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Icelandic Foods Like You’ve Never Tasted Before

When you think of Iceland, surreal fjords, waterfalls, and black-sand beaches are the first things that come to mind. Food probably doesn’t feature high on the list – but here’s why it should! People in Iceland today may have far more global food preferences, but their ancestors ate for sustenance. From tapping into natural resources to unique preservation techniques, Iceland can be a culinary adventure for anyone looking! Here are some unusual homegrown Icelandic foods you must try.

Hangikjöt – Smoked Lamb
A Christmas staple in every Icelanders’ home, Hangikjöt is smoked lamb typically served with a side of green peas and potatoes in a creamy bechamel sauce. Hangikjöt also makes a terrific sandwich or a delicious snack by itself.

Ein með öllu – Icelandic Hot Dogs
A trip to Iceland is incomplete without a taste of its ‘National Dish’ – the Icelandic Hot Dog! Icelanders have strong opinions on what makes the best hot dog and where to find it. But if you’re looking for the ultimate experience, always remember to ask for “Ein með öllu” or “one with everything.’

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Lakkrís – Licorice
The licorice root is one of the only sweets that can survive the country’s harsh climate. It’s no wonder why people here love licorice, and they’ll make you a believer too! Step into any candy or grocery store to find a dizzying selection – as lozenges, hidden in chocolates or liquid form. But Iceland is famous for the most unconventional form yet – salted licorice!

Plokkfiskur – Fish Stew
Plokkfiskur is a hearty dish containing boiled fish and potatoes mashed together with butter, milk, and onions – easy-peasy and delicious! Typically, chefs in high-end restaurants will elevate the humble fish stew with a range of delicious sauces.


Jarðhitabrauð – Hot Spring Bread
Icelanders are masters of resourcefulness owing to the harsh climate and terrain. They’re known to use geothermal energy, not only as a source of power and electricity but for ingenious ways of cooking. Cooking in ‘ovens’ or holes inside geothermic grounds is a uniquely Icelandic thing. When covered, the ovens maintain a temperature of 100 degrees. One of the most popular items baked in these ovens is a sweet rye bread that keeps for a long time. To cook, families prepare their special recipes for dough and pour it into a round pot. The pot goes into the underground oven, where it slowly steam-bakes for around 24 hours. Also known as hot spring bread, it tastes best with a dollop of locally-made butter!

Kjötsúpa – Meat Soup
Kjötsúpa is Icelandic comfort food at its best! It’s made with lamb, onions, and various root vegetables. Sometimes beef, rice, salted meat, or barley can be used as substitutes.

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Fermented shark
There’s always one food item in every country that tourists should try as an adventure. If you’re in Iceland, fermented shark or hakarl is the way to go. First, the shark’s body ferments for eight weeks in a shallow hole. Next, the meat is cut into strips and hung for another three or four months. The result is rancid-smelling meat that’s a challenge, even for people with stomachs of steel.

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