Amassing napkins, tea lights and random pieces of glassware (don’t make me explain, just enjoy the options when I’m making you a cocktail) is my standard strategy for trips to Ikea. (That and the staple soft ice cream cone I ravage while raging around the parking lot looking for my car.)
But when interest in Ikea’s elderflower syrup peaked during royal wedding fever back in 2018, I finally took a look around Ikea’s food market and realized I’d been missing out. And don’t confuse the market with the restaurant, where, exhausted, you gratefully collapse into a steaming plate of meatballs. The market sells prepared foods you can take home, everything from drinks to preserves, candy and frozen dishes, all based on Swedish recipes and traditions.
Fantastisk, right? But it gets better, because Ikea has committed to supporting an ethical supply chain with their food products (such as responsible sourcing for fish, meeting standards for sustainable farming and fair working conditions when it comes to coffee and cocoa).
So without further ado, go forth and add these goodies to your giant, indestructible blue Ikea bag. Here are the best packaged and frozen food items at Ikea Canada.
Obviously, if I can take the meatballs home, I will. And though I love the classic beef recipe, I’m committing to the chicken because having these in the freezer in a pinch provides a quick weeknight meal (or school lunch) that also ties into goals of eating less beef. Plus, tested side by side with the beef (on a 10-year old) the chicken balls were gobbled up just as quickly. $11/ package
Apple Pear Ginger Oat Smoothie
I admit I was tentative trying an Ikea smoothie, but I’m sold. Using oat milk as a non-dairy base, the apple and pear flavours are yummy, but not overly sweet. The ginger notes are zingy and bright, making it a very refreshing sip. It’s also not a thick smoothie, which I personally prefer. I’d totally grab this on my way out the door for a quick breakfast. Bonus: It’s lactose free and vegan. $3/250 ml
I’m a lover of any form of potato pancake—the crispy exterior and tender, savoury in-between never fail to comfort. These rösti (similar to latkes or hash browns) come in pancake-size portions and are baked (or fried) from frozen. Hot tip: a foodie friend just pops them in the toaster.
Considering that making any version of these from scratch takes effort, I’m thrilled that these were fast AND tasty. I served them up for dinner with the Ikea cured salmon, but they’d also make a great snack or side for any roasted meat or veggie main. The Swiss have them for breakfast, but they’d be perfect pulled out for brunch and topped with a poached egg and greens. They’re also gluten-free. $4/6 per package
Ikea knows what they’re doing with this classic preservation technique. Traditional Scandinavian curing involves marinating the salmon in salt, sugar, dill and a little bit of pepper, resulting in thin, tender salmon slices you can enjoy with a salad, on eggs or a bagel, or added to a charcuterie board. There’s a variety of styles on offer: cured (the softest of the bunch without the smoky flavour), cured and cold smoked (slightly firmer with a smoky flavour) or just cold smoked, which is firmer and has slightly more oily texture.
These are also products you can feel good about buying— here’s what Ikea says about their fishing practises. “As many wild fish stocks decline, we believe that fish farming is part of the solution. All Ikea salmon comes from Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified farms. That way, the salmon feed is more sustainable, the fish are protected from disease with no or little need for chemicals and antibiotics, and the farms minimize their impact on the local environment.” $9/6 slices per package
Move over rainbow sprinkles. Say hello to crunchy, savoury deliciousness—flavourful bits of yellow onion that you’ll want to shower on everything (Ikea recos burgers and hot dogs, which I am totally on board with) but also try salads, soups (I put them on a creamy veggie soup for my son, he loved it), chili and definitely into anything you are breading—hello, mac n cheese. Dare I say you might do an Ikea run if only for these? $2/100 g
Okay, I’m going big and declare this my new fry ketchup. There’s something about the simpler, tangier flavours of this ketchup that cuts perfectly through delicious, fatty french fries. And if you’re a vinegar-on-your-french-fry kinda gal, you’re going to appreciate this slightly sharper tomato ketchup—less sweet than the usual go-to. Bottom line: I’m not giving up my Heinz but I’m 100 percent adding this to the condiment rack. (And the fun, minimalist bottle doesn’t hurt either) $3/ 500g
Sweet Salty Licorice
The Ikea website issued me a challenge, “Sweet licorice is common and enjoyed worldwide, but salty licorice is typical for Sweden. Do you dare to try?”
Nope, I was not feeling daring. Ammonium chloride is an edible compound used to flavour this Scandinavian treat, and it adds a distinctive and somewhat jarring flavour for the uninitiated (you could call it cough syrup-esque).
So I made my husband try it with me. And hey Ikea, we liked it! Not just “we can stand it”—but we took it out on the road for car treats. Ikea’s salt-sugar balance is much milder than what I’d had before and after a couple candies this licorice became somewhat addictive—and best of all didn’t leave me with the sugary hangover I get from my gummi bear obsession. $2/150g
The Frozen Waffles
Hey Stranger Things, there’s a new waffle in town. If you’ve had aspirations of making your own waffles, then drop them. Instead, pop these adorable, heart-shaped Vafflors into the toaster. Moments later your waffle will be perfectly crisp on the outside, and the inside light as air, each bite as tender as Elle and Michael’s first dance at Snow Ball ‘84. $5/ package
Påtår Roast Coffee
Ikea carries a variety of coffee, all organic and UTZ certified (a program which is part of the Rainforest Alliance and designed to monitor sustainable farming). Their medium-roast ground coffee was right up my alley—I loved the higher acidity and fruity notes of this fresh and welcoming brew. If you prefer a fuller, more-rounded cup there’s also a dark roast option. Or, try a single-origin medium roast from Uganda. They also sell press-ground and whole beans. $7/500g ground
Am I the last to know? Ikea sells mini chocolate bars that are basically mini Skor bars. Crunchy almond brittle covered in milk chocolate—which somehow tastes like the milk chocolate from a Lindt Ball. Two amazing worlds colliding (may they never tear us apart). Small enough to hide in a pocket, change purse or possibly slipped into the credit card slot on an iPhone case. This package comes in a 1 pound size. You’ve been warned. $7/pound
Daim Swedish Almond Cake with Crunch Almonds
Basically a cake version of the above chocolate bar. The cake layers are a nut pastry, which reminded me of the European birthday cakes my grandmother used to make. It slipped out of the top 10 is because my friends were all cagey about trying it (but I’m certain it was because I told them it was from Ikea.) It’s gluten-free and quite divine with a cup of steaming, dark coffee. A total saviour in an entertaining pinch (which you can keep on hand in the freezer). $6/400g cake
It seems too simple for a ranking—basically, animal crackers, but better. I can’t stop eating these. They’re slightly sweet, thin, shortcrust cookies with a delightfully crisp texture (and made with whole wheat). Yeah, kids love them—but you will too. A guilt-free afternoon treat. $3/175g box
Sparkling Apple and Lingonberry drink
This sparkling juice exceeded my expectations (I thought it’d be a bit sweet and more kid oriented) but after trying it I’m going to keep a couple bottles on hand for entertaining. The flavour was tasty—maintaining some tangy notes and not at all too sweet. Sure, the kids loved it, but it’s balanced enough that I’d offer it up for adults (or grab a glass myself) when looking for a non-alcoholic option. Would make a quick and tasty mocktail base or a great add to a picnic basket. $4/750 mL