Most Popular Food Icelanders Eat on Christmas

Times are changing! Back in the day, most Icelanders ate the same type of food during Christmas. But now, while some hold on to tradition, others like to try something new every year.

Christmas food in Iceland

Smoked meat of lamb or pork  – the most popular food

Smoked rack of pork, called Hamborgarhryggur is by far, the most popular food Icelanders eat on Christmas Eve. It’s usually boiled for a while, then baked for a bit with a sweet and sticky glaze. It’s usually served with caramel potatoes, red cabbage, and a cream based mushroom sauce. Those who are more traditional eat a smoked leg of lamb, accompanied by boiled potatoes in a sort of bechamel sauce, canned green beans, red cabbage and of course, laufabrauð wafers with butter.

Laufabrauð –  traditional Icelandic deep-fried patterned Christmas wafer!


How’s that for a translation? We’re sorry, but there’s no good word for it in English, except the direct “Leaf Bread,” which sounds kind of weird. Although you can buy ready-made laufabrauð in stores before Christmas in Iceland, many people make their own. They usually have a family recipe, and everyone gets together, listens to Christmas music and cuts a few laufabrauð cakes. Some are quite skilled at making intricate patterns and cutting fine lines into the dough. Most of the laufabrauð is eaten, but a few people take the prettiest ones and hang as decoration. It’s best enjoyed covered in softened butter, as a part of a meal of smoked lamb or pork.


In autumn, Icelandic hunters head to the hills to shoot ptarmigan. In many Icelandic homes, ptarmigan is traditional Christmas food. Many different recipes are used, but normally they involve sweet jam and cream based sauce to compliment the wild flavor of the bird. Potatoes in some form are popular, as are different roasted root vegetables.  Ptarmigan

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