10 Finnish Foods You Need to Try

What’s the first thing you think of when it comes to Finnish food? My guess is that it’s either reindeer, or just as likely nothing.

Unlike Italian restaurants, you don’t see Finnish restaurants on every corner. Finnish food is not well known globally. In my opinion that’s another good reason to visit Finland – to taste the cuisine that’s hard to come by elsewhere! Read on for an introduction to some of my favourite Finnish foods:

Finnish food black licorce ice cream

Enjoying my first of many black licorce ice creams while enjoying the breathtaking view over Lake Savonlinna, the largest of Finland’s 187,000+ lakes!

Much to my delight, the Finns love black liquorice, as do I! You’ll find it in candies (I don’t even want to know how many bags of black liquorice candies I went through while cycling the Iron Curtain Trail), and ice cream! As I was cycling between 60 – 110km everyday, I thought that was an excellent excuse to indulge every chance I got! Here, I’m enjoying it while enjoying the view over Lake Saimaa in Savonlinaa, on the look out for the endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal.

Note:  You can also find tar candy and tar ice cream.  The candies weren’t too my liking and I didn’t try the ice cream, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s another option!

Finnish food Hermanni Winery in Ilomantsi
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Finland has wine! I sampled wine from the Hermanni Winery at the Hermanni Wine Tower in Ilomantsi, which provides a great view! It was the only winery I visited on my 20 day trip and it just happened to visit on my birthday! Talk about perfect timing – and a great way to relax after a day of cycling!

Finnish food Leipaejuusto squeaky cheese served with cloudberry jam
I could eat Leipäjuusto, better known as Finnish squeaky cheese to non-Finns, everyday of my life and be SOOOO happy! It’s curdled milk, then either fried or baked.  It goes incredibly well with tart cloudberry jam!  I was lucky enough to sample this homemade version (much better than the blurry photo makes it out to be) in the owner of Aurora Holidays, who offer tours of the Northern Lights in the most northern part of Finland.

Finnish foods Karjalanpiirakka rice pie at Timitra Hostel in Lieksa

Karjalanpiirakka, also known as Karelian pies originated from the eastern province of Karelia, but are now found all over Finland. It’s rice porridge in a rye crust, although this one is a gluten-free version that I had for breakfast at Timitra Hostel in Lieksa. Finns like to eat it by spreading egg butter, another Finnish treat over the top! They’re hearty, one or two of these and you’re filled up! A perfect way to start the day before cycling!
finnish food lingonberry and mashed potatoes Karelian pie in Lentiira
Here is another version of the Karelian pie, but this one is made with lingonberry and mashed potatoes. I confess to not trying this one since it wasn’t gluten-free, but thought it looked delicious! It was homemade by Sabrina at Taiga Spirit who served it for breakfast after having spent the night in a hide observing wolverines and bears. She also runs a bed and breakfast. I can personally attest that in addition to her keen observation skills, she’s also a killer cook!

Finnish food reindeer and mashed potatoes at Hossa Reindeer Farm
Poronkäristys, a reindeer dish surrounded by mashed potatoes and berry is one of my favourite Finnish foods, which I was fortunate enough to eat twice. First at Hossa Reindeer Park, then at Kiveliön Kala, located between Sodankylä and Saarislkä and pictured below. Reindeer meat is rich in B12, Omega 3 and Omega 6 and it’s leaner than beef! I could eat reindeer everyday when I’m in Finland, it’s that tasty! You may balk at the idea of eating Rudolf, but the truth is reindeer in Finland are largely free roaming and have a much better life than most cattle do!

Finnish food reindeer meat and mashed potatoes at Hossa Reindeer Farm and Kivelion copy

Finnish food sauerkraut and sausage crepe
These sauerkraut and sausage crepes were my most unexpected find! I ate them at The Field Cafe, located 30km north of Suomssalmi on the side of the road! It was one of my favourite rest steps of my entire 19 days of cycling!

Finnish food steak at Huvila in Savonlinna
Not really Finnish, but for those non-adventurous eaters, don’t worry, you can easily find regular steak in Finland as well. I enjoyed this one lakeside at Panimoravintola Huvila in Savonlinna. They also have live music several nights a week during summer!

Finnish food, gluten-free muffin at cafe
Finally, I finish with one of my favourite things about Finnish food – the ease of eating gluten-free here! Even the smallest cafe in the middle of nowhere will likely have at least one or two gluten-free options! Being celiac, I cherished this ease! I would venture to say that Finland is the most gluten-free friendly country in Europe that I’ve visited!

Note: You may have noticed that there’s no fish dishes on here.  Being surrounded by seas for thousands of kilometers, fish is a very common Finnish food, but as I don’t eat fish, I didn’t include any. Check out this post from Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic which includes several fish dishes.

 

Note: My Finnish food experiences were made possible by VisitFinland, but all opinions are my own.

 

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.
2015-08-27T14:33:12+00:00

16 Comments

  1. Kathryn Burrington July 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    My that steak looks good! I really shouldn’t have read this post before getting my supper. While the other dishes maybe don’t look quite so tempting, they do sound interesting and I hope I get to Finland one day to try a few. Following your cycling adventures has really shown me just how beautiful a country it is.

  2. Lidwine July 5, 2015 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Your post really made me hungry: for food and for a trip to Finnland!!!

  3. Tinuke July 5, 2015 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Absolutely love the idea of the egg spread but I’ve never been a fan of liquorice, which is a shame as it sounds like there would be lots of it if I were lucky enough to take a trip to Finland!

  4. Izy Berry July 7, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    The food looks delicious i want to try everything!

  5. Michele Pelkonen July 15, 2015 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    I’ve been in Finland for just about a year, and I love reindeer with mashed potatoes. My mother-in-law will also fix poropiirakka, which is like a quiche, made with reindeer. We just call it ‘reindeer pie’, and we call it delicious! Something else I didn’t try until I got to Finland was hevonen, or horse. It’s also quite good, either as slices for sandwiches, or steak. Very lean and healthy!

  6. Ayngelina July 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing my post, it was interesting to see how Finnish food could be so similar to traditional Canadian dishes.

  7. kaari3 July 16, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing the good foods!

  8. Tania July 22, 2015 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait to try all! All meals look delicious. I hope you enjoyed it!

    • Laurel August 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      @Tania – Loved them! Enjoy!

  9. Cynthia August 5, 2015 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I loved eating while in Finland, good hearty food! I also loved all the different kind of breads they had.

    For eating in Finland and being from Quebec, I can tell you that the food is very similar, down to the kind of berries that you can pick in the forest !

    • Laurel August 10, 2015 at 6:20 pm - Reply

      @Cynthia – Glad to hear it! I’m also Canadian, and Finland reminds me of Canada in a lot of ways.

  10. Nancie August 25, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I love licorice, so I can see myself eating a lot of that ice cream. Everything looks and sounds delicious, too. I’d have a great time eating in Finland. I’ve eaten venison, and love it. I wouldn’t hesitate to try reindeer. Surprised that such a northern country would have vineyards. That’s another plus.

    • Laurel August 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      @Nancie – Me too – I ate licorice ice cream every chance I got :). I was also surprised that they had vineyards!

  11. […] 10 Finnish Foods You Need to Try [Finland] || Monkeys and Mountains […]

  12. Scubapro October 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I was a little bit disappointed when I read to the end of the list. No Lohikeitto 🙁

    • Laurel November 2, 2015 at 9:02 am - Reply

      @Scubapro – I’ll have to try it on my next visit.

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