Norwegian pancakes: The Svele

When you think of thick sweet pancakes, most think of American pancakes with maple syrup, not traditional pancakes from Norway.

Yet, thick pancakes, known as sveler, have been made in Norway since the 1300s. Traditionally sveler was made by poor farmers as a means of preventing milk from going bad. Today it is a traditional Norwegian treat that is easy to make.

In this article, we take a look at this Norwegian classic and provide you with one of the most popular recipes.

History of the Norwegian svele

Historically, Norway was a poor country with a harsh climate. Families had to make the most of all the food they had at hand. It was common for farmers to have cows from which they would get sour milk.

To prevent it from going bad, families would pool whatever leftover sour milk they had. They would then mix it with flour to make sveler by using flour. Other leftovers such as porridge or breadcrumbs were also used.

Ironically, the svele went from being something made from leftovers to becoming a luxurious cake. In the 1930s and 40s, it was a popular treat served along with coffee for those who could afford it.

While familiar for the whole country, the tradition of making sveler remained the strongest along the west coast. It was also here the svele had its modern resurgence.

In the 1970s, the ferry company Fjord1 started serving them onboard their ferries. What first started as an initiative by the employees, became a permanent fixture on the menu. Now they are not only served on Fjord1’s ferries but ferries all across Norway.

Svele recipe

It is not uncommon for families, especially in western Norway, to have their own family svele recipe. The recipe for the most popular one belongs to Fjord1, a ferry company that sells about 800 000 sveler in their onboard cafeterias every year. Luckily, they share that recipe on their website.


To get about 20 sveler, you will need:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1-liter sour milk
  • 300 grams of sugar
  • 530 grams of flour
  • 75 grams of butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons of baking soda


  1. Start by mixing the sugar and eggs thoroughly until it is completely mixed and has a foamy consistency.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan or in the microwave and fold it into the batter.
  3. Add the sour milk and mix it into the batter.
  4. Gradually add the flour while mixing. Make sure not to add too much at the time to avoid getting lumps in the batter
  5. Add the baking soda before giving it a final stir.

The finished batter should be quite thick, but still runny. Prepare the sveler by using a non-stick pan on moderate heat. Add about 100 mL of batter for each svele. The final svele should be around 18 cm (7 inches) in diameter and fried on both sides until golden brown. the baking soda will also cause it to rise slightly to become about 1 cm (0.4 inches) thick.

As a final tip, it is said that the sveler will test even better if you store the batter overnight in the fridge before cooking. Once finished, you can enjoy your sveler as is or serve them with some sugar, jam, or brown cheese. Alternatively, you can make buttercream to make your sveler irresistible.


To make buttercream for your sveler you will need.

  • 100 grams of butter
  • 60 grams of powdered/icing sugar
  • 60 grams of granulated sugar

How to proceed

  1. Rest the butter on the kitchen counter until it softens at room temperature
  2. Thoroughly mix in both the powdered and granulated sugar

For even better taste you can mix in some cinnamon. Once finished, you spread a layer on the svele before folding it in the middle.

Photo of author


Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.