What Is Typical Dutch Food? | Dutch Traditional Food Guide


So you’re planning your trip to The Netherlands and want to learn more about the traditional Dutch Food? In this article, we will tell you all about typical Dutch Food and Drinks, and where to find them!

Many dishes are considered Typical Dutch Food, the most well known are: 

  • Haring
  • Poffertjes
  • Pancakes
  • Apple Pie with Whipped Cream
  • Stroopwafel
  • Dutch Cheese
  • Kroket (Deep-fried meat croquette)
  • Frikandel 
  • Patat 
  • Bitterballen
  • Drop (licorice) 
  • Erwtensoep (split peas soup)
  • Hagelslag (Chocolate Sprinkles)
  • Oliebollen (Deep-fried dough balls)
  • Stamppot (mashed vegetables and potatoes)
  • Lekkerbek (Deep-fried fish)
  • Kruidnoten
  • Tompouce
  • Bosche Bol
  • Jenever (Gin)
  • Heineken Beer 

You probably want to know more about these typical Dutch dishes. In this article, I will describe them thoroughly, and also add some places where we recommend them to taste. Let’s find out more about Dutch cuisine! 

Haring (Herring)

Who thought that a fish could become so popular. Raw Herring with Onions is probably the most traditional Dutch food. Dutch people eat the fish raw with a few onions, sometimes on a piece of bread, but more often just the fish and the onions. You hate it, or you love it. I don’t like this dish. I find the taste way too strong. But then again, I’m not much of a fish-eater myself. 

I know many people who love to eat raw herring. They always look forward to June, when the first new herring is caught and brought back to The Netherlands. Most herring lives in the sea near Norway and Denmark. A lot of the fish are brought to The Netherlands. Many Dutch companies have permits to fish in the waters close to Norway and Denmark. 

Check out this video to see how people eat their raw herring; 

Haring, sashimi of the Dutch 🐟 Dutch Delights

Hollandse Nieuwe & Vlaggetjesdag

Every year in June, the new herring seasons kicks off. New Herring is called Hollandse Nieuwe. The first crate with new herring or Hollandse Nieuwe is sold by auction. The yield of this auction is always going to charity. 

In Scheveningen, you can visit an annual event, Vlaggetjesdag (Flagsday), to celebrate the catch of Hollandse Nieuwe. During this event, the auction of the first crate is taking place. People from all over the country are visiting the event, to taste the new herring as soon as possible. The date of this event varies every year, but its always at the beginning of June. You can find more information on their website.

Taste Raw Herring

Do you want to taste Dutch raw herring yourself? You can find this everywhere in the country. Make sure to visit a fish shop in The Netherlands known as Visboer. These shops sell fresh fish. You probably best of walking around a fresh food market where you can buy fresh fish. 

Places in The Netherlands that are known as fishing villages are Scheveningen and Volendam. If you want to go all the way traditional while tasting raw herring, we recommend going to one of these places. When you’re in Scheveningen, we can recommend going to Simonis Fish Shop in Scheveningen Harbor, which is a trendy place where local people like to go. 

The most iconic place to taste raw herring in Amsterdam is by visiting the Albert Cuyp Market and going to the fish stall at the market. We explain more about the best places in Amsterdam in our article What is Amsterdam Best Known For.

You can read more about the unique cities in The Netherlands in our article Best Cities in The Netherlands. 

The best time to try Hollandse Nieuwe is from half June until September. During these months, you probably can get raw herring as ‘catch of the day.’ Other months of the year, the herring is still fresh, deep-frozen, but some people say it doesn’t taste the same in that period. 

Poffertjes

Say what now? We’re talking about the typical mini Dutch pancakes. But they taste different than a regular pancake. 

There are several recipes to make poffertjes. The most traditional recipe is by mixing regular wheat flour, a few raw eggs, cow milk, yeast, and a bit of salt. You mix this all together until you get a creamy sauce. Then you bake the mixture in a poffertjes pan, which is basically a frying pan, but with small notches to make sure you can make small poffertjes. 

To make sure the poffertjes getting their unique structure and fluffy taste, it is essential to flip the poffertjes at the right time so that they’re not overcooked.

Poffertjes are served with powdered sugar and butter. Sometimes people add maple syrup, chocolate sauce, cheese, strawberries, and all other kinds of sweets. 

The best way to try poffertjes is to go to a local market and ask around for a poffertjeskraam (pancake stall), here you can find freshly made pancakes and poffertjes. Make sure to try the traditional ones, which is a lovely snack! 

Dutch Pancakes

You might think why Pancakes is in the list of Typical Dutch Food. You can find pancakes all over the world. However, in The Netherlands, we like to do things a bit differently, so we made our own variations of the traditional pancakes. 

The basic ingredients of a Dutch pancake are the same as a regular pancake, the most significant difference is that a Dutch pancake is skinny, like a thin pizza. 

In The Netherlands, you can find many pancake restaurants serving only pancakes and poffertjes, in all kinds of variations. Where in most countries pancakes are served typically during breakfast, the Dutch can eat pancakes all day long. 

Dutch pancakes are often served with maple syrup, sugar, and butter. Other popular variations are pancakes with bacon, different types of cheese, different kinds of fruit, walnuts and honey. 

Apple Pie with Whipped Cream

Apple pies are also tasty pies you can find everywhere in the world. And every country has its own variation on how to make an apple pie. However, the Dutch apple pie is known worldwide for its typical taste and one of the most popular pastries to make. 

A Dutch apple pie is known for its crunchy topping of apple pieces, butter, and cake. Which is a different topping then you find in most apple pies. Also, the Dutch apple pies are serves with a large portion of whipped cream on top. And the pies are made with specific apple, the granny smith. Which is a more sweet and sour apple then a regular apple, the taste makes is better for baking. The ‘secret’ ingredient for Dutch apple pies is using a lot of cinnamon, from which the pie gets its typical taste. 

You can taste Dutch apple pies everywhere in the country. It is a regular pastry that people are eating while having coffee in the morning. Dutch restaurant Dudok is most famous for its apple pies. They are located in Rotterdam and The Hague and have several locations throughout those cities. 

Find out more about where to find the best apple pies in our articles; 

Stroopwafel

I love stroopwafels! It is one of my favorite things to eat when we’re getting back from our travels. People often ask us, ‘what do you miss when traveling?’ and I usually can’t really answer that question, but now that I’m writing about typical Dutch food, I know. Stroopwafels! 

A stroopwafel is a thin wafer with caramel filling inside. You find stroopwafels in all kinds of different ways, and people often eat them while having coffee or tea. I find stroopwafels the tastiest when they’re freshly made. The caramel filling is still warm at that time. 

When we eat stroopwafels that we bought in a grocery store, we often put them in the microwave or on top of or a cup of coffee, to heat up the caramel filling, delicious! 

You can find stroopwafels at every grocery store, but when you want to taste a fresh one, make sure to go to a fresh food market and ask around for the stroopwafel stand. Once you taste a freshly made stroopwafel, you understand why I say they are the best!

Dutch Cheese

When there’s something that the Dutch are known for its the Dutch cheese. You can find it everywhere in the world, typically the Dutch Gouda Cheese is sold in every corner worldwide. 

Dutch cheese, most of the time made from cowmilk are in all kinds of sorts and different tastes. Aged cheese, which is often saltier, young cheese which is more buttery, there’s cheese with more or less fat. Probably every kind of cheese you can think of, you find in The Netherlands. 

Cheese is one of the largest export products in The Netherlands. Annually billions worth of cheese is exported to other countries in the world. 

Did you know The Netherlands is one of the biggest exporters in the world for a lot of products? Read more about in our article, Interesting Facts About The Netherlands. 

A fun thing to while in The Netherlands is visiting a cheese market, where cheeses are sold traditionally. The most famous cheese markets are located in Alkmaar & Gouda. 

We tell you more about the cheese markets in our article What is The Netherlands Famous For? 

Kroket (Deep-fried meat croquette)

The Dutch love to go to a snackbar, a small food stand where you can find deep-fried dishes. A snack bar is a place where we go just to grab some fast food. 

One of the most popular snack people buy in a snack bar is a kroket. A deep-fried breadcrumb roll with a beef ragout filling. Often served on a white bun with mustard sauce. 

There are also variations with a fish filling or vegetarian filling. 

Bitterballen (small croquette balls)

When people are having drinks, they often buy a snack to accompany their drink. A traditional snack in The Netherlands is having bitterballen. Small deep-fried croquette balls, with the same beef ragout filling as a Dutch Kroket. Served with Mayonnaise of Mustard dip sauce. 

Frikandel 

In the United States, a popular snack is a hot-dog. You can say the Frikandel is the Dutch variation of the hot dog. A Frikandel is a minced meat hot dog, deep-fried, and often served with onions and curry sauce.

A popular way to eat Frikandel in The Netherlands is to order a Frikandel Special, which is a Frikandel served on a white bun with onions, Mayonnaise, and Curry Sauce.

Patat or Friet (Fried Potatoes)

French Fries, Fried Potatoes, Finger Fries, Chips, Patat, or in Dutch Friet, it all refers to the french fries we love all over the world. It is not typically Dutch, but in The Netherlands, the regular fried potatoes are different than french fries. That’s why I thought it was worth adding them to this list. 

The Dutch Fries are similar to the Flemish Fries, which are more of a thick-cut than the thin French Fries. Most people eat fried potatoes with Tomato Ketchup, but a typical Dutch way to eat the fries is with Dutch Mayonnaise or order a Frietje Speciaal, which is deep-fried potatoes served with Mayonnaise, Ketchup, and Onions. A Patatje or Frietje Flip is served with Mayonnaise and Peanut Sauce.

A fun thing to do when in The Netherlands is walking into a Dutch Snackbar and try a Kroket, Frikandel, or Dutch Fries. Also, you can ask for other typical Dutch snacks. Some other typical Dutch snacks are Kaassoufle (which is kind of a deep-fried cheese croquette), Bamischijf (deep-fried noodles in breadcrumbs), Mexicano (deep-fried spicy meat)

Drop (licorice) 

You can find sweet candy everywhere in the world. But as you might know by now, the Dutch like to do things differently. Licorice, especially the salty ones or with salmiak taste, are typically Dutch. 

Licorice in Dutch means Drop, and you can find a lot of variations of this sweet. The most popular ones are the salty licorice, which we call Zoute Drop. Also, you can find Dubbel Zoute Drop, which is extra salty. There are some sweet variations of the Dutch licorice, known as Honingdrop, licorice with a taste of honey. 

Hagelslag (Chocolate Sprinkles)

Let’s stay at the sweets for a moment. You might wonder why chocolate sprinkles are in this list of typical Dutch food. You can find chocolate sprinkles almost everywhere in the world, right? That’s true, but in The Netherlands, we eat chocolate sprinkles on a slice of bread for breakfast. Say what now!?

So a typical Dutch breakfast is a Broodje Hagelslag, a bun with butter and chocolate sprinkles. I love it, and when we’re in The Netherlands, I eat a ‘broodje hagelslag’ a few times a week. 

Chocolate sprinkles are sold everywhere in the world, but they’re always used as a topping on the cake. The Dutch sprinkles are different, tastier, and real chocolate. 

Make sure to try one when in The Netherlands! 

Oliebollen (Deep-fried dough balls)

You find these deep-fried dough balls at the end of the year. It is a typical dish that’s served around Christmas and New Year celebrations. Oliebollen taste a bit the same as doughnuts, however the Dutch Doughnuts, as the English call them, are a bit different, because they’re often prepared with raisins.  

Oliebollen are best when they’re served warm, with powdered sugar. In December you’ll find many Oliebollen stalls on the streets, close to the shopping malls or at busy squares. When you’re visiting The Netherlands during this period, make sure to buy some Oliebollen at one of these stands. 

Erwtensoep (split peas soup)

Another typical dish that’s often made during the cold winter months is split peas soup. A thick soup which we call in Dutch Erwtensoep. 

The Dutch variation of this soup is served with seasonal vegetables and a typical dutch smoked sausage. 

Rookworst (Smoked sausage)

A typical sausage made of ground meat mixed with salt and seasoning. The traditional sausage is made of pork meat and popular in traditional dishes as erwtensoep and stamppot. Many people eat Broodje Rookworst as lunch or as a snack, which is a sausage served on a bun with mustard sauce. 

Most smoked sausages are commercially made, which means it has added smoke aromas to the sausage. It is not prepared traditionally. It’s still possible to find the traditional smoked sausages. However, you need to go to a specialized butcher shop or to the large department store HEMA. HEMA is a traditional dutch store which is known for their smoked sausages. 

When you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, make sure to try a HEMA Rookworst, they’re delicious! 

For a few years, there are many alternatives to smoked sausage, which are vegetarian or vegan-based. They are not so tasty as a regular sausage, but it is a good and healthy alternative for people eating less meat!

Stamppot (mashed vegetables and potatoes)

Also a traditional winter dish in The Netherlands. Stamppot is mashed vegetables, potatoes. Often with added bacon and rookworst, drenched in meat gravy. 

It is way tastier then it sounds! I love to eat the vegetarian variant, only mashed vegetables, and potatoes. Without the meat and gravy. 

Stamppot is like the image of Dutch cuisine. You can see Dutch cuisine is not sophisticated, it must be practical and tasty. You have stamppot in all kinds of variations, the most popular ones are, Endive Stamppot, Spinach Stamppot, Hutspot (with carrot and onions). 

Lekkerbek or Kibbeling (Deep-fried fish)

The Netherlands is known for its many fishing villages. And as you might have noticed while reading this article, we love to deep-fry our food. So a Lekkerbek is simply a fish filet with a layer of breadcrumbs which is deep-fried. 

It is often made of white fish filet, like pangasius, whiting, or codfish. When you buy a Lekkerbek at a fish shop, you can ask which fish they used to make this snack. 

Kibbeling is basically the same, only instead of a whole fish filet, they used fish balls, sort of like a bitterbal but then made of fish. 

Kruidnoten

December is one of the busiest months in The Netherlands with traditional celebrations. Not only Christmas and new years, but we also have a celebration which is called Sinterklaas. It is basically the same story as with Santa Clause, only the story of Sinterklaas derives from the catholic Sint Nicholas. 

Kruidnoten is a typical sweet that is served around the Sinterklaas celebration. It is basically a spiced biscuit, in The Netherlands known as Speculaas. The taste is a bit similar to cloves but less intense. 

Dutch Pastries

The Netherlands is not known for its sophisticated cuisine, but we have a lot of pastries and sweets, which are typical Dutch. Some other pastries that are worth trying while visiting The Netherlands are:

Tompoes or Tompouce a typically Dutch cake with a filling of sweet pastry cream and on top an iced cookie with whipped cream. 

Bosche Bol is a large chocolate ball filled with whipped cream or pastry cream. This pastry is called Bossche Bol because it originated in the city ‘s-Hertogenbosch, better known as Den Bosch. A variety to the Bossche Bol is the Moorkop. A Moorkop is also a large ball that consists of two parts. The lower part is a cookie filled that’s filled with whipped cream, and the upper half is made of chocolate. A Moorkop is topped with some whipped cream. 

We recommend visiting a bakery when in The Netherlands. In every city or village, you’ll find small bakeries where people still make fresh pastries. It is lovely to try some of the local variations. For example, when you decide to visit The Hague, make sure to try the sweet Haags Hopje, a traditional sweet with a coffee and caramel taste. We think its a must-visit while in The Netherlands, but then again, we’re from The Hague. In our article What Can You Do in The Hague For One Day, you’ll find a complete itinerary with the best things to do while visiting the city.

Dutch Traditional Drinks

We told you a lot about typical and traditional Dutch food, but did you know there are also a lot of typical Dutch drinks? Some of them are very popular around the world. 

The Dutch introduced tea in the western world during the 17th century. In that century, The Netherlands was the most important country regarding the spice trade in Asia. You can read more about in our article What is The Netherlands Famous For?

Everywhere you go in the world, you’ll find Heineken Beer, one of the most significant export products in the Netherlands. We are known for our craft beers, but Heineken is known worldwide. Did you know you can visit the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam? A museum dedicated to the history of Heineken Beer, which is located in the first brewery in Amsterdam. Find out more in our article Best Things to do in Amsterdam

For a few years, Gin & Tonic become a trendy drink again. At the end of the 19th century and during the first decade of the 20th century, Gin was a fashionable drink. It lost its popularity over time, but for a few years, it became one of the most popular drinks of this time. Gin, in Dutch Jenever, is a Dutch invention. It is made from the Jeneverbes (Juniper berry). This Dutch drink dates back to the 15th century when it was used as a medicine! 

Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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