Although the Netherlands is quite a small country in the Northern part of Europe, they have plenty of traditional foods that taste absolutely amazing! Some Dutch food are even known all over the world, while others are a bit more unfamiliar to people outside of the Netherlands.
Since Dutch cuisine is so delicious, here are some of the best dishes in the Netherlands to indulge in when you visit.
What’s Special About Dutch Food?
Before we dive into the best traditional Dutch foods in the Netherlands, here is what we think makes it special and worth exploring.
Although some Dutch dishes seem quite ordinary, the people in the Netherlands have also created foods in their cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else in the world! They have a lot of fried foods for example that aren’t ideal for your diet, but taste absolutely amazing!
You will also find plenty of foreign influences in Dutch cuisines, like German and Indonesian for example. This is because the Netherlands was once controlled by Germany during the Second World War, and conversely the Dutch colonized Indonesia for a long time.
The mixed influences also mean that anyone will likely find something they enjoy among all the traditional foods from the Netherlands. There are sweet dishes, foreign dishes, fried food, and quite ordinary recipes that you can make yourself at home. Dutch cuisine is very diverse!
Most Common Dutch Food
AVG’tje (Potatoes, Meat, Vegetables)
One of the most typical and popular Dutch dishes in the Netherlands is an AVG’tje. This is an abbreviation for ‘aardappels, vlees, groente’, which means it’s a dish consisting of potatoes, meat, and vegetables.
What a name! This meal is very common throughout the Netherlands as most people eat a variation of it almost daily.
The great thing about an AVG’tje is that it offers endless possibilities. If you want to eat chicken in your AVG one day, you can have pork on the next. This traditional Dutch food is more of a term for a kind of Dutch meal than it is one specific meal.
Traditional Dutch Food
Hutspot (Hotch Potch)
Another traditional Dutch food is hutspot. This dish of Dutch origins consists of potatoes, carrots, and onions. To prepare this delicious meal, you boil and cook all the ingredients together; after which you mash them all up.
Hutspot is especially popular during the wintertime in the Netherlands. It’s an easy meal and perfect for those cold, chilling days. The starchy veggies help to fill the stomach, but people usually eat some meat on the side as well along with the hutspot.
This classic Dutch dish dates all the way back to the 16th century during the Eighty Years’ War. It’s full of tradition and nostalgia.
Stamppot (Mash Pot)
Stamppot looks a lot like hutspot, but it’s slightly different. Although hutspot always consists of potatoes, carrots, and unions, you can use other ingredients in stamppot. You could make stamppot using kale or cabbage, for example.
Like hutspot, stamppot is often eaten during the winter in combination with some meat on the side. They also like to put some gravy on top of this traditional Dutch food, which makes it even better.
The stamppot is commonly considered the national dish of the Netherlands, so you can imagine its popularity.
Huzarensalade (Dutch Potato Salad)
Huzarensalade is a kind of side dish that’s popular in Dutch cuisine. This salad is served cold and is commonly seen during a barbecue in the summer. Huzarensalade has a strong resemblance to Russian salad, which is why it might seem familiar.
Huzarensalade, however, is made from eggs, pickles, potatoes, vinegar, and mayonnaise. Russian salad often includes carrots, peas, and ham as well. This Dutch dish is more simple than its Russian counterpart.
Lekkerbekje (Fish And Chips)
If you enjoy fish, don’t miss out on lekkerbekje! This is one of the most famous fish dishes in Dutch cuisine. It’s essentially the Dutch version of fish and chips.
Lekkerbekje is typically made from cod or whiting in the Netherlands. After dipping the fish in batter, they deep-fry it and then it’s ready to get served. Simple and straightforward but so delicious.
The crunchy batter forms a contrasting texture with the soft fish meat. This traditional Dutch food is often served with a tartar sauce and goes well with some fries to make a fulfilling meal.
Kibbeling (Fried Battered Fish)
Kibbeling looks a lot like lekkerbekje and these two Dutch dishes are very similar. They are both made from cod or whiting and prepared with a batter, after which they are deep-fried.
The difference between lekkerbekje and kibbeling, however, is that the kibbeling gets cut up into smaller pieces before preparing it with batter.
Another interesting fact about Dutch is that the name kibbeling refers to cod cheeks, which used to be a large part of the diet in the Netherlands back in the middle ages.
Tosti (Grilled Cheese)
A tosti is pretty much a grilled cheese sandwich. This Dutch dish is especially popular during lunch, although some people will still eat it as breakfast in the Netherlands as well. It also tastes amazing as a side dish for soup.
Tosti is made from 2 slices of bread that are stuffed with ham and cheese. After this, the Dutch toast the sandwich for a few minutes, which makes the cheese melt and improves the overall flavor. It’s often eaten with ketchup or mayonnaise.
Although kapsalon isn’t completely Dutch, but rather multi-ethnic, it is one of the most satisfying foods in the Netherlands! This dish consists of fries topped with meat, cheese (that’s melted in the oven), and a salad on top. They often mix some kind of sauce in between as well.
Everyone loves a good kapsalon, but since it contains a whopping 1800 calories, most people don’t eat it very often.
You can think of kapsalon as a guilty pleasure or something they like to eat after going out and drinking. The sinful and hearty dish helps to wash down the alcohol.
Soups And Stews In Dutch Cuisine
Bruine Bonensoep (Brown Bean Soup)
Brown bean soup is a traditional food in the Netherlands that is often prepared during the wintertime. Winters in the Netherlands are quite cold, which is why a warm, hearty brown bean soup fits perfectly for the season.
The soup is made from brown beans, vegetables, and meats. They also use different spices in this soup, such as juniper berries, cloves, and thyme. This Dutch dish takes hours to prepare as it needs to be slowly cooked for the flavors to soak in.
Snert (Pea Soup)
Another soup that’s popular in the Netherlands is pea soup. The soup has a nickname in this country as well; the Dutch often call it ‘snert’. Pea soup is made from split peas with other vegetables.
As with many other traditional Dutch dishes, they eat pea soup in combination with some meat on the side. Often this is a kind of sausage called ‘rookworst’. If you ever visit Amsterdam, you should try this simple yet famous food in the Netherlands.
Hachee (Dutch Beef And Onion Stew)
Hachee is a kind of stew that’s a famous dish in the Netherlands. As with many other soupy or stewy Dutch foods, this meal is often eaten during the winter. It is perfect to warm you up on cold days.
Hachee is made from vegetables together with meat, fish, or poultry. These ingredients are stewed into a thick kind of gravy and mixed together with vinegar, laurel leaves, and cloves. It is a very common dish in Dutch homes.
Snacks In Dutch Cuisine
Oliebollen (Doughnut Balls)
If you were to directly translate this snack from Dutch, it would mean oil balls; but if you haven’t already guessed, it’s better to compare them with doughnuts. Oliebollens get their name from being baked in hot oil.
Oliebollen is a snack that is often enjoyed during Christmas and especially during New Year’s. Other European countries actually have their version of this in their Christmas market. E.g. Fritule in Croatia,
That said, there are some variations of Oliebollen recipes available in the Netherlands as well since many people love them with raisins too. This festive treat is often eaten with powdered sugar, but it really depends on your taste.
Soused Herring is a Dutch food that’s called “Hollandse nieuwe haring” in Dutch. This herring is often paired with onions and is usually consumed as a snack in the Netherlands.
The herring is raw, after which it gets cooked in some spices and apple cider vinegar. This traditional Dutch food has quite a sour taste, which is why it’s might not appeal to all taste palettes.
However, if you generally like pickled food, this is an interesting and tasty dish to try.
Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)
Bitterballen is one of the most popular Dutch food throughout the Netherlands and is especially common during parties! This fried snack can be compared to the British scotch egg.
Bitterballen consists of balls made from finely chopped beef that’s seasoned with some spices. These balls are coated with bread crumbs before getting deep fried. You will be able to find this Dutch snack in most bars as well as parties.
Worstenbroodje (Meat Puff Pastry)
One of the best foods in the Netherlands is a worstenbroodje. This snack can’t really be considered a full dish, but is often eaten in between meals as a snack or sometimes as a quick lunch.
Worstenbroodje is essentially a pastry filled with meat on the inside. The dough for the pastry is made with puff pastry, spices, and eggs. The meat is nice and savory as they season the stuffing to give it more flavor.
You can find plenty of ready-cooked worstenbroodjes in the supermarkets, or frozen ones to bake in the oven at home. They are a convenient snack to bring along on your trips, as you explore the famous landmarks in the Netherlands.
Saucijzenbroodje (Meat Roll)
Saucijzenbroodjes look a lot like worstenbroodjes. These are also pastries that are filled with seasoned ground meat, typically spiced with black pepper and nutmeg. However, these two snacks don’t taste much alike.
Saucijzenbroodje crumbles more easily and simply has a different flavor than a worstenbroodje. So don’t be fooled by just the appearance, try both of them!
You will find saucijzenbroodjes ready to go in most supermarkets. These pastries are even common in hospital cafes.
Peperkoek (Gingerbread Cake)
Peperkoek, or ontbijtkoek, is a kind of Dutch food that is often eaten during breakfast. It looks a lot like cake, but with a hinge of light brown color due to the spices. They flavor the peperkoek with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
Most people enjoy their peperkoek with a layer of butter and it pairs really well with a cup of warm tea. Another advantage of this famous Dutch food is that it will stay good for weeks, even if you keep it at room temperature.
Another popular fast food item from the Netherlands is the kroket. It’s quite identical to bitterballen actually as it is usually made from the same filling. A kroket is made from marinated meat, cheese, potatoes, and spices.
From this mixture, they create a cylindrical shape and then coat it with breadcrumbs. After which, it is fried in hot oil.
Kroketten is available at plenty of snack bars and cafes, they make for a great refreshment break snack. You can enjoy it will all kinds of different sauces, like mayonnaise.
Desserts And Sweet Dutch Food
Pannenkoek (Dutch Pancakes)
Most people are familiar with American pancakes, but have you tried Dutch pancakes yet? This is one of the many amazing sweet Dutch dishes that you’ll find when you visit the Netherlands.
Dutch pancakes are thinner and bigger than American pancakes; they are typically big enough to fill a frying pan. It’s almost like a blend between crepes and pancakes. Interestingly, the Dutch often eat this popular dish in the evening for dinner instead of breakfast.
The pancakes are usually served with syrup or powdered sugar, but can also go with bacon, apple, cheese, or spinach. If you need an excuse for a sweet dinner in the Netherlands, this is certainly one delicious option to go for.
One of the most popular sweet Dutch dishes you will find is called poffertjes. Some people like to call these mini pancakes as they are often made from the same dough as pancakes.
The poffertjes are small and fluffy and made in a special pan designed for poffertjes. People often eat this Dutch dish with powdered sugar, but it’s also popular with jam, syrup, chocolate, or even grated cheese! A lump of butter is also often put on the poffertjes to give it a flavorful kick.
Appeltaart (Apple Pie)
Although apple pie itself is known all around the world, the Dutch version, appeltaart, deserves some recognition as well. Appeltaart is made from sliced apples, which are then covered with a lattice pastry,
This Dutch apple pie is often served on birthdays, but you can also find it in restaurants or cafes as well. Try the appeltaart with some whipped cream or even with some ice cream for the ultimate indulgence. It is one of the classic Dutch desserts that stood the test of time.
Wentelteefje (French Toast)
Another popular Dutch food for breakfast is a wentelteefje. Some compare this dish to French toast as the recipe is similar.
This Dutch dish is commonly eaten during breakfast or sometimes as lunch. To make wentelteefjes, you have to soak the slices of bread in a mixture of milk and beaten eggs, after which you fry them in a pan. It is a relatively simple recipe.
Best of all, if you have some leftover bread that’s gotten hard, you can use it to make wentelteefjes. It will still taste the same and you won’t have to waste the bread.
Appelflap (Apple Turnovers)
One of the best traditional foods from the Netherlands is the appelflap. These pastries are filled with gooey, chunky applesauce on the inside and taste absolutely delicious!
They are very sweet and are made from dough, apples, and powdered sugar, although many people also use raisins in their appelflap.
The appelflap dates back a long time ago all the way to the Middle Ages, so it has been around for quite a while now. It’s usually eaten as a snack or a treat to go along while having coffee with your friends.
Cross-Cultural Dishes In Dutch Cuisine
Patat (Belgian Fries)
Patat can be compared to French fries, but then in the Netherlands. Many foreigners refer to it as Belgian Fries. These fries are a lot thicker and it goes by a lot of different names throughout the country itself.
Some people in the Netherlands call it ‘friet’ or “Vlaamse frites” as a nod to its origins in the Northern Belgium region, while others will call it patat.
Regardless, from a traveler’s point of view, this is basically that cone-shaped container stuffed with fries and dipping sauce that you will likely see many people snacking on while walking. You are bound to see stores selling this in tourist zones.
Patat is served with all kinds of toppings and really depends on what someone likes best. Some eat patat with a kind of peanut sauce, while others prefer to eat it with tomato ketchup or mayonnaise.
Patatje Oorlog (Loaded / War Fries)
An upgraded variation of patat is patatje oorlog. This is kind of a street food dish and is also often eaten after a night out, as it comes with high calories of course.
Patatje oorlog is made with fries and other ingredients, including a sauce or gravy on top. The name translates to “War Fries”, which resembles the “Loaded Fries” on menus in different restaurants. Essentially an even more hearty and sinful variation of simple fries.
Similarly, the way patatje oorlog is made can differ from place to place; but most of the time it will have a kind of peanut satay-style sauce, chopped onions, and mayonnaise. However, patatje oorlog can also be made with mustard, tomato sauce, or lemon.
Bami Goreng (Indonesian Stir Fried Noodles)
Bami Goreng is one of the most popular dishes in the Netherlands but has Indonesian origins. The Dutch used to colonize Indonesia, even ruling some parts of the country for 350 years.
Through the cuisine, we can see the influence is a two-way street. That’s why you’ll find multiple Indonesian dishes within the Dutch food scene.
Bami Goreng is made from stir-fried noodles, vegetables, meat, egg, chili, and garlic. They often use chicken as meat, because most Indonesians are Muslim and they won’t use pork.
Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)
Nasi Goreng is another popular Dutch dish that’s originally from Indonesia. The name translates to ‘fried rice’ and is made from rice, meat, vegetables, and spices. It is often topped off with a fried egg.
In some ways, this is the rice version of Bami Goreng. If you want to try an Asian fusion dish while in the Netherlands, Nasi Goreng is always a safe choice.
You can also make Nasi Goreng yourself at home if you want to. It is not a difficult dish to make, but one that’s hard to perfect.
Another popular Dutch snack that comes from the Indonesian influence is the bamischijf. The savory snack is filled with the same bami from the Bami Goreng.
The fried noodles are coated with breadcrumbs, after which it gets deep-fried in hot oil. Just like many other deep-fried snacks, bamischijven are popular after a night out, but they are also eaten as a side dish when they eat fries (or ‘patat’).
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Other Famous Dutch Food In The Netherlands
It is no secret that The Netherlands is known for its cheese. And one of the most famous cheeses from this country is Gouda. Although there is a place in the Netherlands called Gouda, the cheese isn’t actually made here.
The reason why Gouda cheese got its name is because they used to sell this cheese on the market in Gouda. The cheese itself actually originates in the Southern region of the Netherlands.
Nonetheless, Gouda market is a great place to visit to check out various products from the country. And if you love cheese, you should definitely visit a cheese store and sample some of the different Dutch cheeses!
One of the most beloved foods in the Netherlands is stroopwafels. This actually is the most famous pastry from the Netherlands. Stroopwafels are made from 2 very thin waffles that are made from baked butter.
These two waffles are then filled with a kind of sticky syrup between them, the ‘stroop’, which makes the two layers stick. Stroopwafels are sold in pretty much every supermarket in the Netherlands in the cookie aisle. The people in the Netherlands enjoy it with their coffee or tea or as a sweet snack.
This makes for the perfect souvenir to take a taste from the Netherlands back home with you, and maybe share with friends and family.
Discovering More Traditional Dutch Food
Exploring Dutch cuisine is an exciting and delicious way to discover the culture of this small yet vibrant country. From Indonesian-inspired dishes like Bami Goreng, Nasi Goreng, and Bamischijf to more traditional foods such as Gouda Cheese and Stroopwafels, there are plenty of scrumptious options for all the foodies.
Whether you’re visiting The Netherlands or just want a taste from home, these classic Dutch treats will leave your mouth watering! There are so many unique flavors waiting for you in The Netherlands – go out there and enjoy them all!