Skyr: An Icelandic Culinary Specialty

Date 12 October 2018

Skyr: An Icelandic Culinary Specialty

Skyr: An Icelandic Culinary Specialty

Any visitor to Iceland must take the opportunity to try Skyr, a delicious and typically Icelandic type of cottage cheese. In Iceland these are common as dirt, available in any grocery store in the country, but internationally only in select food shops.

What is Skyr?


Skyr is a dairy product, a typical Icelandic dish halfway between cottage cheese and yogurt. Milk is fermented with lactic acid bacteria much like yogurt, but they remove the whey to obtain a much denser texture.

Skyr has particular features as it is made with skim milk and has a very low fat percentage, between 0 and 2%. So it's like a zero-fat yogurt but with much more protein (2.5 times more in fact). That's why athletes love a skyr in their recovery meal!

Its health benefits are excellent for a dairy product:

  • High in protein
  • Low lactose content
  • Low in sugar
  • Fat-free

If you can't find it in shops, here's a recipe that allows you to rediscover this unique taste, or at least get closer to it.

The Skyr recipe

For 16 to 20 servings of Skyr you will need:

  • 10 grams of skyr (“þéttir”) that can be replaced with a tablespoon of sour cream or buttermilk
  • 8 to 9 drops (or 1 1/2 tablet) of rennet (which is how you make milk curdle)
  • 10 liters of skim milk (preferably unpasteurized)

The recipe:

  • In a saucepan, heat the milk to 86-90 °C, then cool it gently slowly until it reaches 39 °C. Mix the “þéttir” with a cup of boiled milk separately, then add the rennet and mix into the pan of hot milk (if you use dry rennet, dilute it in a little water before use).
  • Cover the pot and wrap it in thick tea towels, the milk should curdle after about 5 hours. If the milk curdles in less than 4:30 hours it will have a coarser texture, but if it curdles in more than 5 hours it will be so thick that it will be difficult to drain.
  • When the milk has curdled, cut into it with a knife, if the cut does not close immediately then you can proceed to the next step.
  • Line a strainer with a thin cloth and pour in the skyr, tie the fabric at each end and hang it over a container so that the whey flows out. You can judge the quality of the Skyr by its appearance when you pour it into the strainer. A good Skyr will crack and crumble, not too fine or lumpy.
  • Leave the colander in a well-ventilated room between 0 and 12 °C. The skyr should be ready in 12 to 24 hours.
  • When the skyr is ready, it should be firm and appear dry, and can be stored for 4 to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.

You can now enjoy your Skyr as it is or pour in a little milk and sugar and serve it with cream and fruit, traditionally blueberries, but also any berries will be amazing. Skyr is also delicious with muesli, brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.

In Icelandic fro-yo and yoghurt shops, Skyr is available in a multitude of flavors: plain, peach, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, blueberry, strawberry, banana, vanilla, caramel, the list goes on... Many restaurants in Iceland also serve it as a dessert, often with a scoop of ice cream and some fruit. In local lore Skyrgámur, the eighth Christmas elf is said to be crazy about Skyr!

To whet your appetite and find out everything there is to know about this uniquely healthy cottage cheese, check out: http://www.skyr.is