Top 5 Icelandic Foods

Top 5 Icelandic Foods

There is a lot of interesting food in Iceland, and we could never cover it all in one post. Instead, we picked 5 of the most people, and many of them are traditional, so traditional that people have been eating it since Icelad was first settled over 1000 years ago! Some of them made it on to our list because of their sheer popularity with locals and tourists alike. Here there are!

5 Icelandic Lamb

A young Icelandic wool factory

Iceland has some of the world’s best lamb. Your really cannot, unless you are vegetarian or vegan, miss the chance to try it. It roams free almost all of its entire life in the mountains, fjords and highlands where it feeds and waters itself before being brought down and inside for the winter and early spring for lambing season. This is the true definition of free range. Surely a culinary highlight! 

4 Hardfiskur and Butter

Photo: Nanna Dís

Where europeans had “daily bread” Icelanders had "daily fish". Historically, this hard, dried fish, usually Haddock or Cod but sometimes Wolffish, has been served with every meal. It is one of the most consistently served foods in Iceland, right from the settlement period through to today. The butter ameliorates the hardness of the fish, making it softer on the palette. 

3 Hákarl (Shark) and Brennivin


Photo: Nanna Dís

Iceland’s most famous (or perhaps infamous) food. Its not really a meal per se, because it is not consumed in meal-like quantities. Sharks don’t have kidneys, so all of the things that are normally filters out of blood in mammals are not filtered in sharks. This does not mean that the flesh is unsafe, but that it does have particular taste, rather like ammonia. Some people love it. Some people hate it. You will have to decide for yourself.  

2 Skyr

There are records of Skyr being consumed during the settlement period, with many references found in the Icelandic sagas. That’s how old it is. What is Skyr? 

This puzzles a lot of people. Skyr is a cultured-milk product, where pasteurised skimmed milk  is cultured with bacteria, they whey is strained away and the solids remain. This is Skyr; it high-protein, low-carb and very low-fat: unflavored skyr is roughly 12% protein, 3% carbohydrate, and 0.5% fat. It replaces muesli in the morning, its a great snack in the middle of the day, used in cheesecake and it comes in many flavours, blueberry being one of the most popular.  

1 Pylsur

The quintessential Icelandic food. Available almost everywhere, this is truly the most iconic food in iceland, the unofficial national dish and consumed in vast quantities. One is a snack, two is a meal and three is feast! They are different from hot dogs in other countries due to the large proportion of lamb in them.  Order “ein með öllu”, impress the locals with your Iceland and get the classic combination. Alternatively, order a “Clinton” and get a hot dog with mustard only: this is what the then President ordered when he visited Reykjavik in 1999. 

So that just about rounds up our take on Icelandic food. Come out and try a range of of foods on our "Reykjavik by Food" tour. Take your tastebuds for a tour too!



Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian housebold, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a masters degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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