For members


Swedish word of the day: wallenbergare

Today’s word is a Swedish dish thought to be based on the Swedish equivalent to the Rockefellers.

Swedish word of the day: wallenbergare
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Svenska Akademiens Ordbok, ‘The wordbook of the Swedish Academy’, lists wallenbergare with the definition, ‘A Wallenberger is a pannbiff [another Swedish burger dish] where the minced meat consists of finely ground veal. It should be fried very lightly and be light inside and only light brown on the surface.’

That is a rudimentary explanation, one describing merely the meat part of the dish. A perhaps better explanation is that a wallenbergare is a sort of burger where the mince consists of finely ground veal, cream, egg yolks, salt, pepper, nutmeg and fresh breadcrumbs. The wallenberger should be served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam and green peas, and quite often you have pickled slices of cucumber as well. To finish the dish you top it off with clarified butter.

You may also have come across a dish known as havets wallenbergare, which are made with fish (usually cod) rather than meat.

There are a couple of explanations for the name of the dish. Some say it is named after the banker Marcus Wallenberg (1864–1943), others that it is after his wife Amalia Wallenberg (1890–1943). Amalia Wallenberg might be a good bet since her father, Charles Emil Hagdahl, was a cookbook author. The creation of the dish is more straightforward, it is attributed to Julius Carlsson (1898-1976), who was the chef at restaurant Cecil in the Norrmalm area of Stockholm.

The name Wallenberg is one of Sweden’s most famous. The Wallenberg family are noted as bankers, industrialists, politicians, bureaucrats, and diplomats. It is one of Europe’s most successful families, and they have even become part of Swedish popular culture in the famous Swedish Jönsson-ligan films, where they inspired the name of the arch-rival of the Jönsson gang, Wall-Enberg. 

The wallenbergare is a dish which is not too hard to make, is delicious, and with which you will surely impress your Swedish friends. You can find a great number of recipes for the dish online, and the ingredients should be readily available in a well-stocked local supermarket.

Example sentences

Julia lagade wallenbergare till oss i lördags, sååå gott!

Julia made us wallenbergers last Saturday, it was sooo good!

Är det svårt att laga wallenbergare? Nä, det är hyfsat lätt. 

Is it hard to make wallenbergers? No, it’s fairly easy.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


​​Swedish word of the day: pyttipanna

This word of the day is a lot of bits of leftovers.

​​Swedish word of the day: pyttipanna

Pyttipanna or pytt i panna is a Swedish dish, but really a Nordic dish, as it exists in Norway (pytt i panne), Denmark (biksemad), and Finland (pyttipannu). The word or words supposedly mean ‘little bits in a pan’. Panna of course is simply ‘pan’ as in ‘frying pan’. But pytt, it seems, is an interesting little word. 

Taken as is, pytt has several meanings: a penis (see pitt), a small person (as in liliputian, lilleputt), a local name for the ‘marsh tit’, which is a little bird, or simply small. But all of those might be wrong. The Swedish Academy actually proposes that the pytt in pyttipanna did not originally mean ‘small’, but that it instead might come from putta, a word that today only means ‘push’, but which has the same root as the English ‘put’ and once also had that meaning. 

This would of course mean that the correct translation into English of pyttipanna is ‘Put in a Pan’! While many refer to it as ‘Swedish Hash’ or ‘Swedish Fry Up, and one could imagine it as ‘Pieces in a Pan’, Jamie Oliver sticks to the actual name pyttipanna when he makes it, and that is the recommended way.

The dish itself is a dish worth tasting for reference, as nearly every Swedish school child will have eaten it, sometimes several times a month, during their entire schooling. The dish is as Swedish as any. And there are fancier variations if you wanna go that way – look for krögarpytt. 

As is often the way with words, people constantly find new and at times even funny uses for them. Pyttipanna is no exception. 

Here you can see Swedish journalist Sara Mitchell-Malm making great use of pyttipanna in the sense of someone being ‘pyttipanna-ed’ or in other word proverbially cut to pieces. The target is British prime minister Liz Truss, and Mitchell-Mann also grabs the opportunity to get a jibe in at the Swedish minister for foreign affairs, Ann Linde.

Translation: ‘Aaah, a whole hour of British local radio journalists making pyttipanna of Liz Truss – the evening shift couldn’t start better. You have to listen, I beg you, she makes Ann Linde on German television seem like a professor of rhetoric.’

What Sara Mitchell-Mann is doing here is replacing the standard slarvsylta, another dish used to say that someone is being shredded by critics or opponents, with pyttipanna. An English language equivalent would be the American ‘making chop suey of someone’. 

Before you ascend to Mitchell-Mann’s Jedi level of pyttipanna use, start by making the dish for your friends. There are many great recipes online. Good luck!

Example sentences:

Gillar ni inte pyttipannan så kommer jag göra pyttipanna av er nästa gång! 

If you don’t like the pyttipanna, I’ll make pyttipanna of you next time!

Pyttipanna eller krögarpytt? Vad är skillnaden?

Pyttipanna or krögarpytt? What’s the difference?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.