Kalakukko: How to Make Finnish Kalakukko

Kalakukko is a traditional food made from fish baked inside a loaf of bread from the Finnish region of Savonia. Kalakukko is particularly popular in the northern Savonia region’s capital, Kuopio. There are many kalakukko bakeries in Kuopio. The dish is so popular, the town even holds an annual baking contest for kalakukko.

Rye bread is a staple in the Finnish diet and is dark and fiber-rich like ruisleipä. Loaves of bread are made of grains such as barley, oat, rye, and wheat, or by combining different grits and flours. Kalakukko is usually prepared with rye flour, but wheat is often also added to make the dough more smooth. The filling consists of fish, pork, and bacon and is salted if the pork is not already salted.

Kalakukko looks like a large loaf of rye bread after being baked for several hours, usually in a masonry oven. Do you want to learn how to make this culinary masterpiece? Follow the recipe below and you can make your own delicious kalakukko to enjoy with family and friends!

An example of kalakukko

Kalakkuko is one of the most famous bread recipes in Finland and in Europe. Photo credits: @elizavetamaleva / Instagram.com

Finnish Kalakukko

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Snacks / Bread
  • Cuisine: Finnish

Kalakukko bread used to be baked in a slow oven overnight, usually using the remaining heat from the baking day. The whole preparation and cooking time is 7 hours. This recipe is suitable for eight servings. 

Finnish Kalakukko Ingredients

  • 1 ⅔ cups (4 dl) water
  • 3 cups (7 dl) rye flour
  • 1 ¼ cups (3 dl) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (50 gr) butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ¾ pound (800 gr) small fish (vendace, perch)
  • 7 ounces (200 gr) side pork or bacon
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Finnish Kalakukko Instructions

Step 1: Clean the fish and strain well. Get the dough prepared.

Step 2: Combine the flours and salt and mix in the air. In a firm dough, add the soft butter and knead.

Step 3: Roll the dough out into a circle, about 1cm thick with a rolling pin (the center of the dough should be thicker than the edges). Sprinkle with rye flour in the middle of the crust.

Step 4: In layers, put the fish, salt, and side pork in the middle of the crust. Elevate the edges and firmly cover the seam with water and flour. Form in a round shape. Put the pie upside down on a greaseproof paper baking tray.

Step 5: Cook at 400°F until the brownish color is evident in the crust. Wrap the pie in foil, reduce heat to 200°F, and cook for an additional 5 to 6 hours. Cover with a kitchen towel after removing the pie from the oven to soften the crust.

Finnish Kalakukko Additional Information

  • The traditional way to eat kalakukko is to open the top with a sharp knife, eat the top with butter, then cut some of the bread to make the hole bigger and eat it with the filling.
  • Kalakukko slices of bread are served, hot or cold. They first make a slice across the top in the Savo area of Finland, then scoop out some filling to place on the slice. Then they begin to cut sideways. They just slice it in the Karelia region as if it were a traditional loaf of bread.

About Finnish Kalakukko Recipe

Some Finnish speakers today find the name kalakukko a bit amusing because kala is Finnish for “fish” and kukko is “rooster,” which leads to the often used but non-morphological translation, fish cock.” The ancient form of kukko, however, is derived from the same source as kukkaro. Kukko might also come from a Finnish kukkula word, hill, as the dish is high.


Kalakukko Bread is now sold in bakeries in Finland and other European countries. It is regarded as one of the most flavorful traditional breads in Europe today. For more international recipes, click here.

Featured Image: @janusmannen / Instagram, @makulehti / Instagram