A typical Swedish breakfast is usually vastly different from an American or English breakfast, for better and for worse. To me, the main differences are simple: Breakfast tastes great but is fairly unhealthy in the US and UK, while it tastes ok and is generally healthy in Sweden. So if you want to start eating more like a Swede in the morning, or if you just want to prepare yourself mentally before a visit, I’ll be walking you through everything you should know about Swedish breakfast habits below.
- What's a Typical Swedish Breakfast?
- Different types of Swedish Breakfast
- Do Swedes eat the same breakfast every day?
- How many Swedes actually eat breakfast?
- What time is breakfast in Sweden?
- Swedish vs. American Breakfast
- Swedish vs. English Breakfast
What’s a Typical Swedish Breakfast?
The average Swedish breakfast consists of two slices of bread with butter and cheese, a boiled egg, and a cup of drip coffee (Nexus 2021), with yogurt / sour milk also being included in a different poll (YouGov 2019). Approximately 2/3 of Swedes (3/4 in Stockholm) claim to eat bread for breakfast.
What is the most popular breakfast in Sweden?
Here are the top 10 most popular food choices among Swedes according to a 2019 poll by YouGov:
- 1. Sandwich 55 %
- 2. Filmjölk (Buttermilk) or Yoghurt 34 %
- 3. Eggs 30 %
- 4. Oatmeal 27 %
- 5. Cereal 25 %
- 6. Crispbread 24 %
- 7. Fruit 17 %
- 8. Smoothie or Shake 7 %
- 9. Sausage 3 %
- 10. Breakfast Cake 2 %
In our family, I’d say Müsli and/or Rye Cereal with Yogurt or Milk is the most common choice around our table in the mornings. While I was growing up and living with my parents, we often had sandwiches with butter and cheese.
What do Swedes like to put on their breakfast sandwiches?
Among the many Swedes who choose to eat a bread-based breakfast, these are their favorite things to put on their sandwich (ranked by popularity):
- Hard cheese
- Cold-cut meat
- Liver paté
- Soft cheese
- Peanut butter
Source: Novus 2021
My personal simple favorites are either crispbread with butter and Västerbotten cheese, or dark-toasted Finnish rye bread with lots of butter and Lauantai sausage (depending on if I feel Swedish or Finnish when I wake up)
What do Swedes generally drink with their breakfast?
More than half of all Swedes who eat breakfast claim to drink coffee with their morning meal (Novus 2021). Other popular choices include milk, fruit juice, and water.
The Swedes tend to gulp down that coffee throughout the day too, and if you want to find out more about why Sweden and the other Nordic countries drink the most amount of coffee in the world, have a look at that article.
Different types of Swedish Breakfast
- Open Sandwich (Most common breakfast choice by far, served with butter and toppings such as cheese, cold-cuts and vegetables)
- Sourmilk/Yogurt (Can be had with cereal/müsli or as a stand-alone drink)
- Boiled Egg (On the side or sliced on top of bread, usually combined with Kalles Kaviar)
- Oatmeal (Usually with butter and milk)
- Cereal/Müsli (Generally combined with milk, sourmilk, or yogurt)
- Crispbread (With same toppings as open sandwich)
- Fruit (Berries are the most common)
- Smoothie/Shake (A recent rise in popularity)
- Sausage (Usually smoked)
Do Swedes eat the same breakfast every day?
Most Swedes generally like to eat the same type of breakfast every day, illustrated by 70% claiming to eat the same thing on most days of an average week in a recent poll (Novus 2021). This is the case for myself and almost every other Swede I know, so the number is likely even higher than that.
What can I say? We Swedes can be a pretty boring bunch when it comes to certain things. And if that means a healthy start to the day, I’m definitely all for it (though my tastebuds would take a “real” breakfast in the US / UK any day of the week).
How many Swedes actually eat breakfast?
8 out of 10 Swedes claim to eat breakfast every day according to a OKQ8 poll from 2020, most commonly among the older part of the population and a little less so among the younger folks.
When it comes to Swedes younger than 18, it seems they are a bit better than young adults at eating breakfast, with 75% of high school students claiming to eat breakfast in a study by Kristianstad University.
Furthermore, 42 percent of Swedes believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (Svenska Ägg 2017), so there is definitely a strong focus on breakfast among the population as a whole.
Why do some Swedes not eat breakfast?
Interestingly, it seems like more men than women choose to skip breakfast, and the most common reason for skipping breakfast was waking up too late.
We see 14% of men compared to 10 % of women skipping breakfast, and 42 percent of respondents in a poll by Cint in 2020 specify that when they do not have time for breakfast, it is because they have gotten out of bed too late to afford the time.
What time is breakfast in Sweden?
- At home: Around 6am-9am (most jobs & schools start before 9)
- At cafes: Around 6:30am-10:30am
- At restaurants: Around 8am-10:30am
- At hotels: Around 6am-9am weekdays, 7am-11am weekends
Swedish vs. American Breakfast
The typical Swedish breakfast is soft or hard bread with butter and cheese and a boiled egg on the side, while the typical American breakfast usually consists of eggs, bacon, pancakes/waffles. The one similar part of breakfast between Sweden and the US is that both countries like to have a cup of drip coffee along with the breakfast.
Swedish vs. English Breakfast
A typical Swedish breakfast of soft or hard bread with butter and cheese and a boiled egg on the side stands in great contrast to the typical English with a minimum of fried eggs, bacon, and toasted bread, commonly combined with fried sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and baked beans.
Two in five Brits eat Eggs for breakfast, while the majority of Swedes eat sandwiches. And while Swedes prefer coffee along with their breakfast, Brits definitely prefer their Tea.
While I personally much prefer the taste of both simple and elaborate American and English breakfasts, there is something to be said about the healthier and simpler Swedish choices in the long term.
- Swedish Dinner Habits: A Complete Guide
- Nordic Coffee Culture Explained: From Fika to Kask
- What Swedish People Are Like (Behaviors, Stereotypes & More)
- English in Sweden: How Well Swedes Speak & Understand English