Sveler are Norwegian pancakes served primarily in ferry cafés along the country’s west coast. They can be eaten cold and served with a variety of toppings. They taste best with a cup of coffee.

The key to a good svele is horn salt (also known as ammonium bicarbonate). If you don’t have horn salt on hand, you can substitute baking powder—however, you will lose some of the pancakes’ signature taste and texture. I would recommend keeping horn salt in your kitchen if for no other reason than these pancakes. If you do use horn salt, be sure not to eat the raw dough.

MAKES sixteen 4- to 5-inch pancakes

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups kefir
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon horn salt (ammonium bicarbonate) [or substitute with baking powder]
  • Oil, as needed
  • Toppings: butter and white sugar, sour cream or crème fraiche with berry jam, butter and brunost


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until fluffy. The mixture should look aerated and pale. Depending on your arm strength this step can be a bit taxing. Continue whisking as you add the kefir. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and horn salt with a fork until well incorporated.
  3. Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients. Use a spatula to mix until just combined. Lumps are okay. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat up a non-stick griddle or frying pan on medium-low heat. You should be able to cook all the pancakes without using any oil but it’s always good to keep some on hand in case your pan needs it. Using a soup ladle (or a 1/3-cup measure) gently spread your dough into a 4- to 5-inch circle. Let the svele cook until the top is actively bubbling. Flip and cook on the second side. It might take a few tries to figure out the cooking time on your stove.
  5. Sveler taste great straight off the grill, but you can also cook these ahead of time and serve them cold. Traditionally they are served on ferries filled with a creamed butter and sugar combination (cream together equal parts butter and sugar) then folded in half. You can also fill or top them with sour cream/crème fraîche and your favorite berry jam. Or, slather on butter and top with thin slices of brunost. Once you have put your desired toppings in place, fold in half and enjoy with a cup of coffee.