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Caramelized Potatoes – Icelandic Side Dishes

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Caramelized potatoes: a simple and surprising Icelandic recipe, a perfect side dish for roast lamb or other roasted pieces of meat.

icelandic caramelized potatoes side dish

These Icelandic caramelized potatoes are something I did not even imagine before seeing a recipe for the first time. I mean: potatoes and caramel? As a side dish? For roast lamb? But it definitely works! It really works!

The caramel potatoes are a traditional Icelandic side dish served for Christmas, something I knew I had to try the moment I saw the recipe. I love anything with potatoes and the idea of having them caramelized was so intriguing, I think I cooked the dish one or two days after I first found a recipe.

caramelized potatoes on a plate

What do you need?


  • You will need to first boil and then caramelize them in a pan. That is why it is best to choose a waxy sort, they will hold their shape better. For instance, red ones or fingerlings.
  • I once made the dish using an all-purpose sort, but it didn’t come out as nice as when cooked with waxy potatoes, so I really think it’s worth it using the right sort for this recipe.

Otherwise, you will only need sugar and butter.

icelandic caramelized potatoes

How to caramelize potatoes?

  • Peel the potatoes. If they are large, cut them into chunks. If they are small, halve them or leave them whole.
  • Boil in salted water until tender. Drain very well and leave in the colander for about 10 minutes so that they can dry even more.
  • Place the sugar in a large nonstick pan (Amazon affiliate link).
  • When the sugar starts to get a nice and rich golden color, add the butter, stir well and let it melt.
  • Add the potatoes and stir very well to coat all over. Stir carefully to avoid breaking the potatoes.

That’s it!

icelandic caramelized potatoes

How to serve?

Some sources recommend eating the Icelandic potatoes warm, some say they are best served cold, so you have the choice, I suppose. We had them warm and we liked them like that.

They are a perfect side dish for a roast leg of lamb, together with some nice stewed red cabbage. The combination would make a delicious Christmas meal.

We recently had them with roasted chicken legs and a simple, slightly sour and refreshing white cabbage salad. I thought the vinegar in the salad was a great contrast to the sweet sugar potatoes. A beautiful meal, we all loved it.

caramelized potatoes icelandic side dish

More potato side dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Baked Cornmeal Potatoes

Irish Potato and Cabbage Dish – Colcannon

Confit Potatoes

caramelized potatoes in a black bowl seen from above

Caramelized Potatoes – Icelandic Side Dishes

Caramelized potatoes: a surprising and straightforward Icelandic recipe, a perfect side dish for roasted lamb or other roasted pieces of meat.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Icelandic
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 357kcal
Author: Adina


  • 2.2 lbs waxy potatoes 1 kg, Note
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter


  • Cut potatoes: Clean and peel the potatoes. Cut them into large chunks or leave them whole if using small potatoes.
  • Boil potatoes: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes, the potatoes should be tender, but not become mushy. Drain the potatoes very well and let stand in a colander for about 10 minutes, to make sure that they are dry.
  • Caramelize sugar: Place the sugar into a nonstick pan and let melt slowly, it should start to get slightly brown. At this point, add the butter and let melt slowly as well. Stir thoroughly.
  • Caramelize potatoes: Add the potatoes and stir carefully, taking care not to break the potatoes. Lower the heat to a minimum and continue turning the potatoes into the caramel until they are coated all over and golden. Do not let the caramel turn too dark, if you think it might happen, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  • Serve immediately as suggested above.


Use either larger potatoes cut into large chunks or small potatoes left whole.


Serving: 1/4 of the dish | Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 94mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 15g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 18th of April 2020

Wow! I was beginning to convince myself that our Icelandic hosts had played some manner of practical joke on us. My jet lagged brain heard caramelized potatoes and thought haha what if it was just potatoes and actual caramel lol. And then that's what was on the Viking loving table. It's not bad. Weird but not bad. Didn't get the chance to try them cold


Friday 12th of November 2021

@Wdina, When I was stationed in Iceland an Icelandic friend invited me to stay with him and family. His wife cooked up a roast lamb along with caramalized potatoes. It was great! Only difference from the above was she sliced the boiled potatoes and stirred them in a skillet. Delicious!


Saturday 18th of April 2020

Hi Derek, funny. :) They are something special indeed, I chose to cook this recipe because I found the idea of having caramel potatoes weird as well. But they do work. :)


Wednesday 15th of August 2018

This is new! So very easy easy and a totally different flavor than any potato I've ever had. Another one of your recipes I'm going to have to make.


Monday 13th of August 2018

I have never tried cooking anything Icelandic. I think this might be a good start. Also be it Christmas or any other day who doesn't loves potatoes!

Thao @ In Good Flavor

Tuesday 7th of August 2018

I love the simplicity of these caramelized potatoes. They must be so good with that coating of butter and sugar! This looks like something would want to make year round. I'd hate to limit it just for Christmas :)