What to Eat in Copenhagen
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Renowned around the world for great cuisine, Copenhagen has some of the most diverse, delicious and innovative food options. From an internationally-inspired vegan lemon balm sorbet to a traditional Danish pork leverpostej, there is something for every taste and every budget. In this article I’ll share with you what to eat when you are in Copenhagen.
Regardless if you’re visiting Copenhagen for one week or one year, you likely won’t be able to try everything, so don’t beat yourself up. Just enjoy what you can. I lived there for one whole year and there are still so many foods I didn’t get the chance to taste.
What is food like in Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is the forefront for the New Nordic Cuisine movement, which emphasizes local, seasonal, high-quality ingredients. From large restaurants to small establishments, food is always prepared with passion and love. Everything I personally ate was delectable, even the fast food. And if you’re coming from North America (where most food is pretty bad), you’ll definitely be impressed.
In no particular order, here’s what to eat in Copenhagen:
Starting the list with an absolute must-eat, smørrebrød is a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. It consists of a slice of rugbrød (sourdough rye bread) and toppings. The best place to get them in my opinion is at Torvehallerne food market. Not only are they very fresh since they sell out quickly, but they are affordable and decently-sized. The toppings include: smoked or pickled fish, shrimp, boiled potato slices, bacon, pork, liver paté, eggs, and more.
Over all, smørrebrød is a pretty filling dish with diverse flavors and textures.
Porridge, or grød, may not sound like an exciting meal, but there are some places in Copenhagen that really take it to another level. One of these places is appropriately named Grød and you can also find it at Torvehallerne. There are both sweet and savoury options, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Some interesting bowls include beetroot risotto, mushroom barley-otto, porridge chocolate truffles, and apple dessert parfait. What once started as one little location has expanded into multiple locations across Copenhagen and Denmark.
Speaking of porridge, øllebrød is a traditional Danish porridge with a thick soup consistency. It is made of two of the most popular components of the Danish diet: sourdough rye bread and beer. It tastes slightly sweet with a few sour notes from the rye, and typically eaten for breakfast. If you wish to make øllebrød at home, you will need to soak some rugbrød into beer overnight. The next morning add the mixture to a saucepan, add some water, spices, sugar to taste, and cook until the mixture is creamy. Take off the heat, add some butter, fresh cheese, fruit, and enjoy.
Made by the Danish brand Toms, skildpadder are little chocolate turtles filled with rum cream and caramel. They come in mini and large variety, small and large boxes, as well as a cheaper bar-shaped alternative. They are available in all grocery stores and 7-Eleven locations. Since they are mass-produced, skildpadder are not the most delectable sweet, but they are pretty good. They also make a good, inexpensive souvenir to bring back home.
Once I discovered them, skildpadder became one of my favorite grocery store sweets. I used to have them every week, but then I am a fan of rum and chocolate, so I may be biased.
If you are a fan of burgers, a stop by Gasoline Grill is a must. Despite having a small menu, they have grown a large popularity. Ever since Gasoline Grill were voted by Bloomberg as one of the top 27 best burgers in the world, they have been selling out every day. The patties are made in-house from organic beef; there are also chicken and veggie options. There are a couple locations throughout the city, but I recommend the original location at Borgergade which used to be a gas station. I think it has the best atmosphere.
I know it is not a traditional Danish food, but fish in Denmark is just incredibly delicious, fresh, and more fatty since the waters around Denmark are so cold. Perhaps that could explain why sushi is so popular in Copenhagen. Sometimes it seems like there are almost as many sushi restaurants as there are bakeries, and there are a lot of bakeries in Copenhagen. But from the ones I tried, my favorite is Sticks’n’Sushi. I particularly liked the Shake Aïoli which is topped with flame-seared salmon that melts in your mouth. There are a couple locations in Copenhagen, but the one on Borgergade across from Gasoline Grill has a pretty cosy outdoor seating in the warmer season.
Østerberg Ice Cream
You can find the most delicious and creative frozen treats at Østerberg Ice Cream. You can try some innovative ice cream flavors like lemon balm sorbet, olive oil sea salt & cherry, avocado date, cinnamon orange zest, red dragon fruit, gooseberry sorbet, and more. They also have ice cream cake bombs which consist of a gluten-free brownie base, one type of ice cream and one type of sorbet, decorated with meringue, fruit, and edible flowers. If you love the ice cream at Østerberg, they also host in-person and online ice cream-making courses, and have a recipe book for sale.
Østerberg Ice Cream is a prime example of innovative new Nordic cuisine. There are two locations in Copenhagen, and one in Vietnam.
Cream puffs, Danish dream buns, but most commonly known as flødeboller are a must-try eat when in Copenhagen. The anatomy of a flødebolle consists of a cookie base, soft marshmallow, and chocolate coating. Although this type of sweet is not unique to Denmark, the Danish really upscaled it. And in Copenhagen in particular you can find some pretty innovative variations. I particularly loved the caramel flødeboller from Lagkagehuset and the seasonal creations from Summerbird.
Speaking of Summerbird, you must try their chocolates while in Copenhagen. They focus on creating organic, sustainable bean to bar chocolates. There are multiple locations throughout the city where you can buy pre-made boxes of filled bonbons, chocolate bars, truffles, chocolate covered nuts, small individual chocolates, and more. Additionally, you can also build your own box. I loved the filled chocolate bonbons, including the liquorice ones even though I’m not a fan of liquorice. Summerbird is a great place to buy edible souvenirs for your loved ones at home.
Located within walking distance to Torvehallerne, Slurp Ramen are a must-stop if you’re craving a hot bowl of noodles. The restaurant was opened by former Noma chef Philipp Inreiter and his partner Nik Harmsen in 2017. Since day one Slurp Ramen has been a hit with the locals, with customers willing to wait quite a while for a table. And Copenhagen has no shortage of great restaurants, so that’s saying a lot. In 2023, they also opened a second restaurant, Kōnā in Carlsberg Byen, which also focuses on noodles.
Tarteletter med høns i asparges, or chicken and asparagus tartlets, is an old Danish recipe. Due to their small size, you will typically find eat them as starters to a meal, or as a quick bite to eat. They are most commonly available at buffet-style restaurants, however I had mine at the aquarium. They were very fresh and delicious, with a creamy but not heavy flavor.
These are fairly simple cookies with the main ingredients being flour, butter, and sugar. Most commonly you can find them in blue tin boxes under the brand name Royal Dansk, which has been around since the 1960s. Depending on how long you’ll be in Copenhagen, you probably won’t have the time to taste everything you’d like to. Thus when it comes to these butter biscuits, I recommend buying a tin or two to take home for yourself or a loved one. The best place to buy them is from the lower level of Magasin du Nord.
However, remember to check the rules of the country you’re going to. Some countries won’t allow you to enter with certain foods like cookies.
Speaking of Danish butter cookies, I wholeheartedly recommend a stop by Leckerbaer. They offer a modern take on these classic cookies, as well as tarts, cream puffs, and ice cream sandwiches in the warmer months. They have one location in the Østerbro neighborhood, as well as a second one in Singapore. I discovered Leckerbaer through Instagram right before moving to Copenhagen, and they were one of the first patisseries I visited once I landed in the city. Maybe I’m biases since this was my first taste of the New Nordic Cuisine, but the sweets I tried from Leckerbaer had a memorable impact on me.
Chocolate Coated Liquorice
Lakrids by Bülow is a Danish brand that specializes in gourmet liquorice. Although you can easily find them outside of Denmark, you certainly get the largest product variety in Copenhagen. Despite being a new brand, only having been around since 2007, Lakrids by Bülow is incredibly popular among Danish people. They make a tasty gift idea thanks to the beautiful packaging and interesting flavors.
Even though I dislike liquorice, I tried a sample of the strawberry flavor and it was good. The chocolate coating was slightly sweet and tangy, while the liquorice center was less chewy than what you might be used to.
Raspberry slice or, hindbærsnitter, are rectangular-shaped cookie sandwiches with raspberry jam between two layers of shortbread cookies, a sweet glaze over the top layer, and decorated with freeze-dried raspberries. You can find hindbærsnitter in most bakeries, including Lagkagehuset which has numerous locations throughout Copenhagen.
A traditional Danish pork sausage, medisterpølse is made from minced pork, lard, and spices, stuffed into a casing. You will often see it shaped into a roll or spiral. Typically it is eaten as a main dish, but leftovers can be sliced and placed on a smørrebrød. Additionally, the heavy pork sausage pairs well with a light cucumber sausage.
Although you can find it at grocery stores, I recommend trying it at a traditional restaurant. The cheap one I tried from the grocery store was too heavy on the curing and tasted a bit synthetic. You can find medisterpølse year-round on the menu at restaurants serving traditional Danish cuisine.
Danish live paté, or leverpostej, consists of pork liver, fat, and spices, bended into a paste. This paste is then cooked into a bain-marie. You may be able to find it incorporated into smørrebrøds at restaurants, but it is also widely available in grocery stores. Unlike medisterpølse, the leverpostej I bought from the grocery store was quite delicious. It had a nice flavor to it and it wasn’t too expensive. I spent under the equivalent of 3 USD for a leverpostej that lasted me 3 days. I particularly enjoyed spreading it over Danish rye bread, and topping it with thinly sliced cucumber.
Has all that food made you thirsty? Then it’s time for some beer. And there’s not better place for delicious beer than Copenhagen. In addition to giants Carlsberg and Tuborg, there are also a multitude of microbreweries. The most famous is Mikkeller, which you can find at multiple locations across Copenhagen and abroad. Other places to try include Nørrebro Bryghus, Dia’legd, BRUS, and Himmeriget.
If you’re feeling a bit tipsy after all that beer, perhaps you’d like to try the Danish hangover meal, also known as a hot dog or Røde Pølse. As the most popular street food in Copenhagen, you can buy hot dogs from multiple street vendors and food trucks throughout the city. They’re also present whenever there’s an event. However, the best hot dogs you will find are the ones at Den Økologiske Pølsemand (next to Rundetårn). They serve organic dogs on whole wheat buns. Don’t forget to top them with rémoulade.
Rice pudding with almonds, risalamande is a traditional Danish dessert served at the Christmas Eve dinner. The rice pudding is mixed with finely chopped almonds, whipped cream, sugar and vanilla. It can be served both warm or cold, almost always topped with cherry jam. Risalamande is quite easy to make and it is typically consumed at home. You can find a recipe here if you’d like to make it. However, if you visit Copenhagen in December, you may be able to find it on the menu at Christmas Markets and traditional restaurants.
Wreath cake, or Kransekage, is a traditional sweet in Denmark and Norway served on special occasions. You will see it during holidays, weddings, graduations, birthdays, and other important events. Dating back to the 18th century, the cake was invented in Copenhagen and it consists of almond flour, sugar, and egg whites. Thus sometimes Kransekage is referred to as baked marzipan. The dough is shaped into rings of descending diameter and after baking, each ring is stacked on top of each other forming a cone-shaped structure. You can also find kransekagestykker, which is the same thing, but shaped into individual single-serving sticks.
When it comes to beverages, gløgg, is a traditional variation of mulled wine. You can find it across all Scandinavia during the holiday season. However, unlike the typical mulled wine you may be used to, gløgg is a little different. Firstly, different spices are used such as cardamom, cloves, and ginger. Secondly and most importantly, raisins, almond flakes and pieces of orange are added to the bottom of the glass before pouring the scorching hot gløgg. You will find it at all Christmas Markets, and Tivoli during the winter season. Personally I found it to be too sweet and alcoholic, but I still think it’s worth trying once.
These little spherical pancakes are made from frying batter into a special pan. They are crispy on the outside and airy on the inside. Typically eaten around the winter holidays, they’re served with powdered sugar and jam for dipping. The best place to buy æbleskiver are the Christmas Markets. Vendors make them on a continuous basis and serve them to you still hot, which feels like a bite of heaven in the cold winter.
Since æbleskiver are a very casual snack, it’s unlikely you’ll find them in any restaurants. So if you’re visiting Copenhagen outside of the Christmas season, you probably won’t find them anywhere.
These have been my suggestions for foods to eat in Copenhagen. If you are visiting Copenhagen on a budget, check out this article on affordable things to eat.