Top 5 Delicious Icelandic Fish Dishes

Fresh fish caught on a boat in Iceland

If you’re a fan of seafood, you’ll be pleased to know that Icelandic fish features prominently in the local cuisine. From cod and herring to halibut and haddock, as well as tasty langoustines, seafood is a staple on the menu in most Icelandic restaurants. So much so that you’re likely to find it on offer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Why is Icelandic Fish So Popular?

The cold North Atlantic waters that surround Iceland are rich in nutrients, and therefore, teeming with diverse marine life. As such, the country boasts a modern and extremely competitive seafood industry which hugely supports the Icelandic economy. 

Icelandic fish caught in the pure waters surrounding this Nordic country are sustainable, high quality, and good for your health. It's also extremely fresh as it's often prepared and served on the very day it has been caught. Whether it’s fried, boiled, stewed, or grilled, Icelanders know exactly how to prepare fish dishes that are guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

Best Icelandic Fish Dishes

Locally caught fish is simply delicious and you’ll likely find yourself spoilt for choice when browsing extensive menus. These are some of the best fish and seafood dishes to try while you’re in Iceland. 

Rye bread with arctic char, a traditional Icelandic fish dish

1. Rúgbrauð með Bleikju

Often served for breakfast, rúgbrauð með bleikju, or rye bread with arctic char, is a filling dish that combines dense, grainy, and slightly sweetened rye bread with the mild, buttery flavours of the Arctic Char. 

Quite often, the bread is lightly toasted and the fish is smoked, creating a dish with a rich flavour profile. 

A slice of raw wolffish on a wooden board with other fresh ingredients

2. Grilled Wolffish

Unfamiliar to many cultures, the Atlantic Wolffish is regarded as a delicacy by locals in Iceland. This large white fish is meaty and has a sweet taste and texture similar to crab. It is an unusual species native to the North Atlantic and feeds mostly on crustaceans, which contributes to its oceanic flavour.

Wolffish is firm, which means it can be grilled to release its succulent taste that so many Icelanders love. Want to give it a try? After a busy day of exploring Reykjavík, you can find this tasty dish on offer at Fröken Reykjavík, in the heart of the city centre. 

Harðfiskur and butter with a knife

3. Harðfiskur

Though not technically a meal, harðfiskur is likened to fish jerky and is a snack that has been enjoyed by locals for hundreds of years. Typically made from cod, haddock, or wolffish, harðfiskur is extremely high in protein and often eaten with salted butter. 

To prepare this delicacy, Icelandic fish is first tenderised with a meat mallet and then cured - a process that historically involved drying the fish in the bitter Icelandic winds. Today, harðfiskur is mostly dried using machinery. Enjoy this traditional local snack with a glass of Brennivín for a truly authentic experience. 

Traditional Icelandic fish stew in a dish alongside salad and rye bread

4. Plokkfiskur

Feeling a little chilly after exploring the land of fire and ice? Nothing is more hearty than this warming Icelandic fish stew. Plokkfiskur, also known as plokkari, is a simple dish created using mashed white fish such as haddock or cod, potatoes, and a creamy béchamel sauce. 

Traditionally, this dish was a popular way of using up leftover fish with just a couple of other ingredients. But over the years the flavours have begun to change and it’s not uncommon to find it made with curry powder or served with cheese on top. 

Icelandic fish and chips served in a sheet newspaper on a plate

5. Icelandic Fish and Chips 

This Icelandic twist on a British classic is popular amongst visitors looking for a familiar flavour. However, in Iceland, it’s done differently. The batter on the fresh fish is made from spelt flour, giving a lighter coating that’s almost like tempura. And instead of being fried, the chips are oven-roasted with parsley. 

Be sure to ask for a serving of Skyronnes dip to accompany your fish and chips. This traditional sauce made of skyr, olive oil, and fresh herbs is simply divine!