CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland Vegan Karelian Pies Recipe

Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland

CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland Vegan Karelian Pies Recipe

It should come as no surprise that at CulturallyOurs, we firmly believe that food is a portal into a culture. The foods that the locals eat, the vegetables grown, the crops harvested all have an impact on the local lifestyle and economy. Food operates as an expression of cultural identity. After all, we are what we eat. So today we are using food to explore the culture of Finland by learning about traditional Finnish breakfast dishes.

Our friend, Maria Dokshina is sharing some of the traditional breakfast dishes from Finland like breads, pies and tarts from her recent visit to Finland. She also shares a vegan recipe for Finnish Karelian pies with rice filling which is a breakfast staple.CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From FinlandFrom Maria,

Even though this article is dedicated mostly towards the Finnish breakfast dishes, I would like to note that Finn’s art of preserving all the nation’s traditions is something we all should look up to within our own cultures. Finn’s are extremely proud of their craft-making roots and with their modern design that they are also known for worldwide, they present these traditions in the best light, not to mention they are actually following everything they stand up for.

This brings me to a conclusion on how to preserve the culture in Finn’s way – inspired by your country’s traditions, give them a good twist to show the young generations how they are actually amazing and cool, as well as, show up every day practicing your craft and gather people around so they can learn and recreate it at their own homes. When we don’t use something, we forget it easily.CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland Ruisleipä Rye Bread

Traditional Finnish breakfast dishes

The majority of Finn’s are working from offices or studios due to a cold temperature outside for the most time of the year and having a filling and warming breakfast is crucial to stay energized till lunch. Breakfast is usually served at 7-8 am and consists of such satisfying meals as oat or rice porridge, rye bread with herb cheese and salt-cured salmon, eggs, traditional pastries and pies with fruit jam, and yogurt with freshly picked berries.

Finland has a law called “Everyman’s Right” or “the right of public access to the wilderness” allows people to come into the forests to gather and enjoy respectfully all the nature’s gifts – berries, mushrooms or herbs. This gives people a sense of belonging to nature even while living in the city where the parks are all perfectly clean and cared for but nature’s beauty and gifts are mostly preserved. During walking along a lake in the central park in the summertime, it is not uncommon to see a huge raspberry bush that you are welcome to enjoy right away. Many Finns take their breakfast in parks and forests when the weather is good.

Let’s explore a few local foods that are served at the breakfast tables across Finland.CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland

Finnish Coffee With Milk

The most preferred breakfast drink is coffee. It is estimated that an average Finland citizen consumes about 10kg of coffee per year. There are plenty of local coffee companies to choose from and almost every cafe will have light and dark roasted blends to serve your preferences. Besides coffee, you will always find several freshly-squizzed juice options at any cafe.

The northern climate is harsh and demanding the body to produce lots of energy just to stay warm, so the mix of a filling breakfast along with a vitamin-rich juice with both energizing and warming coffee is exactly what they need to thrive every single day.

Ruisleipä – Finnish Rye bread

Made out of sourdough the rye bread is a true Finnish food experience and the most popular bread among the locals. Rye bread was chosen to be Finland’s national food when in 2017 this country celebrated the century of independence. Commonly served as the base for the bread sandwiches, rye bread has another type of preparation when the baker is making the thin layer of rye dough and baking it long enough to come out with crispy rye crackers. Not only these crackers are perfect food for parties as they make the best snacks dipped in cream cheese, but making them is also a very wise way of preserving food – crackers are dry and can be stored for several months.CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland

Joulutorttu – Finnish Christmas Tarts

Also known as a Tähtitorttu – Star tart, Christmas tart is probably the most easy-to-make dessert you can only imagine. The frozen puff pastry sheets can be found in the stores throughout a whole year, not only around Christmas. But during this magical time, Finns tell their children stories about the Joulupukki (Santa Claus) living in Finland’s northern region called Lapland while serving the young ones with sweet treats. Traditionally prepared with a rich plum jam these tarts are sometimes made with apricot or any berry jam. They are almost a staple at every breakfast table in Finland.CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland Karjalanpiirakka Karelian Pies

Karjalanpiirakka – Finnish Karelian Pies

Originated in the eastern part of Karelia, which is currently a part of Russia, these pies are popular around the whole Finland due to the long history of this region belonging to Finns. They are oval-shaped and made with rye flour. The filling is usually made out of rice porridge or potato mash. Carelian pies are best cooked quickly at the high temperatures, and back in times when Carelian people were using the stone stoves, these pies would go in first while the stove is the hottest and only after they would put in the bread to bake it at a medium temperature. Once the pies are ready, the bakers brush them with melted butter or egg yolk and sometimes spread the mash of boiled eggs on top.

Here is a recipe of the Karelian Pies.

I’ve switched the butter with vegan butter, milk with plant milk and egg with nutritional yeast. If you would like to go for an authentic experience and don’t mind dairy and eggs – I provided the substituted ingredients in the recipe too. However, the plant-based version is just as amazing as the original.CulturallyOurs Breakfast Ideas From Finland

Vegan Version of Finnish Breakfast Karelian Pies With Rice Filling

This recipe makes 10-12 medium pies.

Ingredients for the dough

  • 70g of wheat flour
  • 120g of rye flour
  • 125ml of water
  • 1/2tsp of salt

Ingredients for the rice filling

  • 3 cups of cooked short-grain white rice
  • 2 cups of plant milk (or cow’s milk)
  • 3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast (1 large egg)
  • 40g of vegan butter(or cow’s butter) + extra 30g for brushing
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste


  1. Sift the wheat and rye flours together with salt in a big bowl.
  2. Add water and mix in with a wooden spoon. Knead for 2-3 minutes until the pliable soft and non-sticky dough is formed, add extra wheat flour if needed. Set aside and cover with a wet towel.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine cooked rice, milk and butter. Mix well, bring to medium heat and let the butter melt and the milk combine with rice creating a sticky porridge.
  4. Season to taste.
  5. Take off the heat, let cool down to room temperature and add nutritional yeast (or an egg), mix well again.
  6. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  7. Divide the rye dough into walnut-size pieces and roll them thinly into an oval shape.
  8. Put 1-2 Tbsp of rice filling into the center and spread evenly on the dough leaving 1cm around the edge.
  9. Pinch the dough with your fingers to create a special authentic appearance. Place the pies on a parchment paper layered on the baking tray.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes until slightly brown.
  11. Brush with melted butter or with 1:1 milk and butter mixture for a lighter version. Let it cool a bit and enjoy with friends and family!

CulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From Finland Karelian Pies Joulutorttu Rye breadCulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From FinlandCulturallyOurs Traditional Breakfast Dishes From FinlandThank you Maria for sharing these incredibly delicious breakfast dishes from Finland. Definitely beats having a breakfast of cold cereal and plain toast. Those star shaped Christmas tarts with jam look just divine – a perfect way to start the morning with something sweet as well as something savory.

Do you have any traditional breakfast dishes that are native to where you live? We would love to know.

{Words and images by Maria Dokshina; Website: Planty_; Instagram: @planty_ }

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Leave your comments below

  1. Jay artale says:

    I love the idea of foraging for food. I wish I had a better understanding of all the edible flowers and plants. I wonder how much delicious food just gets walked past and ignored Bex people just don’t know what they’re looking at.

  2. Ellen says:

    Thanks for this delightful read! My friends and I have a monthly cooking and movie night, where we pick a different country and cook food from that area together before watching a film, and I’m adding Finland to our list!