Skip to content

Or try searching by Category and/or Location

Barley is virtually the only type of grain known to have been grown in Iceland, while rye and wheat were imported. Today, barley is cultivated in some very few small areas with warmer temperatures and wind protection. It is used as side dish with meat and fish, but also for baking bread or brewing beer. Bread does not play a major role in Icelandic food history as grain was difficult to cultivate, there was lack of firewood, and also no ovens in which to bake. Some people used geothermal heat for baking bread and it is still used in this way. You can buy rye bread (Icel. rúgbrauð) and see how it is made in the Mývatn region.

There was no professional baker on the whole of the island until the early 19th century. At this time ovens started to replace open fireplaces. This revealed a new world and as a result Icelandic hospitality underwent a major change. Now visitors were no longer offered dishes heaped with smoked lamb and dried fish, but instead, they were served mountains of cakes and other baked goods; yet this was only the beginning of the Icelandic cake deluge.

In Icelandic

barley / bankabygg.
volcanic bread / hverabrauð or rúgbrauð
leafbread / laufabrauð (only available around Christmas)
deep-fried bread / soðið brauð
flatbread/ flatbrauð /
doughnuts / ástarpungar
twisted doughnuts / kleinur
married bliss / hjónabandssæla
bagel / kringla
cubed brownies / skúffukökur
pancakes / pönnukökur