Travelling to the Netherlands and want to try some traditional Dutch food? After living in the Netherlands for three years we compiled the ‘20 Foods to try in the Netherlands’ list of the traditional Dutch food we would recommend you to try.
Warning: Reading on an empty stomach is not recommended! 🙂
One of the first traditional Dutch foods that comes to mind is cheese (‘kaas’ in Dutch). There are many varieties of cheese produced in the Netherlands including such popular cheese as Edam, Maasdam and Gouda. Visit one of the farmers markets in the country, cheese shop or a dedicated cheese market (in Gouda, Alkmaar or Edam) to buy cheese to satisfy any taste!
Read about the home of Gouda cheese at – Visit Gouda – a small Dutch town you must see.
Stroopwafel (‘Syrup Waffle’ in English) is a traditional Dutch dessert consisting of two thin waffles with a syrup in between. You will find Stroopwafels in almost every souvenir shop and farmers market in the Netherlands. (Don’t tell anybody that I told you, but you can buy stroopwafels in any supermarket and it won’t be less tasty than the ones in souvenir shops).
My kids are big fans of Dutch stroopwafels, so even after moving back to New Zealand we buy stroopwafels in the International section of our local supermarket 🙂
Bitterballen is a popular Dutch snack or finger-food. It’s basically a deep fried ball of mixed mashed potatoes with meat, richly coated in breadcrumbs. At cafes they often serve bitterballen as part of a bittergarnituur – a selection of popular warm snacks.
Kroket is a warm snack very similar to bitterball but in a roll shape and usually bigger in size. You can have it as a snack or finger food to go with your beer, or as a main dish often served on a piece of freshly baked bread with a salad on a side.
Another popular warm snack in the Netherlands is frikandel. Dutch sausage ‘frikandel’ is skinless and deep-fried. It’s often sold in ‘automat’s (vending machines) that keep the food warm along with other popular Dutch warm snacks such as kroket.
Herring (or ‘Haring’ in Dutch) was one of Yuriy’s favourite Dutch foods when we lived in the Netherlands. Cleaned, raw, slightly brined and sprinkled with chopped onions – that’s how Dutch like their herring. You will find stalls and kiosks selling Dutch herring at farmers markets, street food stalls and many tourist places all over the country.
Another traditional fish food in the Netherlands is kibbeling. It’s a deep fried battered fish usually served with a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce. It’s especially popular as a street food during cool months and often served with hot chips on the side. Although we often ordered takeaway kibbeling while on a beach in the Hague or Katwijk.
Pannekoek (‘pancake’ in English) is not just any pancake. Dutch pannekoek is a large thin pancake (more like a French style pancakes) that’s often pan fried with slices of bacon, mushrooms, apples, banana or raisins. There are many dedicated pancake cafes (search for ‘Pannenkoekenbakkerij’ or ‘Pannenkoekenhuis’ or simply ‘Pannenkoeken’ near you) all around the Netherlands.
No wonder I don’t have any pictures of us eating Dutch pancakes in one of the pancake cafés – we eat them faster than I can take out a camera! 🙂
Next in our ‘20 Foods to try in the Netherlands’ list comes another favorite Dutch dessert of my children – poffertjes. Poffertjes are mini pancakes that are served hot with butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They have a tendency to disappear super quickly into the children’s tummies no matter how many of these tiny treats you buy!
Stamppot and hutspot
Dutch stamppot is a dish especially popular in cool months. It consists of mashed potato mixed with green vegetables such as kale, onions and cabbage. It traditionally served with a Dutch smoked sausage – rookworst. I am personally not a fan of it, but stamppot is a really popular winter comfort food in the Netherlands.
There is also a variation of stamppot called Hutspot – when mashed potato is mixed with carrots and onions (instead of kale and cabbage).
Snert (or Erwtensoep)
Another popular in winter months food is Dutch pea soup known by names Erwtensoep or simply Snert. Snert soup is thick, with lots of vegetables and pork – a real tummy filler.
Oliebollen are deep fried doughnut balls sprinkled with sugar icing and traditionally sold in the Netherlands around New Year time. Oliebol(len) literally translates to English as Oil ball(s)). You can buy oliebollen in one of the mobile kiosks/stalls throughout the Netherlands. Eat them fresh and warm with your choice of flavor – icing sugar, chocolate syrup or raisins.
All right, Chocomel is a drink, not food but my son insisted on including it into the ‘20 Foods to try in the Netherlands’ list! 🙂
Chocomel is the Dutch version of chocolate flavored milk that is served in most cafes in the Netherlands. In warmer months they serve it cold, and in winter it’s served hot with whipped cream on top and a marshmallow on the side. I am sure your kids will love it (it even has a lactose free version if your child needs one)!
Friet (or Patat)
I know, I know, fries is not really a Dutch food, but it’s nevertheless very popular in the Netherlands. Fries in Dutch are called ‘friet’ or ‘patat’. Patat is always made fresh and besides being on the menu in every café and restaurant they are also sold as a street food – in paper cones with a sauce on a side.
If you’re staying in the Netherlands in a hotel with breakfast included the chances are you will find there a selection of chocolate sprinkles – ‘hagelslag’. Dutch eat bread with butter and with hagelslag on top of it for breakfast (and often as a dessert after lunch too). There are many different varieties of the sprinkles – chocolate, white chocolate, big and small flakes, and colored sprinkles too.
Dutch like their hagelslag so much that it’s even a part of baby birth celebration tradition. At the birth of a girl – pink and white, and a boy – blue and white hagelslag on top of a round baked biscuit are eaten to celebrate the birth of a baby.
Dutch speculaas cookies are also known as Dutch windmill cookies. They were traditionally baked around Sinterklaas (Dutch St.Nicholas), but nowadays are sold all year round. Try these crispy and spiced cookies with your tea, coffee or on their own.
Pepernoten and Kruidnoten
Pepernoten and Kruidnoten are small Dutch cookies traditionally eaten at Sinterklaas (Dutch St.Nicholas) season. Pepernoten are small, soft and chewy cookies, while Kruidnoten are small, round and crunchy cookies and much loved by my kids.
They start selling Pepernoten and Kruidnoten in shops around the Netherlands as early as October and until mid December (with Sinterklaas eve in the Netherlands being on 5th of December). We couldn’t find kruidnoten in the shops outside of this season so we had to learn how to bake them at home. There is no way we would limit eating these delicious treats to only three months a year! 🙂
One more food related to Sinterklaas traditions in the Netherlands I’d like to mention in the ‘20 Foods to try in the Netherlands’ list is chocolate letters.
On the eve of Sinterklaas Dutch children traditionally put out their shoes for Sinterklaas and his helpers to fill with sweets and often with chocolate letters (hello sugar rush in the morning!). While you can certainly try that, there is no guarantee that you get your chocolate fix on the morning of Sinterklaas day. 😉 So, better visit a shop and buy yourself as many chocolate letters as you wish if you’re lucky to visit the Netherlands between October and December. (It’s also a good idea for a souvenir to bring from the Netherlands).
Broodje – the Dutch sandwich – is a very popular meal in the Netherlands. You’ll find different varieties of broodje in fast food places, supermarkets and on restaurant menus. Don’t be wary of ordering broodje in a restaurant – you won’t get a boring old sandwich made with toast bread. Dutch broodje is usually served with a big piece of delicious freshly baked bread with lots of filling (meat, cheese, greens, etc – depending on the order).
Last on the ‘20 Foods to try in the Netherlands’ list is a relatively recent Dutch fast food creation – ‘Kapsalon’. Kapsalon is usually served in a foil tray with layers of fries, meat and slice of cheese, slightly baked together and topped with fresh veggies.
I heard of kapsalon for the first time when my colleagues at work invited me to join them in buying kapsalon for a lunch. After my visible surprise and confusion (‘Kapsalon’ is actually a ‘hair salon’ in Dutch) they explained that nobody is going to a hairdresser! 🙂 But to eat a newly popular dish invented by a hair dresser in the city of Rotterdam.
That was our ‘20 Foods to try in the Netherlands’ list containing popular Dutch foods we ate and liked (well, not always by every member of our travelling family :)), and would recommend you to try it too when in the Netherlands!
If you are into food tourism, try the Private Food Tour while in the Netherlands: