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Cooking it Norwegian Way: Delicious Christmas Recipes from Norway

Norwegian Christmas is experienced best with real Norwegian Christmas food.
Cooking it Norwegian Way: Delicious Christmas Recipes from Norway
Photo : Robyn Lee

Christmas time is a celebration of traditions and family in Norway. As the festive season comes, Norwegians comes together around their fire places, dance around the Christmas tree, and enjoy rich traditional food. To feel the Norwegian Christmas spirit, we share some of the fundemental Christmas foods with you:


In Norway, Pinnekjøtt is a main course dinner dish of lamb or mutton. Pinnekjøtt is a festive dish typical to Western- and Northern Norway, and is rapidly gaining popularity in other regions as well. This dish is largely associated with the celebration of Christmas, served with puréed rutabaga and potatoes, beer and akevitt. The preparation of pinnekjøtt uses a traditional method for food preservation utilizing curing, drying and in some regions also smoking as means of inhibiting the growth of micro-organisms. Although lamb is today available fresh or frozen all year round, pinnekjøtt is still prepared both commercially and in private homes due to the flavour and maturing the preservation process gives to the meat.[4] In home preparation of pinnekjøtt, racks of lamb or mutton are cured in brine or coarse sea salt. Once sufficiently cured, and when the weather is cold enough, the racks are hung in a cool, dark, well ventilated place to dry.


1 1/2kg sheep ribs

2 turnips/swedes

2 carrots (optional)

20 Potatoes

1/4 ts ground nutmeg

4 liters of water


Cut ribs lengthwise between each rib. Place in cold water overnight.

Steam the meat on sticks of birch (without bark). You may also use a metal grating placed in the bottom of a saucepan any fish pot. The water should be level with the ground. Add the lid and allow the meat to steam for 2 - 2 1 / 2 hour until it separates from the bone. Add more water if necessary. Make sure it does not go dry.

The meat should be put under the grill for about 20 minutes before serving to make it crispy.

Serve turnip stew and potatoes with the meat.

Turnip stew

Boil turnips and any carrot slices.

Mash and season with salt, pepper, or a little ground nutmeg and butter or a little of the fat / juices from the meat.


Photo: Ryan Opaz| Lutefisk is usually served with bacon.

This special Norwegian dish has a peculiar place on Christmas tables. Its pecularity is not limited to its cooking timing but its unique taste that you either love it or hate it. Despite this, Norwegians consume a lot of lutefisk during the Christmas season.

Traditional lutefisk is made from stockfish that receives a lengthy treatment before cooking. After drying, the fish is reconstituted in cold water for a week, then soaked in a lye solution for several more days.

There are also a few different types of lutefisk which are dried artificailly and mde available on the market for the people who look for a milder taste.

Instruction for cooking Lutefisk

Put the ingredient you bought from a grocery in a large bowl, and cover with ice water. Change this water two to three times (to remove the lye) and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. This firms up the fish.

Lutefisk does not need any additional water for the cooking. Place the well rinsed cod in a frying pan over low heat, (do not use an aluminum pan as the lye in the fish will discolor the pan). Add salt, cover with a lid, and steam cook approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Potatoes, mushy peas and some bacon can be added to the plate while serving this special Norwegian Christmas tradition.


Photo: Magnus Akselvoll | Pepperkake can be formed in various shapes and can be decorated with candies and decorative goods.

Another inevitable element of Norwegian Christmas tables is pepperkakke (gingerbread). Here are the ingredient of this spicy coocki.

150g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

70ml treacle

50ml golden syrup

75ml whole milk

1 medium egg yolk

450g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamom, ground to a fine powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp finely ground black pepper

½ tsp fine sea salt


You can use a food processor to make this dough or mix it by hand. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mix the treacle, golden syrup, milk and egg yolk together in a bowl or jug, and stir 400g flour and all the other dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Alternate between adding wet and dry ingredients in stages, mixing as you go, until the dough comes together. Add some or all of the remaining 50g flour if the mixture seems too wet, although you want it to be quite sticky – it will set when refrigerated.

Divide the mixture in two and wrap in clingfilm, squishing and smoothing the mixture down as you seal it up until you have a round disc about 10cm wide. Refrigerate overnight or freeze until needed. Allow the dough to come to room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. If you are using frozen dough, you will need to let it defrost overnight in the fridge beforehand.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3-4 and line two or three large baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll out the biscuit dough with a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 2mm thick. The thinner you roll it, the crisper the biscuits will be – but if the dough gets too thin, the biscuits may be tricky to transfer to a baking sheet. You may find it easier to roll the dough directly on to the baking sheet and cut out the biscuit shapes there, lifting off the excess dough to roll out for the next batch.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool on a wire rack while you repeat the rolling, cutting and baking until all the dough is used up. If you find that the cooled biscuits are still a little soft, you can always pop them back in a 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2 oven to dry out.

Properly crisp and dried out, these biscuits can keep in an airtight container for several weeks. My grandmother used to keep them from Christmas all the way through until Lent, but mine are always eaten up long before that! If the stored biscuits start to go soft, reheat them on a wire rack at 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2 for 5-10 minutes, then allow to cool completely on the wire rack once out of the oven to crisp them back up.


Photo: Mararle | Gløgg is served after heating and mixing with some nuts and rosiner.

When the Christmas table is set, eyes seek for this special drink. Gløkk is a beverage usually made with red wine along with various spices and raisins. It is served hot or warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Non-alcoholic and alcoholic versions of glögg can be bought ready-made or prepared with fruit juices instead of wine. The main classic ingredients (of alcoholic gløgg) are red wine, sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange, and optionally also stronger spirits such as vodka, akvavit, or brandy.

Throughout Scandinavia, gløgg spice extract and ready-mixed spices can be purchased in grocery stores. To prepare gløgg, spices and/or spice extract are mixed into the wine, which is then heated to 60-70°C. When preparing homemade gløgg using spices, the hot mixture is allowed to infuse for at least an hour, often longer, and then reheated before serving. Ready-made wine gløgg (and low- or non-alcoholic varieties) is normally sold at groceries all over Norway, ready to heat and serve, and not in concentrate or extract form. Gløgg is generally served with raisins, blanched almonds and Ginger biscuits (Ginger Snaps), and is a popular hot drink during the Christmas season.

If you would like to do it from bottom on your own, here is a practical recipe:


1 bottle red wine

80g caster sugar

1 big stick cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

10 whole cloves

5 cardamom pods

1 piece dried Seville orange peel

Dash of cognac or rum (if desired)

Flaked almonds or raisins, to serve


Pour the wine into a saucepan and add the sugar, spices and orange peel.

Heat until the mixture is hot but not boiling (around 80°C - anything hotter and the alcohol will start to evaporate).

Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for an hour or more.

Strain the spices then reheat if necessary. Add a dash of cognac or rum if desired for extra warmth.

Serve in small cups, with a teaspoon of flaked almonds and raisins added.

Recipe courtesy of Bronte Aurell at Scandinavian Kitchen

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