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Must Have Swedish Groceries for Everything Smörgås

These are some favorite Swedish groceries to keep on hand for some great Swedish inspired smörgås recipes.

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swedish groceries presentation

Most of these are common grocery items that can be found at your local grocery store.

The ingredients are not all technically Swedish groceries, but in combination, they will allow you to make Swedish or Scandinavian style recipes.

Many of the items are from other countries, but work well in these recipes. It all comes down to what you love and can find at your grocery store.

From a Midsummer menu, to smörgåsbord, smörgåsår, smörgåstårta and smörgåstårta-bord for a memorable brunch, these are some must have Swedish grocery items.

These groceries are common ingredients for all of the above.



Don’t worry – it’s actually simple.

In Swedish, smörgås means sandwich, smör means butter and gås means goose. Don’t ask!

There’s almost nothing more exciting than a trip to IKEA with a Swede, by the way. If you’ve ever wondered what all the product names mean, for example! But I digress…

Now back to the food.

Smörgåstårta is a Swedish style frosted sandwich cake.

Here’s our favorite Seafood Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta) that is a perfect main course for special occasions.

Smörgåsbord (literal translation is Sandwich Table) is a typical combination of sandwich ingredients laid out on a table in buffet style.

Smörgåsar is an open faced sandwich that can be made with endless combination of ingredients.

And what we like to call, a Smörgåstårta-bord, is a smörgåsbord with the ingredients for individual smörgåstårtar available for each person to assemble their smörgåstårta according to their personal preference.

Why Make Smörgåstårta and other Smörgås Recipes?

Smörgåstårtar are festive cakes that provide a show stopping brunch, lunch or dinner option for any special occasion.

Traditionally, smörgåstårta is the main course of a celebratory meal, and is reserved for parties (kallas).

In our home, we like to make a seafood smörgåstårta several times a year, for Easter, for New Year’s Eve and other occasions like Mother’s day, baptisms and birthdays.

seafood sandwich cake smörgåstårta presentation
A Festive Seafood Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta)

We also make a traditional smörgåstårta with deli style meat and liver pate and we love that one as well.

You can be really creative with sandwich cakes and customize them according to your preferences. Try a new combo for your next special occasion. A fun variation is this chicken smörgåstårta with bacon!

Because smörgåstårta is so bready, obviously, since it’s a huge sandwich cake – we like to use Carbonaut bread to keep the carbs down, compared to what it would be if we used regular bread.

We always look forward to the leftover smörgåstårta for the next day.

It makes a hearty breakfast or lunch, and the fillings have had extra time to soak into the bread to make it extra delicious!


You will need your favorite bread for sandwiches (smörgås). We like to use a low carb bread such as Carbonaut.

swedish groceries carbonaut

We just love that our sandwich cake recipe is made with a bread that is lower in carbs and gluten free!

However, if you don’t mind the carbs, it’s ok to use other bread. Especially since it’s more of an occasional dish (although you can make it as often as you like!).


Fresh dill adds a signature flavor to so many Swedish inspired meals.

swedish groceries dill

Use a knife to chop or kitchen scissors to snip into smaller pieces and add to the following recipes.

Once you’ve chosen three or four recipes from the above list, you can whip them up and make a Seafood Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta)!

seafood sandwich cake smörgåstårta layers
Interior of a Seafood Sandwich Cake (Smorgastarta) with four layers shown (from top to bottom: tuna salad, egg salad, smoked salmon salad and shrimp salad)

Use fresh dill in your sandwich fillings and as a garnish to dress up your sandwich cakes.

You’ll also love Instant Pot mini dill potatoes (dilpotatis) with pickled herring or other main courses.


Fresh snipped chives are perfect on top of mini dill potatoes (dilpotatis) with sour cream, especially when served with pickled herring as part of a Midsummer or other holiday menu.

A lot of the pickled herring flavor types have sauces that are accentuated nicely by a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Use as a garnish on top of sandwiches or on top of your crisp bread snacks.

Chives make a great topping for buttered mash potatoes (potatismos).

Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream

We like to use sour cream in our sandwich filling recipes. We use a mixture of labneh (thick and tangy Turkish yogurt with flavor and texture similar to cream cheese) and sour cream or dahi instead of heavy cream or mayo.

labneh 2
Turkish Labneh A Thick and Creamy Yogurt Substitute for Mayo, Cream Cheese and Heavy Cream

We find it lighter than a mix made with heavy cream, creme fraiche or mayo.

It’s our preference for each filling that goes into our sandwich cakes, as well as in the sandwich cake “frosting”.

The creamy texture and tangy flavor of labneh makes for a creamy sandwich base in all of our sandwich recipes. It is so good, you won’t ever miss the mayo or heavy cream.

You can use heavy cream or creme fraiche if you prefer. They both taste great – it’s just that they’re very rich and dense in calories and fat in comparison with our labneh and sour cream mix.

Pickled Herring (Sill)

One of my absolute favorite foods in the world.

It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s savory and it’s used as a chaser for snaps (aquavit).

Yes, that’s true.

It’s typical to have a piece of pickled herring ready on your fork before you have a drink.

It is one of the main features of a Midsummer menu and as part of almost every sandwich table (smörgåsbord), even breakfasts (minus the aquavit).

swedish groceries pickled herring

Many flavor combinations exist except are hard to find outside of Sweden.

Your best bet is IKEA, they carry a few flavors but no where near what you find in entire aisles dedicated to sill in Sweden.

The selection at our local grocery is dismal, and not at all up to par with Swedish herring.

Try local European markets, you might be able to find some.

Another option is to try to find nearby Scandinavian or Swedish Clubs that hold Christmas markets with food imports for sale.

We always hope that IKEA will add some more flavors. Bring on the pickled herring!

Ok, I just had to put that out into the universe! Thinking Kraft sill (crayfish sauced herring) would be a great one.

Fingers crossed.


If you can find some caviar, you can garnish your open faced sandwiches (smörgåsar) and sandwich cakes (smörgåstårtar) with them.

We have purchased caviar at IKEA Swedish food market in the past. If you have an IKEA close by you might be able to find some there.

On our last trip to IKEA, we were able to find some seaweed pearls that are an excellent plant based substitute for caviar. Look for them in the IKEA supermarket.

Crisp Bread

When you need a quick snack but want to keep it nutritious, this is an excellent option.

It’s easy to top these multigrain crackers with any sandwich filling (tuna salad, egg salad, canned salmon salad, smoked salmon salad, lobster salad, crab salad, shrimp salad and chicken salad).

Just spread the sandwich filling on top of your cracker and garnish with fresh dill, chives or whatever you like!

swedish groceries crisp bread 2

You can also enjoy them simply buttered or with meat or seafood toppings. Choose any of the following for a quick and healthy snack:

  • Pickled herring (sill)
  • Smoked Salmon (gravad lax)
  • Smoked oysters
  • Canned Sardines in tomato sauce or plain
  • Canned Mackerel in tomato sauce or plain
  • Egg slices and anchovies
  • Pâté and thinly sliced pickles, or just plain liver pâté

Don’t forget to top with dill and other favorite toppings!

Cold Water Shrimp

Cold water shrimp are the best for sandwiches. The flavor is exquisite. You will love them in your shrimp salad sandwich and as one layer of a seafood sandwich cake (smorgastarta).

swedish groceries shrimp

We love to use these small shrimp to garnish our sandwich cakes. They are also the shrimp to use in toast Skagen shrimp toast.

They are the perfect shrimp for an IKEA shrimp sandwich with sliced egg.

ikea shrimp sandwich räksmörgås presentation
IKEA Style Shrimp Sandwich With Cold Water Shrimp and Egg

You will love them in toast skagen, smörgåstårtar, smörgåsar, and skagenröra.

Keep a bag or two in your freezer to thaw out whenever the craving hits!

Smoked Salmon (Gravad Lax)

Another great frozen seafood option to keep on hand in your freezer, smoked salmon is so versatile. Lax can be made into smoked salmon salad sandwiches and is often included in a buffet style Swedish sandwich table (smorgasbord).

swedish groceries gravad lax

You can include it as one layer of a seafood sandwich cake and also use it as garnish on top for a stunning presentation.

seafood sandwich cake smörgåstårta presentation

For a quick snack idea, spread cream cheese or labneh on a bagel or crisp bread and top with some smoked salmon (gravad lax).

New Potatoes

For your Midsummer menu or to go with salmon dinner or other main courses, try this Instant Pot mini dill potatoes (dilpotatis) recipe.

Top dill potatoes with sour cream or labneh and fresh chopped chives. Serve with pickled herring for a festive dinner.

Cabbage or Red Cabbage

Be sure to remember to get a cabbage or red cabbage to make Swedish pizza salad.

swedish pizza salad presentation

Pizza salad is always a super side dish for Pita Pizzas.

We like to serve pizza salad with Swedish style Turkish Kebab Pita Pizza and Chicken Kebab Pita Pizza. It’s a fast and easy preparation for a savory meal.

Don’t forget to make Kebab Sauce (Kebabsås) to drizzle on top!


For sandwiches made with egg salad (äggsallad), and as one layer of a seafood smörgåstårta.

You can also enjoy egg salad sandwich mix or sliced hard cooked eggs on a crispbread cracker for a quick snack.

Another favorite is an IKEA style cold water shrimp and egg sandwich on bread and lettuce.

Optional Garnishes for Sandwiches

  • Regular or Cherry Tomatoes
  • Arugula or Baby Arugula
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Lemon Slices
  • Grapes
  • Havarti Cheese Slices

You will love to include these to garnish your sandwiches and sandwich cakes!

smörgåstårta sandwich cake presentation
Traditional Sandwich Cake Garnished with Cucumber, Grapes and Cherry Tomatoes

These Swedish groceries will help you to make all of your favorite Swedish recipes.

Keep these and other ingredients on hand for quick and savory sandwich, pita pizza and Instant Pot meals!

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