Forget your average street food – these Icelandic hot dogs, or “pylsur,” are an authentic part of Iceland’s history, crafted with a mix of organic, grass-fed lamb, pork, and beef bursting with rich, savory flavors. But the magic doesn’t stop with the ingredients.
Icelandic hot dogs boast a unique preparation method that sets them apart. No trip to Iceland is complete without trying Icelandic foods, and the Icelandic Hot Dog is the least intimidating of Iceland’s local dishes.
With places to find pylsur throughout popular routes like Route 1 Ring Road and Iceland’s Golden Circle, you’ll have no problem finding somewhere to sample this delight. In this article, we explore this favorite Icelandic treat, offering insights into its history, cultural importance, where you can get it, and even how to make it for yourself!
Why are Icelandic Hot Dogs one of Iceland’s Must-Try Foods? What’s Special About Them?
Icelandic hot dogs are more than a convenient street food option, and different from a standard hot dog you might grill up at a barbecue. Pylsur have rightfully earned their place as one of Iceland’s must-try foods. These hot dogs have been produced in Iceland since the establishment of the company Slaturfelag Sudurlands (SS) back in 1908.
However, the hot dog didn’t really take off until the first hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, opened during the year 1937. Hot dogs are often known as classified as processed junk food, containing a mix of ‘mystery meat,’ but what sets Icelandic hot dogs apart from their global counterparts is the combination of high-quality ingredients and a preparation method.
The base ingredients are comprised of organic, free-range, grass-fed, and hormone-free Icelandic lamb, pork, and beef. In Iceland, the sheep freely graze the countryside, feasting on berries and leaves until the fall. You’ll likely encounter many free-range Icelandic sheep when driving in Iceland, especially in the summer months. Over time, Icelandic hot dogs have become a cultural representation of Icelandic people with a shared love for simple yet delicious street food.
What condiments are on an Icelandic hot dog?
The standard toppings of an Icelandic hot dog include crispy fried onions, raw white onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard (also called pylsusinnep), and a creamy remoulade. Pylsusinnep is a sweet and tangy mustard that is specifically made for Icelandic hot dogs which can only be found in Iceland.
Remoulade is a creamy sauce, similar to a tartar sauce, that cause be made in different ways. But the remoulade used on the Icelandic hot dog contains mayonnaise, capers, pickles, herbs, and spices like turmeric, garlic, and paprika. The balanced blend of sweet, acidic, and savory flavors creates a satisfying and comforting taste experience. The hot dogs are then served in a warm, steamed bun, which is typically steamed directly over the boiling water from the hot dogs.
Where Can You Buy Icelandic Hot Dogs?
If you want to enjoy an Icelandic hot dog while on your trip to Iceland, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Whether you’re on an Iceland stopover or planning an extended Iceland itinerary, there are multiple places to get your hands on Icelandic hot dogs.
The most popular place to get an Icelandic hot dog is no other than the original Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, located in central Reykjavik, near the harbor. This stand is hands down the go-to spot for these hot dogs, and is very easy to access for tourists. However, multiple Baejarins Beztu Pylsur have also popped up in other areas around the capital, along with one right in Keflavík International Airport.
Outside of the city, you’ll find Icelandic hot dogs in almost every gas station along the Route 1 Ring Road, including locations on Iceland’s South Coast and Northern Iceland. In Selfoss, you can find the Pylsuvagninn hot dog stand, which has been serving hot dogs for decades, along with other fast food classics.
If you’re venturing off the beaten path and find yourself out on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, then you can give Meistarinn a visit. And up north in Akureyri, Iceland, take a break from whale watching to check out Pylsuvagninn Akureyri, where they have a variety of different hot dog combinations.
How Much is One Icelandic Hot Dog?
The cost of an Icelandic hot dog typically ranges between 500 to 700 Icelandic Krona (ISK) (approximately $3.65 to $5.10 USD). The prices may vary slightly depending on the specific vendor or location. Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, the famed hot dog stand in Reykjavik, often falls within this range, making it an affordable option for both locals and visitors.
At Iceland gas stations, you can usually get it a bit cheaper, and it may be more pricey from proper restaurants. With Iceland being a generally quite expensive travel destination, the chance to grab a bite to eat without dipping too much into the budget is a welcome opportunity.
Tips for Ordering Hot Dogs in Iceland
Here are some valuable tips to ensure you have the most authentic Icelandic hot dog experience;
- Get all the toppings: For the ultimate flavor experience, opt for the hot dog with all the condiments. When ordering your hot dog, make sure to ask for “Ein með öllu” or “One with Everything.”
- Use the local lingo: Local Icelanders will be super impressed if you can order in Icelandic. Make sure to say ‘takk’ after, which means ‘please’ to really WOW them.
- Go beyond the big name: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is legendary, but don’t limit yourself. Each hot dog stand has its own unique charm and flavor variations, so explore, experiment, and find your favorite. You can get just as yummy of a hot dog at other locations.
- Be patient: Anticipate potential queues, especially if you’re visiting in the summer. Typically, there are only two staff members working at the hot dog stands, and the queues can be long. But the delicious Icelandic hot dog experience is undoubtedly worth the wait!
How to Make Icelandic Hot Dogs
Want to try making your own Icelandic hot dog at home? If you’ve been to Iceland and are still craving the dynamic flavors of an Icelandic hot dog, then you can craft something similar yourself. Or maybe you’ve yet to adventure to Iceland but are curious about what all the hype is about.
While it may not be exact, you can still make a version that comes close. While replicating the specific Icelandic lamb blend might be tricky, you can capture the essence of this beloved street food with readily available ingredients.
First of all, you need to decide whether you’d like to attempt to make the hot dogs from scratch or just use whatever hot dogs you have access to. If you’re making these hot dogs while in Iceland, then you can purchase Pylsupakki from any local grocery store. Ideally, you want hot dogs with made lamb, but if you’re outside of Iceland, that can be hard to find. In that case, we recommend opting for a grass-fed, all-beef hot dog.
For the buns, fresh hot dog buns are always best. You’ll also need the topping. Ketchup and onions should be easy to get your hands on.
However, for the sweet brown mustard and remoulade, you’ll have to get crafty! You’ll find many different recipes for them, but here is our favorite way to mix up your own sauces:
Pylsussinep (Sweet Brown Mustard):
For a simple rendition, mix regular yellow mustard with brown sugar, white wine vinegar, minced garlic, ground caraway seeds, and some turmeric (for a deeper color).
It won’t be exact, but it’s close enough without making it from scratch.
Remoulade: The remoulade is a bit easier to replicate. You’ll just need to mix some mayonnaise with a bit of Dijon mustard, some finely chopped pickles, capers, and chives, and a bit of fresh tarragon and parsley.
To prepare the hot dogs, add them to boiling water with a splash of beer for added flavor. Prep your toppings, fry up some crispy onions to give it some nice crunch, and then warm your buns on top of the boiling pot. Assemble the hot dog by layering fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, and remoulade at the bottom of the bun. Place the hot dog on top and finish with a generous drizzle of mustard.
What Else Should You Try When Visiting Iceland?
While the Icelandic hot dog is undoubtedly a must-try, there are many other Icelandic food options that are worth trying on your trip.
For those with more adventurous palates, traditional dishes like Hákarl (fermented shark) might interest you. It’s cured with a particular fermentation process and then hung to dry for several months. It can be hard to find in some Icelandic cities, but its available during Icelandic events like Thorrablot in the midwinter or in a few restaurants in Reykjavik.
Icelandic lamb is also very popular and renowned for its quality and tenderness. Flavored by wild pastures and raised without any hormones or antibiotics in a pure environment, Icelandic lamb is incredibly lean. The distinctive taste is a result of the grass and the aromatic and spicy herbs on which the lambs graze. You can find lamb at most restaurants around Iceland, and we recommend trying Kjötsúpa, a simple lamb soup that is an important traditional lamb dish made with winter root vegetables.
Higher in protein than Greek yogurt, Skyr, a thick and creamy yogurt-like dairy product, is an Icelandic classic. Skyr is made from skim milk, which has had its cream removed, which is then warmed, and live cultures of bacteria are added. Once the product has thickened, it is strained to remove the whey. It’s recently become so popular that you may even find it in markets outside of Iceland.
And, of course, we can’t forget Icelandic seafood. As an island surrounded by the crisp Atlantic Ocean, Iceland has access to a large supply of fresh seafood. Specialties include Gravlax, a Nordic dish consisting of salmon that is cured using a mix of salt, sugar, and dill, along with Harðfiskur, which is a fish jerky. Additionally, you’ll find lots of restaurants with fresh haddock, cod, salmon, and lobster all around the country.
Try an Icelandic Hot Dog on Your Iceland Trip
The Icelandic hot dog, or “pylsa,” is a must-try when on your trip to Iceland. It’s a great, budget-friendly option to satisfy that food craving when making pitstops during your Iceland itinerary or when exploring the streets of Reykjavik. While popular establishments like Baejarins Beztu Pylsur are a great option, don’t forget to branch out and try the different options around the country.
To truly enjoy all the delicious food options in Iceland, you’ll need a rental car. With limited public transportation in the country, a rental car is the most convenient and cost-effective way to travel around Iceland. Hertz Iceland has a range of vehicle options, from compact cars to large 4X4 SUVs.
Having a rental car will enable you to explore the country at your own pace with the ability to access all of the things to do in Iceland and top Iceland attractions. To ensure you get the best rental vehicle option for your trip, make sure to book your rental car online and in advance with Hertz, and get ready to sink your teeth into a delicious Icelandic hot dog!