Lefse – A Norwegian Food Classic

Lefse on a red plate

Lefse – A Norwegian Food Classic

Lefse on a red plate

Lefse might be the most iconic food we have in Norway (in addition to brunost, brown cheese), and is enjoyed by Norwegians from the south to the north. However, how lefse is made and how it is consumed differs from one region to another.

Also read: Norwegian Christmas Food: Lefse with meat

What is Lefse?

Lefse is a traditional Norwegian soft bread. Similar to a tortilla, but there is no corn flour in lefse. Often it is made with milk or buttermilk, wheat flour, baking soda and butter, but there are many varieties to be found. Some types of lefse are also made with potatoes, and especially in the Norwegian diaspora in North America, this seems to be the most common ingredient.

Lefse from the Supermarket

Lefse from the Supermarket

How is Lefse made?

To make lefse you’ll need a large flat griddle to cook it on, a long wooden turning stick and a rolling pin. A rolling pin with deep grooves makes it easier to roll the lefse out.

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Photo: Lance Fisher (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Photo: Lance Fisher (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

View fullsize

Photo: Lance Fisher (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Photo: Lance Fisher (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

In the old times every farm would spend days making lefse. Resulting in large stacks that would be stored dry and eaten throughout the winter. The baking would take place during the fall, after the harvest, and a ready made lefse could be 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter.

Bakstekjerring. Photo: Nico Jungmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It took a lot of skills to make fine and thin lefser, and the person who really knew how to do this would be called for a “bakstekjerring” (a woman that bakes) ,and they were women who were good at using the rolling pin. Sometimes they would go from farm to farm and offer their service as a baker of lefse and other baked goods. Be aware that “bakstekjerring” is an old word, and not much used today. You don’t want to call your wife or girlfriend for a bakstekjerring as it refers to the old days when women’s place was in the kitchen…

Now, to be honest, most Norwegians these days don’t make their own lefse anymore, and instead buy them pre made at the supermarket. However, the last years have seen an increased interest in making them at home. Here are some products that can get you started:

Heart Waffle Maker - Non-Stick

Heart Waffle Maker – Non-Stick

Non stick and adjustable waffle iron for making those heart shaped Norwegian waffles

Read More →

Nidar Smash Chocolate Covered Corn Snacks

Nidar Smash Chocolate Covered Corn Snacks

Smash is one of Norway’s most favorite snack.

Read More →

Freia Firkløver Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut

Freia Firkløver Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut

Freia Firkløver Milk Chocolate with pieces of roasted hazelnut

Read More →

–> Buy lefse on Etsy

 Different kinds of Lefse

Left: Lompe - Right: Thin lefse

Left: Lompe – Right: Thin lefse

Thick lefse

Thick lefse

A general distinction of different kinds of lefse:

  • Tynnlefse (thin lefse)

    • Often rolled up with sugar, cinnamon and butter inside. Before Christmas its popular with different kinds of meat or fish. This one is especially popular in the central parts of Norway.

  • Potetlefse (potato lefse)

    • This is basically the same as the thin lefse, but made with 100% potatoes or a mix of wheat flour and potatoes. Norwegians tend to eat this one with salty meat (or other kinds of meat), but all in all it’s a versatile lefse that can be served with butter and sugar. Buy on Etsy.

  • Tykklefse (thick lefse)

    • This one is often served with coffee as a cake. Sometimes they are served with brown cheese on them, and quite often some sweet mix of sugar and butter is smeared on. Especially in Vestlandet (the west of Norway) you can find many varieties of this one. They are also popular up north.

Some traditional lefse varieties in Norway:

Lefse from Norway

Lefse from the west – add some moist, put on butter, sugar and cinnamon, and then wrap it up

Gnikkalefse – This lefse is fried with a “topcoat” called gnikk. Gnikk is made is made using skimmed milk, potato flour, wheat flour and salt of hartshorn.

Klenning – Sweet lefse with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Typical for the Trøndelag region.

Kling – A sweet lefse from Buskerud in Eastern Norway.

Krinalefse – Originates from Helgeland in Northern Norway. It’s a lefse with a nice pattern, and is served with butter, sugar and cinnamon. In the old days it was served with gomme, which is almost like a sweet cheese with cinnamon.

Lemse – A traditional lefse from the mining town of Røros.

Lomper – Similar to potetlefse but usually smaller, and often served with hot dogs.

Møsbrømlefse – From Salten in Northern Norway. This lefse is served with a brown cheese spread.

Pjalt – A round flat pastry from Røros in Trøndelag.

Potetlefse – Lefse made with potatoes.

Tykklefse – A thicker version of the sweet lefse with butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Vestlandslefse – From Fjord Norway. A sweet lefse with butter, sugar and cinnamon. (as seen on the photo above). Buy on Etsy

When do Norwegians eat Lefse?

Since Lefse is readily available in the supermarkets in Norway, it’s something we eat all year around. However, that goes mostly for the kind of lefse that has some kind of sweet filling or topping, such as the tykklefse (thick lefse) or potato lefse with sugar and butter.

Before and during Christmas many like to have some potetlefse with meat. For instance putting sylte (head cheese), julepølse (Christmas sausage) or medisterkake (pork patties) inside, often with some strong mustard. Fish also goes well on the lefse, and a popular choice is smoked salmon or trout together with a cream cheese.

Check out the article: Norwegian Christmas Food: Lefse with meat

Eating Norwegian lefse

I love lefse!

Ask Norwegians about Lefse and you’ll be sure to get many different answers. Lefse has been around for probably a couple of hundred years, and many different recipes and traditions have evolved since then. Personally I like eating the potetlefse during Christmas with some meat or fish. And the rest of the year I eat lefse as a snack with butter and sugar… But that’s just me 🙂

Make sure to try out some next time you travel to Norway!

Thanks for reading, and I’m grateful if you share this article with someone who like lefse, or who is curious about this Norwegian specialty.

You might also like: Rice Cream – A Norwegian Christmas Dessert

Your friend in Norway,


Pål of Norway With Pål

Pål of Norway With Pål

Norway native, veteran travel guide, sailor, filmmaker, and writer (you might have seen me in one of Rick Steves’ guidebooks!). I want to help you enjoy Norway the right way — like a local. Learn more about me.

DISCLAIMER: Products on this page may contain affiliate links, and I might make a small sum per purchase. For you this does not affect the product price, but supports me and my work, and makes me able to continue sharing my passion for Norway with you. Read the Disclaimer policy. Thank you, tusen takk!


  1. Beth Hansen on November 22, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you Pal! Great information about our favorite lefse and all the ways it is made in Norway!

    • Norway with Pål on November 23, 2021 at 7:43 am

      You welcome Beth! I hope you’ll have a nice Jul 🙂

  2. Becky Capecchi (Hoverstad) on November 23, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Tak, Pål! Here in Minnesota, lease is always made with potato, and it is so labor-intensive that it is a specialty during Christmas. Unless you find a good version premade…..

    • Norway with Pål on November 24, 2021 at 10:23 am

      Yes I can understand it is very labor intensive. In Norway it’s not so hard to find a good premade one of 100% potatoes, but they are quite expensive, so people tend to prefer the ones that are a mix of flour and potatoes

  3. Linda Beckstedt on November 23, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    My grandmother made the best lefse! She bought me the griddle, the stick, the griddle, and a potato ricer. I have tried but need to practice more. I usually buy it in the grocery store. I live in Evanston Illinois.

    • Norway with Pål on November 24, 2021 at 10:21 am

      I bet she did! Cool to hear that you can get it in the grocery store 🙂

  4. Kristin Sumrall on November 24, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    I so enjoy reading about traditional Norwegian foods.

    • Norway with Pål on November 26, 2021 at 9:57 am

      Thanks, glad to hear that 🙂

  5. Cheryl Hval on November 26, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    My grandma (Aker) and her sisters would make potato lefse every year for Christmas and New Years celebrations. My brother, sister and I have gotten together to make it also. I have also made it with my children. Keeping traditions alive.

    • Norway with Pål on November 29, 2021 at 6:37 am

      Hei Cheryl, it’s nice to hear that you are keeping traditions alive 🙂 Thanks for checking out the article

  6. Dave Young on December 5, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    This looks delicious. I need to see if I can find this at my local stores. They all look so tasty. Maybe some different t recipe links for the different t types? You know I like to make these things myself.

  7. Shauna Hajek on January 3, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    My great aunt, Cernie, was famous in the small town of Benson, Minnesota for making lefse. Both my mother’s sides of family lived there and it was a predominantly Norwegian population, with a few Swedes mixed in (but they attended the Swedish church a few towns over).

    Cernie was living in her assisted living apartment (accommodations for elderly living) and making her lefse one day when the power went out. The man in charge of maintenance went door-to-door asking residents to limit their power, no tv, no cooking, etc., because they were running on a generator. My aunt Cernie answered the door and told him that she was in the middle of making her lefse and he said, “Oh no Cernie, you keep making your lefse”. This is a favorite family story.

    • Norway with Pål on January 3, 2022 at 3:06 pm

      haha! That is a great story! Thanks for sharing, I would have loved to try Cernie’s lefse 😛

  8. Laurie Enget Richard on February 12, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    Hi, I learned from my mom how to make potato lefse. I grew up in North Dakota. But when i was young I did not pay attention to how it was really made or how it should feel when its rolled out. So as I got older it was important to me to make this also. My 2 sisters were not as interested. I found a great website just a few years ago on how this Minnesota mother and daughter made theirs and it all made sense. 🙂 I have the rolling pin, the griddle, the rolling board and the turner. We have a festival every year in North Dakota called Norsk Hostfest. Huge gathering of people from literally all over the world. I do believe even people from Norway including the King was there years ago. Its a big deal and you can try many foods. I also make Rommegrot…Krumkaka and potato/flour lefse. I didn’t realize there were other kinds of Lefse. Must come to Norway just to try the different kinds. 🙂 thanks for this great site 🙂

    • Norway with Pål on February 13, 2022 at 3:55 pm

      Hei Laurie, cool that you are so into your Norwegian roots, and still cooking up so many Norwegian specialities. I’ve heard about the Norsk Høstfest and would love love to go there some day 🙂

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