Finnish food is typically simple and based on fresh, local ingredients. Many people go to the forest to pick berries and mushrooms – this is also a free way to get food since in Finland it is legal to do this and roam in any forest, no matter who owns it.
Meatballs are characteristically Finnish, and they are often served with mashed potatoes and gravy. Oven-baked salmon with a side of root vegetables and new potatoes is a very classic Sunday night dinner. Different soups are also popular – for example, salmon soup, minced meat soup or pea soup. According to age-old tradition, pea soup is served on Thursdays, with pancakes as dessert.
Different meats or fish can be found in many Finnish dishes, but there are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices. The selection of meat substitutes is growing, and Finnish innovative plant-based proteins include products such as pulled oats or the oat block. In addition, the amount of plant-based “milks”, “yogurts” and other dairy product substitutes is huge. There are a lot of all vegan or vegetarian restaurants, but you can get a vegan or a vegetarian option almost anywhere – including the student restaurants.
Oatmeal is probably the most popular breakfast dish in Finland. During the winter and at Christmas, many people also enjoy milk-based rice porridge. In addition to porridge, dark and fiber-rich rye bread is something almost everyone eats either in the morning or evening. These are usually the first things Finns miss when traveling abroad.
Bakery products and sweets
If you want to taste something deeply Finnish, try savory Karelian pasties. They are made with rye flour and filled with rice porridge and are usually offered with a topping of butter and boiled egg. For dessert, we Finns love cinnamon rolls, salty liquorice called “salmiakki”, and Finnish milk chocolate called “Fazer’s Blue” after its blue wrapper.
Many traditional foods in Finland are enjoyed either all over the country or regionally depending on the dish. In the past few years, especially the restaurant scene has become very international, making a range of different options from tacos to sushi available everywhere.
Interested to hear more? Go to Visit Finland and discover a list of the most iconic Finnish foods of all time.