Danish milk names and other funky dairy products

The cartons all look the same and it raises the inevitable question, is it milk? … Or something else entirely? We’ll help you decipher that pesky Danish dairy jargon.

Danish milk names and milk jargon

Pouring 'koldskål' or 'ymer' in your coffee is a rite of passage for most newcomers. The cartons all look the same and it raises the inevitable question, is it milk? … Or something else entirely? We’ll help you decipher that pesky Danish dairy jargon.

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Danish milk

Imagine this; you are in a Danish supermarket and desperately staring at the dairy fridge. The anxiety levels are rising. Just remember that there is a way to narrow your choices down to 4 basic options.

Danes like to identify their preferred milk by carton color. Basically, you will have to look for the blue cartons and to remember that the darker the blue the fatter the milk. If you think about it, it does make sense, and 99,9% of all milk producers respect this unwritten rule.  Skimmed milk cartons however have a light grey color. Of course there had to be an exception. 

Danish milk
  1. Dark blue - whole milk (full fat milk). Fat: 3,5 %
  2. Light blue - reduced fat milk (semi-skimmed) Fat: 1,5 %
  3. Ice blue - low fat milk (somewhere between fat free and semi-skimmed) Fat: 0,5 %
  4. Grey - nonfat milk - Fat: 0,1 %
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The milk

Sødmælk [Sweet milk]: Milk 3,5% fat

Look out for the dark blue cartons if you want your milk to be whole milk or full fat milk

 Letmælk [Light milk]: Milk 1,5% fat

Look out for the light blue cartons if you want your milk to be semi-skimmed milk.

Mælk2 (2)

Minimælk [Mini milk] Milk 0,5% fat

Look out for an even lighter blue carton if you want your milk somewhere between non-fat and semi-skimmed milk.

Skummetmælk [Skimmed milk]: Milk 0,1% fat

Look out for the grey cartons if you want your milk to be nonfat or skimmed milk.

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The funky Danish milk products

Ok … so far it was pretty easy to figure out which milk is which. The hard part starts now, when next to the milk cartons you will find some similar ones that have the most confusing names ever. It's difficult to guess what you are buying even when you know some Danish.

Mælk (2) (1)

Kærnemælk [Churned milk] Milk approx. 0,5% fat

Look out for the green cartons to find ‘kærnemælk’. You might think that you got this. You know what ‘mælk’ means, so it sounds like a secure choice. But, ohh boy you better think twice, because this is buttermilk and it tastes nothing like milk.

Take a friendly advice: Do NOT pollute your coffee with kærnemælk!

Koldskål [Cold-bowl]: Cold buttermilk soup

Koldskål is the taste of Danish summer!  The Danes eat it with dry biscuits as a snack, dessert or even for dinner. It's a thick lightly sweetened buttermilk with vanilla and sometimes lemon. The cartons are usually yellow.

Mælk (3) (1)

Tykmælk, ymer & A38

Soured milk products between 0,5% to 3,5% fat

Ymer, A38 and tykmælk is where it often goes horribly wrong for newcomers. Directly translated 'tykmælk' means 'fat milk'.

All three products are actually made from soured milk and are used for breakfasts, fast snacks, baking, desserts, dressings and NOT for coffee. Every Dane has they own favorite.

NB!! The cartons are NOT color-coordinated.

Mælk (4) (1)

Fløde - Cream 8%, 18% 38% fat

Piskefløde is whipping cream and comes in a red carton (38% fat).

Madlavningsfløde comes in a purple carton and is cream with added flour used for cooking (8 or 18% fat).

Kaffefløde is coffee cream, often favoured by old ladies (9% fat).

Mælk (5) (1)

Skyr - Icelandic style yogurt approx. 0,2% fat

Skyr is an Islandic yogurt that might have baffled you in the dairy displays of the Danish supermarkets. 

It is fat free, high in protein and with reduced sugar, making it perfect for the healthy Danes.

But beware, even the Danes can be seduced and skyr also comes with added flavours and loads of sugar.

Back to you

Hopefully, we covered most of the Danish dairy products in our post, but in case we didn't feel free to supplement or ask any questions below 🙂 Also, if you have any milk related stories - please share ♥♥ In the meantime check out or blog about Danish supermarket.


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  • Bárbara


  • Swati

    This was the much needed info. Thanks for covering it so nicely.
    Please do provide a article on cheese too.

  • David farrant

    A visit to a baker in Denmark can be a literary challenge pronouncing the letter Ø
    example: BRØD bread SMØR butter SØDMÆLK whole milk FLØDE cream FLØDESKUMSKAGER French pastry PISKEFLØDE whipped cream and the old favourite:
    RØDGRØD MED FLØDE fruit compot with cream and more.

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