There is no better way to experience this beautiful country than by exploring its charming landmarks and delicious fare. This European kingdom is known for its confectionery and waffles, but authentic Belgium food has much to offer.
Belgium cuisine is beloved around the world. From classic Belgian chocolates and steaming moules frites (mussels and fries) to waffles and Belgian beer, you’ll find some incredible dishes here.
What’s Special About Belgian Food?
Belgian cuisine is a delectable fusion of influences from neighboring France, the Netherlands and Germany. In particular, Belgium food is widely revered for its combination of French finesse and hearty Flemish flavors. This results in dishes that feature a rich blend of textures and tastes which uniquely define the country.
When it comes to Belgian food, high-quality ingredients take center stage rather than complex cooking techniques. Local specialties make ample use of its famous chocolate, creamy dairy, tasty meats and fresh produce.
In general, German-influenced comfort foods like stews, sausages and mashed vegetables are common in the north while feather-light souffles, tarts and salads reflect France’s refinements in the south. Two items that are distinctly Belgian are moules frites (steaming fresh mussels with fries) and waffles. Beers are also highlighted in Belgium cuisine, i.e., it is commonly used in cooking.
Most Famous Food in Belgium
Belgische Chocolade (Belgian Chocolate)
You might have tried Belgian chocolate in many different countries, but they are just imitations. Nothing can beat the divine taste of the original. These iconic bites are velvety and will make your mouth water with their tempting fragrance.
The Kingdom of Belgium is flooded with shops and franchises selling the sweet confectionery. Some of their must-try brands are Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas and Nirvana. Locals often eat them with tea or coffee. Therefore, a small piece of chocolate will almost always accompany your beverages in the country.
When you come to visit, don’t forget to check out the world’s largest Belgian chocolate museum, Chocolate Nation, in Antwerp. It is one of the famous landmarks in Belgium that reveals the secret behind the unique taste of the nation’s most popular sweet treat. These heavenly delights are so beloved that they have even become a significant part of a typical Belgian breakfast.
Belgium Food: Potato Dishes
Frites/Frietjes (Belgian Fries)
While the name French fries might have you thinking this popular food originated in France, Belgium begs to differ. In fact, the country and its citizens contest the name and its common origin story. According to them, fries appeared in Belgian cuisine before 1680, while the French only started eating the deep-fried potato dish after 1770.
In any case, the incredible taste of this Belgian food is what makes it the talk of the town. Compared to the French version, Belgian fries are cut thicker and have an extra crunchy exterior with a fluffier inside.
The double-frying technique is the secret to the perfection of this Belgian street food. They are often served with a sauce called andalouse. This famous dip for Belgium foods is a spicy combination of mayonnaise, tomato paste and peppers.
Stoemp (Mashed Potatoes)
Stoemp is another famous masterpiece of Belgian cuisine. It is the Belgium version of mashed potatoes. The local chefs give it a traditional touch by seasoning the spuds with butter, some veggies and cream or milk.
This dish is considered a typical Belgian food in the northern region of the country. Locals typically eat it for lunch and dinner. You can enjoy it as a main dish or a side dish served with sausages, fish, bacon or fried eggs.
The thickness of the cream and the different vegetables give a plain but distinguished taste to this dish. This potato-based Belgium food is soul-comforting with its salty flavors.
Belgium Food: Meat Dishes
Carbonnade Flamande/Stoverij (Beef Stew)
Carbonade flamande, also known as Flemish stew, is another iconic dish in traditional Belgium cuisine. It is a rich and thick one-pot beer-beef stew that comes from the Flanders region of Belgium.
This hearty fare comes with a slight touch of sweetness and sourness. It is prepared by slow-cooking beef for hours. The result is a flavorful meat that is tender enough to melt in your mouth.
This traditional food of Belgium is usually served with fries, boiled potatoes or bread. A glass of chilled Belgian beer goes well with this beef stew.
Waterzooi (Belgium Stew)
Waterzooi is a creamy, soupy stew. The dish is thought to have originated in Flanders during the 18th century. Some people also claim that it was the favorite meal of Roman Emperor Charles V.
This rich Belgian food features chicken or fish, veggies, thick stock broth, cream, butter and egg yolks. The traditional recipe for waterzooi uses fish, but it is more common to make it with chicken these days. Last but not least, a hint of Belgian beer is added to give it that classic touch.
This savory and piping hot dish is perfect to enjoy during winter nights. It is typically served with warm bread and butter to comfort your soul and satisfy your hunger.
Filet Américain (Beef Tartare)
Filet Américain is a popular Belgium food. It consists of raw minced beef, often seasoned with onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and spices. It’s enjoyed spread on bread or toast.
The traditional Belgian food emphasizes the use of high-quality, fresh ingredients. While similar to steak tartare, filet Américain often includes a distinct blend of condiments that give it a unique and savory flavor profile. It’s a testament to Belgium’s rich gastronomic tradition and is a favorite choice among those who appreciate the country’s diverse and delectable culinary offerings.
Bloedworst (Blood Sausage)
Belgian cuisine includes a variety of unique dishes that you might have never tasted before. This Belgium food is a savory sausage filled with blood. It might sound weird, but it is actually quite delicious.
Also known as bloedworst or beuling, this black pudding is made from pork blood, some meat, breadcrumbs, and spices. Cooked in hog casing, bloedworst has a soft creamy texture and signature iron taste.
You can order the sausages grilled, sauteed or barbecued from local eateries. Some Belgians like to have it raw with potatoes and apple sauce.
Boudin Blanc (White Sausage)
Boudin blanc, or white sausage, is another Belgium food loved by many people. It is the perfect alternative for those who don’t want to taste blood in their sausage. The dish is very delicate and will win your heart on the first bite.
It is made with a mixture of lean white meat, breadcrumbs, onion, milk, cream and marjoram. The combination results in a light dish.
Mostly served grilled or sauteed, boudin blanc is a significant part of Belgian breakfast. Some chefs add some green spices and herbs for a fresh touch.
Pâté (Meat Spread)
Pâté is a delicious addition to the Belgian foods list. It is a thick paste or pie stuffed with pork liver and forcemeat, which is ground mixed meat that could be pork, poultry, fish and/or beef.
Veggies, herbs and spices are also added to achieve a savory and rich flavor. Wine or brandy is also incorporated for a deeper taste.
The dish can be served hot or cold, but it tastes best chilled. Locals enjoy this scrumptious spread over Belgium bread or crackers. It also pairs well with cheese and sausages.
Chicons Au Gratin/Gegratineerde Witloof (Endive And Ham Gratin)
Chicons au gratin is a comfort food in Belgium cuisine. It is one of the traditional dishes served for lunch and dinner, especially during winter time.
Belgian endives are braised and wrapped in ham. The veggie and meat combination is then smothered in béchamel sauce and cheese. The endives caramelize in the oven, balancing the saltiness of the ham and creating a sweet, savory flavor pairing beloved across the country.
Frikadellen Met Krieken (Meatball With Cherries)
Meatballs with cherries are a classic meal in Flanders. The combination might sound weird to someone who hasn’t tasted them before, but once you try this fantastic Belgian food, it is hard to resist.
The meatballs are typically made from either minced beef or pork, combined with finely crushed onions and herbs. The mixture is molded into small spheres, covered in breadcrumbs and then fried until golden brown. The accompanying sauce is made from sour cherries and red wine.
The tangy and sweet flavor of the sauce makes this dish truly unique. They are served as a snack or an appetizer at holidays and parties to bring festive vibes.
Traditional Belgian Seafood
Moules Frites/Mosselen Friet (Mussels With Fries)
Moules frites is one of the best Belgian national foods. It is a mussel dish served along with crunchy Belgian fries. They are best eaten when the mollusks are fresh.
The mussels are steamed in a saucy mixture of butter, garlic, shallots, white wine and parsley. The sizzling hot bowl of seafood tastes incredible with frites (fries).
This Belgium food is usually served in an individual cauldron with a sauce of your choice. Locals use a fork for picking up their first seashell. They use the shell as a pincer to eat the remaining mussels.
Croquettes Aux Crevettes Grises/Garnalen Kroketten (Shrimp Croquettes)
Croquettes are breaded food rolls. This Belgian version contains North Sea shrimp, butter, cream, eggs and breadcrumbs.
All the ingredients are mixed and rolled in a béchamel sauce, covered with breadcrumbs and then fried. Crispy outer layers give way to the inside of the croquettes which is always oozing but not completely liquid.
North Sea shrimp are everywhere in the coastal areas of Belgium and are served in huge amounts in the whole country. This Belgium food can be eaten for lunch, dinner or as a snack.
Tomaat Garnaal/Tomate Crevette (Tomato With Shrimp)
This is another delectable Belgian food. The summer classic features shrimp mixed in mayonnaise, tomatoes and spices.
The shrimp stuffed in cold tomatoes gives the dish a classy look and a juicy taste. The incredible flavor of tomate crevette comes from North Sea shrimp, also known as “caviar of the North Sea.”
It is usually served as an appetizer. Tomate crevette makes a perfect match with crusty round bread rolls locally known as pistolet. It can also be a great filling for your sandwich.
You can eat this delicious food in Belgium as a stand-alone dish. However, locals like to have it plain with Belgian beer.
Paling In ‘T Groen (Eel In The Green)
This is a unique Belgium food from the Flemish region. The word paling in ‘t groen is translated as “eel in the green.”
As the name refers, it features stewed freshwater eel mixed with green herb sauce. In Belgium, eel used to be a staple food. It tastes like fish and has a texture like chicken.
Every Belgian restaurant has its own unique recipe to prepare this delicacy. Overall, it is savory and has a refreshing flavor.
This Belgian street food makes use of fresh seafood. It’s a popular fare in Brussels, where the dish is sold from shacks with caricoles or karakollen written on their boards.
Whelks or snails are cooked in a broth with celery and lots of pepper. The snails are cooked carefully to keep their fantastic chewy texture. Pepper or chili infuses the broth with a spicy kick and provides balance to the sweet, salty and fatty taste of the whelks.
It is best to eat the warm, spicy soup during the winter months when it’s cold outside. The street food stalls serve the dish in plastic cups, which you can enjoy on the go.
Belgian Desserts And Sweet Dishes
Smoutebollen (Dutch Doughnuts Or Dutchies)
Smoutebollen is a Belgium food made with an iconic Belgian beer. In Belgium, locals usually enjoy it during the winter and serve it on Christmas.
These doughnut balls are formed from sweet dough infused with beer and deep fried. This snack is widely loved in the Netherlands as well.
This detectable snack is served hot and sprinkled with powdered sugar in paper cones. They taste buttery, crunchy and greasy. Eating these warm and gooey Belgian treats during cold nights warm you up and satisfies your sweet tooth.
Cuberdon (Belgian Candy)
Cuberdon is a unique Belgian dessert. This classic sweet might have failed to delight the majority of tourists, but it remains popular among the locals. It is especially eaten in the city of Ghent, where it is served as a traditional confectionery.
This Belgian treat is a cone-shaped candy made of sugar and gelatine. When you crush the outer hard crust, the inner purplish-gooey syrup bursts inside your mouth. Cuberdon comes in different flavors, including lemon, strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, cherry, pineapple, apple, banana and many more.
Due to its similarity with the human nose, this Belgium food is locally known as neuzeke meaning “little nose.” Give it a try during your next visit to the country.
Rijsttaart (Rice Tart)
Rijsttaart is a famous Belgium food. The dish originated from Verviers and soon became a popular food item all over the country. It traditionally comes in vanilla flavor, but modern recipes come in a variety of flavors.
This Belgium dessert is a pie filled with luscious rice pudding. It is sweet, creamy and very filling. Rijsttaart is usually served cold, shaped into both small tarts and big pies.
Sirop De Liège/Luikse Siroop (Belgian Jam)
Sirop de Liège, also known as apple butter, is the Belgian version of a jam or jelly-like spread, which is very popular in the country. This treat gets its name from its place of origin, Liège.
The juices of apples, pears and dates are mixed to form a smooth jam. Some people also add apricots and other fruits to enhance the taste. The traditional version of this Belgium food does not include sugar, but others like to make it extra sweet.
You can eat this jelly with various Belgian foods. Locals usually enjoy spreading it on tartine. Try it over pancakes or waffles and pair it with cheese to have a divine experience.
Belgium Food: Waffles And Cookies
Belgian waffles are locally known as gaufres and are very famous in Belgium. Here, they have been enjoyed as a delectable breakfast since the Middle Ages. You can get either a light Brussel version or a denser Liège one.
This crispy and aromatic Belgian food is served wrapped in paper and enjoyed plain or with different garnishes. Famous toppings include whipped cream, sugar, fresh fruits, chocolate sauce, strawberries and many more. Overall, they are larger and deeper than U.S. waffles, which allows them to hold a lot of toppings.
You can easily find this Belgium food across the country. It is commonly served at almost every street food stall, cafe and eatery.
Speculoos (Spiced Gingerbread Shortcrust Cookies)
Speculoos are delicious gingerbread cookies originating from the Netherlands and Belgium. This Belgian food is thin and offers a unique spicy flavor.
One can easily munch on too many without even noticing. Locals usually dip them in tea, coffee or water to make them soft.
The traditional Belgian food is commonly made for the celebration of St. Nicholas Day. It is also served for Christmas festivities. Outside of these holidays, you can get the cookies on regular days without any struggle.
Couque De Dinant (Belgian Cookies)
Couque de Dinant are traditional sweet biscuits that originated from the town of Dinant in Belgium. They are known for their hard texture and honey flavor.
Crafted from a blend of honey and wheat flour, their signature hardness is achieved by baking at high temperatures. These dense treats are then shaped into various forms, often depicting local symbols or scenes.
Unlike traditional soft cookies, couque de Dinant has a firm and brittle texture. It is not recommended that you should bite into them directly. Rather, you should break them into tiny pieces or dunk them into coffee or other beverage to soften them up.
Traditional Belgian Drinks
Belgian beer is considered the world’s best and that’s why natives are so proud of it. Locals drink the beverage often, even early in the morning like most would have tea or coffee. According to an estimate, Belgians drink up to 150 liters of beer per day per person.
In Belgium, you can get over 800 different varieties of beer. The country’s collection includes pale ales, lambics, Flanders red ales, brown ales, strong ales and stouts. Some of its famous brands are Stella Artois and Hoegaarden.
The drink is mostly served in bottles or their specifically shaped branded glasses. Apart from this, some Belgian foods are also infused with this drink. For instance, dishes like carbonnade and stoverij use beer as the main ingredient.
Genièvre, Genever Or Peket (Jenever)
There’s no doubt Belgian beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage, but genièvre is something you can’t miss. It is usually served in shot glasses for Christmas celebrations.
You can get jonge jenever that tastes like vodka or the smooth and malty oude genever. This traditional drink is juniper flavored in its classic form. Today, other flavors are available as well, such as apple, vanilla and chocolate.
Genièvre is a beverage distilled by the Dutch community since the 16th century or earlier. It has been known as the national spirit of Belgium for over 500 years.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Delicious Belgian Food
Belgian cuisine offers some of the most incredible dishes. Culinary influences from its neighboring countries are prevalent, creating luxurious and delicate combinations.Despite the facts about Belgium, being popular for its chocolate, we know there are so many other fantastic traditional dishes to taste as well. With amazing desserts, street food and irresistabe seafood, the diverse flavors of hearty Belgium food are worth trying.