of slices of rye bread with different toppings such as chicken salad, roastbeef, paté, or herring. For dinner, traditional Danish dishes often includes potatoes on the side. For a common dessert, try the old-fashioned Danish apple trifle or layer cake.
Cooking in Denmark has always been inspired by foreign and continental practises and the use of imported tropical spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper can be traced to the Danish cuisine of the Middle Ages and some even to the Vikings. Traditional Danish food has been re-invented as New Nordic Cuisine, it emphasises the use of local and seasonal ingredients and is a hit with both local and international foodies.
Open sandwiches, known as smørrebrød, which in their basic form are the usual fare for lunch, can be considered a national speciality when prepared and decorated with a variety of fine ingredients. Hot meals are typically prepared with meat or fish. Substantial meat and fish dishes includes flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling) and kogt torsk (poached cod) with mustard sauce and trimmings. Ground meats (pork, veal or beef) became widespread during the industrial revolution and traditional dishes that are still popular include frikadeller (meat balls), karbonader (breaded pork patties) and medisterpølse (fried sausage). Denmark is known for its Carlsberg and Tuborg beers and for its akvavit and bitters, but amongst the Danes themselves imported wine has gained steadily in popularity since the 1960s.
Danes love sweets, particularly cake. Whether it is a homemade drømmekage (dream cake) with coconut and brown sugar or an elaborate strawberry tart from one of the country’s many bakeries, no celebratory dinner is complete without a cake. In addition, Danes have a passion for chocolate and for liquorice, particularly salt liquorice. Other Danish food standards are also getting upgrades to match contemporary tastes. For example, the Danish creation called the “French hot dog” – a sausage stuck in a round piece of bread and sold from a sidewalk cart – now often features organic meats, a sourdough bun, and healthy mashed roots on the side. Meanwhile, Danish rugbrød or rye bread, the basis of many meals, is now available freshly-made from many bakeries and supermarkets. The bread contains no sugar and little fat, and it is rich in whole grain and dietary fiber.
Denmark’s food culture is characterised by sustainability, new thinkers and innovative ideas. Some of Denmark’s most sustainable food initiatives, from city bee hives to a farm of ideas, rooftop orchards, edible insects and innovative ways to combat food waste…
Danish food culture
Danish cooking is rooted in the peasant dishes served across the country before the Industrial Revolution in 1860. Until the beginning of the industrial revolution in Denmark around 1860, the majority of the population lived in the countryside and subsisted on what could be grown, caught and raised there. Traditional Danish food is based on what was historically available nearby or could be farmed during Denmark’s short summers. Cabbage and root vegetables like beets were an important part of the diet, along with rye bread, fish, and pork.
It was based on the need to make use of natural products available on or near the family farm. As a result, a variety of brassicas, bread, fish, pork, and later potatoes, were eaten everywhere. Families had their own storage of long-lasting dry products, rye for making bread, barley for beer, dried peas for soup, and smoked or salted pork.
It was a challenge to collect sufficient supplies for the winter, and in the peasant kitchen there was no surplus for an actual culinary art. Only a small upper class had surplus, access to a wide selection of food and inspiration from abroad, so that it was true cooking. In the countryside they ate rye bread and porridge, very few vegetables, e.g. kale and quite a bit of salted or smoked pork (fresh meat was a rare luxury). The yellow pea soup was also plain.
Everything was homemade: rye bread was typically baked monthly, and every year a pig was slaughtered and salted and smoked. If there were cows, cheese was made from the milk and butter churned from the cream on the farm. The rest was used for various types of porridge (drinking milk only became common much later). The cows gave almost only milk in the summer, and the lack of refrigeration technology meant that milk was in short supply the rest of the year.
Industrialization brought an increase in the consumption of fresh meat and vegetables, but rye bread and potatoes continued to be staples. The increasing industrialization in Denmark from the middle of the 19th century meant that more and more people moved from the countryside to the city. Agriculture, in which the vast majority of the population was employed, was intensified and radically restructured during this period: previously people had been largely self-sufficient, and the aim of daily work was to build up stores for their own use. They switched to production for sale on a larger market.
Over the centuries, sausage, which was not only economical but could be kept for long periods, was together with rye bread behind the development of smørrebrød. Open-faced sandwiches, known as smørrebrød, are among the best-known examples of traditional Danish cuisine. These small half-pieces of rye bread are topped with fried fish, pickled fish, eggs, potatoes, or cold meat, and sometimes horseradish and onion. They are eaten at lunchtime, either as part of a packed lunch or in a company cantine. Larger traditional meals are often based on fish or pork, sometimes ground and fried as meatballs. The “national dish of Denmark” is stegt flæsk – pieces of pork, fried until crisp, and then served with boiled potatoes and parsley sauce.
By the end of the 18th century, there were several different kinds of sausage but the preparation of cold meat products developed rapidly in the 1840s when the French butcher Francois Louis Beauvais opened a business in Copenhagen. In the 1880s, Oskar Davidsen opened a restaurant specializing in smørrebrød with a long list of open sandwiches. Leverpostej (liver pâté) became available in grocery shops at the end of the 19th century but it was some time before its price was comparable with that of cold cuts.
With the arrival of dairy cooperatives in the second half of the 19th century, milk also gained favor, although all kinds of dairy products have been consumed in lesser quantities for millennia. The introduction of wood-burning stoves and meat grinders contributed to a range of new dishes including frikadeller (meat balls), medisterpølse (fried ground meat sausage), hakkebøf (meat patties of beef), karbonader (breaded pork meat patties), meat loafs, roast pork, poached cod, and stegt rødspætte (breaded flatfish). Desserts of stewed fruits or berries such as rødgrød date from the same period, as do a large variety of cakes and cookies.
In bourgeois cuisine, the roast was the ideal, but dishes with minced meat also became more widespread – greatly helped by the first meat grinders. They made the manual chopping of meat with a knife considerably easier and made meatballs, ground beef, liver pâté and Mediterranean sausage more common dishes. In the middle of the 19th century, the Danes also began to use wheat for bread instead of rye. Bread for breakfast should now be light in the nice families. The culture of the emerging bourgeoisie also included new norms for table manners and hygiene.
In the 1960s and 1970s, with the availability of deep frozen goods, the concept of fast food arrived together with an interest in Mediterranean dishes as Danes travelled more widely. A number of new words describe the food culture of the eighties, In 1985, the first nationwide diet survey was carried out, and it showed, among other things, that the most popular dinner dishes were meatballs, Mediterranean sausage and mincemeat, new dishes that made use of the large selection of available exotic foods.
By the 1990s, a younger generation of chefs soon started to travel abroad themselves, learning how to adapt the expertise of French and Spanish chefs to the use of local ingredients as a basis for creating beautifully presented, finely flavored Nordic dishes. In the 2000 otherwise, more meat and less cabbage and potatoes. The wide variety of food novelties was most exploited at the weekend, when a typical feast was shrimp cocktail with iceberg lettuce and thousand island dressing, minute steak and baked potato.
In recent years Danish chefs have helped to put Denmark on the world gastronomic map, with several Michelin-starred restaurants in Copenhagen and the provinces. Danish cuisine has also taken advantage of the possibilities inherent in traditional recipes, building on the use of local products and techniques that have not been fully exploited. Local products such as rapeseed, oats, cheeses and older varieties of fruits are being rediscovered and prepared in new ways both by restaurants and at home, as interest in locally sourced organic foods continues to grow. The Nordic Council’s agricultural and food ministers have supported these developments in the form of a manifesto designed to encourage the use of natural products from the Nordic countries in the food production industry, while promoting the “purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics” associated with the region’s cuisine.
The recipes from Karoline’s Kitchen have played a role in Danish food culture. The cookbooks Karolines Køkken 1-8 were distributed to households from 1980-2001 to increase the sale of butter and cream. According to cultural historian Niels Kayser Nielsen, the cookbooks helped to increase interest in the “three-course meal” for friends and colleagues on Fridays or Saturdays, when new Karoline recipes were tested. Several of the Karoline dishes have become classics, and the trademark “Koen Karoline” became a world-renowned logo and synonymous with quality products from the Danish dairies.
Since the early 2000s, some Danish chefs have developed the new Danish cuisine, an innovative way of cooking based on high-quality local produce. This new philosophy and cuisine has attracted the attention of, and been celebrated by, the international gourmet community. Danish food culture has rediscovered its roots and re-invented old recipes for contemporary diners. It has contributed with a considerable number of highly acclaimed restaurants in Copenhagen and other provinces, with some of them awarded Michelin stars. 28 Danish restaurants hold a total of 39 Michelin stars in 2022, more than in any other Nordic country.
Long known as a culinary hotspot boasting Michelin stars, the world’s best restaurant, and the New Nordic cuisine movement, Copenhagen is also a foodie-friendly destination for budget travellers. A truly Danish food experience, you can get at lunch time in Copenhagen with the renowned smørrebrød (open faced sandwich). But at dinner you should treat yourself to some other Danish classic dishes too. Whether you are into bistros or Michelin-starred restaurants, you will find it in Copenhagen. The restaurant scene is among the world’s most distinct and innovative, and it caters to all budgets, tastes and situations.
On Copenhagen’s menu is delicious food from all over the world and a strong focus on making exquisite meals from local ingredients in season. An approach started by noma and the New Nordic cuisine and a way of cooking that still makes Copenhagen’s restaurants culinary trailblazers. Noma and Geranium in Copenhagen top the Danish list with three Michelin stars. In addition, Geranium tops the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022.
Traditional Danish foods
The Danish food tradition has throughout the ages been very open to foreign inspiration, many dishes are known today. The Danes have the largest or one of the largest consumption of meat worldwide, meat dishes dominate the Danes’ evening meal. In all age groups, either “chicken” or “stew/meat sauce” is the most or second most frequent dinner. For the hot evening meal, the Danes prefer boiled potatoes, which are eaten more often than all other types of side dish. Kærnemælkkoldskål is a Danish, extremely popular and distinctive summer refreshment.
The Danish ‘open faced’ sandwiches, smørrebrød, are perhaps the most famous of the Danish food classics. Smørrebrød is simply a slice of rye bread with various combinations of toppings such as pickled herring, roast beef and eggs topped with mayo and shrimps. These heaped rye bread treats date back to the 19th century.
Stjerneskud or ‘shooting stars’ is the lesser-known but more extravagant smørrebrød, and one of the Danes’ absolute favourites. Stjerneskud is a slice of rye bread with fried plaice fillet, topped with shrimp, lettuce and caviar from the Limfjord.
A few years ago, Danes were asked to vote for their national dish. And the winning dish, a classic pork recipe ‘stegt flæsk med persillesovs’. The crispy pork with parsley sauce and potatoes is a very old dish that has won the hearts, and tummies, of Danes for centuries. You can try the Danes’ national dish in many restaurants around Denmark.
Denmark’s world-class delicacy, oysters from the Limfjord and the North Sea. Oysters is not just a luxurious indulgence, it’s a taste of the long-lived culture too. Danes have actually had oysters on our menus since the Stone Age. In addition to oyster safaris, festivals and other opportunities, there are also fantastic fish restaurants in Denmark, where oysters are often served in the most delicious settings. Oyster safaris are led by knowledgeable nature guides who know all the tricks and tips for a successful tour. For an experience a little bit out of the ordinary you can join an oyster safari. Wearing wading boots, you’ll hunt for oysters in the shallow water. The tours often end with a glass of champagne at the water’s edge while you taste the catch of the day.
In the South of Jutland, there are oyster safaris from the islands of Fanø and Rømø, but you can also go looking for oysters in waders on the Limfjord. The west coast of Jutland between the Danish Wadden Sea around Rømø and the Limfjord is known as Denmark’s oyster coast and attracts gourmet and seafood lovers from all over the world. Since 2019, the oyster coast has had its very own celebration: Denmark’s Oyster Festival combines regional culinary and nature events, such as oyster safaris, herbal tours, cooking competitions and, of course, taste tests. The Limfjord is not only the source of some of the best oysters in the world, but also other shellfish like mussels, along with many species of high quality local fish.
Danish meatballs (frikadeller) are very popular in Denmark and are served both for lunch and dinner. Traditionally, the meatballs consist of equal calf and pork, flour, milk, eggs, onions and spices.
With so many hot dog stands all over Copenhagen, it’s not hard to notice locals’ love of sausages. Not only they are super tasty but also a cheap solution to stave off hunger while roaming around the city. The most renowned sausage in Denmark is the rød pølse (red sausage), usually served inside a fresh bun with ketchup and mustard on top. Aside from the classic hot dog recipe, stands around Copenhagen now serve many types of sausages, buns and plenty of ingredients that customers can combine in order to create their own hot dog.
What initially was a Danish farmer’s lunch is now Denmark’s traditional dish, a local delicacy that’s even served in high-end restaurants. The open-face sandwich consists of a slice of rye bread, with fish or meat, vegetables and sauce on top. Almost every restaurant in Copenhagen serves a version. Check out Selma in Vesterbro and Frederik VI in Frederiksberg.
A few decades ago, Denmark’s immigration policy was pretty lax, and many refugees were able to make a fresh start here. Particularly during the 1960s and early 1970s, the country accepted a lot of asylum seekers from Turkey and Pakistan, many of whom opened their own restaurants and brought a taste of their homelands to Copenhagen. Durum shawarma (chicken, beef or lamb), one of the most popular dishes, is made according to the original recipe with fresh ingredients. Nørrebrogade, Nørrebro‘s main street, brims with durum restaurants, with Beyti and Konyali being among the best.
Probably for the same reasons as durum shawarma, this traditional Middle Eastern dish can be found everywhere around Copenhagen. It’s usually served with lettuce, tomato and garlic sauce, but many restaurants combine Middle Eastern with Scandinavian cuisine to create numerous combinations. Falafel Factory in Nørrebro is one of the most popular falafel restaurants in town.
Flæskesteg is a dish strongly connected with Christmas in Denmark, a mainstay of holiday dinner tables and Christmas markets’ stands. It’s actually roast pork baked with spices, bay leaves and cloves, usually served with boiled or caramelised potatoes. If you’re visiting Copenhagen during Christmas you’ll most likely see a great number of Copenhageners munching on a flæskesteg sandwich while rummaging through the city’s Christmas markets.
Danish meatballs, known as frikadeller, are traditional here, and while there isn’t any special recipe or secret ingredient, they somehow have their own unique taste. Maybe it’s because they’re usually fried with butter. Eat them with boiled potatoes or on top of a smørrebrød like a proper local.
If there’s one food Danes like even more than meatballs, it’s fish cakes, or fiskefrikadeller. A mix of white fish, onion, parsley, lemon, salt and pepper, they are usually served with cucumber and a Danish remoulade. Even if fish isn’t a personal favourite, at least give fiskefrikadeller a try while you’re here.
Marinated or pickled herring
Marinated and pickled herring has held a place on the Danish food menu since the Viking era. Surrounded by sea, Denmark has a long list of fish dishes, but herring is the most popular – most often served on rye bread or accompanied with bay leaves, onion salad and eggs. Find out why this dish has survived throughout the years and is still served all over Copenhagen.
Another fish that is frequently found on Copenhagen’s restaurant menus is salmon. Though cooked in various ways, Danes usually prefer to add a slice of cold-smoked salmon atop a slice of rye bread. Check out Restaurant Kronborg and indulge in a dish of salmon fish balls or salmon smørrebrød.
The first course is typically fish or soup, although a wide variety of other appetizers are becoming more common. Common traditional appetisers include:
Shellfish, including mussels, shrimp, oyster, crab and lobster. Usually served poached with white bread and various toppings for an appetiser or small meal.
Shrimp (rejer) are mostly from the Greenland or the North Atlantic. Fjord shrimp from Denmark are a seasonal and less common delicacy: very small and flavorful, about the size of the smallest fingernail. Special shrimp appetisers are shrimp cocktail (rejecocktail), shrimp salad (with mayonnaise) and shrimp terrine. Apart from appetisers, shrimps also features as toppings for some fish servings.
Mussels (muslinger), is fished and farmed on a large scale in Danish waters and is served poached. Blue mussels is by far the most common, but razor clams, green lipped mussel and common cockle is sometimes served as well. As with shrimps, mussels may feature in some fish dishes.
Oyster is usually served raw, and sometimes smoked, as an appetiser for more lavish dinners.
Fish served for appetiser or entrée, includes pickled herring and gravad laks served cold with bread; rye bread for the herring and white bread for the salmon. There are many kinds of pickled herring, with a large variety of vinegar marinades and smoked or fried pickled herring is also served. Fish pâté of various kinds with bread might also be had.
Soup is often a meal on its own and mostly served with bread. It can also be served as an entrée before the main course. In addition to soups also common outside of Denmark, specialities include:
Gule ærter (pea soup), a meal in itself served together with salted pork, carrots and other vegetables
Hønsekødssuppe (chicken soup) served with melboller (small flour dumplings), meatballs and cubed vegetables.
Fish, seafood and meat are prominent parts of any traditional Danish dish. With a very long coastline and large number of smaller islands, Denmark has a long tradition of fishing and seafood takes a natural part of the Danish food tradition.
The most commonly eaten fish and seafood are:
Cod (torsk), a common white fish in general food preparation (baked, steamed, poached). It is also dried (klipfisk). Danes are particularly fond of cod’s roe. The roe are in season in January–February, but is sold and consumed year round canned. Prices on cod have risen in recent years, making this once-favorite fish drop down the list. It has mainly been replaced by other white fish, such as haddock and ling.
Norway lobster (jomfruhummer)
Herring (sild), features prominently in the traditional Danish cuisine and is served in a large variety of ways either smoked, fried, pickled, breaded, or charred.
Plaice (rødspætte), in the form of fried, battered fish filets or as a white fish in general food preparation (baked, steamed, poached). It is often replaced with the more common European flounder, known as skrubbe in Danish.
Eel (ål), is smoked or pan-fried. Smoked eel is almost exalted in some homes.
Salmon (laks), poached or broiled and served in a variety of ways. Smoked and gravad lox salmon with bread is reserved for appetisers or smørrebrød.
Roe (rogn), fish roe from cod is by far the most common, but lumpfish (stenbider) is also served on occasion. Poached or pan-fried is most typical. Salmon roe is used for toppings of some seafood dishes.
Danish food standards are also getting upgrades to match contemporary tastes. For example, the Danish creation called the “French hot dog” – a sausage stuck in a round piece of bread and sold from a sidewalk cart – now often features organic meats, a sourdough bun, and healthy mashed roots on the side. Meanwhile, Danish rugbrød or rye bread, the basis of many meals, is now available freshly-made from many bakeries and supermarkets. The bread contains no sugar and little fat, and it is rich in whole grain and dietary fiber.
Danish hot dog stands are a cultural institution and have been feeding hungry Danes for over a century. You’ll see them dotted all over the place, so be sure to stop by one and grab a bite to eat while on the go. Most stands offer both the traditional red sausages as well as more modern versions.
Wondering why pizza is included in an article that features Copenhagen’s best dishes? Walk around the city and you’ll see many pizza places often owned by Italians who use the best ingredients from home to create an authentic pie. NonSolo in Nørrebro, mother restaurant in the Meatpacking District, and gorm’s and La Fiorita in the city centre are among the top choices to take a break from Scandinavian cuisine and savour a warm slice of original Italian pizza.
If you’re visiting Copenhagen and need a break from experimenting with new flavours, you can rely on the city’s burger scene. With options ranging from original American-style to vegetarian with gluten-free bread and organic vegetables, the city’s burger scene has it all. Halifax, Gasoline Grill and Sporvejen are the places to look for to indulge your burger cravings.
Pastries and Desserts
Danish pastries rose in popularity over the centuries and are now a firm favourite of ordinary Danes. You can try many different types at bakeries throughout the country. Typical Danish pastries include a snegl, a cinnamon roll-style pastry, a spandauer, a pastry with a dab of custard cream in the middle, and a tebirkes, a pastry with remonce in the middle and poppy seeds all over the top. There are also seasonal pastries and a special pastry just for a Wednesday, the Onsdagsnegl, baked by the oldest bakery in Copenhagen, Skt Peders Bageri.
Danes love sweets, particularly cake. Whether it is a homemade drømmekage (dream cake) with coconut and brown sugar or an elaborate strawberry tart from one of the country’s many bakeries, no celebratory dinner is complete without a cake. In addition, Danes have a passion for chocolate and for liquorice, particularly salt liquorice.
Vienna Bread (wienerbrød), were first made in Denmark in the 1840s by Austrian bakers. There’s more than one type of ‘Danish’ in Denmark called wienerbrød or Viennese bread, as the inspiration for them came from a trip a Danish baker took to Vienna back in the 19th century.
Start with a flødeboller, best described as soft meringue on a light wafer base all covered in chocolate. Any traditional Danish bakery worth its salt sells chocolate cake and carrot cake; they should also sell drømmekage (‘dreamcake’) a sponge cake topped with dark sugar and coconut, an Otello cake, a thin sponge cake topped with cake cream, marzipan, whipped cream and dark chocolate icing; and a Sara Bernhard, which is a macaroon, topped with chocolate cream and coated with dark chocolate. If you’re in Copenhagen, a couple of great cake shops to check out are Cakenhagen at Tivoli, for its fine individual cakes, and Conditori La Glace, the grand dame of conditoris, for its famous Sports Cake.
South Jutland is the most famous region for cakes in Denmark. Here, you’ll find a special type of spicy honey cake spread with apricot jam or buttercream, and also the South Jutland cake table. This tradition is all about preparing a special cake table for a party or an event of 21 different cakes. Fyn is famous for its brunsviger. This cake is made from soft, yeasty dough and is topped with brown sugar mixed with butter. Traditionally served warm, it’s really popular and available all over the country, but of course the best is in Fyn. South Zealand has a series of different local cakes too, from ‘goose breast’, a type of cream cake topped with marzipan that has a round shape like, you’ve guessed it, a goose breast, to ‘palm cakes’, a flat roll flavoured with rosewater and topped with almonds and sugar, only baked at Easter.
Desserts from the traditional Danish cuisine that are still popular, includes:
Æblekage, (apple charlotte). Stewed sweetened apples layered with butter-roasted bread crumbs and crushed makroner (an almond-flavoured meringue), topped with whipped cream and sometimes redcurrant jelly. Served cold.
Citronfromage (lemon custard). A very thick lemon flavoured custard made with both gelatin and beaten egg whites with sugar (see Meringue). Served cold with whipped cream. Flavouring with rum instead of lemon, is a traditional variation known as Romfromage.
Karamelrand (lit.: Caramel-ridge). A cream and egg based custard flavoured with caramel and shaped like a ring. Served cold with a caramel sauce. A traditional variation is Fløderand, which is flavoured with vanilla and served with pickled fruit, instead of the caramel.
Frugtsalat. Fruit salad topped with vanilla cream or whipped cream and grated chocolate. This is a more recent addition to the Danish cuisine and tropical or foreign fruits like banana, grapes, orange or pineapple are standard ingredients. Also known as abemad (monkey food).
Rødgrød med fløde, stewed, thickened red berry compote (usually a mix of strawberries, rhubarb, raspberry) served with cream or as topping on ice cream.
Pandekager, a thin, crepe-like pancake, often sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, rolled up, and served with strawberry jam or vanilla ice cream. Since 2006, Shrove Tuesday has been celebrated as Pancake Day in Denmark.
Koldskål. A sweet cold buttermilk dish with vanilla and lemon, often served in the summer.
Danish strawberries with cream and sugar, served in the summer when in season.
Risalamande (or ris à l’amande), a cold rice pudding mixed with whipped cream, sugar, vanilla beans and chopped almonds, served cold with hot or cold cherry-sauce. Almost exclusively served on festive events related to Christmas and commonly eaten on Christmas Eve in particular.
Danish culture has a number of annual recurring traditional feasts. Most of them are rooted in both the Norse pagan tradition and the Christian culture, including the most widely celebrated feast of Christmas, known as Jul in Denmark. Christmas and Easter are the most prominent feasts in Danish culture, both in terms of religious and traditional importance but also food wise. A number of smaller feasts such as Fastelavn (Carnival), Pinse (Pentecost) and Mortensaften (St. Martin’s Day), are also of some importance regarding food while other traditional celebrations such as Grundlovsdag, May Day and Sankthans (St. John’s Eve) are not coupled to the Danish food culture in any special way.
The celebration of New Year’s Eve is perhaps on par with both Christmas and Easter in modern times and is also coupled with some strong food traditions. Poached cod served with mustard sauce, boiled potatoes and horseradish is traditionally enjoyed as the main course on this evening, known as nytårstorsk (New Year’s Cod), with champagne and kransekage served later in the night. Slices of boiled ham served with stewed kale is another traditional dish for this particular evening. In recent decades, the traditional menus has given way to contemporary gourmet servings in many places, even though the champagne and the kransekage remains very popular.
Mardi Gras Sunday (50 days before Easter) was a popular celebration with processions and pranks. It is followed by White Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, which, until the abolition of the fasting obligation at the Reformation in 1536, began the 40-day Easter fast. Right up to the 19th century, Lent still had the character of a time of penance and devotion. On White Tuesday, white food was eaten, such as bright bread/buns, which were still rare and expensive, milk and lard. The carnival bun was white food. It originates from Germany in the 16th/17th century and was a small round piece of wheat dough pastry. Bun milk, buns soaked in milk, was one way to eat them. Only later did the bakers start filling the buns with jam. The bakers’ popular and modernized Mardi Gras bun of pastry dough with glaze and filling of jam, whipped cream and/or cream was invented in the 1800s.
Maundy Thursday søbe (Nicholas soup), Good Friday porridge (rye flour porridge), scrambled eggs, roast lamb, Easter lunch with Easter brew.
The evening before the big prayer day
Since the middle of the 1800s, perhaps earlier, there is a tradition of eating hot hvedtvebakker (hot wheat) the evening before major prayer days. Wheat is double-baked (baked twice): i.e. buns that have been dried or toasted after halving. The buns are typically baked from a yeast dough with eggs and sugar. The tradition is due to a royal decree from 1686 that prohibited work on the day of prayer itself. That is why the bakers baked the night before, so that the citizens could eat (possibly reheat) the two-bakers on the day of prayer itself.
Mortensaft 10 November
Traditionally, roast goose – Mortensgaas – is eaten the evening before Mortensdag to punish the geese’s exposure of the humble St. Morten, who hid in a goose hole to avoid being appointed bishop. For most people, the roast goose has been replaced by roast duck.
Christmas Eve 24 December
Christmas dinner is perhaps the most traditional meal. The side dishes are browned potatoes, boiled potatoes, red cabbage and brown gravy. For dessert, rice salamander with cherry sauce and almonds.
New Year’s Eve 31 December
Boiled cod has been a New Year’s tradition since the 18th or 19th century. Although only a few percent of Danes nowadays eat cod this evening, it must nevertheless be considered an important national dish, traditionally boiled (or oven-roasted) with bay leaves and peppercorns and served with white potatoes and side dishes such as mustard sauce or butter sauce, fried bacon cubes, chopped parsley, chopped hard-boiled eggs, diced pickled beetroot, chopped raw onion and grated horseradish. 4-6 types of side dish are served, and the following options are also available: capers, diced smoked lard, diced raw pepper, asia, cucumber, cod roe, diced boiled liver, dill, lemon wedges, diced boiled carrots, pickles and fish mustard.
Denmark Food Tour
Copenhagen is a true food mecca and has something for every taste, In city center, you can combine a visit to the iconic amusement park Tivoli Gardens with a meal at Tivoli Food Hall. Or you can explore the area around the Royal Palace while quenching your thirst at Boltens Food Court. If you head to the Reffen market you’ll discover the up-and-coming district of Refshaleøen that seems to change on a daily basis. But if you need a snack on the way to or from Refshaleøen, make a quick stop by Broens Gadekøkken in the charming old neighbourhood of Christianshavn.
Copenhagen has acquired a booming street food scene the past couple of years, and the street food markets have become popular places for locals and visitors alike meet up and have a hyggelig time. At these markets, you’ll find a wide variety of carefully selected food options, ranging from burger, pizza to Japanese street food as well as hot dogs (the original Danish street food) and craft beer. Many restaurants throughout Copenhagen have some kind of smørrebrød on their lunch menus, and you can also buy smørrebrød in places like Torvehallerne (often referred to as “the glass markets”).
The classic pilsner brands are part of the Danish cultural fabric, Copenhagen has more than a few options for every taste. From brewery outposts like Mikkeller and Friends, BRUS, Nørrebro Bryghus and Dial’legd, to the classic American-style craft beer bars like Fermentoren, to stylish bars like Mikropolis…
Bornholm has always been a special destination, beloved by us Danes. Tasting Bornholm’s unique island culture. The charming island nestled in the Baltic Sea has transformed from a secret spot of fishing villages and smokehouses, to a culinary destination enticing people from all across the world. On a dot of Danish land in the Baltic Sea, chefs have elevated local ingredients and sparked an island-wide culinary awakening.
The island’s vibrant transformation to a diverse gastronomic hotspot, is largely thanks to the locals who’ve gone back to their roots and drawn economic strength from Bornholm’s beautiful and fertile natural landscapes. So not only is it a tasty place to visit, but you’ll find no better place to get up close to local artisans and food producers in their natural habitat.
Bornholm once depended on its distinctive white-towered smokehouses and you can visit 10 of them still working today. The traditions of smoking fish have passed down from the very first smokehouse that opened on the island in 1866. Fish is smoked over the fragrant embers of alder wood fires and you can buy or taste from the experts themselves at the cafés and shops attached to the island’s smokehouses.
Every summer, chefs from far and wide compete at the picturesque harbour at Gudhjem to make Bornholm’s most famous local dish; Sol over Gudhjem. Head here to see Bornholm’s best take on international chefs, inspired by the natural ingredients Bornholm can offer. There are many places on the island that you can try Sol over Gudhjem, a tasty dish of smoked herring, raw egg yolk, chives, and radish, served on freshly baked rye bread.
The island of Fyn is called the garden of Denmark – with its lovely elderflowers and dazzling gardens with apple trees. Especially the south of Fyn is known for its many berries and vegetables. The history of Falsled Kro goes far back and the lovely, old Inn is today internationally known for its gastronomy and caring service. Falsled Kro has 19 unique rooms which are situated at the Inn, Sognegaarden und Ryttergaarden right next to the 1000m2 big herb garden. Many of the rooms have a fireplace, bath tub and private terrace. Some of the rooms have a stunning view at the sea, some have their own winter garden or balcony.
Dragsholm Castle is today run as a state-of-the-art castle hotel with world-class restaurants. Past, present and future meet in a harmonious interaction between history, gastronomy and terroir at the more than 800-year-old Dragsholm Castle situated in the middle of the scenic UNESCO Global Geopark Odsherred with the raw materials. Whether you eat your meal in the castle cellar’s gourmet restaurant Dragsholm Slot Gourmet with 1 Michelin star or in the more popular bistro Dragsholm Slot Bistro, you are sure to get to know “the true taste of Odsherred”.
Henne Kirkeby Kro
The thatched idyll of Henne Kirkeby Kro has been the setting for guests from near and far for more than 175 years. The inn has been completely modernized so that it appears in a high international class. Henne Kirkeby Kro is located in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful nature. Close to both Filsø Lake and Blåbjerg Plantation, which has the largest sand hill forest in Denmark. Just three kilometers from the North Sea Beach. Fresh, high-quality product form the kitchen garden and from the inn’s own livestock are always used in the kitchen of Henne Kirkeby Kro.
Henne Kirkeby Kro is one of Denmark’s best restaurants, which is absolutely worth a visit if you like gourmet on holiday or just for everyday pleasure. Henne Kirkeby Kro has received two Michelin stars as well as an additional award: ‘Michelin Nordic Guide Welcome & Service Award 2019′. At Henne Kirkeby Kro, you get a sensory experience based on raw materials from the inns own harvest, with added star sprinkles from the chef’s hand in collaboration with the kitchen staffs – food based on indulgence and immersion.
Denmark is Scandinavia’s gourmet food powerhouse with a total of 39 Michelin Stars and 28 star-studded restaurants to choose from. Denmark is a true gourmet powerhouse which has taken its place among the world’s best, with the New Nordic cuisine became renowned and known around the world. Denmark continues to lead the way in sustainability, receiving 15 Green Michelin stars in 2022.
Copenhagen is the city with both the highest number of Michelin stars and the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the Nordics. At the moment, two of the world’s top 5 best restaurants are located in Copenhagen. They are the Michelin-starred restaurants noma (2* and four-time world’s best restaurant) and Geranium (3* and run by one of the world’s best chefs, Rasmus Kofoed), respectively.
This restaurant is considered a lighthouse within the Scandinavian gourmet food scene and has been named the world’s best restaurant five times! Noma gained a third star in 2021 while Rene Redzepi, the restaurant’s co-owner/chef, won the award for the Best Mentor Chef.
Geranium is Denmark’s first restaurant to receive three Michelin stars. It was also ranked the 1st on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and is run by the chef voted the world’s best back in 2011, Rasmus Kofoed.
Even before Restaurant Alchemist opened in the summer of 2019, there was a lot of talk about chef Rasmus Munk and his holistic 50 course menu (yes, you read it right. 50 courses!). And it seems to have caught the attention of the Michelin judges as well, because Restaurant Alchemist was awarded with not one but two Michelin stars in its first year. In 2022 it was voted number 18 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Copenhagen restaurant AOC maintains its two Michelin Stars due to the team’s excellent and inventive Danish dishes. AOC aims to give its guests the ultimate sensory experience by activating and stimulating as many of your senses as possible.
Claiming its second star in 2022 Restaurant Frederikshøj is in the top-league of Danish gastronomy, thanks in no small measure to the prize-winning celebrity chef Wassim Hallal. At the 2022 awards Hallal also took home Michelin’s Chef Mentor Award.
Henne Kirkeby Kro
This two-Michelin-Starred restaurant on the west coast of Denmark consistently impresses visitors with its lovely, quaint setting and exciting dishes.
Restaurant Jordnær is the place for a no-nonsense Michelin experience – the name literally means ‘down to earth’. The restaurant, located just 10 km north of Copenhagen, made it to number 38 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022.
Kadeau is a small piece of Bornholm in the middle of Copenhagen. The menu is inspired by the specialities of Bornholm and based on Danish ingredients. The restaurant earned its second Michelin star in 2018.
Kong Hans Kælder
Ever wondered which Copenhagen’s restaurant was the first to receive a Michelin star? Well, look no further because Kong Hans Kælder (King Hans’ Cellar) is the answer. This restaurant earned a star in 1983…and 38 years later, in 2021, gained its second.
Restaurant Alouette is situated in graffiti-covered corridors located on Islands Brygge in Copenhagen. The restaurant was awarded one star in 2019 after being open for only a year, and especially their sauces were highlighted by the inspectors.
Domestic serves mouth-watering dishes based on locally produced ingredients and with plenty of Danish hygge on the side. The restaurant is located in the heart of Aarhus, which makes this an ideal dining experience when visiting Denmark’s City of Smiles.
Formel B is run by Rune Jochumsen and Kristian Møller who have taken their restaurant to the top of the Copenhagen restaurant-chart. Formel B has an innovative French cuisine that changes its menus every fortnight.
Hotel Frederiksminde is a tiny eight-table restaurant in southern Zealand. Dine with a view of the fjord while enjoying seasonal, creative cooking.
Gastromé is yet another Michelin one-starred restaurant, but it sets itself apart with impressive technical cooking and an intimate setting in Aarhus’ Latin Quarter.
Awarded its first star just 6 months after opening in 2022, Restaurant Jatak is the new star on the block in Copenhagen’s hip Nørrebro neighbourhood. The name literally translates into “Yes, please”. So when the waiter asks if you’d like seconds, you’ll know what to say: Ja tak!
Set on the island of Bornholm, Kadeau’s vacation outpost offers up superb local faire at five or eight course tasting menus. Don’t worry, you’re in award-winning hands.
If you find yourself craving gourmet Thai food while strolling through the streets of Copenhagen, then you better go ahead and book a table at Kiin Kiin. Not only has this restaurant had a Michelin star for over 10 consecutive years, Kiin Kiin is also the only Thai restaurant outside Thailand to have a Michelin star!
The Michelin Star-wielding restaurant Kokkeriet serves up modern interpretations of Danish cuisine, outside the hustle of the inner City in the cosy old quarter of Nyboder.
Daniel McBurnie’s Restaurant Lyst is housed in an outstanding building designed by Olafur Eliasson and focuses on locally sourced ingredients. It won its first star in 2021.
Located in the historic and luxurious Hotel d’Angleterre in the heart of Copenhagen, Restaurant Marchal beautifully combines the Nordic and French classics while adding a modern twist. Tip: Marchal has a renowned weekend brunch that you should also check out if you have the time – and manage to get a table!
Situated in the centre of Vejle, this second new addition to the Michelin family offers an intimate dining experience, with 12 exclusive tables for up to 35 people.
Shellfish from the fjord and veggies from the countryside meet in sweet unison on the plates at restaurant Mota. Chef Claus Henriksen, formerly chef at Dragsholm Castle, is behind this 2022 Michelin star newcomer located in western Zealand.
Located in the chi-chi waterfront suburb of Hellerup, north of Copenhagen, this restaurant specialises in exquisite food and wine pairings and won its first Michelin star in 2021.
The kitchen in this old castle on the west coast of Zealand offers sophisticated and satisfying New Nordic cuisine in a beautiful countryside setting, earning its first Michelin Star in 2017.
Aarhus’ restaurant Substans has undergone a transformation in recent years, losing its star in 2020 and then moving to a new location on top of Pakhusene, complete with 1960s architecture. It regained its star in 2021.
On the south Denmark island of Als, the Restaurant Syttende, received its first star in 2021. Run by Jesper Koch, the restaurant is located on the top floor of the Alsik Hotel overlooking Sønderborg town.
Recharge your batteries while sinking your teeth into one of the outstanding gourmet menus at Søllerød Kro, a charming country inn located about 30 minutes north of Copenhagen.
Ti Trin Ned
Thanks to their ambitious menu combining Nordic, French, and molecular gastronomy, restaurant Ti Trin Ned is the first restaurant in Fredericia to receive a Michelin star.
Denmark is known worldwide for its tasty and high-quality beer, There is nowhere else on the planet where you can find such a wide range of quality beer, relative to country size and population. There’s more to Danish beer than Carlsberg and Tuborg, Join on a bar crawl focused on Denmark’s famous drink, where you can watch the brewers at work and make a taste test on site.. There are over 100 microbreweries in Denmark with their own production facilities. Add to that the twelve larger, classic breweries, with Carlsberg at the top, and you can see how Denmark has become one of the most important beer-producing countries in the world.
New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore – Mikkeller Beer and its bars are now available all over the world, but nowhere does its Danish beer taste as good as in its home country. You can try the beer brewed by Mikkeller in bars in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense or on Bornholm.
Beer bar BRUS is in Copenhagen’s hippest quarter, Nørrebro, and is everything a modern pub should be: a microbrewery with a cool bar scene, experimental menu and a shop so you can buy take out for later too. The microbrewery behind this venture was founded by two locals who used to go to the school nearby.
Denmark’s first micro-brewery, Bryggeriet Apollo, opened in 1990 right next to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The entire brewery is built on the model of German beer cellars, and today has a brewing kettle forming the shining centre of the associated restaurant. Here you can enjoy a particularly exuberant atmosphere plus hearty meals matched to the beer.
Since its inception, Nørrebro Bryghus, in the heart of Copenhagen, has been at the forefront of Danish beer culture in the city. Ingenuity, creativity and ecological awareness combine: in 2009 Nørrebro Bryghus became the first CO2-neutral brewery in Denmark and developed “Globe Ale”, Denmark’s first CO2-neutral beer.
Bryggeri Skovlyst is beautifully situated in Hareskov outside Copenhagen. The brewery and restaurant has been running since 2004, and today the location in the middle of nature and the local raw materials of the forest play a central role in the brewery experience. Since the Skovlyst Brewery beer is sold exclusively on site.
The Skagen Bryghus (by the way, the most northerly brewery in Denmark) always provides a unique atmosphere with beer, lunch and live music all year round in one of the most beautiful spots in our kingdom. It also has Denmark’s largest beer garden.
In keeping with its location in Denmark’s oldest city, the Danish beer brewery Ribe Bryghus is set in a historic and carefully restored courtyard near the cathedral. The brewing process is almost as historical, as it is brewed according to English ale traditions.
Five Danish beer lovers with an entrepreneurial spirit opened Jelling Bryghus in 2007. The town’s rich history and surrounding nature have always served as an inspiration for the names, ingredients and new varieties of high quality beers produced by the brewery.
In the middle of Mols Bjerge National Park lies the farm brewery Ebeltoft Gårdbryggeri. Hygge is the focus here: in summer, the terrace offers a wonderful view of the protected Jernhatten hill and the sea, and regular concerts in and around the brewery entertain visitors.
Bøgedal Bryghus is not only the smallest brewery in Denmark, but also a very unusual one: it is the only “free fall brewery” in Scandinavia. Here, the beer flows with the help of lifting gear on different levels.
Founded by a creative Danish-American duo – this combination creates tasty, high quality beers, bizarre beer names and specially designed labels. The beer from Fanø Bryghus can be bought anywhere on Fanø Island and many other places in Denmark.
Samsø Bryghus is on the beautiful island of Samsø in an old, idyllic farm. The beer is still brewed in two converted milk cooling tanks and named after local attractions. Samsø Brauhaus offers more than just a brewery: you can also enjoy homemade, organic ingredients in the café, shop all year round in the well-stocked farm shop.
The brewery and associated restaurant are housed in a bright red building, previously part of a former moler factory (a kind of claystone). Combine a trip to Furs’ impressive cliffs, and the Knude Klint cliffs, with a visit to the Fur Brauhaus. The seasonal dishes here may contain the local beer and are well matched for it too.
Quality and local, natural ingredients are the focus of Møn’s island brewery. All juices and some beers are organic and can be bought in cafes, restaurants and accommodation on the island. It’s not just the beer that is special.
When the Rise Bryggeri reopened in 2004, the island of Ærø was once again put on the beer lover’s map. This island brewery places special emphasis on craftsmanship, quality and local affiliation and responsibility.