Viking Food


Eat like a Viking, Saxon or Pict!

Ever popular, very healthy and simple to cook. For many the image of food cooked over a warm campfire is linked to our Scandinavian forebears.

The reality of these recipes is that they were likely to have been cooked up by many North European civilisations over thousands of year and were not just exclusive to our friends in the North!



Pottage or what remains of it here is a stove-top stew that would have been eaten by the majority of people in the Britain and Northern Europe for centuries. It is the ultimate one pot meal that would have kept going all week. Traditionally it would have made use of what was obtainable at the time and would have been added to as the week went on. If there was any meat available, most likely a rabbit, this would have been chucked in too. The recipe here aims to keep within those past traditions, potatoes didn’t arrive into Europe until the latter part of the 16th Century.

Ingredients (serves 10-20)

A knob of butter/Or  2 tbs of oil to keep it vegan.

1-2 large onions

2 leeks

2 celery sticks 

4 large carrots

1 swede (or 2-3 turnips)

3 parsnips


1/2 a cup of porridge oats

 A few sprigs of wild garlic

A handful of fresh mixed herbs, sage, thyme, rosemary or whatever is available.


  1. Heat the butter/oil in a large stock pot/Dutch oven over a  low-medium flame.

  2. Once the oil is warm, add the sliced/diced onions, leeks and celery to the pot and stir before covering over with the lid to soften for approx ten minutes.

  3. Then add the chopped root vegetables, stir and leave for a few minutes to soften and take on the flavour of the onions and leeks.

  4. Add at least enough water to cover the vegetables, more if you want to thin it out and make it go further, increase the heat and bring to the boil.

  5. Then reduce the heat so it is just simmering and add the oats to thicken and herbs for flavour. Top up with more water if necessary.

  6. Leave to  simmer for about an hour, then taste!  


Tunnbrod recipe

Tunnbrod or Polar bread is a bit of a staple for me. A simple but very effective type of Nordic bread that cooks well on embers, hot stones or a heated frying pan. There are countless different recipes and indeed the  rye sourdough version of this bread is quite something. Here is a simple recipe that I use during my school and public workshops!

Ingredients (makes about 20)

200g wholemeal rye flour

300g Spelt flour

300ml warm water

2 tbs syrup (or honey)

7g dried yeast

1tbs fennel

5g sea salt


1.Mix the flours, yeast and other dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2.Pour in the warm water and syrup/honey.

3. Ideally with a large spoon, stir the mixture to bring it together in one large lump.

4. With wet hands knead the dough thoroughly before covering or placing in a airtight container to rise.

5. After the dough has risen, knock it back and take a handful (30g-50g).

6. On a lightly floured surface roll or stretch the dough as thin as you can.

7. Lightly prick the surface  all over with a fork.

8. Cook the flat bread on the embers or hot pan (as hot as possible). These should take no more than 20 seconds to cook,  Turn the bread using tongs once it starts to bubble and change colour.

9. Enjoy on its own or with a topping of your choice!

Chicken Stew

Viking chicken stew

I was lucky enough to be given this recipe by one of the schools I visited recently as they were learning about Viking food and were keen to try it.

Using a whole chicken also gives the children a chance to understand  where their meat comes from, although if you are pushed for time, a mix of thighs and drumsticks will work just as well.


Serves 8

1 whole free range chicken

(or 1kg thighs and drumsticks)

4 carrots

3 onions

1 swede

1tsp salt

A dash of ground black pepper

500m; of good stock

fresh herbs (thyme and sage work well)

1 Bayleaf

1 large knob of butter for frying.


1.Chop the chicken into about 8 pieces (thighs, drumsticks halve the breasts) The skin can be left on or off depending on preference.

2. Thinly slice the onions and  peel and chop the root veg into 2cm chunks.

3. Over a hot Dutch oven or stock pot add the butter before frying off the chicken meat until it is brown on all sides.

4. Season the meat with the salt and pepper before adding the vegetables and herbs to the pot, before pouring in the stock.

5.Boil for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

6. Serve with Tunnbrod (see recipe above)

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