Viking men are famed for their hulking, warrior-like frames and towering height, while the maidens are equally renowned for their beauty, intelligence and strength. There was good reason for this.

Number one: the raiding, fighting, exploring, and farming helped keep them in excellent shape. Number two: their nutritious, protein-rich diet was one of the best in Europe. 

So, what do you need to eat and drink in order to attain and maintain that classic Viking look? Read on to find out. 

Viking families, depending on their wealth, raised various livestock for meat, with the richer Norse having access to a broader range, including sheep, goats, and even horsemeat. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Tip one: Go meaty 

Due to a relative lack of availability, the Norse almost certainly consumed less meat than the average modern Westerner. 

However, it is also likely that they got much more protein than many other people in Europe during the Viking Age

Many Viking families possessed some chickens or pigs, while wealthier Norse farmers in larger settlements would also have kept sheep, goats, and cattle. 

In the wealthiest households, horsemeat and game were also popular. 

In terms of preparation, for everyday meals, most Vikings preferred the simple option of quietly stewing or boiling their meat in a pot, often for several hours. 

At feasting time, however, they would be more likely to cook over an open fire in the middle of the great hall or even outside on a spit. 

For greater authenticity, we suggest serving on a platter and insisting that your guests only eat with their fingers – or perhaps with the help of a knife tucked into their belt. 

Signature dish: Skause, a special meat stew with plenty of added vegetables. 

In Scandinavia, traditional fish preservation methods such as drying and smoking, essential to Viking seafaring, reflect a continuity of culinary practices that span well beyond the Viking Age. Photo: Dmitry Rukhlenko / Shutterstock

Tip two: Go fishing 

Fish was a major part of the diet throughout almost all the kingdoms of the Norse – unsurprising given their proximity to seas and waterways. 

Many Vikings ate huge quantities of fresh fish, including cod, plaice, herring, and halibut, though they also liked to dry the fish so it could be stored, traded, and brought inland. 

Besides boiling and roasting, the Norse employed a range of innovative cooking techniques, including baking fish on heated rocks within specially constructed pits. 

For the truly natural effect, try wrapping your fish in leaves or bark before seasoning with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, or coriander. 

Many Vikings also ate seafood, including prawns, crab claws, and mussels. In each case, we recommend heading to the coast for the very freshest produce. 

Signature dish: Gravlax, featuring cured salmon served with a mix of fresh herbs and spices, usually served on rye or crispbread. 

Oatmeal, made from grains such as barley, oats, buckwheat, or millet, was essential in the Viking diet for hearty sustenance. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Tip three: Respect the benefits of oatmeal 

Just like with many other societies in their era, most everyday Norse folk relied heavily on some form of oatmeal – aka porridge – for part of their daily sustenance. 

Typically made from barley, oats, buckwheat, or millet, oatmeal was a staple food for the Vikings and an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 

Other popular breakfast options could include skyr, a soft cheese, or yogurt made from milk and crème fraiche, heated in a pot over the fire. 

Both skyr and oatmeal taste great with berries or apples and will help you ensure a protein-rich, superfood-packed start to your day. 

As an alternative, flatbread dripping in honey is another authentic Norse option.

Signature dish: A bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with freshly picked cranberries. 

Vikings consumed a variety of vegetables like carrots, cabbages, and peas, grown and foraged as essential parts of their diet. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Tip four: Don't skimp on the veg 

Perhaps surprisingly, given all the resources we now have available, many of the more well-off Norse probably enjoyed a healthier and more balanced diet than the average Westerner today. 

In addition to hunting for meat and tending to farm animals, the Vikings grew crops and foraged for all kinds of vegetables. 

Unfortunately, the vegetables we eat today are often a lot more "manufactured" than 1,000 years ago, especially if you do all your shopping at the supermarket. 

For that original Viking flavor, we recommend heading to a farmers' market or similar for some organic goodness. 

Popular Norse fare includes carrots, cabbages, and peas, while beans also frequently appeared on the Viking plate. 

Signature dish: Root vegetable patties: suitable for vegetarians and vegans the world over. 

Foraging played a crucial role in Viking culinary practices, allowing them to gather wild berries and herbs, complementing their orchard produce with the bounties of nature. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Tip five: Foraging is a virtue 

Many Norse kept orchards full of apples, pears, and cherries while foraging was a common method of sourcing food. 

During the Scandinavian summer, the Vikings were able to up their fruit intake by gathering wild lingonberries, strawberries, and sloe berries, not to mention plenty of herbs. 

If you prefer the easy life, you may prefer to collect wild berries from a local producer or even grow them yourself. 

At the same time, nothing beats heading into the wild to source your own ingredients from nature. Not only will you be guaranteed the freshest and most natural supplies, but you will also build up a great appetite for the inevitable feast to follow. 

Signature dish: Venison and berry sauce, served with turnips or other root vegetables. 

Contrary to popular belief, Vikings commonly consumed weak beer made from barley as a daily beverage, reserving the renowned mead for special occasions and festivities. Photo: Gelpi / Shutterstock

Tip six: Wash it all down with something special 

Although Vikings are famed for their mead drinking, they were far more likely to consume weak beer made from barley in their everyday lives. 

This was usually drunk as an alternative to water, which was often foul and more likely to cause illness. Viking chieftains and royalty would also have enjoyed wine imported from France from time to time, though this was not something the everyday folk would ever have experienced. 

Mead – a sweet alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey with water and spices – was actually only usually drunk in the festive season. 

If you're feeling truly adventurous, you could have a go at making your own, though today, you might also be able to locate a meadery in the local area. 

For the full authentic Viking experience, quaff from a drinking horn – simply visit one of the numerous online vendors to ensure you are fully stocked with the appropriate Norse receptacle for your next Viking feast! 

Signature drink: They may have only enjoyed it on special occasions, but it has to be mead, the quintessential Viking drink.

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