Iceland´s most popular fast food: Pylsa or Pulsa?

Icelandic lamb hot dog is the most popular fast food in Iceland.
The Icelandic lamb hot dog (is. Pylsa) is the most popular fast food in Iceland.

Pylsa, or pusla like some pronounce it, is the most popular fast food in Iceland. But what is pylsa and why is it so popular in Iceland? Pylsa is the Icelandic version of a hot dog. Which might not sound very special, but this is no ordinary hot dog.

So, what makes the Icelandic hot dog so special compared to other hotdogs from around the world? Here we will uncover the truth of Iceland´s most popular fast food which some claim to be the national dish of Iceland.

World´s Greatest Lamb Hot dog

Let´s start with the star of the Icelandic hot dog, the sausage. It is not beef or pork, like most hot dog but made from Icelandic lamb. Giving it a hole another taste and texture than any other hot dog sausage in the world.

But that’s not the hole story. The lamb sausage is not the only feature which make the Icelandic hotdog unique. It is what we put on it and how which sperate it from other similar dishes.

One with everything - Sauces and Toppings

It wouldn’t be a hotdog without ketchup and mustard. Both are typically used with the Icelandic lamb hot dog we call pylsa, but with its own Icelandic twist of course.

The ketchup is a much lighter and sweeter than a regular ketchup and not as condense or deep red colored.

Since we have a special hot dog ketchup in Iceland, we of course have a special hot dog mustard as well. The Icelandic mustard is also quite different from the classic mustards. For starters it is brown, not yellow. It is also rather mild compared to regular yellow mustard or Dijon mustard.

The third and final sauce is called remoulade. Remoulade is sort off the Nordic version of a tartar sauce and is often served with fish in Iceland.

Two toppings served with the Icelandic hot dog, along with the three sauces. Onion and deep-fried onion. The sauces can be on top or under the sausage but the onions, fried or not, is always underneath.

A full Icelandic hot dog experience is to have it with all the classic toppings. That is what we call one with everything. However, there is no rule, and you are free to experiment with different combination of the three sauces and the two onion toppings.

Iceland sheep at kvernufoss waterfall in south Iceland.
Iceland sheep at Kvernufoss waterfall in south Iceland.

Why is the hot dog so popular in Iceland?

The Icelandic hot dog, or pylsa/pulsa, has been around much longer than any other fast food in Iceland. It is the original fast food in Iceland and was here way before hamburger, pizza and other popular fast food.

There are 4 times many sheep in Iceland as there are people. Naturally, lamb was the best option for making this delicious treat.

Not only that but Icelanders have been known for being rather conservative in their diet. That´s why the Icelandic hotdog was an instant hit and is still beloved by the nation. It is our hotdog, it´s made from our lamb, feed by our nature. Because it is lamb, it is considered by many to Iceland´s true national dish.

The Icelandic hot dog experience

There is no single drink that is associated with the Icelandic hotdog. The most popular drink is most likely Coca Cola, but many Icelanders also like to drink milk with their hot dog.

However, if you want to go full Icelandic, we recommend trying either the orange soft drink “Appelsín” or a sweet malty drink called “Malt” with your hotdog.  

Different versions of the Icelandic Hot Dog

As mentioned, the classic pylsa has ketchup, mustard, remoulade sauce and onions. Either all mixed together or not. Over the years it has however evolved into various versions from the original.

In some areas, such as Akureyri, Keflavik and other places around Iceland extra toppings or sauces have been added to the list of options with the hot dog. Such as pickles, red cabbage, cocktail sauce and more.

One with everything outside a hotdog stand in down town Reykjavik.
The most famous hot dog stand in Iceland is Bæjarins Beztu in downtown Reykjavik. 

Other Popular Food in Iceland

While the hot dog is the most popular fast food in Iceland, there are of course many other types of food, both fast food and not, which are well worth trying in Iceland.

If you want to try other traditional Icelandic food, you might like to try fish and chips or lamb burger. Made from Iceland´s top ingredients. We also have a world-famous lobster soup and our other national dish, lamb soup. Both are delicious and widely available all over Iceland.


We definitely recommend getting a hotdog in Iceland. It is something different, cheap and easily available in Iceland.  If you want to get the true taste of Iceland, get a pylsa!

Icelandic food might not be to everyone´s taste but the hotdog surely is the safest bet you can make when it comes to Icelandic cuisine. This hotdog is made from the best meat in the world, the Icelandic sheep.

So, while driving in Iceland make sure to stop and graph yourself a tasty Icelandic hotdog whether you call it pylsa or pusla the result is the same.

Our blogs are full of interesting content which we highly recommend when traveling in Iceland. Learn more about Iceland´s cuisine by reading about Icelandic Culture








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