15 Sep 2019
If you’re traveling to Copenhagen, you’re definitely in for a culinary treat. You’ll find traditional Danish dishes as well as modern takes on the classics. From pastries to meatballs, you won’t go hungry sampling everything Copenhagen has to offer.
Over the past ten years, the Danish food scene has been associated with a movement called the New Nordic Cuisine. This movement reimagines traditional dishes and only uses hyper-local ingredients.
Whether you want to try the traditional or something more modern, any of the hotels in Copenhagen can steer you in the direction you’re looking for.
From classic to contemporary, here are some of the best Danish dishes to try while you’re in Copenhagen.
Smørrebrød is the term used to describe the hearty, open-faced sandwiches that are part of a classic Danish lunch. While this decadent sandwich has seen a glamorous remodel in recent years, you can still find a simpler classic throughout much of Copenhagen.
The sandwich was traditionally made up of thin slices of buttered, dense rye bread. It is then served with a protein, a vegetable, and a garnish.
Today, you can find these open-faced gems on casual local menus to high-end restaurants. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can also find these sandwiches in most grocery stores already made.
There are also hundreds of different types of smørrebrød. You can find classic staples such as boiled potato with mayonnaise and chives or pan-fried fish with lettuce and remoulade. Smoked eel with chives and eggs is another variety worth trying.
You can also order smørrebrød by the slice, in smaller portions. This will allow you to sample a few different types. Typically, three to six pieces will make a meal depending on the size. Several of the best restaurants in Copenhagen, serve smørrebrød by the slice, so enjoy a variety.
Wienerbrød is a delicious way to start your morning in Denmark. They may look like what many people think of as a Danish but these classic pastries are known as wienerbrød.
These warm, flaky pastries have a buttery taste with creamy fillings and icing on top. The classic snegle features cinnamon, butter, and icing. The pastry is spiraled up with the icing dolloped on top.
Another classic flavor is similar to a coffee cake. It’s topped with brown sugar as well as butter to make it gooey and rich. Try a different flavor every morning.
While porridge may seem like an everyday breakfast, you haven’t tried any quite like you will in Copenhagen. Here, this warm breakfast is elevated and made in a wide array of flavor combinations.
Porridge will usually be made with grains such as oats, rye, and barley. You can also find it with leftover beer and rye bread. There is also the Christmas porridge which is made with rice.
You can find more elevated and decadent porridge which has fresh fruit, nuts, or sweet dulce de leche. Some Copenhagen hotels will often serve this with breakfast.
Tarteletter is a puff-pastry that features a tart shell with a savory filling. A classic flavor is the tarteletter with asparagus and chicken. This tarteletter also boasts a white sauce made up of butter, flour, and milk.
This classic treat isn’t common everywhere so if you see it on the menu, definitely place an order.
Flæskesteg is a tender pence of roasted pork sliced thinly. It features crunchy pork rinds and red cabbage as well. Flæskesteg is a classic dish that you can find at most traditional restaurants in Copenhagen.
You can find flæskesteg served with rye bread and pickles for lunch. For dinner, it’s often served with potatoes and gravy.
When you think of meatballs you may think of Sweden first but don’t discount Denmark’s. Some of the best restaurants in Copenhagen feature the frikadeller which are a traditional pan-fried pork meatball.
Frikadellers are served with brown gravy and sides of potatoes, beets, red cabbage, and pickles. Lunch servings will generally be lighter and be served with rye bread.
Any classic, traditional restaurant in Copenhagen will feature the delicious Danish frikadeller.
A classic but rare Danish dish is the more decadent version of the frikadeller. The oval, pan-fried pork patty, known as the krebinetter is breaded and served golden brown.
Krebinetter are fried until they are crispy and usually come with a side of potatoes and boiled vegetables. These are almost like a fried, breaded meatball.
In 2014, the stegt flæsk was named the national dish. Stegt flæsk is crispy pork belly that has been fried to perfection. It’s typically served with potatoes topped with a creamy parsley sauce.
This rich dish is pan-fried and sliced thick. While it’s a hearty dish, the creamy sauce and crispy pork will leave you feeling full and warm.
Pølse is what a hot dog in Denmark is all about. The most popular are red, long, and skinny. You’ll see them done up in a variety of ways at local hot dog stands.
Some pølse are boiled while others are cooked on the grill. You can have them smothered in onions or served on a baguette. Channel your inner kid as these are often served with chocolate milk.
New Nordic Cuisine
A recent movement over the past 15-years is known as the New Nordic Cuisine. The movement takes classic Danish cuisine and puts a modern twist on it.
With influences from all over the world, it’s creators wanted to showcase local ingredients, rich flavors, and all that Danish cuisine could be.
Using completely local, seasonal ingredients showcases the region and modernizes some of the classic Danish dishes. Be sure to check out some of the newer food scenes in Copenhagen including their gastropubs.
Must-Try Danish Dishes
The Copenhagen food scene is exploding. With traditional Danish dishes and a new resurgence of modern Nordic cuisine, there’s something for everyone.
For more things to do and places to go while you’re in Copenhagen, visit Hotel Østerport.