Traditional Toast Skagen (Swedish Shrimp Toasts) is a classic Scandinavian appetizer for good reason. Creamy shrimp salad (skagenröra) is spooned on top of toasted white bread triangles and topped with a dollop of caviar creating an elegant and easy dish your guests won't soon forget!
Pair these delectable little Swedish shrimp toasts with a bubbly cocktail and you've got effortless entertaining at its best and the beginnings of a memorable evening.
Why This Recipe Works
While it looks and sounds impressive, traditional Toast Skagen couldn’t be simpler to make at home:
- This recipe calls for just a short list of easy to find ingredients, and it comes together in a snap.
- While many of the open sandwiches in Scandinavian cuisine are served on dense rye bread, this one calls for a soft white bread, something that will create a thin, crisp crust and a soft interior when buttered and griddled in a hot pan.
- The shrimp salad can be made ahead of time so when it is time to serve, simply toast your bread slices and enjoy!
- While traditional Toast Skagen is served topped with caviar, I've got a really delicious alternative topping option for you if don't like caviar or have a hard time finding it near you.
For the Toast Skagen:
- A delicious and easy skagenröra (Swedish shrimp salad) recipe is the most important component of Toast Skagen. Find a link to my quick recipe for skagenröra right here. It only takes about 10 minutes to make and starts with easy-to-work-with frozen cooked shrimp!
- Store bought sliced white bread makes perfectly crisp and toasty bread triangles which form the base of Toast Skagen.
- And finally, Swedish Shrimp Toasts are typically topped with a dollop of caviar before serving. Not a fan a caviar? Choose the equally delicious Caper Relish option instead!
For the Optional Caper Relish:
No caviar? No problem! This quick and bright caper relish cuts the richness of the salad and provides that salty flavor that might otherwise come from a dollop of fish roe. Top Toast Skagen with this caper relish instead of caviar if you prefer.
How To Make This Recipe
- Begin by making the skagenröra. Find the quick and easy recipe here.
- If you are serving your Toast Skagen with caper relish on top rather than caviar, mix all of the ingredients for the relish in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cut the crusts off the white bread and cut each slice into 2 triangles. You will have enough shrimp salad for about 16-20 small toasts.
- Butter both sides of the triangles and place about half of the toasts in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until both sides of the bread triangles are golden brown and crisp. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with remaining bread triangles.
- Top each toast triangle with a spoonful of skagenröra and a small dollop of caviar or caper relish. Finish with a small sprig of dill if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.
Consider making the caper relish and serving some of the Toast Skagen topped with caviar and some with caper relish so your guests can try both!
You can make the shrimp salad up to a day ahead of time and store it tightly covered in the refrigerator, but the toasts will get soggy if they are made too far in advance. For best results, have the buttered bread triangles ready to go and cook them shortly before serving.
Make the optional caper relish included on the recipe card. It's delicious and provides a salty, briny quality like caviar does. Some people honestly prefer it to the fish roe!
Spoon it on top of rye bread with hard boiled egg and cucumber for a delicious Nordic open face sandwich (smørrebrød). Make tunnsbrödrulle! This very unique way of serving hot dogs is unexpected and incredibly tasty. Or just simply spoon it on top of rye crisp crackers for an easy snack or light lunch.
Read the interesting story of how Toast Skagen got its name below!
The Story Behind Toast Skagen
One might assume that with a name like Toast Skagen, this classic Scandinavian dish originated in Denmark. But in fact, this elegant appetizer of buttery toast topped with creamy shellfish salad and a dollop of golden caviar hails from Sweden. Originally created in the 1950s by Swedish chef Tore Wretman, Toast Skagen has a colorful backstory which explains why this iconic Swedish dish is named after a fishing port in northern Denmark.
As the story goes, Wretman was not only a celebrated Swedish chef, but also an accomplished sailor. In the late 1950s, he and his crew raced his sailboat, the Salta Marina, in an amatuer regatta just off the coast of Skagen in northern Denmark. Wretman had chosen a different route than the other competitors, and his boat had a commanding lead that seemed unbeatable.
Spirits were high aboard the sailboat, and victory seemed all but certain. But suddenly the wind died down and Wretman and his crew saw their lead begin to slip away. The mood aboard the ship went from celebratory to dismal as their defeat became imminent.
Wretman decided to cheer his crew by doing what he did best….preparing a fabulous meal. Using what was on hand in the sailboat’s galley, Tore whipped up the now classic combination of buttery toast topped with a creamy shellfish salad and a dollop of golden whitefish roe. He proclaimed the dish Toast Skagen and within a couple of weeks it found its way onto the menu of his restaurant in Stockholm, Restaurant Riche. Toast Skagen has endured the test of time and remains a popular dish today, not only in Sweden, but throughout the Nordic region.
Looking for more Scandinavian inspired appetizer recipes? Give these a try:
Traditional Toast Skagen (Swedish Shrimp Toasts)
For the Toast Skagen:
- 1 recipe Skagenröra (Swedish Shrimp Salad)
- 8-10 slices White sandwich bread crusts removed and each slice cut into 2 triangles
- Butter for spreading
- Caviar for serving (optional)
- Caper Relish for serving, recipe below (optional)
- Lemon wedges for serving
For the optional Caper Relish:
- 3 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Make the optional Caper Relish if desired: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Butter both sides of each triangle of bread. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the bread triangles and toast on both sides until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Repeat with remaining bread triangles.
- Transfer the bread triangles to a serving platter. Top each with a spoonful of skagenröra and a small dollop of caviar or caper relish. Garnish with dill sprigs. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
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