The dish may be made of fresh or leftover meat (usually beef or lamb, but sometimes also pork or ham) and potatoes. Other typical ingredients are vegetables (such as carrots, onions, leeks, celery root, and rutabaga) and spices (such as salt, pepper, ginger, and herbs). There are many variations of lapskaus.
Lapskaus is possibly linked (historically and etymologically) to lobscouse, a European sailors' stew or hash particularly associated with Liverpool. Trade along the Trent and Mersery Canal allowed the recipe to travel south to Staffordshire, where it became the dish now known locally as lobby. Similar dishes include the Danish labskovs or the German labskaus.
The dish also figures in Norwegian American cuisine. In 1970, lapskaus was part of "the official menu for the seamen's mess" of the Norwegian America Line. Until the 1980s, Brooklyn's Eighth Avenue (particularly between 50th and 60th streets) was known as "Lapskaus Boulevard" in reference to the high Norwegian-American population in the area.
- Irene O. Sandvold et al., Gudrun's Kitchen: Recipes from a Norwegian Family (Wisconsin Historical Society Press: 2011), pp. 87-89.
- Charles Gordon Sinclair, International Dictionary of Food and Cooking (Fitzroy Dearborn: 1998), 311.
- Anne Chotzinoff Grossman & Lisa Grossman Thomas, Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels (W.W. Norton: 1997), pp. 18-19.
- Astrid Karlsen Scott, Authentic Norwegian Cooking (Skyhorse: 2011).
- April Lurie, Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn (Dell Yearling: 2009), author's note.
- Andrew L. Yarrow, In Brooklyn, Wontons, Not Lapskaus, New York Times (March 17, 1991).
- Laura Petersen Balogh, Karl Dane: A Biography and Filmography (McFarland: 2009), p. 37.
- Leonard Benardo & Jennifer Weiss, Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names (New York University Press: 2006), p. 145.