Winter in Copenhagen, Denmark is a Christmas dream: hearty stews, warm spiced wine, crackling roasts, and festive Christmas Markets cover the city. Danish food is at its best during Jul, (Danish Christmas). From sweet pickled herring to apple pancake puffs, the holiday food in Copenhagen is unique and absolutely delicious. We visited Copenhagen in early December and were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable we were walking around the city: it wasn’t anywhere near as freezing cold as we expected! Whenever we got too cold, we found a nearby specialty coffee shop or Christmas Market to warm us up. Read on to find out what to eat in Copenhagen, and all about our favorite Danish holiday food in Copenhagen.
The Best Danish Holiday Food to Eat in Copenhagen
Danish Christmas (or Jul) is typically celebrated on Christmas Eve with a big traditional feast, chock full of delicious Danish holiday dishes. Luckily, you can find most of the traditional Christmas foods served throughout the winter in Copenhagen, to get a taste of classic Danish food. Don’t miss these yummy Danish holiday dishes while you visit Copenhagen!
- Flæskesteg: Danish pork roast with crackling skin, traditionally served for the Christmas Eve feast. More accurately: imagine if pork was the consistency of butter, with all the best parts of crispy bacon. Yup, it’s melt in your mouth salty goodness. Mmmm! We found flæskesteg all over Copenhagen (including served nightly in our hostel) but our favorite was at Gorm’s.
- Rødkål or Krystkål: Red Cabbage, traditionally served alongside pork roast, boiled potatoes, and gravy as part of the Danish Christmas dinner.
- Æbleskiver: Pancake Puffs! These adorable little balls are exactly what they sound like: round, fluffy balls of pancake deliciousness. Our favorites were dusted with sugar and served with fresh jam at Tivoli Gardens.
- Smørrebrød: A Danish classic, Smørrebrød is an open faced sandwich on hearty Danish rye bread topped with lard or butter and varying perfectly paired toppings. Our favorite was a holiday Smørrebrød topped with Christmas spice pickled herring! The holiday pickled herring tasted like Christmas itself. Try it at Københavner Cafeen.
- Gløgg: If you’ve ever been to a European Christmas Market, you’ve probably seen (and smelled!) mulled wine. While most countries serve Glühwein, the Danish version is called Gløgg and it is quite different: it is sweeter, made with both red wine, brandy and sherry, and it’s mulled with cloves and cinnamon. Each steaming mug of Gløgg is served with slivered almonds and raisins!
- Roast Duck: Duck isn’t one of the “classic” Danish Christmas foods, but it’s becoming more and more popular. We found it shredded and in delicious sandwiches in the Copenhagen food markets.
The Best Food Markets in Copenhagen
To our surprise (and delight), the food markets in Copenhagen were some of the best we’ve ever been to. From groceries to global foods, the Copenhagen food markets have it all. Below are our recommendations for what to eat in Copenhagen food markets.
Torvehallarne is one of the best food markets we’ve ever been to! Filled with gourmet stalls selling both prepared meals and grocery staples at budget-friendly prices, this is the one stop shop for some of the best food in Copenhagen.
Our favorite food stalls in Torvehallarne Market
- Coffee Collective: A fantastic third wave coffee shop inside the market. Website
- Laura’s Bakery: The cinnamon bun with cream cheese icing is heaven. Website
- Ma Poule: Home of the best sandwich in Copenhagen: the famous duck confit sandwich! Made with arugula and spicy mustard. Delicious! Also, a great selection of charcuterie and cheese. Details
- Gorm’s: The best pizza in the city! We tried a Danish Christmas pizza, and it was heavenly. Website
- Grød: A porridge stall, with a wide selection of unique topped porridge. Morning porridges are sweet, but evening porridges veer into savory territory, such as one topped with kale, parmesan, apples, and walnuts -yum! View the menu here.
- Hallernes Smørrebrød: All Smørrebrød, all the time. Hallernes has a huge selection of delicious looking Smørrebrød, from smoked eel to liver pate to classic herring. At least, we think that’s what they were – we couldn’t find an English menu! We ordered Roast Beef (which in Danish is apparently also called Roast Beef! So helpful) and it was heavenly. Website
Paper Island Street Food Market
Where do you go in Copenhagen when you’re hungry but not quite sure what you want to eat? Paper Island Street Food Market, of course! A huge warehouse filled with colorful ethnic food trucks from around the world (Colombian! Turkish! Moroccan! Korean!) and decked out in an anti-establishment, ultra-cool vibe, the crowded street food market features some of the best food in Copenhagen all under one roof. Bonus: If you’re trying to stick to a raw/gluten free/high protein/paleo diet, this is the food market for you (but good luck, seriously. Kudos. We gave our paleo diet the boot the second we decided to go to France.) Website.
Our favorite food stalls in Paper Island Street Food Market
- Creme Brulee Donut: OK, I couldn’t find the name of the stall. But just look for a sign that says “Creme Brulee Donut.” You’d think it’s just a donut filled with creme brulee cream, but no: the donut itself is actually rolled in sugar and torched right in front of your eyes, making it a crispy, sugary little piece of heaven!
- The Spoon Company: Stick-to-your-ribs Danish stews and soups, made with hearty ingredients. We tried the Venison stew with fresh currants, and it was absolutely perfect on a chilly day.
- Copper & Wheat: Try the duck and arugula sandwich on brioche with crispy duck-fat fries.
- Handmade: Described as “open-faced sandwiches similiar to Smørrebrød” on the Paper Island website… but to us non-Danish travelers, it appeared to be identical to Smørrebrød. Try it and let us know if you can tell the difference.
- Stormly: Wash down your meal with a Danish micro-brew beer or rum.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets
I know, this isn’t techincally a food market. But it might as well be! Christmas Markets are an excellent place to sample holiday treats and winter food, and the Copenhagen Christmas Markets are no different. These are our favorite holiday treats to eat in Copenhagen Christmas Markets!
Our Favorite Holiday Food in Copenhagen Christmas Markets
- Gløgg: You’ll find hot, steaming mulled Danish wine with raisins and almonds in many of the Christmas Market stalls in Copenhagen, and they’re all quite good! For an even stronger cup of Gløgg, you can add rum.
- Æbleskiver: Pick up some pancake puffs dusted with sugar and served with fresh jam at the Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market.
- Fudge: Stalls with piles of brightly colored fudge can be found all over the Copenhagen Christmas Markets! Our favorite flavor was Strawberry Cheesecake at the Nyhavn Christmas Market.
- Cured Meats: You’ll see several cured meat vendors selling delicious salami, sausage, and every kind of salted and smoked meat you can imagine. There’s usually a nearby cheese stall too…
The Best Third Wave Coffee Shops in Copenhagen
Look, we’re unashamedly coffee snobs. We chase single-origin specialty coffee around the globe searching for the best cappuccino and pour-overs. For us, coffee is a comforting, warm holiday drink (or any time of the year drink, but who’s counting?). Although we didn’t get a chance to visit all of the highly-regarded specialty coffee shops in Copenhagen, these are our favorite third wave coffee shops in Copenhagen.
- Risteriet Coffee: You know it’s the real deal when a third wave coffee shop classifies its roasts not by medium, dark, or light, but instead uses the technical terms: city, city plus, or full city. Serving up beans from Africa and South America in a variety of brewing methods – and some we’d never heard of before, like a “cry baby,” which is a cortado with some extra milk – Risteriet is a quiet, unassuming gem close to the tourist district and Tivoli. Website
- Copenhagen Coffee Lab: Quiet and subdued, you’d walk right by the Coffee Lab if you weren’t looking for it. Not much in the way of atmosphere or pastries, but the coffee and espresso is excellent. Website
- Democratic Coffee: Located in what we first believed to be a high-end bookstore but turned out to be the Copenhagen Library (color us impressed), Democratic Coffee is a comfortable place to sprawl out with a book or a magazine, an expertly made almond crossaint, and a delicious cappuccino or pour-over.
- Kent Kaffe Laboratorium: Science meets coffee at the detail-obsessed Kent Kaffee Laboratorium, where you can order your single origin coffee in a flask set over a bunsen burner if you like. Website
- Coffee Collective: Worth another mention. Coffee Collection is a fantastic third wave coffee shop inside the Torvehallarne market. Website