Skip to main content

How to Set Up an Authentic Smorgasbord

Forget the American buffet as you know it. Get back to the real deal with an authentic smorgasbord.


  • Step 1: Set spirits table Set your brannvinsbord, also known as table of spirits, off to the side of the room. Fill this small table, separate from your long table, with snacks and beverages like bread, butter, cheeses, crackers, and clear spirits like vodka.
  • TIP: Allow your guests to snack at the brannvinsbord and socialize prior to enjoying the smorgasbord.
  • Step 2: Choose fish Choose your fish. Typical smorgasbord food consists of cold fish dishes like pickled herring, marinated anchovies, white fish, salmon (also known as gravlax), shellfish, or poached fish. Many of these are flavored with dill, tomato mayonnaise, horseradish, or mustard sauces. Baked salmon or trout with potatoes make an excellent hot fish choice.
  • Step 3: Choose meats Choose meats, both hot and cold. Cold meats like smoked ham or turkey, roast beef, smoked lamb, salami, sausage, or liver pates do great with a bit of mustard, blackcurrant, horseradish, or gooseberry jelly for taste. Hot meats like roast, fillet, meatballs, hamburgers, or stew served with potatoes, rice, or pasta are perfect.
  • Step 4: Select salads and desserts Decide on your salads and desserts. Some typical types would be green salad, potato salad, beetroot salad, Waldorf salad, or a pickled and marinated vegetable salad. Add fruit and berry salad, mousse, ice cream, tarts, or pastries for great desserts.
  • Step 5: Set table Set the long buffet table in the center of the room and place your centerpiece in the center of the table. Pick your starting point and stack dinner plates there. Next in line will be the various dishes for herring, sauces, and desserts. Place your cutlery and beverage glasses at the very end of the smorgasbord.
  • TIP: Herring, because of its strong taste, requires a separate plate.
  • Step 6: Place food Place your food on the table after the dishes as follows: pickled herring, boiled potatoes, salads, cold fish and their sauces, cold meats and their sauces, hot fish, hot meat, cheese, sauce for hot dishes, and then the cutlery and glasses.
  • Step 7: Set coffee and dessert table Set your other small table on the opposite side of the room from the brannvinsbord and fill it with coffee, tea, and desserts. Next set out pastries, cakes, coffee cups and saucers, cream, sugar, tea, and coffee. Now watch from beginning to end as your guests enjoy this tasty Nordic tradition.
  • FACT: Even though a smorgasbord is not a table full of sandwiches, the word smorgas means open sandwich. Bord is the Swedish word for table.

You Will Need

  • 2 small tables
  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Clear spirits
  • Fish
  • Sauces
  • Meats
  • Salads
  • Desserts
  • Long buffet table
  • Centerpiece
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cream
  • Sugar

Popular Categories