What Did the Vikings Eat?

Vikings ate a wide and varied diet that consisted of an array of meats, including pork, elk, bear, reindeer, wild chicken, geese and fish. Although they once raised horses for food, Christian church doctrine forbade the practice and it was eventually abolished.

Vikings were skilled hunters who mainly boiled their meats instead of roasting them over pits. Boiled meat stews were generally the center of the meal. This stew was known as “skause,” and it contained both meat and vegetables that were cooked and then removed to add more. Over the course of several days of cooking, the broth became concentrated and was consumed with baked bread made from beans, grain and even tree bark. The Vikings grinded corn into flour and mixed it with water to make some forms of bread. They also baked dough on flat trugs in clay ovens to make cakes of flat bread.

Vikings consumed vegetables such as white carrots, cabbage, endive, peas and beans. Berries and wild apples were also consumed. Seasonings and herbs, including with cumin, coriander, wild horseradish and mustard, were also common.

To wash down meals, Vikings turned to weakened ale, buttermilk or water from a nearby stream.