My husband and I recently found ourselves craving the wonderful, fresh smørrebrød we often ate for lunch while in Denmark. (We had some good ones in Sweden too.) Smørrebrød are open-faced sandwiches (typically beautifully presented) that you can find all over Denmark, from fancy restaurants to food halls. Since we both eat lunch at home, he suggested we starting making smørrebrød instead of our typical sandwich and chips. We picked up a few bits and bobs at the grocery store and off we went.
3/4 Smørrebrød Lunch

(Clockwise from the top: 1. Hard boiled egg, mayo, dill and smoked salmon 2. Gouda, avocado and french fried onion 3. Liver paté with pickled cucumbers and onions 4. Yukon gold potatoes with mayo and french fried onions)

I posted this picture of one of my lunch plates on Flickr and Facebook and there was a remarkable amount of interest. So, I thought I would share my tips on making your own smørrebrød as well as some of our favorite combinations. Once you have toppings to chose from on hand, putting these sandwiches together is a snap and you get such a nice variety on your plate.

Bread: Smørrebrød is traditionally served on dark Danish Rye bread, something we can’t easily get here. That’s ok, you can substitute another bread of your choice, but make sure it is something substantial, no soft white bread here! We like Brownberry Natural Wheat the best so far.

Toppings: Here are some of the things we like to have for our smørrebrød.  This is everything we have used so far, but we don’t necessarily have everything at the same time. It is a great use for leftovers. I like to hard boil a few eggs, cook a some potatoes and fry up some bacon on Monday morning so we have it them hand all week. I also pickle my own vegetables and will share the recipe at the end of this post.

  • paté (The Danes eat more liver paté than anyone else in the world!)
  • smoked salmon
  • lunch meats like ham or salami
  • cooked shrimp
  • herring
  • cheese
  • goat cheese
  • pickled vegetables (especially onions or beets)
  • hard boiled eggs
  • cooked fingerling potatoes
  • mayo
  • butter
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • cooked bacon
  • french fried onions
  • avocado
  • jam
  • honey
  • pine nuts
  • fresh dill (or any other fresh greens and herbs)


(Clockwise from the top: 1. Paté, pickled cucumbers and bacon 2. Gouda and strawberry jam 3. Potatoes, mayo and caramelized onions  4. Dill egg salad)

Combinations: In Denmark there are a lot of rules about what can be combined together and in what order you eat the different types of smørrebrød. We let that fly out the window and just try combinations that sound good to us. I think it is important to have a variety of tastes on our place, sweet, salty, pickled, and rich. You can see some of my favorite combinations in the photos above. Here are a few more ideas…

1. Goat cheese, heated until just bubbly in the microwave, topped with a drizzle of honey and some pine nuts. (My favorite toastee to get in Amsterdam.)
2. Hard boiled egg topped with mayo, fresh dill and small cooked shrimp (We had this everywhere in Sweden.)
3. Paté with pickled figs (actually paté with pickled anything). I found these great Boat Street Pickled Figs in the cheese section of the grocery store.
4. Pickled herring with potatoes, mayo, sour cream and chives
5. Paté with potato, bacon and pickled beets
6. Roast beef with pickles and horseradish

You can find a lot more combinations ideas on Danish Sandwich.

Now on to my recipe for quick pickled vegetables. It could not be any easier. I’ve pickle onions, carrots and cucumbers this way so far. I plan on doing beets soon.

Quick Pickled Vegetables

(This makes enough pickles for us for a week, but you can easily double it.)
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 1/2 T sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
sliced vegetables, about 1 cup

Put the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper flakes in a microwave safe container. Microwave for about 1 minute. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool. Add vegetables. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

I will often drain the brine off after the pickles have been in it for a day, so they don’t get too pickled.

What combinations would you put together?

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