What goes with Herring
Category Ingredients that Pair with Herring
Fruits Red onion (for pickled herring), Beetroot, Apple
Vegetables Pickles, Shallots, Red cabbage
Spices/Herbs Dill, Black pepper, Allspice
Proteins Salmon, Tuna, Boiled eggs
Breads & Grains Pumpernickel bread, Rye crackers, Potato
Drinks Vodka, Schnapps, Lager beers

Herring is a delicious fish that can be enjoyed in various ways, but finding the perfect side dishes and accompaniments is key to elevating its flavour.

Herring is a popular choice among seafood lovers, and with good reason. Its distinct flavour and delicate texture make it a standout ingredient in many dishes. However, to truly enhance the taste of herring, it’s important to pair it with the right side dishes and accompaniments. Whether you’re serving pickled herring or exploring other herring recipes, having the perfect companions will take your meal to the next level.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing the right side dishes and accompaniments can enhance the flavor of herring.
  • Traditional side dishes for pickled herring include dark rye bread, sour cream, boiled potatoes, and crispbread.
  • Bread and crackers like dark rye bread and crispbread provide a satisfying base for herring.
  • Creamy accompaniments like sour cream, mayonnaise, and mustard sauce can enhance the flavor of herring.
  • Fresh salads and vegetables such as cucumber salad, steamed broccoli, and arugula salad add freshness to the meal.

Traditional Side Dishes for Pickled Herring

When serving pickled herring, there are several traditional side dishes that pair beautifully with its tangy flavor. These side dishes not only enhance the taste of the herring but also provide a satisfying and well-rounded meal. One classic accompaniment is dark rye bread, known for its robust flavor and hearty texture. The combination of the bread’s earthiness with the tanginess of the herring creates a delightful balance of flavors.

Sour cream is another popular choice, adding a creamy and cooling element to the herring. The richness of the sour cream complements the acidity of the pickled herring, resulting in a harmonious blend of tastes. Boiled potatoes are also commonly served alongside pickled herring, offering a comforting and starchy component to the meal.

To add a crunchy texture to the dish, crispbread is often included. This light and crispy bread provides a contrast to the softness of the herring and adds a pleasant crunch to each bite. Additionally, cucumber salad and steamed broccoli can be refreshing additions, providing a burst of freshness that complements the zesty taste of the herring.

Traditional Side Dishes for Pickled Herring
Dark Rye Bread
Sour Cream
Boiled Potatoes
Cucumber Salad
Steamed Broccoli

In addition to these traditional side dishes, chopped chives and onions, as well as hard cheese, can be used as garnishes to enhance the presentation and flavor of the herring. The sharpness of the onions and the richness of the cheese complement the herring’s taste and add depth to each bite.

When serving pickled herring, it’s common to include sliced onions, boiled eggs, and mayonnaise or mustard sauce as well. These additions provide additional layers of flavor and texture to the meal, creating a truly satisfying and diverse dining experience.

Whether enjoyed as part of a smorgasbord or buffet or as a standalone dish, pickled herring paired with these traditional side dishes is a delightful combination that celebrates the unique flavors of this beloved fish.

Herring side dishes

The right choice of bread or crispbread can make all the difference when enjoying herring. It provides a satisfying base that complements the flavors of the fish. One popular option is dark rye bread, which has a rich and robust flavor that pairs well with the salty and tangy taste of herring. Its dense texture adds a delightful contrast to the softness of the fish.

Herring side dishes

If you prefer a lighter option, crispbread is a fantastic choice. Its crispy texture provides a delightful crunch and acts as a neutral base, allowing the flavors of the herring to shine. Crispbread also comes in various flavors, such as sesame, caraway, or whole wheat, adding another layer of taste to your herring experience.

Whether you opt for dark rye bread or crispbread, don’t forget to top it with your favorite garnishes. Chopped chives and onions add a burst of freshness, while sliced onions offer a slightly stronger flavor. You can also experiment with different types of hard cheeses for an extra touch of indulgence.


When serving herring, selecting the right bread or crispbread is crucial. Dark rye bread and crispbread are both excellent choices that complement the flavors of herring. Topped with garnishes like chopped chives, onions, or hard cheese, they enhance the overall taste and provide a satisfying base for your herring experience.

Bread/Cracker Flavor Texture
Dark Rye Bread Rich and robust Dense
Crispbread Neutral with various flavor options Crispy

Creamy Accompaniments and Sauces

Creamy accompaniments and sauces add a delightful richness to herring dishes and can elevate the overall taste. When it comes to pairing herring, there are several options that complement its unique flavor profile.

Sour cream is a classic choice that provides a cool and tangy contrast to the saltiness of the herring. Its creamy texture and slightly sour taste enhance the flavors of the fish, creating a harmonious combination.

Another popular option is mayonnaise, which adds a creamy and slightly sweet element to herring dishes. Whether used as a dipping sauce or as a spread for sandwiches, mayonnaise complements the fish without overpowering its distinct taste.

If you prefer a bolder flavor, mustard sauce is an excellent choice. Its tanginess and slight heat cut through the richness of the herring, creating a satisfying contrast of flavors.

Creamy Accompaniments and Sauces for Herring
Sour cream A cool and tangy complement to the saltiness of herring.
Mayonnaise A creamy and slightly sweet addition to herring dishes.
Mustard sauce A tangy and bold option that cuts through the richness of herring.

The addition of creamy accompaniments and sauces not only enhances the flavor of herring, but it also adds a touch of indulgence to the meal. Whether you prefer the tanginess of sour cream, the creaminess of mayonnaise, or the boldness of mustard sauce, these accompaniments are sure to take your herring dishes to the next level of deliciousness.

Herring side dishes

In the next section, we will explore the role of fresh salads and vegetables in providing balance to the strong flavors of herring. Stay tuned for more herring pairing suggestions!

Adding Fresh Salads and Vegetables to Your Herring Dish

Adding fresh salads and vegetables to your herring dish can provide a refreshing and nutritious element to the overall meal. Not only do these vibrant greens and crunchy veggies complement the strong flavors of herring, but they also add a burst of color and texture to your plate. Whether you’re serving pickled herring or another variety, incorporating salads and vegetables into your meal can elevate the dining experience.

One popular salad choice to accompany herring is a cucumber salad. Made with thinly sliced cucumbers, dill, vinegar, and a touch of sugar, this salad offers a cool and refreshing contrast to the rich and tangy flavor of herring. Additionally, steamed broccoli, when lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, pairs beautifully with herring, providing a nice crunch and a hint of bitterness.

For those looking for a more diverse salad option, an arugula salad can be a fantastic choice. Its peppery flavor brings a bold contrast to the herring’s brininess. Tossed with baby arugula leaves, cherry tomatoes, and a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, this salad is a delightful accompaniment to any herring dish.

When serving herring with fresh salads and vegetables, it’s essential to create a visually appealing spread. Arrange your herring and salad ingredients on a platter, garnishing with chopped chives and onions for an added burst of flavor. To make it even more inviting, include a variety of herring side dishes like dark rye bread, boiled potatoes, and hard cheese. The combination of these complementary flavors, textures, and colors will take your herring dish to the next level.

Table 1: Herring Side Dish Ideas

Side Dishes Pairings
Dark Rye Bread Smoked Herring
Sour Cream Pickled Herring
Boiled Potatoes Herring Fillets
Crunchy Crispbread Marinated Herring
Cucumber Salad Spiced Herring
Steamed Broccoli Matjes Herring

So, the next time you’re enjoying herring, consider adding a fresh salad or vegetable dish to enhance the flavors and bring a vibrant touch to your meal. With the right combination of side dishes, your herring dish will truly shine!

Herring Dish

Additional Garnishes and Toppings

Sprinkling some additional garnishes and toppings on your herring dish can add an extra layer of flavor and visual appeal. These little touches can elevate your herring from delicious to truly unforgettable. Consider adding chopped chives and onions for a burst of fresh and zesty flavor. The sharpness of the onions complements the richness of the herring perfectly. Alternatively, try sliced onions for a milder and sweeter taste.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not experiment with different types of hard cheese? The creamy, salty notes of the cheese can beautifully contrast with the tangy herring, creating a perfectly balanced bite. For a touch of elegance, consider garnishing your herring dish with thin slices of hard cheese.

To add a touch of texture and crunch, you can sprinkle some toasted breadcrumbs or crushed crispbread over your herring. These toppings not only enhance the taste but also provide a pleasing contrast in texture. They add a delightful crispiness that complements the tender flesh of the herring.

Finally, don’t forget to add a pop of color to your herring dish. A sprinkle of fresh herbs like dill or parsley can brighten up the plate and add a touch of freshness. These herbs not only provide a visual appeal but also enhance the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Herring garnishes

Garnishes Flavor Profile
Chopped chives and onions Zesty and fresh
Sliced onions Mild and sweet
Hard cheese Creamy and salty
Toasted breadcrumbs or crushed crispbread Crunchy and crisp
Fresh herbs (dill or parsley) Bright and fresh

Experiment with these additional garnishes and toppings to create your own signature herring dish. The possibilities are endless, and you can truly tailor your herring to your own personal tastes and preferences. So go ahead and get creative in the kitchen!

Pairing Herring with Other Dishes

Herring can be a wonderful addition to a smorgasbord or buffet, offering a range of pairing opportunities with other dishes. Its distinct flavor and versatility make it an ideal choice for creating a balanced and diverse spread of flavors. When serving herring alongside other dishes, it’s important to consider the complementary flavors and textures to create a harmonious dining experience.

One popular option is to serve herring with dark rye bread or crispbread. The nutty and hearty flavor of the bread complements the rich and salty taste of the herring. For a lighter option, consider pairing herring with fresh salads and vegetables. Cucumber salad, arugula salad, or steamed broccoli provide a refreshing contrast to the strong flavors of the herring.

Herring side dishes

To add some creaminess to the meal, consider serving herring with creamy accompaniments and sauces like sour cream, mayonnaise, or mustard sauce. These add a smooth and tangy element that enhances the flavors of both the herring and other dishes. For additional garnishes and toppings, chopped chives and onions or sliced onions can provide an extra burst of flavor.

When planning a herring dish combination, don’t forget to include some traditional side dishes like boiled potatoes and boiled eggs. These classic options add heartiness and substance to the meal, making it more satisfying. And let’s not forget about hard cheese, which pairs well with herring and adds a touch of indulgence to the overall experience.

By considering these various options, you can create a smorgasbord or buffet that celebrates the unique flavors of herring while providing a range of pairing opportunities with other dishes. The key is to find a balance between the savory, salty herring and the lighter, fresher flavors of the accompanying dishes. So, next time you’re planning a meal, don’t forget to include herring and explore the exciting possibilities it offers.


Pairing the right side dishes and accompaniments with herring can truly elevate your culinary experience and bring out the best flavors in this delightful fish. When serving pickled herring, it is commonly paired with a variety of traditional side dishes and accompaniments that help to balance the acidic and salty flavor of the herring and provide a more satisfying and complete meal.

Some popular options include dark rye bread, sour cream, boiled potatoes, sandwiches, crispbread, cucumber salad, steamed broccoli, chopped chives and onions, hard cheese, and arugula salad. These side dishes not only complement the herring but also add freshness, texture, and complementary flavors to the meal.

Other traditional accompaniments that can enhance the enjoyment of herring include sliced onions, boiled eggs, and creamy sauces like mayonnaise or mustard sauce. These additional elements contribute to the overall taste experience and offer a diverse range of flavors and textures.

Whether enjoyed as part of a traditional smorgasbord or buffet spread, or as a standalone dish, herring can be a versatile and delicious addition to any meal. The wide range of side dishes and accompaniments available allows for endless combinations and culinary creativity, ensuring that each bite of herring is a truly satisfying and memorable experience.

By Mat Stuckey

Ex professional chef with a passion for cooking and unique flavours.

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