Forget Avocado—Potato + Crispy Onions Is Our Latest Toast Obsession

This OG Danish smørrebrød is basically the perfect snack.

December 19, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Like our partner Follow Your Heart®, we think that all food tastes better when it's made with love and quality ingredients...including this vegan take on Danish smørrebrød.

I've been a big fan of smørrebrød, the impossible (for me) to pronounce, undeniably delicious Danish open-faced sandwich, for over a decade—since I learned about it in Danish class while studying abroad in Copenhagen. It's named for the butter (smør) smeared on heavy Danish rye bread (brød), the typical jumping off point for any smørrebrød combo you'll find. Since becoming hooked during my college days, I've made it a point to sample the traditional fare every time I'm back in the city.

I also regularly freestyle my own variations, like avocado + radish + everything bagel spice or apple + fennel + cheddar cheese, using rye bread I'll pick up at Claus Meyer's Danish bakery in Grand Central or Greenpoint or the very similar "fitness bread" I buy at my local Polish grocery store. And just a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to snack on authentic smørrebrød here in Brooklyn, at a local church fundraiser and Christmas market I crashed with my Danish friend Katherine.

Despite my longstanding love for hearty bread piled high with toppings, it was only after this latest encounter that I came to meet my favorite smørrebrød of them all, which also happens to be the most simple: kartoffelmad, or literally, "potato food." While variations abound, it's usually some mixture of a creamy sauce + boiled potato + raw or pickled onions + crispy fried onions + herbs for garnish. (Online, I've seen everything from potato chips to tomatoes, or edible flowers added to mix).

According to Katherine, it's one of the most popular of all the smørrebrød toppings out there. (Not to oversell it, but her direct quote was actually more like, "It's my favorite thing in the whole world!!!") And it's pretty easy to see why: The artful jumble of ingredients—dense and malty seeded bread, creamy boiled potato, salty mayo, bright pickled onion, crispy fried onion, and fresh herbs—is a study in contrasting flavors and textures. It's basically deconstructed potato salad on toast; what's not to love?! And like all smørrebrød, once you've prepped the ingredients, many of which you can easily do in advance, it takes about two seconds to put together.

Since it's already vegetarian, it's also super easy to make vegan, which is how I've been enjoying it for a quickie weekday lunch lately.

First, I'll make a vegan remoulade sauce using Vegenaise®, whatever herbs I have on hand, chopped capers, Dijon mustard, and a bunch of cracked black pepper. I'm going for more of a German or French-style remoulade here, instead of the Danish version (which I save for dolloping over fried fish smørrebrød because it's so sweet and pickle-y).

After giving the bread a good smear, I'll layer on the biggest toppings first (in this case, potato!). I also like to add radish slices for a little color and crunch. Next up are the garnishes, and in true Danish fashion, the more the merrier. Add anything you think would taste good in potato salad, from celery to cherry tomatoes to cornichons to nasturtium to crunched up potato chips. Think of your smørrebrød as your canvas. (Just don't skip the crispy onions. Those are essential!)

When you're done, don't forget the most important step: Eat this bad boy with a fork and knife. You'd never catch a Dane trying to eat one of these with their hands, like a regular sandwich...all those pretty toppings will fall right to the ground.

We're thrilled to partner with Follow Your Heart® to highlight one of our favorite ways to use Vegenaise®—a condiment you'll always find in our fridge. What are your favorite vegan smørrebrød combos? Share them in the comments!

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Cory Baldwin

Written by: Cory Baldwin

Food52's director of partner content Cory Baldwin has been an editor at food, travel, and fashion publications including Saveur, Departures and Racked.

1 Comment

Emma L. December 19, 2018
I need this toast in my life!