Norwegian Hot Dogs (Pølse): Norway’s Cultural Fast Food

The Norwegian hot dog has a special place in the heart of any Norwegian, and hold a lot of cultural significance. It might look like a bland and boring piece of food to many foreigners, but the pølse is a lot more than what meets the eye. So what is it that makes this Norwegian hot dog so special to both children and adults in Norway?

You can buy Norwegian hot dogs from practically any Norwegian kiosk or gas station in the entire country, and they are usually very cheap. Pølse itself is a pork meat product that is served in a bun or a lompe, and is common to eat on certain occasions such as outdoor grilling, on May 17th and when you just want a small snack.

I know that many foreigners find the pølse culture of Norway to be a bit strange, so let’s take a closer look at how us Norwegians eat pølse, what you must do to eat a pølse like a real Norwegian, and where you can buy one.

How to eat a Norwegian pølse

If you want to try a pølse, you should eat one like a Norwegian would. But firstly, you need to get to know a bit more about the Norwegian hot dogs and your options.

You will be presented with a few options on what to do with your pølse below, and there is no right or wrong answer – just a personal preference.

The two main types of Norwegian hot dogs

There are two main categories to Norwegian pølse: wienerpølse and grillpølse. Both are traditionally made from pork meat, but it is becoming more common to also see pølse prepared from chicken meat due to certain religions having problems with eating pork.

Wienerpølse is a curved hot dog that is warmed by being steamed in hot water (not boiled!). This is usually only flavored by the meat, and is often the preferred choice for children and when you want something quick and easy to eat. It’s super is to make in bulk at home.

Norwegian style hot dogs for steaming
Norwegian style hot dogs for steaming. Photo by

Grillpølse is a straight hot dog that is usually a bit thicker, and comes in many varieties. This type of hot dog can either be prepared on a frying pan or on a grill outside. Grillpølse comes in many different flavors that also cater towards grown-ups, like with filled bacon (baconpølse), filled with cheese (ostepølse), with different flavor ingredients such as onions, jalapenos, chili, chorizo and many other flavors.

Another work to keep an eye out for is kyllingpølse. This means “chicken hot dog”, so it’s completely free of pork. Chicken hot dogs are typically a type of grillpølse.

Choosing a bun or a lompe

In addition to choosing which type of pølse you want, you also get to pick what you want to eat it from. You can either go with a traditional hot dog bun, or a Norwegian lompe. Lompe is a type of potato tortilla that goes great with pølse, and many people swear to it. I personally prefer a regular bun, because I find lompe to be a bit messy.

You can see a photo of a Norwegian hot dog in a lompe at the top of this article.

Hot dog topping

There are many different options for hot dog topping, and the most common ones in Norway are the classic like ketchup and mustard.

In addition to this, it’s pretty common to have either one or two of the following toppings on your pølse:

  • Potato salad (potetsalat).
  • Raw onions (rå løk).
  • Fried onions (sprøstekt løk).
  • Shrimp salad (rekesalat).

Don’t be greedy and choose all four, but try one or two at a time. Some people prefer to have this topping between the bun and the hot dog, while others prefer to have it all on top of the hot dog. Again, there’s no right answer, so feel free to do as you please.

Where to buy yourself a Norwegian hot dog

Norway used to be filled with hot dog stands, small vendors that only sold hot dogs and sometimes newspapers and soft drinks, but these have mostly disappeared in the last 30 years. However, it’s still easy to find a place to buy a Norwegian style hot dog.

If you want to try a Norwegian hot dog while visiting Norway, just head to the nearest gas station or kiosk. Places like Narvesen, 7-Eleven, Circle K, Esso, XY, Mix and places like these all sell hot dogs for a pretty decent price, and usually have a pretty good selection of different pølse options.

Esso gas station
Esso gas station. Photo by Magne Aga / CC BY-SA 4.0.

You will have to choose between the bun (brød) or lompe, as well as the topping you want when you order the hot dog.

The cost for a pølse can range for 15 NOK for a cheap wienerpølse at Circle K, or up to 50 – 70 NOK for premium hot dogs. Expect to pay around 25 – 40 NOK for most Norwegian hot dogs from kiosks and gas stations. Some places will charge you extra (2 – 10 NOK) for certain types of premium topping, while others have it included in the price.

You might even find Norwegian hot dogs in restaurants, but these will typically be pretty different from the traditional Norwegian hot dogs you can buy from any kiosk.

Eating Norwegian hot dogs on special occasions

While the Norwegian hot dog is something you can eat at any time and place (yes, even for breakfast!), there are also certain special occasions where hot dogs tend to be compulsory.

The Norwegian National Day on May 17th is pretty much ruled by hot dogs and ice cream, and both adults and children are expected to eat hot dogs on this day. Not only will there be vendors selling hot dogs all over the city centers, but many families will also invite their family to eat hot dogs and get together on this day. It is estimated that Norwegians eat around 10 million hot dogs on the national day!

17 May in Oslo
Norway’s national day May 17 on Carl Johan, Oslo. Photo published with permission.

Kids’ birthday parties are also fueled by hot dogs. The reason is actually pretty simple: it’s very easy to create enough food to make all the 10+ children full, it’s fairly cheap, and all Norwegian children will like it. I have yet to attend a birthday party for my kid where they have not served hot dogs.

Birthday cake
Birthday cake. Photo published with permission.

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