Discover the main dishes of Finland

Discover the Main Dishes of Finland

Are you curious about the delightful culinary traditions of Finland? Look no further! In this article, we will take you on a gastronomic journey through the main dishes of Finland. From hearty and comforting meals to unique and traditional delicacies, Finland offers a diverse range of flavors that will surely tantalize your taste buds. Join us as we explore the rich food culture of Finland and uncover the secrets behind its most beloved main dishes.

Traditional Finnish Dishes

Karelian Pasties

Karelian pasties, also known as karjalanpiirakka, are traditional Finnish pastries that originated from the region of Karelia. These pasties consist of a thin rye crust filled with a delicious rice or potato filling. They are usually oval-shaped and are often served with a spread made of butter and hard-boiled eggs. Karelian pasties are a popular snack or breakfast option in Finland and are loved for their comforting and hearty flavors.


Kalakukko, a traditional Finnish fish pie, is a specialty dish mainly found in the region of Savonia. The name "kalakukko" translates to "fish rooster" in English, which refers to the shape of the pie resembling a rooster. This savory pie is typically made by encasing a whole fish, usually vendace or perch, within a rye crust. The fish is marinated with salt and baked slowly for several hours, resulting in tender and flavorful meat. Kalakukko is often enjoyed during festive occasions or as a hearty meal during outdoor activities.

Sautéed Reindeer

Sautéed reindeer, known as poronkäristys in Finnish, is a traditional meat dish originating from Lapland, the northernmost region of Finland. It is made from thinly sliced reindeer meat that is sautéed with butter until tender and flavorful. The dish is seasoned with salt, black pepper, and sometimes a touch of juniper berries for added depth of flavor. Sautéed reindeer is typically served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam, and pickles, creating a perfect balance of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors.


Lihapullat, or Finnish meatballs, are a classic dish enjoyed by many in Finland. These meatballs are typically made from a combination of ground beef and pork, mixed with breadcrumbs, onion, eggs, and various seasonings such as allspice and nutmeg. Lihapullat are then usually pan-fried until golden brown and served with creamy mashed potatoes, lingonberry sauce, and pickles. They are a staple comfort food in Finnish cuisine and are often served at family gatherings or festive occasions.

Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls, known as kaalikääryleet in Finnish, are a beloved traditional dish in Finland. This hearty dish consists of cabbage leaves stuffed with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, rice, onions, and spices. The rolls are then baked in a tomato-based sauce until the cabbage is tender and the flavors meld together. Cabbage rolls are often served with a dollop of sour cream or lingonberry jam on top, adding a creamy or tangy element to the dish. They are a delicious and satisfying option for a traditional Finnish meal.

These traditional Finnish dishes offer a glimpse into the rich culinary heritage of Finland. Whether you’re enjoying Karelian pasties, kalakukko, sautéed reindeer, lihapullat, or cabbage rolls, each dish showcases the unique flavors and traditions of Finnish cuisine.

Seafood Delicacies


Gravlax is a traditional Finnish dish that showcases the country’s love for seafood. It is made by curing fresh salmon with a mixture of salt, sugar, and dill. The salmon is then left to marinate for a few days, allowing the flavors to develop and the fish to become tender. The result is a delicate and flavorful cured salmon that is typically served as an appetizer or as part of a festive meal.

Smoked Salmon

Another popular seafood delicacy in Finland is smoked salmon. This delicacy is prepared by smoking fresh salmon over an open fire or in a smoker, which imparts a distinctive smoky flavor to the fish. The smoking process also helps to preserve the salmon, allowing it to be enjoyed for a longer period. Smoked salmon is commonly enjoyed on bread or crackers, as a topping for salads, or even as a standalone dish.

Fish Soup

Fish soup is a hearty and comforting dish that is widely enjoyed in Finland. The soup is typically made with a variety of fish, such as salmon, whitefish, or perch, along with vegetables and herbs. The fish is cooked in a flavorful broth until it becomes tender and infused with the delicious flavors of the other ingredients. Fish soup is often served with a side of rye bread and enjoyed as a main course.


Whitefish is a popular fish variety in Finland and is often used in various traditional dishes. It has a delicate flavor and a firm, flaky texture, making it perfect for grilling, pan-frying, or baking. Whitefish is commonly served with a side of boiled potatoes, dill sauce, and a fresh salad. It is a versatile fish that can be enjoyed in different preparations, including as part of a fish stew or as a filling for fish pies.


Herring holds a special place in Finnish cuisine and is considered a staple ingredient in many dishes. It is often pickled or marinated in a brine made with vinegar, sugar, and spices, resulting in a tangy and flavorful fish. Pickled herring is commonly enjoyed on crispbread or rye bread, and it is also used in traditional dishes like herring salad or served as a side dish with potatoes. The versatility and distinct taste of herring make it a must-try seafood delicacy in Finland.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

Mushroom dishes

Finland is known for its abundance of mushrooms, making it a perfect destination for vegetarian and vegan food enthusiasts. Mushroom dishes are widely popular and offer a unique and earthy flavor. From traditional recipes to modern adaptations, Finland has a variety of mushroom-based dishes to satisfy every taste.

One such dish is the creamy Mushroom Soup. Made with a combination of freshly foraged mushrooms and a rich vegetable broth, this soup is a comforting and hearty option for vegetarians and vegans alike. The mushrooms are sautéed with onions and garlic, then simmered with herbs and spices to create a flavorful broth. Served with a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh herbs, this soup is a must-try for mushroom lovers.

Pea Soup

Pea soup, or "Hernekeitto" in Finnish, is a traditional dish that has been enjoyed in Finland for centuries. This hearty and nutritious soup is a staple in Finnish cuisine and is often prepared as a vegetarian or vegan option.

Made with dried yellow peas, onions, carrots, and spices, pea soup is a delightful combination of flavors. The soup is simmered for hours to ensure the peas are tender and the flavors are well incorporated. It is commonly served with rye bread and a side of mustard, adding a tangy kick to the dish.

Nettle Soup

Nettle soup, or "Nokkoskeitto" in Finnish, is another delightful vegetarian and vegan option in Finland. Nettles are foraged from the Finnish forests during spring and early summer, making this soup a seasonal delicacy.

The young nettle leaves are carefully harvested and cooked to remove their sting. The cooked nettles are then blended with vegetable broth, onions, garlic, and herbs to create a vibrant green soup. Nettle soup is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, as nettles are known for their high vitamin and mineral content. Served with a dollop of vegan cream and a sprinkle of fresh dill, this soup is a true taste of Finnish nature.

Rye Bread

Rye bread, or "Ruisleipä" in Finnish, is a staple in Finnish cuisine and a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans. Made from whole grain rye flour, this dense and hearty bread is not only delicious but also highly nutritious.

Rye bread can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for various open-faced sandwiches, known as "voileipä." Topped with a variety of vegetarian and vegan toppings such as avocado, cucumber, tomato, and plant-based spreads, rye bread sandwiches offer a satisfying and flavorful meal option.

Veggie Casseroles

Finnish cuisine offers a wide range of vegetable casseroles that are perfect for vegetarians and vegans. These casseroles, or "Joululaatikot," are traditionally served during Christmas but can be enjoyed throughout the year.

One popular veggie casserole is the Carrot Casserole, made with grated carrots, rice, eggs (can be substituted with vegan alternatives), and seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Another favorite is the Potato Casserole, which combines grated potatoes, rice, eggs (can be substituted with vegan alternatives), and a touch of syrup for a hint of sweetness. These casseroles are baked until golden brown and have a creamy and comforting texture that is sure to satisfy any vegetarian or vegan palate.

In conclusion, Finland offers a range of delicious and diverse vegetarian and vegan options. From mushroom dishes and pea soup to nettle soup, rye bread, and veggie casseroles, Finnish cuisine caters to those seeking plant-based meals with unique flavors and wholesome ingredients.

Finland offers a delightful array of main dishes that are sure to satisfy any food lover’s cravings. From the traditional Karelian stew made with tender beef and hearty vegetables, to the mouthwatering salmon soup infused with aromatic dill and fresh seafood, Finnish cuisine is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. Whether it’s the renowned reindeer meat dish known as "poronkäristys" or the delectable "karjalanpiirakka" pastries filled with rice or mashed potatoes, each main dish showcases the rich culinary heritage of Finland. Exploring the diverse flavors and ingredients of Finnish cuisine is not only a treat for the taste buds but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the country’s vibrant gastronomic culture. So, embark on a culinary journey and discover the main dishes of Finland – a true delight for both food enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

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