5 Dishes You Need to Taste When Visiting Finland

You may not know this, but Finland has a very interesting diversity of local dishes. Its forests and lakes are hiding real treasures: berries, mushrooms and fish, to name a few. Each region has its own specialties. We have picked up some of our favourites for you.

Here are 5 dishes you need to taste when visiting Finland.

karjalanpiirakat-smallKarelian pies (Karjalanpiirakat in Finnish): As its name says, this small pie is originally from Southern East of Finland: Karelia. You can eat them during many occasions: as a breakfast or snack, or quite often during festive dinners served with egg butter.

There are many ways to prepare these pastries: the garniture can be either rice porridge or mashed potatoes. Different sizes and shapes can tell where the pies have been made.

You can find Karelian pies all around Finland, even in the supermarkets. But of course nothing is better than homemade ones! 

Smoked whitefish (Savustettu siika in Finnish):  Fish is a major ingredient in the Finnish cuisine. The large amount of lakes and rivers provide interesting opportunities to catch your own dinner and prepare it on open fire.

There is one dish Finns particularly love to prepare when spending time in their summer cottages: the smoked whitefish.

Whitefishes can be caught in lakes, rivers and the Baltic Sea. Here are some hints to help you to prepare your smoked whitefish:

You can either use an electric smoker or a more traditional one using fire.

The main ingredients are sea salt to be spread inside the fish once cleaned (don’t put too much but equally), 3 or 4 small pieces of sugar to give a nice brownish colour to the fish and alder chips.

At the bottom of the smoker, spread equally the alder chips and add the sugar cubes on top.  Then add the fishes above the alder bed on a grill inside the smoker and close it.

The fire should be slowly and nicely burning under the smoker. The cooking time depends on the fish size but count for around 45 minutes for 1 kg.

During the cooking, you can check if the fish is ready by trying to remove a small piece of skin or the dorsal fin and see if it separates easily from the meat. Bon appétit!

Sautéed reindeer (Poronkäristys in Finnish):  Reindeers are more numerous than men in Lapland. Reindeer meat is thus a very common ingredient in the Northern Finland and you can find it in many variations: smoked, dried, minced, in the soup, and so on.


The sautéed reindeer is a traditional dish you can eat at all seasons and you can find it in many restaurants. Tenderly cooked and thinly sliced reindeer meat is served with mashed potatoes, pickles, and lingonberries.

Rieska bread (Rieska in Finnish): Finns are really found of all sorts of breads to complement their meals. The one you should try when staying in Finland is called rieska.

rieska-small The most common ones you will easily find are potato rieska (perunarieska), barley rieska (ohrarieska) and rye rieska (ruisrieska). Finns eat this bread mostly with just butter on. However, rieska is an ideal bread to prepare sandwiches for a day hike and to be enjoyed outdoors around a campfire with hot drinks.


And last, but not least:

leipajuusto-smallerBread cheese (Juustoleipä in Finnish): Here is a typical dessert from Northern Finland. Made out of cow milk, the bread cheese has a very unique texture.  In the old days, bread cheese was so appreciated that is was given as a salary to people working in the fields during summer harvest.

The bread cheese is very easy to prepare yourself if you stay in a cottage. Available in every local supermarket, you just cut it into small slices and gently warm it up on a pan with cream. When ready, serve it with cloudberries. The cloudberries (called lakka or hilla in Finnish) are one of the tastiest, vitamins-packed berries you can find in Lappish swamps.  The result gives a great sweet and acid combination, and it goes really well with coffee.

A must try for all dessert fans!

Have you ever tried any of these Finnish dishes? If not, which one would you like to taste first? Post your choice in the comments field below.

See another local delicacy – Lörtsy Lörty - a delicious savory pastry from Savonlinna
Written by Bruce Deschamps
French Travel Blogger & Wilderness Guide in love with the great outdoors. The Finnish Lapland is my favorite playground!