Swedish Pickled Herring

Since it christmas time I will continue this week to post recipes that are a must have on the swedish christmas smorgasbord. One of my favorite dishes when I was younger was definitely the pickled herring with onions. There are tons of different types of pickled herrings on the swedish christmas smorgasbords but the one with the onions and the mustard one are probably the most popular. And oh! There is the popular, but absolutely horrible, soused herring as well! This type of pickled herring is THE most disgusting dish I know. I’m not picky at all with food, will eat almost everything. But the soused herring is awful. And it looks very similar to the herring with onions which have ended in a couple of puke attacks for me. Sneaky little bastard, that soused herring.

I actually don’t eat pickled herring at all anymore because of something that happened years ago. I’ll first show you how to cook pickled herring with onions in your coffee maker so you don’t loose your appetite. Then I’ll tell you the story at the end of this post.

how to cook food with your coffee maker

Made this jar of pickled herring as a present for a friend. Nice balloon dragon, huh?


1 hour + preparations and cooling


  • 1 tin of herring fillets
  • 0.5 dl vinegar
  • 2.5 dl water
  • 2 tsp pimento
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ dl sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • ½ leek


Open the tin and pour off all the disgusting liquid stuff. Rinse the fillets and put it in a coffee can filled with water overnight.

Divide the herring into small pieces the following day and chop up all of the different onions.

Place everything except the herring (and the water) in the coffee can and pour all of the water into the brewer. Start the coffee maker. Let it cook for about 30 minutes and then let it cool off. Turn off the coffeemaker. Add the herring and pour everything into a fancy jar.

Serve on your christmas smorgasbord. Or your easter smorgasbord. Or your midsummer smorgasbord. We swedish people eat the same food at all holidays.

how to cook food with your coffee maker

You could put the fillets in other bowls, but this is the coffee machine cuisine, right?

how to cook food with your coffee maker

How to cook pickled herrings in your coffee maker.

how to cook food with your coffee maker

Let it cool off in your fridge.

how to cook food with your coffee maker

Typical swedish christmas food.

OK! So now I’ll tell you about the incident that made me quit eating herring. If you are a bit squeamish, maybe you shouldn’t read it.

It all happened this christmas about 15 years ago. We celebrated as usual (at that time) at my grandma’s house. Now she’s dead so we don’t do that anymore for obvious reasons. When she died I got her old coffee maker, a few weeks later I started to make my dinners in it.

Anyway! As always my plate was filled with pickled herrings with onion and I binged this all evening. After a while I started to get really sick and had to leave the table and lay down on the couch for a while. The nausea got worse and I almost passed out so my brother decided to give me a lift home. Mom said I looked like a ghost.

During the short car ride home I thought I was going to explode. From all directions! Finally he stopped the car outside our house and I ran straight to the toilet, teared off my pants and… Yeah, you know.

Just when the worst poop pressure was gone I started to retch. Tried to quickly change the position and started to puke like crazy. Then I had to change position due to the diarrhea attacks again. And that went on for a while. Puke and shit. Shit and puke. If I was lucky I managed to flush before puking. Then I passed out on the bathroom floor.

I woke up, a bit groggy, and realized something was stuck in my nose. I was still way to exhausted to move so i just put one finger on the other nostril that was “empty” and started to blow. A large piece of something flew out and was now laying on the floor. Can you guess what it was? Yup, herring fillet! My cat Simba (that is keeping my grandma company by now) had been following the toilet action for all this time and now he got his reward. He ran up to the herring fillet and was all like “Hey, nice! Herring fillet, yum yum yum! Thank you human.”.

I’m sure even that herring piece tasted better than the soused herring does.

Photo: Dan Sörensen.

2 thoughts on “Swedish Pickled Herring

  1. I’m not a fan of herring, but I LOVED the story. I’ve been that sick, that’s probably why I thought the story was so funny. Balloon Dragon, big thumbs up.

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