The ‘Rules’ of Smørrebrød

There are strict rules about Danish open sandwich or Smørrebrød toppings and people even seem to stick to them when they are making their own from a selection of toppings in their work canteen, where they will carefully arrange them in the correct way.


Firstly is what bread is used as the base. For most smørrebrød it is rugbrød or Danish rye bread but if you are using smoked salmon or prawn topping it is white bread. But please be careful, this only applies to a prawn only topping and not prawns in combination with other toppings.

Next comes a piece of lettuce and then the meat  or fish of the topping (included in this category is potatoes) and then finally the extras on top. Here is a quick guide as to what goes with what on the most popular smørrebrød and never deviate (more than anything it probably won’t taste as good)….

  • Smoked salmon on top of white bread with lemon and dill on top (and when in season white asparagus)
  • Prawn on white bread with a dollop of mayo and maybe an egg, sliced and a carefully positioned cucumber.

Some sandwiches have fancy names which befits the complexity of the toppings..

  • Shooting star – white or rugbrød with a piece of breaded baby plaice, mayo, little prawns, lumpfish roe finally topped with asparagus and lemon slice.
  • Veterinarian’s midnight feast – rugbrød at the bottom, a sliced of leverpostej (Liver pate) covered with a slice of ham or tongue topped with onions and a little rectangle of  beef aspic
  • Rare roast beef (cold) on rugbrød topped with remoulade, grated fresh horseradish and crispy onions. This is my favourite and comes with a funny story for me. On my first visit to Copenhagen we ate lunch in one of the cafes in Nyhavn and I chose this sandwich. I looked at the topping and assumed, wrongly, that the grated white stuff on the top was remoulade. At that time I thought remoulade was some kind of coleslaw and shovelled a huge mouthful of fresh horseradish into my mouth. As I almost exploded I caused great amusement for the Danes sitting nearby!

So that is a guide to the most popular smørrebrød and how you can create them at home.


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