Food and Drink For Members

Move over pineapple: Why kebab pizza is a thing in Norway

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Move over pineapple: Why kebab pizza is a thing in Norway
Before you dismiss the idea as a culinary catastrophe, here's what you need to know about how it became a staple of urban fast food in Norway. Photo by: Robin-Ivan Capar / The Local Norway

While pineapple has long been the subject of heated debates on pizzas worldwide, Norwegians (and Swedes) have been enjoying their own fast-food eyebrow-raiser: kebab pizza.


Kebab pizza, an unexpected fusion of Middle Eastern flavours and Italian cuisine, has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of pizza lovers in Scandinavia.

READ MORE: Frozen pizza versus lutefisk: Which has been voted Norway’s least appetising food?

A typical kebab pizza usually starts with either ready-made pizza dough or homemade dough prepared from scratch.

It is then topped with kebab meat, which can be either ready-made or prepared from marinated chicken, lamb, or beef. The kebab sauce is another key component of the pizza, and it allows you to personalise it.

Many favour the kebab sauce in a swirl moving from inside to out. 

Additionally, a blend of grated cheese, typically a mix of mozzarella and cheddar, is sprinkled over the pizza. Tomato puree or pizza sauce serves as the base, providing a rich and tangy flavour.

Chopped onions, peppers, and other vegetables are scattered atop the pizza to add texture and freshness.

Finally, after baking, the pizza is adorned with a crisp layer of fresh salad, offering a refreshing contrast to the savoury and hearty flavours of the kebab meat and cheese.

Global appeal

Allegedly originating in Sweden in the 1980s, this culinary creation quickly gained international fame, finding its way onto pizza menus from Germany to the United States.

Its global popularity speaks volumes about its universal appeal, but it also generates debates as a controversial pizza topping, much like pineapple.

Before you dismiss the idea as a culinary catastrophe, here's what you need to know about how it became a staple of urban fast food in Norway.


From Sweden to Norway

Over the past few decades, especially among the youth and international communities, the popularity of kebab pizza has skyrocketed in Norway.

Norway's superstar striker Erling Haaland raised eyebrows (but probably admiration and pride from Norway) when he confessed that kebab pizza was probably one of his favourite foods.

During a lighthearted interview he shared his frustration at not being able to eat it as often as he would like due to his commitments as an athlete. 

Today, bustling cities like Bergen in western Norway and Oslo in the east are teeming with takeaways and pizzerias offering their own variations of kebab pizza.

Take the 35-minute drive from Bergen's Laksevåg borough to the popular day trip destination of Austevoll, and you'll encounter at least four spots where you can get a hot kebab pizza, including a convenient stop at the ferry quay in Krokeide.

The situation is similar throughout Norway's urban centres – fast-food diners and pizzerias have adopted the dish as a staple, on par with the megapopular and everpresent hotdogs (a simple browse through Foodora will leave you spoiled for choice when it comes to kebab pizza options).


San Marino Bergen

The menu at the San Marino Pizzeria in Bergen, western Norway. Photo by: Robin-Ivan Capar / The Local Norway

A nation of pizza lovers

Norway is big on pizza. According to some estimates, Norwegians consume approximately 4.9 kilograms of pizza per year.

Over 50 million frozen meals are generally sold in the country annually, including 25.8 million frozen pizzas in various flavours made by the Grandiosa brand alone (which dominates the market and introduced the product to Norway).

By itself, Grandisosa has sold more than 600 million pies since 1980.

READ MORE: What do foreign residents think of Norwegian food?

Therefore, it was no surprise when Grandiosa launched its very own kebab pizza in 2013 to hop on the kebab pizza trend.

According to Grandiosa's manager at the time, Mattias Ljungkvist, the introduction of Grandiosa Kebabpizza was a "natural evolution, blending the beloved tastes among Norwegian youth" with the flavour of kebab.


Chasing adventurous flavours

So, what's the story behind this peculiar pizza phenomenon? Well, it turns out that Norwegians have a penchant for adventurous flavour combinations, and kebab pizza is a testament to this inclination - though it's far from the only one.

Perhaps that'll come as no surprise, given the typical criticism Norwegian food gets for being bland.   

Similarly, tex-mex style tacos have become a beloved staple of Norwegian cuisine, with the tradition of tacofredag (Friday taco) ingrained in the nation's culinary calendar (in the 1990s, clever marketing propelled this Mexican favourite into the hearts and stomachs of Norwegians across the country).

READ MORE: Norway's obsession with tacos

Hot dogs are another well-beloved fast-food staple. Universally adored and readily available at sports events, gas stations, festivals, and even weddings, they hold a special place in Norwegian culinary culture.

Known locally as "pølse med brød," these American-style sausages with bread have been a cherished snack since the 1950s, symbolising the strong influence of American fast food on Norwegian tastes.

Taking a step back, an unbiased observer might note that, in a world where culinary boundaries are constantly being pushed, and taste buds are yearning for new thrills, kebab pizza stands as an example of cultural fusion and innovation in the Scandinavian region.

So, the next time you find yourself craving a slice of pizza with a twist, consider giving it a try.

Who knows, it might just become your new favourite guilty pleasure.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also