Swedish Language Blog

Swedish Food – Pyttipanna or: How I Fed Myself in College Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Recently, I was asked to put together a recipe for pyttipanna. Actually, I was asked to put together a recipe for a Scandinavian dish. When I think Swedish food, I think lots of things, but the one thing that I actually make on a regular basis is pyttipanna.

Pyttipanna is essentially just a bunch of leftovers thrown into a frying pan with potatoes as the base. It is considered husmanskost in Sweden which can be translated as home cooking. The meal is quite common in Sweden still today and one of the few things my father was able to cook for my brothers and me when the dinner duties fell on him while we were growing up. Each recipe will differ. Mostly because, as I mentioned above, it’s just a bunch of leftovers. Without further ado, is the “recipe” (in quotation marks, because I throw in all kinds of veggies and meats that aren’t necessarily listed):

What you’ll need:
Red Beets

What you’ll do:

  • Chop as many potatoes as you want to eat or that will fit in your frying pan.
  • Boil them for a while so that they are soft-ish but not cooked all the way through (some people fry the potatoes separately. I like to boil them first).
  • Dump a bit of oil (or butter, or margarine, or fat) into a frying pan. Let it heat up.
  • Toss in your potatoes. Start frying them.
  • Chop your onions in chunks.
  • Add your onions to your frying potatoes.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, add more veggies. I like bell peppers, jalapenos, and garlic (none of which are particularly Swedish, but all of which are delicious).
  • Chop your meat into chunks.
  • Add the meat to your frying potatoes and onions (you can choose sausage, hotdogs, meatballs, ground beef. Whatever. If you’re a vegetarian, you can add mushrooms. Or tofu.)
  • Add salt. Add pepper. Lots of pepper.
  • Keep frying. The meat needs to cook through. The potatoes should be cooked through (I usually cook them until they have that fried look on the outside). The onions should be see-through.
  • Technically, while all this is happening you should fry an egg in a different frying pan. That gets laid on top of your pyttipanna when it is ready to eat. Of course, I am awful at frying eggs, so I usually just move the pyttipanna to one side in the pan and crack an egg in there and kind of let it half-fry, half-mix with the pyttipanna.
  • Once your egg is ready to go (it shouldn’t take long because you want it a little runny), serve it up on a plate and add some red beets on the side.
  • Add more pepper.
  • Then squirt a bunch of ketchup on it.
  • Eat. With a fork and knife. It is Swedish after all.

What is your favorite Swedish dish to eat? To make?

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


  1. Petre Panescu:

    My favorite Swedish dish to eat are the baked Hasselback potatoes + dressing. The cooking is really easy. Yami yami!

  2. Kym:

    ärtsoppa och pannkakor med grädde…is it Thursday yet?

  3. Lon Lofgren:

    I love Ostekake! Not the traditional recipe, with milk and rennet, but a quick(er) version my Grandma used to make! It uses milk, cottage cheese, cream, and almond extract. It’s a regular at all family holiday gatherings. I’ve found that people either love it or hate it. My 1st ex hated it, but she didn’t like much.
    Your pyttipanna sounds like something my Dear Old Dad used to make, only he used leftover pasta instead of potatoes, and mayo instead of the egg. He called it ‘Bachelor’s Spaghetti’. Always grossed me out.

  4. Birgitta Borgstrom:

    Don’t forget the chicken.

  5. Jerry Nelson:

    My favorite is also pyttipanna, I make it on a regular basis. I used to order this all the time while living in Sweden 1975-76 mainly because it was generally the cheapest item on the menu. The only difference from your recipe is that I dice the beets and put them on top of the potatoes, vegetables, and meat, then crack a couple of eggs right on top of the whole thing, cover with a lid and let the eggs cook till the yolks are still soft. I also love to make and eat potatis korv, but I usually only do that around Christmas time. My family loves it; we used to have it every Christmas when I was young, thanks to my Swedish grandparents.

  6. Lays:

    oh c’mon… kladdkaka!

  7. Marcus Cederström:

    Great comments, everyone