You’re in The Netherlands and you want to eat like a true Dutch person. Then pull up your chair, get your napkin ready, swig a glass of milk and start chewing on your Stamppot! Here is a list of traditional Dutch food that you may want to try.
Traditional Dutch Food
Hollandse NieuweDutch like to eat Herring raw. To eat it the Dutch way, tip your head back, grab the fish by the tail and bite upwards. It’s completely unglamorous but fun. If this doesn’t appeal to you, it can also be eaten in a bun, with or without optional extras such as finely chopped onion and sliced gherkins. If eaten this way, it’s called a broodje haring.
Herring is available all-year round but if the fish is caught between May and July, it’s referred to as Hollandse Nieuwe. The herring season starts every year with the traditional auction of the first tub of Nieuwe Haring; the most renown herring festival is Vlaggetjesdag or ‘flag day’ in Scheveningen. Afterwards, herring may be sold everywhere and ‘herring feasts’ are organised in many towns and cities. You will always spot the Haring stall on the Grote Martk if you’re feeling adventurous.
Friet / Frieten / Patat / Patatje
Chips or as my American cousins will say, Fries. These are all names for the same thing, depending on where in the Netherlands you live. There are also disagreements about what they’re called with different combinations of toppings, but it goes something like this:
- Friet of patat met mayo: chips with mayonnaise.
- Patat met satésaus: chips with peanut sauce.
- Patatje oorlog: chips with a combination of peanut saté sauce, mayo and onions.
- Patat speciaal: chips with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onion. (Ketchup makes this one special.)
Have you noticed the very large selection of licorice in your local supermarket? (Seriously they might as well have a dedicated aisle.) The Dutch love licorice, so much that they eat on average 2kg per person, per year. That’s more than any other country in the world. Personally I find licorice disgusting so this statistic makes my eyes twitch.
A stroopwafel is made of two thin waffles with a caramel-like stroop (syrup) filling in the middle. This is Holland’s most famous pastry for a reason. I have been told the best way to eat this heavenly, gooey waffle is to leave one carefully balanced on a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The heat from the coffee gradually heats up the waffle so you get a nice warm waffle with slightly runny caramel inside.
<<<<<<<<< Avert your eyes here. Look at that. Doesn’t that look delicious?
Oliebollen literally means ‘oil spheres’. Do not call them donuts! (You have been warned.) Dutch people are very passionate about Oliebollen and will defend them to within an inch of their life. Although they are traditionally eaten at New Year, they are available through out the festive/winter season in a variety of flavours, sweet and savory.
A Frikandel is a long, thin, skinless, dark-coloured meat sausage, usually eaten warm. It is often served with curry ketchup or mayonnaise, though some eat it with tomato ketchup, mustard or even apple sauce. You can find this sausage usually in food stalls in markets and various Dutch street food places.
These are chocolate sprinkles. They’re not that weird on top of your ice cream but if you really want to fit in, the Dutch eat this on bread, with butter, for breakfast. Don’t forget your class of milk.
These sweet little treats are popular in winter (although available all year round) and you will often see dedicated poffertje stalls and stands. Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes, served with powdered sugar, butter and sometimes syrup.
This is my nemesis. Bitterballen does, however, belong on this list because it is very popular in the Netherlands and you should try everything once. Normally a bar snack, these deep fried breaded balls of deliciousness…… Lies! It is all lies! I must be the only person in The Netherlands who hates this devil food.
The literal meaning is ‘mash pot’. Stamppot consists of mashed potato with vegetables of your choice thrown in. Popular vegetable choices include sauerkraut, spinach, swede, carrot, onion and kale. Stamppot is often served with rookworst (smoked sausage) and/or bacon lardons. If stamppot is served with kale it’s known as boerenkool.
Sometimes you’ll also get gravy with your Stamppot. Make a small hole in your mashed vegetables and fill it with gravy. This is known in Dutch as a kuiltje jus (little gravy pit).
Deep fried pieces of fish is. Originally, cod cheeks were used for kibbeling but due to high prices of cod, today, you might be served off-cuts of cod or possibly even hake, pollock or whiting.
This is pea soup, typically made from dried peas, such as split peas. I have heard you can tell what a good Erwtensoep is if your soup spoon can stay erect and not fall in your bowl.
OssenworstOriginally made of ox meat, this raw beef sausage originated in Amsterdam and is often served with Amsterdamse uitjes (Amsterdam onions), which are onions pickled with turmeric or saffron to give them a yellow colouring.
Similar to bitterballen (shudder) but cylindrical in shape. They come in a variety of fillings: beef, pork, satay sauce (peanut sauce), vegetable, potato and prawn. So make sure you know what you’re getting as they all look the same.
Kapsalon is made of chips, kebab meat or shawarma with cheese. It is often served with a dressed salad, garlic sauce and hot sauce or sambal. Kapsalon also means hairdresser, after its creator — a hairdresser from Rotterdam!
The Dutch are famous for their cheese. You’ll struggle not to eat cheese in the Netherlands. The best places to sample different cheeses are specialist cheese shops, or alternatively, most pubs will have cheese on their bar snack menu. Go for the oude kaas (literally: old cheese).
Dutch pancakes are larger and thinner than American or Scotch pancakes. They can come sweet or savoury and are offered with a gazillion toppings. Pannenkoeken are so popular here that there are tons of dedicated pancake restaurants/houses throughout the Netherlands.
Normally found on the bar snack menu, these are deep fried pastry filled with cheese, served with sweet chili sauce. These are very moreish, especially after a few beers.
Is there anything on the list that I have missed out? What’s your favourite or worse Dutch food? Let us know in the comments below!
Latest posts by Katie Joy (see all)
- Things all new expats need to know in The Netherlands. - February 14, 2019
- Things to do in Haarlem this February. - February 1, 2019
- Dutch History; the Hunger Winter. - January 29, 2019