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Delicious Icelandic Dessert Recipes to Try

Embark on a delightful journey through the world of Icelandic desserts, a treasure trove of unique flavors and culinary techniques that have been passed down through generations. In this adventure, you will delve into the rich history and vibrant culture of these sweet treats, and learn how to recreate them in your own kitchen. From Skyr recipes to traditional Kleina, Vinarterta, festive desserts and more, get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth and immerse yourself in the magic of Icelandic confections.

Traditional Icelandic Desserts

Traditional Icelandic Desserts: A Taste of History, Ingredients, and Recipe Origins

Iceland may be known for its stunning landscapes, geysers, and hot springs, but the country is also home to a rich culinary heritage, with desserts playing a significant role. Icelandic desserts reflect the country’s unique landscape and climate, making use of local ingredients and time-honored techniques. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of Icelandic desserts, explore the popular ingredients that make them distinct, and share some traditional recipes to get you started on your journey into Icelandic cuisine.

History of Icelandic Desserts:

Like many aspects of Icelandic culture, the history of the country’s desserts is closely tied to its geography and climate. Living in a harsh and cold environment, early Icelanders relied on preservation techniques, such as pickling, fermenting, and drying, to ensure a steady food supply. Dairy products, in particular, played an essential role in the diet and served as the foundation for many Icelandic desserts even today.

The arrival of more modern culinary techniques and ingredients from Europe and the Americas in the 19th and 20th centuries brought an evolution in Icelandic desserts. However, traditional favorites remain popular and continue to be enjoyed by locals and guests alike.

Popular Ingredients in Icelandic Desserts:

  1. Skyr: This traditional Icelandic dairy product has been a staple in Icelandic households for centuries. Comparable to yogurt but thicker and creamier, skyr brings a tangy, rich flavor to dessert recipes. It pairs well with fruit and can be sweetened with sugar or honey.
  2. Berries: Iceland has an abundance of wild, native berries that make their way into many dessert dishes. Crowberries, blueberries, and bilberries are often used in pies, cakes, and yöghurts, bringing bright, tart flavors to dessert plates.
  3. Rhubarb: Since it thrives in Iceland’s cold climate, rhubarb is a common ingredient in Icelandic desserts. It is often baked into pies, tarts, and turnovers or combined with berries for a delightful compote.
  4. Cream: Cream is a luxurious and indulgent addition to many Icelandic desserts, elevating their richness and creaminess.
  5. Sugar: Although sugar was once an expensive luxury in Iceland, it has become an essential ingredient in modern Icelandic dessert recipes.

Traditional Icelandic Dessert Recipes and Their Origins:

  1. Pönnukökur (Icelandic Pancakes):

    Thin and crepe-like, Icelandic pancakes, are a special treat often served with jam, whipped cream, or fruit. The origin of pönnukökur dates back to the early 19th century when a French chef introduced the people to the art of crepe-making. The traditional recipe is still enjoyed today, with a hint of Icelandic flair.

  2. Skyrterta (Skyr Cake):

    This chilled dessert features layers of skyr, fruit, and crushed cookies, making for a delightful, light treat. Skyrterta is also customizable, with various fruits and toppings, reflecting the simple pleasures of home-cooked Icelandic desserts.

  3. Hjónabandssaela (Married Bliss Cake):

    With a name meaning “wedded bliss” in Icelandic, this oat-based cake is traditionally served at weddings and other special occasions. It features a sweet, dense, crumbly texture, with optional additions of fruits or nuts.

  4. Rjómaterta (Icelandic Cream Cake):

    This indulgent treat consists of layers of sponge cake, whipped cream, fruit filling, and a glaze of melted chocolate or caramel. Although the origins of rjómaterta are unclear, it’s believed to be an Icelandic adaptation of European layered cakes.


Icelandic desserts are a delightful reflection of the country’s rich culinary history and a testament to the resilience and creativity of Iceland’s people. By learning about and recreating these traditional recipes, you’ll be able to bring a taste of Icelandic culture right into your kitchen. Enjoy the sweet, tangy, and fruity flavors of Iceland’s desserts, and share these treats with your friends and family for a memorable taste experience.

An image of traditional Icelandic desserts including Skyr cake, Pönnukökur, Rhubarb pie, and Cream cake.

Skyr Recipes

Skyr Recipes: Icelandic Desserts with Skyr

Skyr is a traditional Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt, which is made from skimmed milk. It is high in protein, low in fat, and packed with probiotics, making it a healthy option for various dessert recipes. Here are some simple and delicious skyr dessert recipes you can create at home.

Basic Skyr Recipe:


  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup skyr (store-bought or homemade, as a starter)
  • Optional: sweetener like honey, sugar, or Stevia


  1. Heat the skim milk in a pot or saucepan until it reaches 194°F (90°C). Stir the milk occasionally to prevent burning.
  2. Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, remove it from heat and let it cool to 104°F (40°C).
  3. In a separate bowl, mix one cup of store-bought or homemade skyr with equal parts warm milk to temper the mixture.
  4. Gradually add the tempered skyr mixture to the rest of the milk, gently stirring it in.
  5. Cover the pot with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 6 hours, or until thickened to your desired consistency. The longer it sits, the thicker the skyr will become.
  6. Once the skyr is thickened, pour the mixture into a fine-mesh cheesecloth or sieve set over a bowl to drain off any excess liquid (whey) for about 2 hours. This will give it the desired creamy consistency. Make sure to save the whey for use in other recipes or as a starter for future skyr batches.
  7. Taste and add a sweetener of your choice if desired. The skyr is now ready to be used in various dessert recipes or eaten as-is.

Skyr Cake:


  • 4 cups skyr
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the 4 cups of skyr, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  3. In another bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the skyr mixture, folding gently to combine.
  4. In a separate, clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the skyr batter.
  5. Pour the cake batter into the greased springform pan and smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula.
  6. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar before serving.

Skyr Mousse:


  • 1 cup skyr
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup mixed berries (such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries) for topping


  1. In a large bowl, mix the skyr, sugar, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  3. Gently fold the whipped cream into the skyr mixture until well combined and smooth.
  4. Divide the mousse into serving cups or glasses and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.
  5. Before serving, top each mousse cup with a generous handful of mixed berries.

A picture of an Icelandic person holding a plate of skyr dessert with fruit toppings

Photo by paipai90 on Unsplash

Kleina (Icelandic Doughnuts)

Kleina (Icelandic Doughnuts) Recipe

Yield: 20-25 Kleinur


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Neutral oil for frying (vegetable, canola, or sunflower)

For the glaze (optional):

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom (if using), and salt until well combined.
  2. Add the cold, small pieces of butter to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. You may need to add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  4. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Gently knead the dough for 1-2 minutes, just until it comes together and is smooth. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
  5. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch, using a rolling pin or your hands.
  6. Use a sharp knife or a pastry cutter to cut the dough into rectangles, approximately 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Using the knife, make a lengthwise slit in the center of each rectangle, without cutting all the way through to the edges. Then, take one end and thread it through the slit to create a twist in the dough, forming the traditional Kleina shape.
  7. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large, deep frying pan or pot over medium heat. Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of dough into it – it should sizzle and float to the top immediately.
  8. Carefully lower 3-4 pieces of Kleina into the hot oil, being cautious not to crowd the pan. Fry them for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  9. Repeat the frying process with the remaining Kleina, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature and to ensure even browning.
  10. If desired, prepare the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar, milk or water, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm Kleina and allow it to set before serving.

Serve your delicious Icelandic Kleina as a dessert or snack with a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy the treat traditionally enjoyed in Iceland. Feel free to get creative and add your favorite flavors or spices to the dough for a unique twist on this classic recipe.

A plate of golden-brown, twisted doughnuts that are dusted with confectioner's sugar and drizzled with a vanilla glaze

Vinarterta (Icelandic Layer Cake)

Master the Art of Making Vinarterta: Icelandic Layer Cake

Vinarterta, also known as the Icelandic Layer Cake, is a traditional dessert that has been enjoyed in Iceland for centuries. This delicious and visually stunning cake is typically reserved for special occasions and celebrations, as it requires time and effort to create. Follow these easy instructions and unleash your inner pastry chef to create this beautiful and scrumptious Icelandic delight.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups prunes, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp allspice


  1. First, prepare the prune filling. Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, or until the prunes are soft and the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line eight 9-inch round cake pans (or use parchment paper circles) with non-stick spray or butter.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together using a hand mixer or a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the milk and almond or vanilla extract until fully combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until a smooth batter has formed.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the eight prepared cake pans, about 1/4 inch thick in each. If you don’t have enough pans, you can bake the layers in batches.
  7. Bake each layer for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Do not overbake, as the layers should remain soft and moist. Allow each layer to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To assemble the cake, place one layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread a thin layer of the cooled prune filling onto the layer, leaving a little space around the edges. Repeat with the remaining cake layers, gently pressing down on each layer to ensure the cake holds its shape.
  9. Once all the layers are assembled, cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will help the flavors meld together and the cake to firm up.
  10. When ready to serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and smooth out any excess filling around the edges. Dust the top with powdered sugar, if desired. Vinarterta can be enjoyed cold from the refrigerator or brought to room temperature before serving.


The Vinarterta is a beautiful and delectable Icelandic dessert, perfect for wowing guests at your next celebration. The combination of spiced prune filling and tender cake layers create a unique and indulgent treat. With patience and practice, you’ll soon master the art of making this traditional Icelandic layer cake. Enjoy your Vinarterta and share this delicious dessert with friends and family!

A slice of vinarterta, the Icelandic layer cake with its distinct layers of cake and prune filling, dusted with powdered sugar.

Icelandic Chocolate and Candy

Icelandic Chocolate and Candy: A Guide for Enthusiasts and Hobbyists

Iceland is known for its breathtaking landscapes, unique culture, and vibrant history. But it is also home to an amazing array of delicious chocolate and candy recipes. Here, we will dive into the world of Icelandic chocolate and candy-making, exploring different flavors, textures, and ingredients, as well as how to incorporate them into desserts. Get ready to wow your friends and family with your new Icelandic dessert skills!

Recipe 1: Traditional Icelandic Chocolate Cake (Súkkulaðikaka)


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by greasing and lining with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk, beginning, and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract and pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting, cream the butter and cocoa powder until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract, beating to reach your desired consistency.
  7. Assemble the cake by placing one layer on a serving plate and spread a layer of frosting on top. Add the second layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Garnish with Icelandic chocolate shavings or candy pieces for a special touch.

Recipe 2: Icelandic Candy Bars (Omnom Chocolate Bars)


  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried Icelandic berries or cherries, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed Icelandic licorice candy, chopped


  1. Line an 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the milk chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the almonds, dried berries or cherries, and crushed licorice candy until evenly distributed.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the lined pan and spread it evenly. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until the chocolate has set.
  5. Remove the chocolate from the pan and cut it into bars or squares. Store the candy bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

These two Icelandic dessert recipes are sure to impress and delight your loved ones. Enjoy the unique and delicious flavors of Iceland in every bite!

A stack of Iceland-made chocolate bars, a collection of candies in different jars and bowls, and a slice of Icelandic chocolate cake with frosting.

Icelandic Cheesecakes

Icelandic Cheesecake Recipe

Icelandic Cheesecakes, known as Ostakaka in Icelandic, are a delicious and easy-to-make dessert with a unique flavor and texture. This traditional recipe includes skyr, an Icelandic yogurt that is creamy and packed with protein. These cheesecakes can be served with various fruit toppings and flavors, so feel free to experiment and find your favorite combinations.


  • 2 cups skyr (Icelandic yogurt)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pre-made pie crust, graham cracker crust or shortbread crust
  • Fruit topping (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the pre-made pie crust in a 9-inch round pie pan (or use a store-bought crust). Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the skyr, sugar, all-purpose flour, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Use a whisk or an electric mixer to mix everything until smooth and well combined. Avoid overmixing.
  3. Gradually pour in the heavy cream while continuously mixing at a low-medium speed. You will notice the batter becoming creamier and slightly more liquid.
  4. Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared pie crust, making sure to spread it evenly. Use a spatula to smooth the surface, if necessary.
  5. Place the pie pan on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cheesecake is set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center.
  6. Remove the Icelandic cheesecake from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. This will allow the cheesecake to set properly and develop its signature texture.
  7. When you’re ready to serve the cheesecake, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. This will make it easier to slice and enjoy.
  8. Prepare your fruit topping. Some popular topping options include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or a mix of your favorite fruits. You can also lightly warm up the fruit for a few seconds with some sugar to create a sweet sauce.
  9. Slice the Icelandic cheesecake and serve it with your choice of fruit topping. Enjoy your delicious dessert!

Remember, you can always play around with different fruit toppings and flavors to create your own unique version of the traditional Icelandic cheesecake. Enjoy experimenting and happy baking!

A delicious slice of Icelandic cheesecake with a fruit topping made of a mix of blueberries and strawberries

Festive Icelandic Desserts

Festive Icelandic Desserts

Discover the Icelandic desserts that are typically enjoyed during festive occasions, such as Christmas and Easter, and learn how to prepare them.

Vinarterta – Icelandic Layer Cake

Vinarterta is a beloved dessert that has been a part of Icelandic Christmas celebrations for over a century. This multi-layered cake is made of thin layers of cardamom-spiced dough filled with rosewater-flavored prune jam and topped with cream cheese frosting.


  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease eight 9-inch cake pans or line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Stir in the crushed cardamom seeds and almond extract.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
  4. Divide the dough evenly among the prepared cake pans, spreading it thinly and evenly.
  5. Bake each layer for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To prepare the prune filling, combine pitted prunes, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, rose water, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until the prunes are soft and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  7. For the cream cheese frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar, mixing until creamy.
  8. To assemble the cake, spread a layer of the prune filling on the bottom cake layer, followed by a layer of cream cheese frosting. Continue layering with the remaining cake layers, prune filling, and frosting. Finish with a layer of frosting on top and decorate as desired.

Paskabollur – Icelandic Easter Chocolate Puff


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, melted
  • Assorted Easter candies or sprinkles (for decoration)


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, combine water and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in the flour, mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition until the dough is smooth and glossy.
  4. Spoon or pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheet in 2-inch (5 cm) rounds.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the puffs are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.
  7. Using a piping bag or a sharp knife, fill each puff with whipped cream.
  8. Dip the top of each puff into the melted chocolate and decorate with your favorite Easter candies or sprinkles. Chill until the chocolate sets up before serving.

Enjoy these festive Icelandic desserts and impress your friends and family with your newfound knowledge of Icelandic cuisine! Happy baking!

Multi-layered Vinarterta cake decorated with cream cheese frosting and Paskabollur chocolate puff with whipped cream and Easter candies for decoration

Once you have explored the delicious world of Icelandic desserts and tried your hand at crafting these scrumptious delights, you will have gained the skills and knowledge to share these mouthwatering creations with friends and family. Celebrate the flavors and traditions of Iceland and make lasting memories, one delectable dessert at a time. Take pride in your culinary journey and enjoy the sweet taste of Icelandic culture.

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