The best Dutch Food

Dutch food has always been a secret pleasure of mine. Growing up one of my best friends was Dutch and I loved eating her families traditional Dutch foods. I grew up with a terrible cook (my mother) who even microwaved the Christmas dinner. From oliebollen to Bami and Nasi my introduction to the world of Dutch food was a revelation in flavour.

skating on the frozen canals in Amsterdam Dutch Food

A long time ago my friend and I went to Amsterdam together and we got to experience all the treats her family had been serving for years. We wandered the streets of Amsterdam eating anything and everything we could find. A few of those things stick with me today and I can’t resist a sign for Indonesian foods or a Bitterballen.

If you only have 36 hours to spend in Amsterdam check out Sam’s post  36 Hours in Amsterdam a Complete Guide loads of ideas and cool things to do. 

Dutch Food Amsterdam 1 Dutch Food Amsterdam

Dutch food has never taken the world by storm and traditional Dutch food is pretty mainstream as in meat, potato and veg. Like any other peasant cuisine, the staples of Dutch food are based on things likes stews and casseroles. What the Dutch did excel at was finding the spice routes to the Far East.

Top 14 Dutch Foods

  • Raw Herring
  • Stroop Wafels
  • Dutch Croquettes (Krokets)
  • Stamppot
  • Bitterballen
  • Olliebollen
  • Poffertjes
  • Hagleslag
  • Erwtensoep  or Snert
  • Drop
  • Rijsttafel
  • Ekkerbekje / Kibbeling
  • Pannenkoeken
  • Cheese

Everybody studied the Dutch East India Company in history. It traded with India and countries in Indonesia bringing back a world of new spices and herbs to Holland. This was also when the Dutch began their life long love affair with hot pastes like Sambal Olek and Indonesian Rice Tables. by virtue of the Dutch East India Company, Dutch food culture changed dramatically.

Check out this great guide to the “Venice of the North” by travel writers Marcelle and George from the blog GreyWorldNomads, it gives some fabulous ideas on where to stay and what to enjoy when visiting Amsterdam.

By the way, if you want to know all about tipping in Amsterdam here’s a great article to read from Frankie a native Londoner who now lives in Amsterdam.

The Absolute Best Places To Visit in the Netherlands. A collaborative article with both travellers and native Dutch writers talking about their favourite places in the Netherlands

Netherlands Food – Dutch Food

What’s on a Dutch Menu

Raw Herring

Haring or ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ (Dutch new herring) is one of the basic foods in the Netherlands, almost everybody eats this as a snack. However, I find personally that it is an acquired taste. The herring is traditionally eaten raw with onions, and pickles. 

Herring can only be called ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ if the fish is caught between the months of May to July. The preparation is pretty specific and must be done according to Dutch tradition. The herring is cleaned, the head is removed and it is preserved in a special way (with salt). To be honest this is one Dutch food that I can do without give me sushi any day.

traditional Dutch foods Haring at the market raw herring with onions and pickles

Stroopwafels

Probably one of the most popular Dutch treats. The Stroopwafel is a thin pastry or biscuit that it sliced into two pieces. It is then drizzled with the “Stroop” or caramel syrup and sandwiched together. Best eaten warm these days you can find Stroopwafels sold all over Amsterdam they are sometimes dipped in chocolate and then the chocolate edge is coated in marshmallows, salted caramel, chocolate chips or any other dip of your choice.

a huge variety of dipped stroopwafels in Amsterdam

The most famous place to buy Stroopwafels is in the Albert Cuyp Market – you can’t miss the stall you will see the line up for miles.

the original stroopwafel booth in the market eating in Amsterdam

Dutch Croquettes or Krokets

This was my Dutch friends favourite snack she dreamed of being in Amsterdam and eating croquettes.

The ‘kroket’ is essentially a deep-fried meat roll, covered in breadcrumbs. The original Dutch ‘kroket’ is made from beef or veal, but these days there are many different flavours like chicken satay, shrimps, goulash or even a vegetarian ‘kroket’. Virtually every Dutch menu in the Netherlands will have a version of the Kroket on it.

In Amsterdam, you can buy krokets anywhere even McDonald’s has a version. The most common place to buy them is from a street vendor or a Febo. A Febo is a walk-in snack bar with vending machines there are three locations in Amsterdam where you can find these. You can eat a ‘kroket’ as a snack, but most of the time they are served on sliced white bread or hamburger buns with mustard on the side.

Stamppot

Stamppot is very traditional Dutch food. Similar to Colcannon in Ireland it is mashed potatoes mixed with cooked vegetables. Traditionally Stamppot was made with kale but it can be made with any in-season vegetable like carrots, spinach, endive. It is topped with sauerkraut and a traditional   ‘rookworst’ sausage.  It is available in many Dutch restaurants and there even is a small company in Amsterdam called “Stamppotje”, serving only Stamppot.

Stamppot in Amsterdam a mix of mashed potatoes and kale with gravey and sausauge

We were reliably informed by a local that the best place to eat Stamppot was at Cafe Sonneveld which is in the Jordaan district across from Westerkirk.  Oh, and they were right it was excellent.

Looking for an awesome place to stay in Amsterdam? Then look no further and have a read of Will’s article from The Broke Backpacker Where to Stay in Amsterdam it’s an incredibly thorough no-stress guide to the various neighbourhoods and where to stay in this beautiful city.

Bitterballen

Bitterballen appears to be the most popular snack in Amsterdam and mainly consumed with some of the best beer in the world. It is similar to Krokets but in a tiny meatball size. There are rolled in crunchy breadcrumbs and deep-fried.  A typically Dutch snack they are served with mustard for dipping. They are immensely tasty when dipped I can see the reason the Dutch are addicted to these little tasty morsels.

bitterballen and beer what could be finer than that kind of food in Amsterdam

Frites

Who doesn’t like piping hot chips or French fries from hand-cut potatoes? Then these steaming hot chips are served in a cone with a vast selection of sauces to choose from. Heavenly Dutch Food. The Dutch call them: ‘Friet’, ‘Frites’, ‘Patat’ or ‘Vlaamse frieten’.

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These chips are cut quite thick (apparently Belgian style). The most popular sauce is called patatje oorlog or fries at war this is a combination of toppings including mayonnaise, raw onions and a peanut satay sauce. You can get curry sauces, hot sauces with sambal olek and my personal favourite a truffle mayo. That foodie memory of walking the streets of Amsterdam with my frite cone will stay with me forever.

Need some help budgeting for your trip to Amsterdam? Then check out this amazing Budget your Trip guide Amsterdam by Bryan it covers everything you can think of to make a trip to this fabulous city.

Oliebollen

My best friends mum used to make these on special occasions and I always managed to be at their house for those special occasions. Oiliebollen is a sort of deep-fried round ball of doughy goodness similar to a doughnut. These special doughnuts were traditionally served on New Year’s Eve coated in powdered sugar. My friends mum made two kinds a plan one and one with raisins, sultanas and currants. Licking the powdered sugar off your fingers was such a treat.

Dutch food - a favourite snack in the Netherlands olliebollen served hot from a food stall in Amsterdam

Poffertjes

Poffertjes are a little pancake, almost. They are puffier and fluffier and sit in a pile coated with powdered sugar. They are a yeast-based type of pancake but made with buckwheat. They are usually served with butter and powdered sugar but you can add strawberries and whipped cream or syrup if you like. A decadent treat to be nibbled on when walking through one of the markets in Amsterdam.

Hagelslag

At my Dutch friends’ house when I was a kid they had chocolate on toast for breakfast, can you imagine it? This was unheard of in Canada but oh what a treat. Hagelslag is basically chocolate sprinkles on hot toast or in a sandwich. What a treat chocolate for breakfast its enough to make you run to Amsterdam or at least a Dutch store near you. Apparently, hagelslag also comes in an anise flavour or fruit flavoured – personally I feel you need to stick with the familiar chocolate.

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Amin [CC BY-SA 4.0 ]

Erwtensoep  or Snert

This is a deeply satisfying bowl of split pea soup that you can turn your spoon upside down and the soup hangs on. Made with split peas, celery, carrots, pork, leeks and occasionally potatoes are added. In the winter months, slices of smoked sausage are added and the soup is served with rye bread and Dutch bacon. A truly warming hearty Dutch food favourite.

Drop

Not my favourite but all my Dutch Canadian friends considered Drop a true treat. This is really strong liquorice which comes salty or sweet. It is incredibly strong and most of the Dutch friends I know eat the salty version.

Drop, dark black and salty Dutch licorice

Everyone knows that the Netherlands is home to some of the most beautiful tulip gardens in the world. A must see is the Keukenhoff Gardens Tulip Festival. Want to know more check out Lizzie’s Guide to the Keukenhoff Tulip Festival.

Rijsttafel

What is Rijsttafel?

Not exactly Dutch Food but a tradition in the Netherlands who brought us great foods via the spice trade. A Rijsttafel is an Indonesian rice table which basically means a dozen or more small dishes of different Indonesian foods. Traditionally served with basmati rice you help yourself to any the dishes you fancy and dig in. It consists of rice with many small dishes of spiced vegetables and meats.

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Essentially, rijsttafel allows you to sample regional dishes from Indonesia brought home to the Netherlands from Indonesia. The main basis is the rice and then you get a selection of small appetizer-sized dishes which include seafood, beef, satays, vegetables and so much more. It is an absolute burst of flavours. From lemongrass to hot peppers and peanuts your rijstaffel is not cheap but it is immensely flavourful.

We had Rijsttafel at Indrapura right beside Rembrantsplein and it was really good. Sampurna which is in the Flower Market is also superb.

My favourite rijsttafel dishes

Bami Goreng

Dutch Food Amsterdam 5 Dutch Food Amsterdam

Bami is thin egg noodles that are stir-fried with garlic, onion, meats (my Dutch friends always used good ham), vegetables, egg and chilli. In Canada, my friends served it with a fried egg on top.

Nasi Goreng

This is basically a fried rice dish with a totally different flavour to Chinese stir-fried rice. It includes a caramelized sweet soy sauce called Ketjap Manis which adds a very distinctive flavour. It also includes powdered shrimp pastem meat (usually chicken or pork) the flavour is quite distinctive and it is much stronger in taste than bland fried rice.

Ekkerbekje / Kibbeling

Sort of a Dutch fish and chips without the chips.  Lekkerbekje and Kibbeling are battered and deep-fried white fish usually cod or whiting. Kibbeling is cut into chunks and lekkerbekje isn’t. They are served with mayonnaise-based sauces kind of like tartar sauce or garlic sauce. This is sold in any of the street markets in Amsterdam.

Pannenkoeken

Dutch pancakes or Pannenkoeken are sold everywhere. They are larger and thinner than North American pancakes but not quite as thin as a crepe. In Amsterdam, they are commonly eaten for dinner and are more akin to an American style pizza with savoury toppings instead of sweet ones.

Dutch pancakes

For a sweeter touch, Dutch pancakes are often eaten with sugar syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar. A brilliant way to try out the Dutch Pannenkoeken is on the Pannenkoeken boat cruise. All the pancakes you can eat and a tour of the canals in Amsterdam who could refuse?

Dutch Cheese

It wouldn’t be a trip to the Netherlands without trying some cheese or visiting any of the dozens of cheese museums dotted around the city. The Dutch have been making cheese for over 1600 years and after all that time they have become pretty good at it. You can get your fill of cheese in a day by simply walking into any cheese shop (trust me there are lots of them) and tasting your way through samples of some of the best Edam and Gouda cheese you have ever had.

Dutch cheese display one of thousands in Amsterdam

Cheese-making in the Netherlands is high art and deeply embedded in the culture of the Dutch. There are cheese markets all over the Netherlands and traditional cheese markets are held regularly in Alkmaar, Gouda, Edam and Woerden.

Dutch Cheese Museum in the Flowermarket - Dutch food

Dutch Beer

It also wouldn’t be a complete guide to food in Amsterdam unless I mentioned the beer. Dutch beer is excellent and there is a huge variety of beers locally-brewed to choose from

Brouwerijhetij brewery in the heart of Amsterdam

We went to a local brewery rightly famous for their brews and the brewery itself is located right next to the only windmill that remains in Amsterdam. Brouwerijhetij has been brewing its artisanal beers in Amsterdam since 1985. They have a fantastic range of beers from ones regularly on the menu to those speciality beers created for events and happenings throughout the Netherlands.

If you want to read some great tips for Amsterdam have a read of Lizzy’s Guide to Amsterdam: from tulips to coffee shops.

There you have it 15 of my top Dutch food favourites and of course some great locally brewed beer.  As you can see Dutch cuisine is far more interesting than you ever thought. Now it’s your turn to get out an enjoy Amsterdam. If you really want to know how to have fun in Amsterdam here is Your Guide to the Most Fun Things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam can be a very expensive city to stay in these days, with so many tourists finding accommodation can be a nightmare this article The best places to stay in Amsterdam will help you find exactly the right place to lay your head, from budget to luxury these are recommendations from travel writers with personal experience. 

Amsterdam is one of the safest cities in the world for solo travellers and as my fellow travel writer, Kelly knows there a lot of amazing things to do as a solo traveller in this beautiful city.

Are you a foodie? Do you love learning about unusual foods from around the world?

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