Traditional Food of Finland

The food of Finland has a number of different influences from neighboring countries, here are 16 things you need to eat in Finland.
Helsinki, Finland

Of all the places I have visited, the food of Finland was the biggest surprise. I really had no idea what to expect and was a bit worried I would not like it. There are some amazing traditional dishes in Finland and others I could take or leave. But here are the most memorable.

Beginning with the Helsinki Market – you definitely need to stop here.

smoked arctic char

Smoked arctic char 

My first dinner in Helsinki at Savotta, it is a restaurant for tourists but there is a reason it is so popular. The food is really good and the servers are so much fun. The dishes on the menu are traditional and it is a good place to get your footing with food in Finland.



Surprisingly the first time someone offered me a shot of vodka was in Porvoo. Finland has an interesting take on shots, in Tampere I had a shot of vodka that was infused with Fishermans Friend. This may be my new shot when I am sick.

Finnish smoked salmon

Smoked salmon

Most of the salmon is from neighboring Norway but you can find smoked salmon everywhere, including the market where it is prepared many different ways. My favourite was with Martin Tillman, Peter’s supplier outside Porvoo.

lapland bread cheese

Lapland bread cheese

How many times have I said I don’t like dessert? I didn’t go to Lapland but I did the next best thing, I went to Saaga Restaurant in Helsinki that serves traditional food from Lapland. This fried cheese dessert was incredible.

reindeer meat


I ate reindeer nearly every day in Finland, it tastes like really great venison and the interesting thing about reindeer is that none are truly wild, they are all owned by someone and yet they let them all wander wild in the North. It is fascinating and I am hoping to come back to Finland to learn a bit more about it. This dish was at Saaga as well where I had dried, cured and smoked reindeer.

black sausage


Also known as black sausage or blood sausage, it is most famous in Tampere. I knew I would like this, I have eaten it a few times in other countries, including Argentina,  but I like that in Finland they add something sweet to it, you need the lingonberries to balance it out.



One of the things I was most impressed with in Finland is that there is still a sense of seasonal food. Many dishes you can only get on specific days or seasons. Here at Restaurant Lasipalatsi I had a blini, which is typically from neighboring Russia. I was told this circular dish is served in the winter when the days are dark and they need a bit of sun to brighten their day.



Now that I have eaten this once I probably would not order it again as it is so heavy. After my Finnish sauna, I asked Anna to take me somewhere local in Kallio so we went to Cella. It is a salty minced meat dish and definitely needs a beer.

Finnish Beer


I actually drank far more beer than vodka in Finland. I also went to a number if microbreweries: Suomenlinna at the Sea Fortress on Helsinki, Plevna in Tampere and Malmgard outside Porvoo. Visiting breweries has become one of my favourite things to do in cities even though I know zero about beer.



Although I am not crazy about sweets this was okay and I am happy I had it on the food tour as it is traditional and very popular.

finnish licorice


Salty licorice, it is ammonium chloride flavored candy and you can find this flavour everywhere. On the way to go from sauna to frozen lake Ville picked some up. We put the licorice in the vodka bottle and shook it up. You can also buy it pre-mixed.

rye bread

Rye Bread

Oh how I love the bread in Finland. I heard it was different in Sweden which is a bit more sweet, here there is no sugar just delicious rye. I am definitely looking for more of this when I return to Toronto.

seabuck thorn Sea buckthorn

A berry very high in vitamin C, I saw this used in everything from cocktails, to vinegars and Peter uses it in his food at Bistro Sinne. A bit tart but definitely worth trying.



I love fish so it was great to have at breakfast but it is not for everyone. I heard the best way to have it is in the summer with new potatoes.

garlic soup

Valkosipuli Soup

Also known as garlic, it is fantastic. Finns LOVE soup, they have entire restaurants dedicated to it. I had the garlic soup both at Nassineula and at the Helsinki Market. I must learn to make it at home.

salmon soup


Salmon soup with cream, I had this at Kaisa’s house in Porvoo. It was really nice to eat in someone’s home for a change. If you’re in Helsinki don’t forget to check out the market to eat with the locals.

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Disclosure: I was a guest of the Finnish Tourist Board as part of a Navigate Media Group project. They did not request that I write a favourable review or eat enough reindeer for a year.



  1. says

    Have been reading your blog for a while and have enjoyed reading about your travels. Love these photos! If I was asked to name any Finnish food before reading this post, I couldn’t. But just about everything here looks yummy – except for the reindeer and blood sausage :)

  2. says

    Love the food photography! It’s so much fun (and educational )learning about the traditional dishes of a country. I don’t consider myself an adventurous eater, but I would LOVE to try reindeer meat.

    P.s. you know where you can get the best Rye bread in Toronto? Silverstein’s on McCaul St., just north of Baldwin. I.LOVE.IT.
    Pauline recently posted..Beautiful Churches: Paris Edition

  3. says

    This post made me miss my native cuisine!
    You even found the epic “munkki” (donut) spot in my home town -Pyynikin näkötorni. Mustamakkara is the other Tampere speciality, but not my personal favorite :)

    Next time I’d go to Finland I’ll certainly buy some marinated herring and prepare a salad with boiled eggs, marinated herring, sour cream, red onions and leek and serve it to my Peruvian friends with some local papas nativas.
    Anna recently posted..How to go native in Lima?

  4. says

    I missed Finland while in Scandinavia last year unfortunately, but it looks like you definitly ate well while there! I love venison so the reindeer looks right up my alley. Oh, and the beer. Yes, I love me my beer!
    Andrea recently posted..Paris Slideshow 2011

  5. Alice says

    Hey ! I spent 1 year in Finland in Erasmus, so I had time to taste a lot of things. But I actually think that you tried more typical finnish food than me …
    But I noticed that you forgot to taste the Pirkka ! It is maybe one of the most tipical thing in Finland: it is rice on a kind of bread with egg butter on it. Quite good !

    OI really liked your pictures … Thanks !

  6. says

    Traditional Finnish cuisine was based on few crops due to the harsh winters
    Little fruit and vegetables could grow but the fish and meat saved many from the cold winters,along with potatoes and cabbage
    Today however many attend catering courses to become chefs so a new style of cooking has been infused in to Finnish cuisine
    I love the simplicity and explosive tastes
    Finland Travel Blog recently posted..Do You Recognise These Innovative Products from Finland

  7. says

    Cool blog which I found by accident.

    You have truly found some of the best dishes here in Finland. I love cold smoked salmon and reindeer myself, and leipäjuusto (bread cheese) is also one of my favourites that I eat over the Christmas time.

    Reindeer I prefer as cut in small pieces and made to a hot dish with beer, sided with lingonberries and buttery mashed potatoes.

    The donuts in the beginning (munkki) also come with jam filling – which I love to bits!

    Thanks again for a great blog – I must read it again.

  8. says

    The food looks great! I’ve just come back from a weeks holiday in Finland and Norway, and I completely agree with the deliciousness of Arctic Char and Reindeer Meat. We also went to Savotta in Helsinki (we were only there for 1 night) and the food was delicious, we were stuffed afterwards! I didn’t get to try everything on you list, but I want to go back there so hopefully I’ll get another chance! We did have amazing King Crab Soup in Norway though!
    Gemma recently posted..One Night in Kirkenes Snow Hotel

  9. Nelly says

    My last trip to Finland, I eat Salmakki and I enjoyed every bit of it, I also like grilled chicken or chicken soup, sound interesting


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