Food & Drink Dec 01, 2019

Must-Have Foods for a Traditional Icelandic Christmas Meal!

Learn about Iceland’s holiday food scene, including hangikjöt and laufabrauð, or smoked lamb and wheat cakes.

The holiday season has arrived, which means it’s time to celebrate traditions and cultural heritage with friends and family. In Iceland, food is an essential part of the festivities as its familiar flavors help get locals into the Christmas spirit. 

Through time, Icelandic lamb has played a key role in local traditions. A pure breed ever since the Viking Age, it roams free in the highlands all summer long, grazing on berries and Arctic herbs. A main attraction on the Christmas table is the traditional hangikjöt, or smoked lamb, served hot or cold with béchamel sauce, potatoes, green peas, and red cabbage. 

The process of making Icelandic holiday food is a tradition in itself. For example, hangikjöt is a type of “hung meat,” which is a method of preparing lamb that takes its name from the old tradition of smoking food in order to preserve it by hanging it from the rafters of a smoking shed.

In addition to lamb, no Icelandic Christmas meal is complete without laufabrauð, a thin crisp wheat cake, which takes its name from the leaf patterns carved in it, according to tradition. Iceland’s Christmas drink of choice? A blend of Malt, a malt drink, and Appelsín, an orange soda.

Would you love to try any of these Icelandic delicacies this holiday season? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!