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Copenhagen Food: 25 Traditional Foods You Must Try in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is renowned for its rich historical heritage, innovative design, elegant architecture, world-class museums, picturesque canals, and cycling culture. But what about the food in Copenhagen? If you’re wondering what to eat in Copenhagen, discover 25 must-eat Copenhagen food favorites that will entice your taste buds and expand your culinary horizons when visiting the Danish capital. Dive in, and let your taste buds explore!

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What is Traditional Copenhagen Food?

Traditional Danish food is rooted in the country’s history, agriculture, and culture. It reflects Denmark’s cold climate and long winters, showcasing hearty, warming dishes that make the most of locally available ingredients.

Denmark’s cuisine has always been rich in meat and fish dishes. During the Viking Age (800-1050 AD), Danish cuisine was predominantly based on what could be gathered, farmed, or hunted in the Nordic environment. This included fish, shellfish, wild game, poultry, berries, apples, plums, nuts, and vegetables like cabbages and onions.

In the 20th century, Danish cuisine was heavily influenced by the international trend toward convenience foods. This led to a decline in the variety and quality of traditional dishes. ,

To this day, Danish cuisine retains a flavor of preindustrial times, when the diet centered around rye bread, salted pork, and herring – basically whatever could be grown and harvested in the ephemeral summers or caught from the sea and preserved. This type of cuisine is enjoying quite a resurgence. 

However, the late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen a revival of interest in traditional foods and a new focus on local, seasonal, and high-quality produce, driven in part by the New Nordic Cuisine.

What is New Nordic Cuisine?

New Nordic Cuisine is a culinary movement that originated in Denmark and has since spread across the Nordic countries. Initiated in the early 2000s by leading Danish chefs, notably Claus Meyer and René Redzepi of the world-renowned Noma restaurant, New Nordic Cuisine aims to redefine the region’s food culture.

The philosophy of New Nordic Cuisine is built around purity, simplicity, and freshness, with a strong focus on locally sourced and sustainably produced ingredients. It places great emphasis on seasonal produce, celebrating the unique foodstuffs that each season brings, such as foraged berries, wild herbs, root vegetables, fish, shellfish, and game.

Creativity and innovation are also key elements. New Nordic Cuisine seeks to reimagine traditional dishes and techniques in modern, inventive ways. Fermentation, smoking, curing, pickling, and other traditional preservation methods are widely used.

Sustainability is another important aspect of New Nordic Cuisine. It promotes ethical farming, supports biodiversity, and encourages greater self-sufficiency.

Ultimately, New Nordic Cuisine is about reconnecting with nature and celebrating the unique, diverse flavors of the Nordic terroir.

Copenhagen Food: Appetizers & Snacks

1. Sild (Pickled Herring)

Denmark Cuisine: Marinated herring, sliced fish fillet on a plate with chopped onion rings and parsley on the table

“Sild” is the Danish term for herring, a type of small, oily fish that is abundant in the waters surrounding Denmark. Herring has been a crucial part of the Danish diet for centuries, given its availability and nutritional value, providing a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Over time, herring has evolved from a staple food into a beloved national icon, deeply rooted in Danish culinary tradition.

It can be prepared in many ways, but it’s most often served pickled in Denmark. Pickled herring comes in a variety of flavors, from classic vinegar or brine to more elaborate marinades with curry, dill, or red wine.

I love seafood and I absolutely adore pickled herring for its unique and complex flavor profile. The fish itself is oily and mild, but the pickling process transforms it, creating a delectable balance of sweet, salty, and sour notes.

Although pickled herring can be eaten on its own, it’s traditionally served on dark rye bread with toppings like raw onions, capers, or hard-boiled eggs.

2. Gravad Laks (Graved Salmon)

Closeup of Gravad Laks (Graved Salmon), a popular Nordic dish

Gravad Laks is a popular Danish dish that involves the curing of fresh salmon with a combination of salt, sugar, and dill. The salmon is typically cured for a couple of days, during which it develops a delicate, lightly salted flavor with the aromatic tang of dill and, sometimes, other added spices like juniper berries or aquavit.

Gravad Laks is typically served sliced thinly and is sometimes accompanied by a dill and mustard sauce, called “hovmästarsås”, on rye bread or with boiled potatoes. 

The name comes from the Scandinavian word “grav”, which literally means “to dig” (a hole in the ground), and “laks”, which means salmon. This refers to the medieval practice of curing the fish by burying it in the sand on the seashore.

Gravlax is renowned for its delicate, nuanced flavors and textures that come from the curing process. The first thing you notice when tasting gravlax is its texture. It’s silky, smooth, and slightly firm, with a luxurious mouthfeel that sets it apart from smoked salmon.

In terms of flavor, gravlax has a mildly salty-sweet taste, with the curing process imparting a subtle flavor that enhances the natural richness of the salmon without overwhelming it. Fresh dill adds an aromatic, slightly anise-like flavor, which complements the salmon beautifully. 

If you enjoy seafood, don’t miss gravad laks!

3. Smørrebrød (Open-Faced Sandwiches)

Denmark food: An assortment of Danish smorrebrod sandwiches

The quintessential Copenhagen food, or even Danish food for that matter, is Smørrebrød. Smørrebrød, which literally translates as “bread and butter,” is an open-faced sandwich traditionally composed of a buttered slice of dark rye bread topped with an assortment of ingredients. 

Smørrebrød is topped with cold cuts, fish, cheese, or spreads, and garnished with fresh herbs, pickles, or something crispy.

Each ingredient is carefully arranged, often layered, to create a beautiful and appetizing display. This visual appeal is a hallmark of smørrebrød, with each sandwich crafted to be a miniature work of art.

The history of smørrebrød can be traced back to the 19th century. In the early days, farm laborers would pack lunch with slices of bread topped with leftovers from dinner the night before. 

Over time, as living standards improved and a larger variety of foods became available, these simple bread-and-butter meals evolved into the intricate creations we see today.

The ubiquitous smørrebrød is as popular as ever with Copenhageners, with modern interpretations appearing on menus throughout the city’s restaurants. 

One of the things I love about smørrebrød is that it’s incredibly versatile, with endless combinations of toppings. Here are some of the most traditional and popular smørrebrød varieties:

A classic Danish open-faced sandwich of Roast beef, pickle and cheese with remoulade (Danish tartar sauce)

a. Roastbeef: Thinly sliced cold roast beef is a classic topping, usually served with a dollop of remoulade, crispy fried onions, and quick pickled cucumbers. My personal favorite.

b. Dyrlægens Natmad (Veterinarian’s Late Night Snack): This classic smørrebrød consists of a layer of leverpostej (liver pâté), topped with slices of corned beef and a layer of meat aspic. It’s typically garnished with raw onion rings and garden cress.

c. Fiskefilet (Fried Fish): A common version of this uses breaded plaice filet, which is fried until crispy and served on rye bread with remoulade (a Danish condiment similar to tartar sauce), and lemon slices.

Danish Food: Smorrebrod, open sandwich with shrimps, creme cheese, boiled egg, and cucumber slices

d. Egg and Shrimp: A simple yet delightful combination, with sliced hard-boiled eggs, a mound of fresh shrimp, mayonnaise, and typically garnished with dill and a slice of lemon. Jacky’s personal favorite.

e. Stjerneskud (Shooting Star): This is a lavish seafood smørrebrød, usually featuring steamed and fried plaice filet, shrimp, caviar, asparagus, and garnished with a lemon slice and dill.

Smørrebrød is often served as an hors d’oeuvre but 3-4 of these sandwiches can make a more-than-filling lunch.

4. Leverpostej (Danish Liver Pâté)

Danish Cuisine: Leverpostej (Liver pâté) made from coarsely ground pork liver and lard

Leverpostej, or Danish liver pâté, is a staple of traditional Danish cuisine. It’s made from pork liver and lard (or sometimes pork fat), which are blended together with onions, eggs, milk, and various spices such as allspice, cloves, or thyme. This mixture is baked until it becomes a delectably smooth and spreadable paste.

I admit I was a bit skeptical when I first tasted leverpostej but boy, was I wrong. I was immediately won over by its layered and complex taste.

The pork liver lends leverpostej a robust, earthy flavor that’s simultaneously sweet and slightly metallic. The richness of the liver is balanced by the onions, which add a touch of sweetness and piquancy. 

Spices provide depth and complexity, contributing warm, aromatic notes. Meanwhile, the lard or pork fat adds richness and a silky mouthfeel.

Leverpostej is often served as a part of smørrebrød, the iconic Danish open-faced sandwiches. A thick layer of warm leverpostej on dark rye bread, topped with pickled beets or sautéed mushrooms and onions, is a classic Danish comfort food. 

Alternatively, leverpostej can be served cold, accompanied by pickles or crisp, pickled cucumbers to cut through its richness. 

5. Tarteletter (Tartlets)

Danish Cuisine: Savory Danish tartlets (tarteletter) made from puff pastry, filled with a creamy chicken, asparagus and carrot sauce.

Tarteletter, or Danish tartlets, are small, bowl-shaped puff pastry shells that are typically filled with a creamy mixture of chicken and asparagus, although other fillings may also be used.

The tartlet shells are made from a light, buttery pastry that’s baked until it’s golden and crisp. The pastry has a delicate, flaky texture and a subtly rich, buttery flavor that makes it the perfect contrast to the filling.

The traditional filling for tarteletter is a mixture of tender pieces of chicken and asparagus in a creamy, velvety béchamel sauce. The chicken provides a savory, slightly sweet flavor and a tender texture. 

The asparagus adds a fresh, slightly earthy taste and a contrasting tender-crisp texture. 

Tarteletter are a quintessential Danish dish and are often served as a starter or as part of a traditional Danish lunch. They’re a favorite at festive occasions and family gatherings and are also a popular choice for a cozy, everyday meal. 

6. Danablu (Danish Blue Cheese)

Closeup of a piece of Danish Blue Cheese (Dnablu) with blue mold

Danish Blue Cheese, often referred to as Danablu in Denmark, is a semi-soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese known for its striking blue-veined interior and distinctive flavor. It’s one of Denmark’s most famous exports and is enjoyed by cheese aficionados around the world.

The cheese is made through a process that includes the addition of Penicillium Roqueforti, a mold that contributes to the development of the blue veins and the cheese’s unique flavor. The cheese wheels are pierced with thin wires during the maturation process to allow air into the cheese, which promotes the growth of the mold.

Danish Blue Cheese has a creamy, slightly crumbly texture. It is not as hard as some other blue cheeses and can be spread on crackers or bread, making it a versatile choice for many dishes.

I’m not normally a big fan of hard cheeses but Danish Blue Cheese won me right over. It has a sharp, salty taste, which is characteristic of blue cheeses. The blue veins impart an intense, piquant flavor and provide a slightly gritty texture that contrasts with the creaminess of the cheese.

Despite its sharpness, Danish Blue Cheese is considered milder and less spicy compared to other blue cheeses, such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola. This makes it a good entry-level blue cheese for those who are new to this category of cheeses.

Danish Blue Cheese is excellent in salads, on burgers, as part of a cheese board, or even melted into a rich sauce. Its distinctive flavor enhances a variety of dishes, making it a versatile addition to the kitchen.

7. Rød Pølse (Danish Hot Dog)

Danish Food: A couple holding a pair of Rød Pølse (Danish Hot Dogs)

Rød Pølse, or red sausage, is a type of brightly colored, boiled sausage that is a Copenhagen street food institution and a symbol of Danish cuisine.  

The sausage is typically made of pork, with a variety of seasonings, and its vibrant red color comes from a food dye that’s used in its preparation. n some cases, the meat might be a mix of pork, beef, and veal.

The history of the rød pølse goes back to the tradition of Danish hot dog stands, or “pølsevogn,” which started appearing in Denmark in the 1920s. Beloved by locals, it is eaten as a quick snack, a late-night treat, or a lunch on the go.

One of the unique features of rød pølse is its “snap” when you bite into it, which comes from the natural casing used in making the sausage. Inside the casing, the sausage has a tender, juicy texture.

Rød Pølse is traditionally served in a bread roll or a folded flatbread, with ketchup, mustard, fried onions, pickles, and Danish remoulade. The combination of the savory sausage, tangy condiments, and crispy onions makes for a fantastic hot dog that is extremely satisfying to eat.

Though it is hardly haute cuisine, eating a rød pølse is still a must for any visitor to Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Food: Main Dishes & Side Dishes

Danish Cuisine: Closeup of a plate of Stegt Flæsk Med Persillesovs (Fried Pork Belly With Potatoes And Parsley Sauce)

1. Stegt Flæsk Med Persillesovs (Fried Pork Belly With Potatoes And Parsley Sauce)

Given that pigs far outnumber people in Denmark, pork is the most common meat in Denmark and plays an incredibly significant role in Danish cuisine.

Stegt flæsk med persillesovs, which translates to “fried pork with parsley sauce,” is one of the most popular foods in Denmark. In 2014, it was overwhelmingly voted Denmark’s national dish. 

This simple, comforting dish showcases two key elements of traditional Danish cuisine: pork and potatoes, tied together by a bright, herby sauce. Stegt flæsk refers to the thickly sliced pork belly, which is rich and savory, with a decadent fatty layer that renders down during frying to create a crispy exterior and a tender, juicy interior. 

The persillesovs, or parsley sauce, is a creamy, mild sauce made from a roux base (butter and flour), milk, and a generous amount of chopped fresh parsley. The sauce is velvety and rich, with the fresh, slightly peppery flavor of the parsley providing a nice counterpoint to the creaminess of the sauce. 

Finally, the dish is served with boiled potatoes, a staple of Danish cuisine. The potatoes are a comforting, familiar element that complements both the pork and the sauce.

Stegt flæsk med persillesovs is undoubtedly my favorite Danish dish.  Each bite of the pork is a delight, and I love the way how the creamy sauce and the crispy pork complement each other.

If you want to try something authentically Danish, stegt flæsk med persillesovs is a must-do when visiting Copenhagen.

2. Frikadeller (Danish Meatballs)

Denmark Food: Closeup of Frikadeller (Danish Meatballs) in a pan

Frikadeller are traditional Danish meatballs that are similar to Kötbullar (Swedish meatballs), made globally famous by IKEA. They are beloved by locals and are commonly found at both family dinners and festive occasions.

Frikadeller are typically made from a mixture of ground pork and veal, although ground beef is sometimes used as well. Other essential ingredients include onions, eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs or flour, which give the meatballs their characteristic lightness and tenderness.

Frikadeller are typically more oval-shaped or flattened than the round meatballs found in other cuisines. They’re pan-fried until they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside while remaining tender and juicy on the inside.

Frikadeller are often seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes nutmeg or allspice, giving them a warm, comforting taste. The meatballs are typically served with boiled potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry jam or pickled cucumber.

3. Hakkebøf (Danish Beefsteak)

Danish Food: Hakkebøf, a thick, juicy patty made from minced or ground beef.

Hakkebøf is a classic Danish dish that could be likened to a Danish version of a beef steak or a hamburger. The name itself directly translates to “chopped steak,” hinting at the dish’s primary ingredient – a thick, juicy patty made from minced or ground beef.

The beef used for Hakkebøf is typically of premium quality and is seasoned simply with salt and pepper to allow the natural flavors of the meat to shine through. The beef patty is formed by hand and often has an indentation in the center, a typical characteristic of Hakkebøf.

Unlike a typical steak, the Hakkebøf is cooked thoroughly until browned on the outside, but it still remains tender and succulent on the inside. 

Hakkebøf is typically served with soft, caramelized onions, a rich brown gravy, a fried egg, and pickled cucumbers. If you love beef as much as I do, you don’t want to miss this classic Danish dish!

4. Flæskesteg (Roast Pork)

Danish Food: Flæskesteg, or Danish roast pork

Flæskesteg, or Danish roast pork, is a traditional and beloved dish in Denmark, often served on special occasions such as Christmas and family gatherings. Its hallmark is the crispy pork rind, known as “svær”, which is something of a culinary symbol of Denmark.

Flæskesteg is typically made from a joint of pork belly or loin with the skin left on. Before roasting, the skin is scored into thin strips, which will become the highly prized, crunchy pork crackling. 

The meat is seasoned simply with salt and sometimes bay leaves, allowing the quality of the pork to shine through. The pork is then roasted until it’s beautifully browned and the rind has crisped up into a perfect crackling. 

Flæskesteg is traditionally served with accompaniments like boiled or caramelized potatoes, red cabbage, and a rich, hearty gravy often made from the drippings in the roasting pan. 

Flæskesteg is one of my favorite Danish foods and it is extremely moreish. The sound of the crackling breaking apart, and the taste explosion of the succulent, tender contribute to a full sensory experience that is second to none.

5. Brunede Kartofler (Caramelized Browned Potatoes)

Danish Food: Brunede Kartofler (Caramelized Browned Potatoes)

Brunede Kartofler, or caramelized potatoes, is a classic Danish side dish, especially beloved, especially during Christmas and other holiday celebrations. It’s traditionally served alongside roast meats, such as Flæskesteg (Danish roast pork) or Andesteg (roast duck), but it can complement a variety of main courses.

The dish involves small, whole potatoes – often of the new or small round varieties – that are boiled, peeled, and then caramelized in a mixture of sugar and butter. The sugar is first melted down in a hot pan until it reaches a caramel-brown color. 

Then, butter is added to form a smooth and glossy mixture, into which the cooked potatoes are tossed until they’re uniformly coated in the sweet, buttery glaze.

I love brunede kartofler for its combination of savory and sweet elements. The butter adds a layer of richness that makes these caramelized potatoes especially satisfying. 

6. Rødspætte (Fried Plaice)

Danish Food: Closeup of Rødspætte (Danish Fried Plaice)

Rødspætte, or fried plaice, is a popular dish in Danish cuisine, showcasing Denmark’s long-standing relationship with the sea. Plaice is a type of flatfish, similar to flounder, that’s abundant in the waters surrounding Denmark, making it a popular choice for local recipes.

The plaice fillets are typically coated in flour or a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper, then pan-fried in butter until golden brown. This gives the fish a deliciously crispy exterior while maintaining its tender, flaky interior.

Rødspætte has a delicate, mildly sweet flavor that’s characteristic of many types of white fish. The use of butter in frying lends richness to the dish, while the simple seasonings allow the natural taste of the plaice to shine through. 

Traditionally, fried plaice is served with boiled or fried potatoes and a wedge of lemon on the side. The dish goes great with a glass of chilled beer or a crisp white wine, making it a cherished meal, especially in the summer months.

7. Andesteg (Roast Duck)

Denmark Cuisine: Andesteg (Roast Duck), a traditional Christmas food

Andesteg, or roast duck, is a traditional Danish dish often served for Christmas dinners in Denmark, but it’s delicious any time of the year.

The preparation of Andesteg involves a whole duck that’s been stuffed with a mixture of apples and prunes, then roasted to perfection. The duck is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes a bit of bay leaves or other spices, before being placed in the oven.

The long, slow roasting allows the fat to render out, basting the meat and making it tender and flavorful. Simultaneously, the skin crisps up, adding textural contrast to the succulent meat underneath.

Andesteg is often served with traditional accompaniments such as red cabbage, caramelized potatoes, and rich gravy made from pan juices. Oh boy, is it ever good!

8. Medisterpølse (Danish Sausage)

Traditional classical Danish Medisterpolse sausage made of minced pork and suet

Medisterpølse is a thick, ring-shaped Danish pork sausage, crafted from a mixture of minced pork and fat, seasoned with spices such as allspice, cloves, and thyme. 

The sausage mix is then packed into pig intestines, forming a long, continuous coil, either kept whole or divided into smaller, individual portions.

The preparation of Medisterpølse typically involves frying or grilling, which helps to render out some of the fat and makes the exterior beautifully browned and slightly crispy, while the interior stays juicy and succulent.

A quintessential Danish comfort food, medisterpølse’s inherent pork flavor is rich and fulfilling, making it a go-to dish during the colder months.

Medisterpølse is traditionally served with a variety of accompaniments such as rye bread, red cabbage, and pickled gherkins, or with a hearty side of potatoes and brown sauce.

Copenhagen Food: Confections, Desserts & Sweets

1. Risalamande (Danish Rice Pudding)

Danish Food: Risalamande - a creamy, chilled rice pudding, laced with chopped almonds, and topped with cherry sauce

To start off with we have my favorite Danish dessert of all time – Risalamande. It’s a creamy, chilled rice pudding, laced with chopped almonds, and topped with a silky-sweet cherry sauce (kirsebærsovs).

The name “Risalamande” is derived from the French “Riz à l’amande” which translates to “rice with almonds.” Indeed, almonds are one aspect of why this dessert is so utterly delectable.

The primary flavor of risalamande is a creamy, mildly sweet one derived from the rice pudding base. The rice is cooked until it becomes soft and creamy, soaking up the flavor of the milk and the hint of sweetness from added sugar.

The addition of vanilla infuses the dish with a gentle floral note that adds depth to the overall flavor. The finely chopped almonds impart a slight nuttiness and a subtle crunch to the otherwise smooth pudding.

Risalamande is traditionally eaten every Christmas Eve following dinner. Confirming its status as one of the most popular Danish desserts, it can be found year-round in supermarkets throughout the country.

2. Æbleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

Danish Food: Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls) dusted with powdered sugar

Though æbleskiver means “apple slices” in Danish, they are little, round pancake puffs that are a popular treat, especially during the Christmas season.

Æbleskiver are prepared from a pancake-like batter, typically composed of flour, eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and a leavening agent like baking powder. The batter is poured into a special æbleskiver pan, a cast-iron cooking vessel that has several spherical indentations. This pan, heated on a stove, gives the æbleskiver their distinct round shape.

Once cooked, the æbleskiver are golden brown on the outside, light, and fluffy on the inside. To me, æbleskiver taste like a cross between a pancake and a popover – sweet and slightly tangy, with a satisfying contrast between the crisp exterior and the soft, fluffy interior.

Æbleskiver are traditionally served dusted with powdered sugar and accompanied by a side of raspberry or strawberry jam.

3. Wienerbrød (Danish Pastry)

No list of Copenhagen food would be complete without mentioning Wienerbrød, or Danish pastry. In Denmark, Wienerbrød is an umbrella term for a category of baked goods known for their flaky, buttery texture and sweet, often fruit or nut-based fillings.

The history of wienerbrød dates back to the mid-19th century. During a bakers’ strike in Denmark, bakery owners had to bring in workers from abroad, including many from Austria. These Austrian pâtissiers introduced the technique of laminating yeast dough with layers of butter, which creates a pastry that’s light, airy, and flaky. 

The Danes embraced and enhanced this method, adding sweet fillings and icings, and thus the Wienerbrød, or “Vienna Bread,” was born. Today, a wienerbrød is a must-eat when visiting Copenhagen.

There are numerous varieties of Wienerbrød, each with its unique shape, filling, and topping. Some of the most popular ones include  – 

Wienerbrod: Closeup of the famous Danish pastry Spandauer

a. Spandauer: Despite the Germanic name, Spandauer is quintessentially Danish and my favorite kind of wienerbrød. This round pastry is filled with a variety of fillings, most commonly a dollop of almond paste and custard in the center. It is often topped with a glaze or a sprinkling of coarse sugar. 

Danish Pastries: Traditional Tebirkes wienerbrod with poppy seeds over white background

b. Tebirkes: Despite the name “tebirkes” translating to “tea poppy seed”, this rectangular pastry doesn’t contain tea. Instead, tebirkes is filled with remonce (a thick cream paste of sugar and butter), marzipan/cinnamon, and topped with lots of poppy seeds. Flaky, delicate, and oh-so-delicious. 

Danish Pastries: Closeup of a Kanelsnegle (Danish Cinnamon Bun)

c. Kanelsnegl: Kanelsnegl, or “cinnamon snail,” is a popular Danish pastry synonymous with the cinnamon bun. It features a yeast-based dough rolled with a sweet cinnamon filling, often made from remonce, then shaped into a spiral. After baking, it’s finished with a glaze or icing. A real classic!

d. Frøsnapper: This long, twisted pastry is filled with marzipan and remonce, and coated in poppy seeds and sesame seeds.

4. Koldskål (Danish Cold Buttermilk Soup)

Denmark Food: Koldskål (Danish Cold Buttermilk Soup) with pieces of crisp kammerjunkere cookies

Koldskål, translating to ‘cold bowl’, is a traditional Danish dish usually enjoyed in the warmer summer months. It is essentially a cold buttermilk soup that serves as a refreshing dessert or snack.

The base of Koldskål is a mixture of “tykmælk” or “ymer'” types of Danish cultured buttermilk, regular buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes eggs, which are whisked together until smooth. 

The result is a creamy, sweet-tart soup with a delightful tanginess from the buttermilk and a fragrant hint of vanilla.

Traditionally, Koldskål is served chilled, often accompanied by ‘kammerjunker’—small twice-baked biscuits that are crumbled into the soup just before eating, adding a wonderful crunchy texture to the smooth, creamy soup.

5. Rødgrød med Fløde (Red Berry Pudding with Cream)

Danish desserts: Bowls of . Rødgrød med Fløde (Red Berry Pudding with Cream)

A tongue-twister if there ever was one, rødgrød med fløde literally translates to “red porridge with cream.” Although, it does not actually contain oats, this classic Danish dessert consists of a sweet, berry-based stew served with a generous dollop of fresh cream.

The “red porridge” part of the dish is typically made from a mix of red and purple summer berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, and redcurrants. The berries are simmered with sugar and water until they break down into a thick, sweet, tangy stew.

Once the stew is prepared, it’s chilled until cool, accentuating the fresh, tart flavors of the berries. The dish is then served with heavy cream, poured over the top or on the side. 

“Rødgrød med fløde” acts as a kind of shibboleth for Danish speakers, distinguishing the natives from outsiders. Many Danes often take delight in hearing how foreigners try pronouncing this dessert as it’s always guaranteed to bring laughs.

6. Æblekage (Danish Apple Charlotte)

Danish desserts: Æblekage (Danish Apple Charlotte)  made of stewed apple and vanilla cookie crumbs with custard and chopped chocolate

Æblekage, also known as Danish Apple Charlotte, is a classic, homely dessert in Danish cuisine, typically enjoyed in the fall when apples are at their peak.

Though the name æblekage directly translates to “apple cake,” it is not a cake in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s a layered dessert made from stewed apples (apple sauce), crispy butter-roasted bread crumbs, and whipped cream.

Æblekage starts with apples that are peeled, cored, and stewed with sugar until they break down into chunky applesauce. The applesauce is then layered in a glass or bowl with the butter-roasted breadcrumbs, which provide a delightful crunch and a nutty contrast to the sweet, soft apples. 

The layers are repeated, usually ending with a layer of breadcrumbs. Finally, the æblekage is topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and sometimes red currant jelly,

7. Flødeboller (Danish Cream Puffs)

Danish Pastries: Flødeboller (chocolate covered cream puffs) with desiccated coconut isolated on black background

Flødeboller, directly translated as “cream buns,” are a delightful and much-loved treat in Denmark. Despite the name, they are not actually buns, but a type of chocolate-coated marshmallow treat.

A Flødebolle consists of three main components. The base is typically a small round wafer (although marzipan is sometimes used), topped with a soft, fluffy mound of marshmallow cream or meringue. 

The meringue or marshmallow cream is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but modern variations may incorporate other flavors such as raspberry, coffee, or licorice.

The entire creation is then enrobed in a thin shell of dark chocolate, which hardens to form a glossy coating. 

Flødeboller are often enjoyed as a dessert or with a cup of coffee. They are readily available in all Danish supermarkets.

Copenhagen Food: Drinks

1. Danish Craft Beer

Denmark Craft Beer: Closeup of Gamma IPA poured in a glass

Sure, Copenhagen is home to giants Carlsberg and Tuborg, which have become household names not only in Denmark but also internationally. Both of these breweries are best known for their lagers, specifically pilsners and export-style lagers, but at the risk of angering some Danes, I would say that a large extent of their beers is mediocre at best.

If you like beer, you should definitely sample some Danish craft beer. The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a shift towards craft brewing in Denmark, inspired by the global craft beer movement. 

Microbreweries and brewpubs have sprung up across the country, experimenting with a wide range of beer styles and flavors. Danish brewers aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, using unique ingredients and techniques to create innovative brews. 

Some of the best Danish microbreweries dominating the Copenhagen craft beer scene are Mikkeller, Amager Bryghus, To Øl, Gamma Brewing, WarPigs Brewpub, Alefarm Brewing, and Hornbeer. All these are making some top-notch IPAs, porters, stouts, and farmhouse ales. 

2. Akvavit (Danish Schnapps)

Danish Liqueur: Three shots of Akvavit (Danish Schnapps)

If you’re on the lookout for traditional Danish liqueurs, akvavit is probably your best best. Made from distilled grain or potatoes, Akvavit is similar to vodka in its base form. What sets it apart, however, is the additional flavoring with a variety of botanicals. 

The most dominant among these is caraway or dill, giving Akvavit its characteristic flavor. Other herbs and spices like anise, fennel, coriander, and citrus peel are also used, resulting in a complex, aromatic, and somewhat herbal profile. I’ve tried it a few times but can’t really say I’m a big fan though.

In Denmark, Akvavit is traditionally served chilled in small shot glasses and is often accompanied by a beer chaser. It is particularly popular during festive occasions, such as Christmas and Easter lunches, weddings, and birthdays.

3. Gammel Dansk

Danish Liqueur: Gammel Dansk, a popular Danish bitter dram of 29 ingredients

Rivaling Akvavit for the title of Denmark’s most popular liqueur is Gammel Dansk, Gammel Dansk, which translates to “Old Danish,” is a traditional Danish bitter dram. It is a unique spirit that holds a special place in Danish drinking culture and is often associated with a sense of national identity and tradition.

First produced in 1964, Gammel Dansk was originally created to compete with the imported bitter drinks that were popular in Denmark at the time. Today, it is considered a classic Danish drink and is known for its distinctive taste and aroma.

The recipe for Gammel Dansk is a well-guarded secret, but it is known to contain 29 different ingredients, including a mix of herbs, spices, flowers, seeds, bark, and fruits. You’ll be able to discern notes of caraway, star anise, nutmeg, anise, ginger, laurel, Seville orange, and cinnamon.

Gammel Dansk is an acquired taste, but one you’ll certainly remember!

Copenhagen Food Tours

If you really want to dine like a local in Copenhagen, you can sign up for an insightful food tour. Three ones I would recommend are –  

All these tours are led by knowledgeable locals, with whom you’ll be able to you’ll have a great time eating and drinking your way through the Danish capital.

Where To Eat in Copenhagen?

Here are just a few restaurant, bar, and café suggestions in Copenhagen for sampling/buying the food and drinks we have mentioned above:

1. Torvehallerne Food Market

2. Schønnemann

3. Det Lille Apotek

4. Restaurant Nyboder

5. Restaurant Kronborg

6. Cafe Petersborg

7. Frk. Barners Kælder

8. Sankt Peders Bageri

9. Andersen Bakery

10. Døp – Den Økologiske Pølsemand

11. Harry’s Place

12. Mikkeller Bar

13. Black Swan

14. Fermentoren

Further Reading For Your Copenhagen Visit

That summarizes our definitive guide to Copenhagen Food. We reckon you’ll also find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Copenhagen!

Now, what do you think? What are some of your favorite traditional foods in Copenhagen? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Mihir

Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).

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