Although we always say we don’t really have a national cuisine, The Netherlands does have distinct dishes that you simply have to try when visiting The Netherlands. I grew up with these 25 Dutch traditional foods I’ve listed below. From breakfast to dinner to snacks these dishes can be found all over The Netherlands.
Dutch Traditional Foods
A kroket is a typical Dutch snack that’s one of my all time favorites. It’s a thick ragout which is braided in egg wash, flour and bread crumbs. This is then fried in oil and you have a delicious soft interior with a crunchy crust. Most krokets have a beef stuffing, but there are many variations like veal kroket, shrimp kroket, veggie kroket or satay kroket.
As kroket is eaten as is, dipping it in mustard or on a bun, than it’s called a ‘broodje kroket’. For lunch it’s served with 2 slices of bread and a bit of salad. For dinner or as part of a kids menu it’s served with fries and apple sauce, mayonnaise or tomato ketchup. Whenever we return from abroad the first thing we do is stop at a gas station and get a ‘broodje kroket’. It just is something unique and comforting.
You can get a kroket or broodje kroket at most gas stations and snackbars. The krokets with bread or fries are sold at restaurants and lunchrooms. Where to eat in Utrecht gives some options on where to get them when your exploring Utrecht with kids.
Tip: Watch out, the interior of the kroket is hot, you wouldn’t be the first to burn your pallet or tong. Don’t just bite in, start with a small bite.
Erwtensoep, also called ‘snert’, is one of those traditional Dutch food dishes. It’s split pea soup and traditionally it has to be so thick that a spoon can stand up straight in it. The base of the soup is a meat broth from salted meat or water with dried split peas. These are cooked until mush. Veggies and meat are added, which vary, but commonly leek, celeriac, carrots, onion, potato, celery, leaf celery, smoked sausage, ribs of pork, lard cutlet, pig’s trotter or a pork chop.
It’s traditionally eaten in the winter months, comfort food to warm up with. When sold in restaurants, cafes and lunchrooms it’s usually served in a bowl and comes with a slice of ryebread with smoked bacon (or cheese or butter). Most restaurants with a lunch menu and/or Dutch foods on it will sell erwtensoep in winter time. It’s sold all over The Netherlands.
When you can ice skate you will find stalls that sell “koek & zopie”, those will sell snert in paper or plastic cups to warm up with in the cold.
Tip: Just don’t look or ask for it during Summer time, it’s not a year round dish.
A traditional food that’s eaten on New Years Eve. It’s a dough ball which can be stuffed with currants and apple pieces, that is deep fried. It’s served with powdered sugar.
Oliebollen are so delicious, I love them, and can’t get enough of them. People make their own oliebollen usually on December 31st. They bake a bunch during the day and will eat them on New Years Ever with their family, neighbours or friends.
You can also buy oliebollen at a ‘gebakskraam’ (a stall), a bakery or in the supermarket. The stalls pop up everywhere from about October/November. They sell different oliebollen, berliner bolls, apple beignets and other beignets.
Tip: This is a very seasonal product, only available a short period from roughly November till January.
4. Tompouce or tompoes
Now for something sweet, a tompouce, it’s a pastry. It’s confectioner’s cream between 2 puff pastry sheets and on top pink glazing. Some people try to eat all the layers in one bite, but a lot of people will eat the puff pastry separate from the confectioner’s cream.
The tompoes isn’t orginally Dutch, and there are many variations throughout Europe. In The Netherlands tompouce are sold in the pastry aisle of supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants. You can get them all over The Netherlands. Around Kingsday tompouces are sold with an orange glazing. Other tompouces you will see is with a white glazing, coffee flavour or any other color glazing they can make.
Tip: The HEMA is famous for it’s tompoucen. They’re simply delicious.
The Netherlands has a large part of it’s border with the sea, so no surprise that there’s a fish dish on the list. Kibbeling is braided cod chunks which are then deep fried and served with remoulade sauce.
The kibbeling is bought at a fish stall or fish shop. Usually they’re in a plastic box with sauce on the side, but they can also be served with fries. It either serves as a snack or lunch.
Tip: It’s on our list of things to do in Zeeland, since getting it close to sea, means you have the freshest fish.
Stamppot or hodge podge is a true winter time comfort food. It’s boiled potatoes and veggies, which are then mashed. Traditionally served with a smoked sausage. The most famous and a really old Dutch foods is hutspot. A variation on stamppot from potatoes, carrots and onion. Hutspot was eaten in 1574 at the ‘Leidens ontzet’, back then it was without potatoes and probaly without carrots. Parsnip was the base of the dish.
Stamppot is normally served and made in winter time, although there are lighter versions for Sping and Summer. Well known classics next to hutspot are with kale, sauerkraut, endivie and string beans. In restaurants stamppot is sold for dinner with smoked sausage, mustard and gravy. But it isn’t a common dish in restaurants, it’s more a dish made at home than eaten in restaurants. It;s not that fancy or Instagrammable.
Tip: The best smoked sausages you can get at HEMA stores.
Pannekoeken, pannenkoeken or pancakes. Dutch pancakes are thicker than the French crêpes and wider than American pancakes. The batter is made of flour, milk, eggs and salt. There are many variations on this basic recipe. Traditionally and still the best is to eat them with syrup and powdered sugar and rolled up.
Pancakes can be made with apple slices, bacon, currants, raisins or cheese. Nowadays pancake restaurants serve over 100 different variations with ginger, whipped cream, peaches, ragout or shawarma. It’s either stuffed in the pancake or topped on the pancake. Pancakes are eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Pancake restaurants can be found all over The Netherlands, they’re known as family friendly restaurants.
Tip: In Amsterdam and Rotterdam you have pancakeboats. All you can eat pancakes and a boat tour combined.
A world famous Dutch cookie. A food from The Netherlands that most people know and love. A favorite to bring along as a gift to people outside The Netherlands. A stroopwafel consists of 2 extremely thin round waffle cookies with a checkered patron, glued together with syrup. There are a few variations on this recipe with thicker cookies or caramel in between. They’re simply delicious.
To make them at home you have to have a special stroopwafel iron. Stroopwafels are sold on markets, as streetfood and in supermarkets. On markets and stalls they’re usually still warm and extra delicious then.
Tip: You can see how siroopwafels are made at the Kamphuisen syrupwaffle factory in Gouda.
9. Hollandse Nieuwe
The second fish dish on the list: Hollandse Nieuwe. A moment lots of people eagerly wait for each year. The first freshly caught new herring. It’s only sold during a limited period of time. The rest of the year it’s called Hollandse maatjesharing. Hollandse Nieuwe is usually available from the half of June.
It’s usually eaten raw with raw onion pieces. You take it by the tail and take bites from it. They’re also sold on buns with raw onion. I used to not like it as a child, but have grown to like it. Scheveningen has a great place to eat it at on the boulevard, as you can see in our post where to eat in Scheveningen. Hollandse Nieuwe is being sold at fish stalls or fish shops.
Tip: The new season of Hollandse Nieuwe is ticked off each year with an auction sale of the first new barrel of Hollandse Nieuwe.
Uitsmijter translates to ‘bouncer’, is an egg dish. Usually 2 slices of bread with ham and/or cheese and at least 2 eggs sunny side up. It’s usually garnished with gherkins and lettuce. There are variations on this dish with bacon, cheese and bell pepper.
It;s usually served as lunch or sometimes breakfast at restaurants and cafes. It’s a great dish and you’re sure to be stuffed afterwards.
Tip: You can get an uitsmijter at almost every restaurant with a traditional Dutch menu.
Friet are potato chips and sold almost all over the world. Also called frites or patat. All translating to fries. There are several variations in The Netherlands, it’s common that you get a patat met, which is fries with mayonnaise. Other popular combinations are patat with satay sauce, with joppie sauce, tomato ketchup and so on. You can get fries at a snackbar. There’s even chains that have fries as their main dish, like Manneken Pis or Bram Ladage.
Other popular fries recipes are a patatje oorlog, fries with satay sauce, mayonnaise, onions and/or curry sauce. A more recent, but widly popular variation is a kapsalon. Fries topped with shawarma and cheese. Placed under a broiler, so that the cheese melted. Then topped with a salad. Usually served with garlic sauce and sambal. It definitly deserves a place in any list on best dishes of The Netherlands.
Tip: If you get the fries in a cone, don’t be surprised when your hands are all greasy and covered with sauce afterwards.
Appeltaart is the Dutch word for apple pie. The traditional version differs from the British and the French one. The batter is usually made from butter, brown castor sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt and an egg. Ginger powder, all spice or other seasonings can be added. The filling usually consists of raisins, custard powder, sugar, cinnamon, Jonagold apples or goldreinets.
There are many variations on appeltaart, every chef and grandma has their own recipe. Appeltaart is served in cafes, lunchrooms and restaurants. You can buy an apple pie at supermarkets and pastry bakeries.
Tip: Try an old fashioned appeltaart that’s warm, with whipped cream on the side or on top.
Drop is translated as licorice, and is something that’s not really loved outside of The Netherlands. There are many variations. There’s salty drop, sweet and salty drop or just sweet drop. It’s a candy that’s made of the juice of the licorice plant.
Drop can be bought at candy shops or supermarkets. Venco and Klene are famous Dutch brands that sell drop. Dropin used to be a chain that only sold drop. Tip: At Jamin you can fill your own bag with drop.
14. Indische Rijsttafel
An Indische Rijsttafel or an Indonesian rice table is so delicious. It’s a combination of Indonesian and Chinese-Indonesian rice dishes. It originates in Indonesia and is fitted for the Dutch taste. Nasi goreng, bami goreng, babi ketjap, kroepoek, atjar, seroendeng and rendang are common dishes that are part of the Indische rijsttafel. The dishes part of the rice table vary, so does the number of dishes, that can be up to 44.
Rice tables are eaten with 2 people or more. They’re perfect for when you’re with a group. There’s something on the table for everyone. People make them at home or go to one of the numerous Chinese-Indonesian restaurants in The Netherlands. The Hague is famous for it’s fabulous Indonesian restaurants, and this Indonesian-Surinamese restaurant in Haarlem has great Indonesian dishes.
Tip: One of my favorite dishes in an Indische Rijsttafel is babi pangang bacon. It’s not always in a rice table, so ask for it.
Vla translates to custard or pudding. It looks like pudding, but is more liquid. It’s made from fresh milk from a cow and made as thick as yogurt. It has to have at least 50% cow’s milk for it to be called vla. It’s either boiled milk with custard powder and sugar, or a combination of milk, corn starch, eggs, sugar and vanilla.
Vla was traditionally vanilla flavored and it’s still the most popular one. But vla comes in many flavors. Like chocolate, caramel, peach, banana and so on. It’s served in a bowl and eaten as a dessert. It can be topped with whipped cream, fruithagelslag, banana, granola, apple sauce, syrup or macaroons. You can also get dubbelvla, which is a combination of 2 different flavors. Vla is sold in carton boxes, which you buy in the supermarket. You can’t really get vla in restaurants, it’s more something people eat at home.
I remember that when we had vlas as dessert when I was young my father would make a drawing on the vla. We then had 2 flavors and my dad would make a flower or smiley face on our vla. We loved it, me and my sister.
Tip: Try out a vlaflip, a variation on vla. It’s red syrup, vanilla vla and yogurt layered in a tall glass.
16. Hete Bliksem
A very traditional Dutch dish, which translates as hot lightning. It’s a kind of stamppot that consists of ½ potatoes, ¼ sour apples (or sweet apples or pears) and ¼ onions. It’s either served with black pudding brisket or metworst.
Since there are apples or pears in the dish, there’s a lot of moist, and that in turn makes the dish stay hot long, hence the name. It’s rarely served in restaurants.
Tip: It’s foremost a fall and winter dish.
Another popular snack, which is either called frikandel or frikadel, depending on where you’re from in The Netherlands. It’s made of different kinds of meat in the shape of a bar, dark colored. From 1996 on, the frikandel was the most sold snack in The Netherlands. Before 1996 the kroket was the most sold snack.
A frikandel is eaten with mayonnaise, peanut sauce, curry ketchup or tomato ketchup. Very popular is the frikandel speciaal, which is a frikandel slices and the stuffed/topped with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and (raw) onion. As kids menu a frikandel is served with fries and apple sauce.
A frikandel can be bought at a snackbar everywhere in The Netherlands. Tip: Don’t believe the popular myth that eyeballs or something strange like that is processed in a frikandel.
A really small, but delicious cookie. They’re small, half round cookies that are cripsy. Main ingredients are flour, brown sugar, butter and speculaas seasoning. Speculaas seasoning varies, but is usually a mix of pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.
Variations on kruidnoten are kruidnoten with a coating. As in coated in dark, milk or white chocolate, with yogurt, caramel, coffee or any other flavor you name it. Sometimes cranberries or ginger is added to the cookies, there’s lots of variations possible. Kruidnoten are often called pepernoten. Pepernoten are actually something else, but it has become synonym with kruidnoten.
Kruidnoten are sold at supermarkets or made at home. Everyone has made kruidnoten as a child, at home and at school. There are even stores in the bigger cities that only sell kruidnoten. They have lots of variations on the traditional one. Kruidnoten are a seasonal product for Sinterklaas, so it’s something we eat over a period of 3 weeks. Sinterklaas arrives somewhere in the middle of November and leaves again on 6 or 7 December.
Tip: Although it should only be around in November and the beginning of December. Supermarkets already have it in store from the end of August until well into December.
Kaas is the Dutch word for cheese, and it’s what we’re famous for. A nickname for Dutch people is ‘kaaskoppen’ which means cheese heads. Cheese is an ancient process that’s already been made for centuries. Cheese is a dairy product, which is derived from milk and then produced by coagulation of the milk protein casein. There are over a thousand types of cheese, in The Netherlands it’s mostly round, yellow cheeses that are being made.
Cheese is eaten sliced on bread or on a bun. A ‘broodje kaas’ is something that’s part of a Dutch traditional breakfast or lunch. Another favorite way to eat cheese is cubed, dipping it in mustard. It’s then served at parties or in the afternoon around 4pm with a drink (beer). There are numerous local producers of quality cheese, a few are world famous like Gouda cheese, Edammer, Maaslander, Reypenaer and Old Amsterdam.
Cheese can be bought at tourist shops in Amsterdam or Gouda. It’s also sold in supermarkets and cheese stores. The cheese in cheese stores is usually of better quality and more varieties are sold. Cheese factories organise tours and tastings and sell their cheese products. We did a cheese tasting with tour at Reypenaer in Woerden and enjoyed the experience. The explanation of a cheese producer who was already doing the job for years was that little bit extra which made it special.
Tip: You can sleep at a cheese factory in Oudewater at Biologische kaasboerderij De Ruyge Weyde. We stayed here last Summer and had a great experience.
Muisjes translates as small mice, although they have nothing to do with mice. They’re small anise seeds with a white, pink or blue sugar coating. They’re eaten in seed form or mashed. When mashed they’re called gestampte muisjes (mashed mice).
They’re called muisjes since the anise seed is shaped as a mouse. An oval form with a tail. A mouse used to be the symbol for fertility. It’s the traditional serving after the birth of a child. For a girl pink and white muisjes, for a baby boy blue and white muisjes. Served on a buttered rusk. They’re also eaten for lunch, so are gestampte muisjes on bread or rusk.
You can buy muisjes at supermarkets. It’s sold by the brand De Ruyter, they’re the only ones that can sell muisjes, since they have a patent on the name.
Tip: Around Kingsday they also sell orange muisjes.
Yum, yum bitterballen are delicious. Bitterballen are a smaller, round version of the kroket. It’s a ragout ball, measuring about 3 to 5 centimeters, braided in egg wash, flour and bread crumbs. It’s then deep fried.
Bitterballen get their name from ‘bittertje’, an alcoholic herb flavored drink which was served with bitterballen back in the days. Nowadays it’s served with mustard or as part of a ‘bittergarnituur’ (with vlammetjes, cheese sticks, chicken bites and other small bites). It’s popular at bars, cafes and parties. It’s usually served around 4pm or in the evening.
You can enjoy ‘een portie bitterballen’ (a serving of bitterballen) at bars and cafes.
Tip: There’s nothing better in Summer time than sitting on a terrace with a beer or ice tea and bitterballen.
Appelflappen are called apple flaps or apple turnovers in English. It’s a pastry made of puff pastry. The appelflap is triangle shaped and stuffed with cubed apple and cinnamon. A lot of times raisins are added or currants, almond spice, lemon rasp or rum. Granulated sugar is sprinkled on top before and/or after baking.
You can eat Appelflappen as well warm and cold and they are delicious. They’re eaten during the whole year. In fall they can be made with freshly picked apples.
You can buy appelflappen at bakeries and supermarkets. Some lunchrooms or cafes sell them as pastry to go with your coffee or tea.
Tip: Baking them at home is super easy.
23. Twaalf uurtje
Twaalf uurtje means noon or twelve hour dish. It refers to the time of serving the dish. A twaalf uurtje is a lunch dish, which is popular and served at 12 o’clock or a bit later in the afternoon. It usually consists of 2 to 3 slices of bread, a scoop of huzarensalade (sort of a Russian salad), some lettuce, a kroket, a small bowl of soup (usually tomato), an egg, cheese, ham or a uitsmijter.
It’s a typical, Dutch lunch dish which you can get in Dutch lunchrooms, cafes and restaurants, which has a pleasan price.
Tip: There are also luxury versions of the dish, with fish.
Poffertjes are really small pancakes. They’re thicker since they rise more during baking. The difference with pancakes is that yeast is added to the batter. Poffertjes are baked in a poffertjespan, which is ideally made of cast iron. They’re turned half way through, when the batter hasn’t fully stolled yet. This is why poffertjes are still a bit soft on the inside. Poffertjes are usually served in batches of 12 with some butter on the side and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Poffertjes are served at restaurants for kids. But also at pancake restaurants and ‘poffertjeskramen’. Poffertjeskramen are stalls that only sell poffertjes. You can also buy them at the supermarket and heat them in the microwave. Just not as good as the freshly made ones.
Tip: Poffertjes are also good when topped with syrup or advocaat.
Last but not least is hagelslag, which are chocolate sprinkles. The sprinkles remind one of hail, hence the name. Hagel = hail. There are versions with over 32% cocoa in them, they’re chocolade (chocolate) hagelslag and versions with more sugar in them, these are called ‘chocoladefantasie’ (chocolate fantasy/fake). There’s also hagelslag with anise or fruit flavored sprinkles. They’re called ‘anijshagel’or ‘vruchtenhagel’.
The regular hagelslag is sold in different versions: milk, dark, white, a mix of dark and white, extra long sprinkles and extra dark. There’s many variations on these, seasonal ones also. With stars for Christmas, a blue and white Frozen one and so on.
You can buy hagelslag at supermarkets and it’s usually eaten on a slice of bread with butter. I have fond memories of buns with hagelslag at my grandparents. Somehow it was more special than at home.
Tip: Venz and De Ruyter are the most popular and best brands for hagelslag.
These are all the Dutch traditional foods
you should try when visiting The Netherlands. Feeling hungry and want to read about other great foods, try these Authentic Mexican Foods!
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