Poronkäristys: Discovering Finland’s Sautéed Reindeer

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Poronkäristys, or Sautéed Reindeer, is a classic dish from Finnish Lapland, celebrated for its simplicity, rich flavors, and cultural significance. Reindeer meat, a traditional source of sustenance for the indigenous Sámi people of Finland, is central to this dish, which is often enjoyed during festive occasions or as a hearty meal on cold winter days. Let’s delve into the preparation of Poronkäristys to experience its unique taste and heritage.


For the Poronkäristys:

  • 500g reindeer meat, thinly sliced (alternatively, you can use beef or venison if reindeer meat is not available)
  • 2 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup water

For Serving:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Lingonberry sauce
  • Pickles (such as gherkins or pickled beets)


1. Prepare the Reindeer Meat:

  • If using frozen reindeer meat, thaw it thoroughly before cooking. Pat dry with paper towels and slice thinly against the grain.

2. Sauté the Reindeer Meat:

  • In a large skillet or frying pan, heat the butter or vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the thinly sliced onion and sauté until translucent and lightly golden.

3. Cook the Reindeer Meat:

  • Add the sliced reindeer meat to the skillet in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. Sauté each batch until browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per batch.

4. Season and Simmer:

  • Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour in the water, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet.

5. Simmer the Poronkäristys:

  • Let the Poronkäristys simmer gently for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together. Add more water if needed to prevent the dish from drying out.

6. Serve Poronkäristys:

  • Serve the Poronkäristys hot, accompanied by mashed potatoes, lingonberry sauce, and pickles.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley or dill, if desired, for added flavor and presentation.

Tips for Success:

  • Reindeer Meat: If reindeer meat is not available, you can substitute with beef or venison for a similar taste experience.
  • Sautéing Technique: Ensure the skillet is hot enough to sear the meat quickly, locking in juices and flavor.
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Lingonberry sauce provides a tart contrast to the richness of the meat, while pickles add a tangy crunch.


  • Creamy Poronkäristys: Add a splash of cream or sour cream towards the end of cooking for a richer sauce.
  • Herbs and Spices: Experiment with herbs like thyme or juniper berries to enhance the earthy flavors of the dish.


Poronkäristys, with its tender sautéed reindeer meat and comforting flavors, offers a taste of Finnish Lapland’s culinary heritage. Whether enjoyed as a festive dish or a comforting meal, Poronkäristys embodies the essence of Finnish cooking, combining simplicity with robust flavors. By preparing this dish at home, you can experience the warmth and tradition that Poronkäristys brings to Finnish dining, making it a memorable addition to any culinary repertoire.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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