Eight foods to try in Iceland, according to Business Insider

Delicious fried kleinur

Delicious fried kleinur Photo: Iceland Monitor/Þorvaldur Örn Kristmundsson

Business insider has compiled a list of 8 foods that are a must try if you are travelling to Iceland. The list is compiled by a student that did a semester abroad, in Reykjavik.

“Iceland is known internationally for many things: its breathtaking scenery, its abundant geothermal energy, the Aurora Borealis... But I can bet you've never heard of Icelandic food. The cuisine of Iceland evolved under unique environmental conditions; Iceland sits just under the Arctic Circle and only gets enough sunlight to grow food during the summer. Much of the country is covered in lava, too, which makes growing food hard.

But despite the less than favourable conditions for agriculture, Icelanders have managed to develop a complex cuisine with interesting foods you must try if you have the chance.”

1. Kleinur

Mmm, fried food. Kleinur (singular kleina) are my favorite Icelandic treat. They're colloquially known as the Icelandic donut: slightly sweet deep fried bread twisted into a diamond-shaped knot. They taste lovely dipped in coffee or tea.

2. Skyr

“Skyr is my other favorite Icelandic treat. It's a thick dairy product that is technically cheese but is marketed as yoghurt. You can get little cups of skyr almost anywhere that sells food and drinks (i.e. gas stations, convenience stores, my school's bookstore), and they come with a foldable spoon so you can eat it on the go. Skyr has the texture of Greek yoghurt but is even thicker and creamier.”

There are dozens of different flavours of skyr available in ...

There are dozens of different flavours of skyr available in Icelandic supermarket. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Golli / Kjartan Þorbjörnsson

3. Hákarl

“Okay, you don't actually have to try this, but you should know that it exists. Hákarl is a traditional Icelandic food made from rotten shark meat. It was historically eaten during the midwinter festival of Þorrablót, but nowadays you can buy it in supermarkets. One article I read likened the experience of hákarl to "eating the gangrenous, blackened toes of a long-dead polar explorer which have been defrosted and left behind a radiator for a few days.”

Fermented shark is an acquired taste.

Fermented shark is an acquired taste. Ásdís Ásgeirsdóttir

4. Brennivín

“Ah, Brennivín. The name translates literally to "burning wine" and is sometimes called The Black Death. It's a traditional Icelandic spirit with an alcohol content similar to vodka, and it's only made by one distillery in Iceland. Cafes in Iceland that serve hákarl will often offer a shot of brennivín to cleanse your palate of rotten shark.”


Skál! Photo: Iceland Monitor/Skapti Hallgrímsson

5. Rúgbrauð (Icelandic Rye Bread)

“Icelandic rye bread is similar to other Nordic rye breads in that it's sweet and very dense. It is usually baked in a pot or, as Iceland is blessed with abundant geothermal activity, in a vessel buried near a hot spring, in which case it is called hverabrauð ("hot spring bread"). Rúgbrauð goes well with butter, jam, ham and cheese, tuna fish—anything you can think of. Bonus points if you try it with cream cheese and Icelandic smoked salmon.”

Icelandic rye bread is very traditional can be bought in ...

Icelandic rye bread is very traditional can be bought in most shops by the highway. Photo: Spoon University/Elizabeth Olson

6. Laufabrauð

“Laufabrauð is a deep-fried wafer-like treat that Icelanders eat around Christmastime. It translates to “leaf bread,” named for the pretty designs carved into it with a laufabrauðsjárn (leaf bread iron). You most likely will not find it for purchase in the USA, but you can make it easily at home with this recipe.”

The patterns in Laufabrauð are often very ambitious.

The patterns in Laufabrauð are often very ambitious. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Skapti Hallgrímsson

7. Waffles with rhubarb jam

“If there's one thing I learned while in Iceland, it's that Icelanders love waffles. When I expressed my excitement at finding a waffle iron in my apartment in Reykjavík to one of my Icelandic friends, he responded with "of course, every household has one!" The waffles themselves are nothing special, but the Icelandic way requires eating them with rhubarb jam and whipped cream. If you've got a waffle iron I highly recommend trying this recipe.”

Waffles with jam are a typical thing to eat at ...

Waffles with jam are a typical thing to eat at your grandmothers. Iceland Monitor/Kristinn Ingvarsson

8. Ice cream

Ice cream is not a strictly Icelandic food, but Icelanders sure do know how to make some damn good ice cream.

We all scream for Icelandic ice cream!

We all scream for Icelandic ice cream! Photo: Flickr/LWYang


USD USD 105.58 EUR EUR 124.60
GBP GBP 141.63 DKK DKK 16.74
NOK NOK 12.75 SEK SEK 12.53
CHF CHF 106.82 JPY JPY 0.94

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