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Holiday Recipes from Finland for Christmas and Thanksgiving

If you’re looking for something different for your holiday parties, why not try these traditional Finnish Christmas holiday recipes for a change? They are suitable for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Appetizer: Rosolli (Beet Salad)


  • 4 beets, fresh or canned
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 large dill pickle
  • 1 large tart apple
  • salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs cut lengthwise


  • ¾ cup cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  1. liquid from beets
  2. Boil the root vegetables in their skins, reserving the beet liquid. Refrigerate, and next day peel and cut them up finely. Add finely cut onion, pickles, and apples, mix carefully, and season with salt to taste.
  3. For the sauce, whip cream until thick, and add sugar, vinegar, and enough beet liquid to color the sauce pink.
  4. Decorate the salad with egg wedges, and serve with the sauce separately on the side.

Serves about 10-15

Main Course: Joulukinkku (Fresh Baked Ham With Bone In)

The traditional Finnish Christmas dinner centers on a slowly baked ham with the bone in. My own Christmas memories from childhood are inseparable from the delicious aroma of the ham baking all night, since my mother started it the night before to be ready for the next day.

The traditional Finnish Christmas ham is for sale everywhere in Finland around Christmas, but in USA you need to know what kind of ham to buy. It has to be fresh ham, and here’s some advice for Americans about fresh ham or uncured leg of pork: “Since the meat is not cured or smoked, it has the flavor of a fresh pork loin roast or pork chops. Its raw color is pinkish red and after cooking, grayish white”.

Instructions How to Bake Ham

To achieve best result, bake the ham slowly at a low temperature. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 160° F using a meat thermometer.

Use a cooking bag, or a baking dish with sides and a roasting rack. Heat the oven to 125° Celsius or 260° F, and bake the ham for 1.5 hours for the first 2.2 pounds (or a kilogram) of weight, and one hour for each 2.2 lbs. after that. To bake fresh ham, 2.2 lbs take one hour, so for example, a 10 kilogram or 22 lbs ham takes 10.5 hours. If you start late at night, it’s ready in the morning. Make sure you place the ham in the dish on the rack with the fat side on top.

Instead of glazing, Finns make a crust for the ham.

Instructions for Crust

After baking and cooling, brush the ham with mustard, and sprinkle thickly with bread crumbs. You can also push whole gloves in, although that’s optional. Pop the ham back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Side Dish: Porkkanalaatikko (Traditional Finnish Carrot Casserole)

  • Ingredients:
  • ¾ cups white short-grain rice
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • toasted bread crumbs
  • butter

Boil the rice for about 20 minutes, then add milk, and simmer until it’s thick as porridge. Cool. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the crumbs and butter. Pour into a greased 2 to 3 quart baking dish, sprinkle with the crumbs, and dot with butter. Bake at 375° F for 45 minutes or until golden.

Dessert: Riisipuuro

The traditional Finnish Christmas desert is oven-baked Riisipuuro (Rice Pudding) with an almond hidden in, and the person who finds it will be lucky all year. The rice pudding is served with a homemade Sekahedelmakeitto (Plum or Mixed-Fruit compote).

Finns love baked goods, and these are usually also served at the Christmas dinner table.

Alesksanterin Tortut (Aleksander’s Tarts)

  • 1 lb butter
  • ½ lb sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 ½ lbs flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • raspberry preserves
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • water or cold prepared coffee

Beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients, with the cream last. Use round or heart shaped cookie cutters, then bake at approx. 400° F until golden brown. Cool. “Clue” two cookies together using raspberry preserves, and add a frosting made of 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar and 3 tbs. water or strong coffee. Let dry.

The ham is usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes and home made gravy., as well as many other side dishes. The usual drinks are kalja (home made beer), glogi (warm spiced drink often made with red wine), and juices.

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