Finnish desserts and pastries are amazing, there’s no question about it. Finns have a flourishing coffee culture–in fact, Finnish people drink the most coffee per capita in the world. When they drink coffee, no matter if it’s early in the morning or in the evening, there’s usually something sweet accompanying the coffee.
The Finnish cuisine is not flashy nor extravagant; it’s easy to make tasty Finnish food. People in Finland tend to use what they have and prepare it with whatever tools are available to them. In their cooking, they only care for taste and quality, and this is very apparent in Finnish pastries and desserts.
Below I have listed the most famous Finnish desserts and pastries for you to try while you’re in Finland.
Munkki is basically a deep-fried doughnut, and it’s absolutely delicious. Occasionally they’re filled with strawberry jam or vanilla cream, but Finns like to eat these just as they are. Finns usually make these on Vappu, which is a holiday in May. They’re almost always eaten outside, even though it’s often still cold in May.
While we’re discussing May, I might also mention the famous tippaleipä. Tippaleipä is a type of funnel cake that during the past decades has become one of the main treats of Vappu. This delicious dessert is fried, crunchy, and just as sweet as anything. But watch out–they’re addictive!
This is a rather ghastly-looking dessert that people either like or strongly dislike, there’s no in between. Finnish people only eat this Finnish easter pudding around–yes, you guessed it–easter.
It’s made from rye flour, rye malt and water. The rye makes the dessert heavy, so a couple of spoonfuls of this dessert will definitely satisfy your hunger. However, Finns never eat this as it is: they always put copious amounts of heavy cream and sugar on top.
This is the most wonderful season of the year! Finnish people eat laskiaispulla–which is the same as the Swedish semla–during January and February. This wonderful dessert is common in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. The laskiaispulla has its origins from Shrove Tuesday and Lent; what better dessert to indulge on than this sweet and cream-filled bun?
This weird and salty dessert, known as squeaky cheese in English, is a favourite among the Finns. It’s made of a mixture of cow’s milk and beestings that has been baked in the oven. Finns usually eat it with cloudberry jam, together with a cup of coffee.
And yes, it really does squeak! To a foreigner, this dessert might feel strange, but to Finns, this dessert often tastes of childhood.
6. Finnish pulla
The simple Finnish pulla looks like a loaf of bread but it’s sweet and incredibly soft. It’s usually spiced with cardamom and plenty of sugar, and Finnish people eat this throughout the year together with their coffee.
7. Köyhät ritarit
Köyhät ritarit, meaning “poor knights”, is Finland’s version of the French toast. Like always, Finns emphasize practicality over extravagance and thus they often make this dessert with leftover slices of Finnish pulla bread.
To make this dessert, all you have to do is mix eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar, dip the slices in the batter, and toast the pieces of bread in a frying pan. Top this off with some Finnish berries and you’re set. This is how simple (and tasty) the Finnish cuisine is.
Joulutortut means Christmas stars, and they’re served around Christmas. These are made of puff pastry and plum filling and dusted with icing sugar. Many families across the country make these pastries themselves because they’re so simple and so very delicious.
9. Runebergin tortut
This dessert was named after the famous Finnish poet J. L. Runeberg, and is eaten only in early February. Runeberg’s wife, Fredrika Runeberg, invented this dessert in honor of her husband. The dough is flavoured with almonds and arrack or rum, and topped with raspberry jam and a ring of sugar icing.
10. Finnish cake
Finns usually spend their summers out in the countryside or in the archipelago, where cooking is simple and rustic. Throughout summer, and perhaps especially around Midsummer, Finns love to make a simple traditional Finnish cake with whipped cream and strawberries on top.
It’s simple, tasty, and light, and is perfect to eat while looking out on the beautiful Finnish lakes. This recipe is also used to make a traditional Finnish birthday cake.
Korvapuusti is the Finnish version of the Swedish cinnamon bun (kanelbulle in Swedish). Finnish cinnamon buns are heavy, creamy, and go perfectly with coffee. This dessert is part of the Finnish-Swedish heritage, and many families make this dessert themselves throughout the year. These cinnamon buns can also be bought in stores by the bag.
Must-visit cafés for desserts & pastries in Finland
When you go to Finland, you really should visit the Karl Fazer Café. The café is named after Karl Fazer, who invented the Fazer chocolate. The café houses a luxurious dish of Finnish pastries and desserts, and you can also buy a variety of Finnish chocolate (which is really good quality, by the way).
You can also find another famous café, Café Engel in the historical quarters of Helsinki. This café has a great view of central Helsinki and historic buildings. The café also served typical Finnish food to give you a taste of what Finnish families eat.
Are you hungry yet? Finland has tons of delicious desserts and pastries to offer anyone who travels this far north. However, what is vastly more important than the desserts and pastries themselves is what they represent: quality time with the people you care about.
During the Finns’ daily coffee breaks, the most important thing is connecting with people and enjoying yourself. As a native Finn, I genuinely believe that the Finnish coffee culture is one of the reasons why Finland was named the happiest country in the world (again).