Exploring Finnish Cuisine: Food and Culinary Traditions

Exploring Finnish Cuisine: Food and Culinary Traditions

Finnish cuisine is as unique and diverse as the country itself. In this northern European country, the cuisine is influenced by its geographical location, seasonal ingredients, and cultural traditions. Traditional Finnish cuisine is a reflection of the simplicity and purity of Finnish nature. In this article, we will explore Finnish cuisine, its food, and culinary traditions.

Traditional Finnish Dishes

The traditional Finnish cuisine includes a wide range of dishes, which are simple yet tasty. Some of the most popular traditional Finnish dishes are:

1. Karjalanpiirakka – This is a traditional Finnish Karelian savory pastry consisting of rye flour crust filled with either rice porridge or potato, often served with egg butter.

2. Lihapullat – These are Finnish meatballs made with ground pork and beef, mixed with onion, breadcrumbs, and egg, served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.

3. Graavilohi – This is Finnish gravlax, which is cured raw salmon using salt, sugar, and dill, served with a creamy mustard sauce.

4. Hernekeitto – This is traditional Finnish pea soup that is slow-cooked with pork and vegetables, served with rye bread.

5. Kalakukko – This is a traditional Finnish fish pie, consisting of rye bread dough filled with fish, pork, and bacon, baked for several hours.

6. Makaronilaatikko – This is a traditional Finnish macaroni casserole, which is a comforting dish of macaroni baked with a mixture of ground beef, milk, and eggs.

7. Sima – This is a traditional Finnish fermented lemonade made with water, sugar, honey, and lemon, served during Finnish May Day festivities.

Regional Finnish Cuisine

In Finland, regional cuisine varies depending on the location. The coastal regions tend to have a strong emphasis on seafood dishes, while the inland areas are known for their game meats and dairy products.

1. Karelia: Karelia is a region known for its traditional Karelian pastries, such as Karjalanpiirakka filled with rice or potato and served with egg butter.

2. Helsinki: Here, you can try fresh seafood dishes such as Baltic herring and Finnish salmon, as well as traditional dishes like Lihapullat (meatballs) and Karjalanpaisti (pork stew).

3. Lapland: The Lapland region is known for its game meats such as reindeer, elk, and bear. You can try dishes like poronkäristys (sauteed reindeer) and poronkäristyspiirakka (reindeer pie).

4. Tampere: This city is known for its mustamakkara, which is a black pudding made from pork, oats, and blood. It’s typically served warm with lingonberry jam and is a popular Finnish street food.

Culinary Traditions

Finnish culinary traditions revolve around certain customs and food-related events that are celebrated throughout the year. Some of the most noteworthy Finnish culinary traditions include:

1. Midsummer: Midsummer is one of the most significant festivals in Finland, where Finns celebrate the longest day of the year. It’s a time when people gather around bonfires, drink beer, and eat traditional fare such as grilled sausages, fish, and new potatoes.

2. Christmas: Christmas is a time when Finnish families come together to enjoy a festive feast of traditional dishes such as ham, gravlax, boiled potatoes, and liver casserole.

3. Crayfish party: The Finnish summer is not complete without a crayfish party, where people gather to feast on freshwater crayfish, toast with schnapps, and sing traditional Finnish songs.

4. Coffee culture: The Finns are known to have a deep love for coffee, and it’s an essential part of their daily lives. It’s not uncommon for people to drink several cups of coffee per day, and many Finns gather to drink coffee and eat korvapuusti (cinnamon buns).


1. What is Finnish cuisine known for?

Finnish cuisine is known for its simplicity, purity, and the use of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Traditional Finnish cuisine includes dishes such as Karjalanpiirakka, Lihapullat, Graavilohi, and Hernekeitto.

2. What are some must-try Finnish dishes?

Some must-try Finnish dishes include Karjalanpiirakka, Lihapullat, Graavilohi, and Kalakukko. For dessert, try the traditional Finnish pulla (sweet bread) or vispipuuro (whipped berry porridge).

3. What are typical Finnish ingredients?

Typical Finnish ingredients include rye flour, potatoes, berries such as lingonberries and blueberries, freshwater fish, game meats such as reindeer, and dairy products like Finnish cheese and butter.

4. Is Finnish cuisine suitable for vegetarians and vegans?

While Finnish cuisine does typically include meat and fish, there are plant-based dishes available to accommodate vegetarians and vegans. Examples include Kasvismakaronilaatikko (vegetable macaroni casserole) and savoy cabbage rolls filled with rice and mushrooms (Kaali-Kääryleet).

5. What are the most popular Finnish drinks?

The most popular Finnish drinks include beer, cider, and lonkero, a Finnish long drink made with gin and grapefruit soda. Coffee is also an essential part of Finnish culture and daily life. During special occasions, Finns also enjoy schnapps, such as Salmiakki (a salty black licorice flavor).


Finnish cuisine is a delight for food lovers, with its unique regional flavors, seasonal ingredients, and cultural traditions. Whether you are looking for traditional Finnish dishes or modern twists, there is something for everyone. From Lihapullat to Karjalanpiirakka, Finnish cuisine offers something delicious and unique. So, why not explore Scandinavia’s culinary treasures and experience Finnish cuisine for yourself?