Nearly every main course in Sweden includes a sauce, as do many desserts. Vår Kok Bok (the 'bible' of Swedish cooking) has no less than 37 pages devoted to sauces! The nearest similar book in the UK, Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, has a mere 20 pages. The difference highlights how important sauces are to Swedes so if you are cooking for a Swede be sure to include some kind of sauce because otherwise he/she may think your food is dry and boring!

Fun to make

In the introduction to the chapter on sauces in Vår Kok Bok says, "Sauces are an exciting part of cooking because they can be loaded with so much flavour". Of course that is true: making a good sauce can be fun and it can really enhance the flavour of the dish's main ingredient.

Ready made sauces

The supermarkets in Sweden realise how important sauces are to Swedes and so they stack their shelves and fill their freezers with with ready made sauces. Some are full of additives and are best avoided, but many are very good and a sensible choice if you are short of time or cooking for just two people.

Too much sauce


Sometimes though I think they over do it! When I had Swedish style fish & chips in Smögen, on the west coast, it came with more sauce than fish! I once made the mistake of ordering plankstek, never again! It is one of Sweden's most popular pub meals, but for me it spoils a good steak because it is always saturated with béarnaise sauce. (It also has too much mashed potato, but that's another story.)

Recipes for sauce

Generally we have included recipes for sauces alongside each dish as shown above for köttbullar med gräddsås (meatballs with cream sauce).

Increase the amount of sauce for Swedes!

If you are cooking a dish for Swedes consider increasing the amount of sauce. I think the dish above, marinerad rådjursfilé med lakritssås (marinated fillet of venison with liquorice sauce), has enough sauce but most Swedes would probably like a bit more sauce!


Vaniljsås (vanilla sauce) is, I think, one of the most common sauces in Sweden. Because it is served with so many different dishes we have provided a separate recipe for it. (Sometimes vaniljsås is translated as custard, but although there are similarities it really isn't the same thing at all.)

In Sweden vaniljsås is offered with most fruit based cakes and desserts. When made well it has a wonderful delicate flavour that makes it an ideal match for most fruits. Do try our recipe for vaniljsås: it is based on the recipe in Vår Kok Bok and it will make you want to experiment with more Swedish sauces. More…

John Duxbury

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