I am always curious about regional and cultural foods I should try when I travel. To determine what to eat in Oslo, I did a TON of research and enlisted the help of my amazing friend, Silvia from HeartMyBackpack.com to figure out which traditional Norwegian foods I should try.
There are also plenty of things to do in Oslo (other than eating) and it’s pretty easy to get around, so if you’re eating your way through town for a few days, I highly suggest getting the Oslo Pass and use it to explore Europe’s Green Capital of 2019. Yep! This city is way more green than I thought. I learned that when I hiked through Oslo and jumped in a very cold lake. And yes, there’s a video of that.
Oslo can be expensive which is why most of the things are this list are pretty affordable and you don’t have to go to a proper restaurant to find them. The one restaurant we went to had a 20% discount from the Oslo Pass. SCORE! More about that in a minute.
Disclaimer: Visit Oslo gave me a complimentary Oslo Pass that I used for a restaurant discount and getting around the city. Next time, I’ll use one for all the sightseeing, too!
I went to Oslo for two reasons. I wanted to see my friend who lived in Norway and knew she would be passing through Oslo. And, there was a very well-priced flight to get there. I figured that I wanted to do more than just wander around and that’s when I came up with the idea of discovering what to eat in Oslo (and Norway in general). Luckily, Silvia was all for it and excited to help!
If you want to see our silliness in addition to having everything written down here, we have a YouTube video of our culinary shenanigans.
Possibly my favorite traditional Norwegian food to try: Norwegian Waffles
Any kind of waffle is delicious in my book (sadly, yes, even Eggos), but these waffles are on a whole other level. They smell Heavenly, they are super soft and airy. The best part? The shape! Norwegians make their waffles into hearts and I <3 that.
They are so popular, they are everywhere from sporting arenas, to train stations, cafes, and of course, at home. Toppings can be pretty much anything, so you decide if you want savory or sweet. Sounds like Norwegians switch it up depending on the time of day. I could have eaten at least 5 of these babies. I topped mine with brown cheese and I guess my waffle wasn’t warm enough to melt it because people make it sound like it should be all melty on top.
I found this great article on why waffles are important and a recipe on how to make them. But…depending on your waffle iron, your waffles may not be in hearts. Whomp whomp whomp.
Tip: Check out Haralds Vaffel when in Oslo to try the waffle of a man whose passion for the food is impressive.
Brown Cheese (Brunost)
See above photo for the cheese on a waffle
Why is the cheese brown? Good question! The simple answer is that it’s caramelized. Brunost is created by boiled milk, cream, and whey until it’s brown and the sugars have become that familiar caramel color.
I always saw it in slices and that seems to be a common way to have it. Just place it on top of something like bread, crackers, or a waffle(!) and enjoy. It’s a little sweet but surprisingly it wasn’t as sweet as I expected considering it was caramelized. The combination of the cheese flavor on the sweet waffles was really nice, but it’s just up to preference on how you want to eat it.
Must eat in Oslo: Hot dog (Polse)
The people of Norway eat about 100 hot dogs a year per person! That means, to fit in, you should be eating a hot dog, too. In my research, I discovered a hot dog stand that was pretty popular, so I surprised Silvia by taking her there because she had never been. It’s called Syverkiosken and had delicious hot dogs. It’s definitely popular for a reason.
The funny thing is when I mentioned that we were going to a hot dog stand, she said that Norwegians typically just go into a convenience store or gas station for their hot dogs (and they are still good!). Doesn’t seem to matter where you get one, just be sure to get one. It’s a boiled sausage wrapped in a tortilla-like lompe made from potato. Whatever they do and whatever it’s made from, it’s a must-eat when in Norway. And it’s cheap!!
I like salmon a lot, so when I went to Norway, I knew that it would have to be on my list of foods to try in Oslo. They tend to farm salmon in the ocean and are very eco-conscious and thoughtful about the lives of the fish. Smoked salmon is the way to go so Silvia and I found a place called Den Glade Gris (The Happy Pig) with a whole appetizer platter of Norwegian favorites that included the smoked salmon. With some sprigs of dill on top, it was a delicious start to a meal (where the main dish was fish and chips and also delicious).
The fish has great flavor and the texture was softer than I’m used to and it was really nice. Fish is a staple in the Norwegian diet and I try to be conscious of that here at home, too. I do love fish and other seafood, but don’t find myself buying it too often. A trick around that is to buy it frozen so you always have some!
Tip: This is a restaurant you can get 20% off with the Oslo Pass
Now we’re getting into some of the foods that might be a little funny for Americans. As if eating reindeer meat isn’t strange enough for me, it turned out it was reindeer heart. To be fair, the menu didn’t say which part of the reindeer I’d be served, but I was a bit surprised when he listed everything on the plate! Yep, this is the same appetizer I mentioned above. Very economical when trying a lot of foods.
The weirdest part is that it didn’t taste weird. Just tasted like a flavored jerky — you know, beef jerky? Reindeer are plentiful and this restaurant, in particular, has an ethos (and may be part of Norwegian culture) is not to waste. So, it makes sense to serve all parts of the animal.
Ever since the Vikings, flatbread has been eaten in this part of the world. It is still a part of their traditional meals. We received a basket full of flatbread with our meal, but you can also buy boxes in the grocery store if you want to try them on your own.
There’s something so special about eating food that’s been around for ages. While you eat your Norwegian flatbread, imagine it being the 1500s and you’re walking up one of those beautiful green mountains in Norway. What a thought!
There seems to be a bread culture in the Nordics. They do bread exceedingly and ridiculously well. Rye bread is a favorite and I highly recommend getting a loaf, or half loaf if you can find it, and use it for the food coming up in the list!
Rye was one of the first grains found in Norway, so it has a special significance. Bread used to be the biggest part of the meal, but nowadays it’s used more for breakfast and sometimes as open-faced sandwiches at lunch. Potatoes are now a favorite for lunches and dinners these days.
Caviar in a tube
First thing’s first, caviar is spelled with a “k” in Norway, and yes, it can come in a tube…sort of. The tubes you find in the refrigerated section is more of a paste doesn’t have those little fish eggs just falling out. The good news is that it’s about half real caviar and the other ingredients are for flavor, texture and to keep it ready to eat.
To eat like the Norwegians, you can put it on bread as an open-faced sandwich. Put it on crackers or hard-boiled eggs. Blend it with cream cheese to make a new spread, or add it to sauces for a special flavor. It is pretty versatile!
Liver pate (leverpostei)
I was not looking forward to trying this. I don’t eat liver. But it’s an incredibly popular thing to eat in Norway, and in Scandinavia in general, so I had to give it a taste!
You know what? It wasn’t too bad. It was much better than I expected, even the texture was good. I have a thing with texture…I feel that that’s a common issue to have, though. The liver pate was something that I think I could learn to eat more regularly and maybe enjoy in the future. But I’m not adding it into my diet quite yet 😉
Mackerel in a can
We had Stabbur Mackerel in tomato sauce and it was delicious! I was really hesitant because I don’t think I’ve ever had fish with tomato sauce before. It didn’t sound good. But then I took a bite…and YES! It is 100x better than I could have expected. It’s a whole filet of mackerel with a delightful tangy tomato sauce on top. Eat on a slice of bread and you’re golden.
I think it’s fair to say that Norwegians are VERY proud of their chocolate. As a visitor, these are the kinds of things you must try. It seems one brand stands out, Freia. The company was founded in 1889, so they know what their customers like. Their most famous product is the milk chocolate bar. You can get a fairly small one, so don’t feel too bad about eating it all.
A chocolate-covered bugle is definitely what this treat tastes like. The snack is called “Smash” and it’s chocolatey, salty, light, and crispy. It’s a tad too salty for my palette but it’s obvious why people love them. They are so addictive. Even though I didn’t love them, I couldn’t stop eating them. So, get a small bag to try 😉
Here’s a breakfast treat for you! Do you like donuts and coconut? Then you’re going to LOVE this! It’s a sweet roll with icing and coconut around the edge and delicious custard in the middle. Personally, the middle is my favorite part (that goes for cinnamon rolls, too!)
It’s so light and fluffy and perfect to go with coffee or tea. The name kind of sounds like “school bread” and that’s because that’s exactly how it translates. These rolls were put in school lunches and sold at school bake sales. How cute!
Silvia and I had so much fun eating our way around Oslo. Next time, I plan to do a bit more sightseeing around the city and the islands. But I can’t wait to take Sean to see other parts of Norway, too. Silvia lives in the northern part of the country and you can read all about her adventures on her blog, HeartMyBackpack.com. Don’t miss out on following her Instagram for some of the prettiest pictures of Norway and other parts of the world.
Which of these foods do you think you would like best? Did we miss anything? Which do you think you would like the least? Can’t wait to hear from you!
Oh! If you didn’t catch the video above, you can view it on YouTube here.
Wishing you joy and travels!