Trying to figure out what to eat in the Netherlands? Your list of the most famous Dutch foods that you’ll want to try while visiting Amsterdam, the Netherlands written by a Dutch resident. I also include tips on where to find these typically Dutch foods in Amsterdam. You’ll find a downloadable checklist of 25 foods to try in Amsterdam (or the Netherlands) at the bottom!
I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost three years now. In honor of King’s Day coming next week, I’ve written a list of Dutch foods to try while you’re in the Netherlands. I’ve included the best places to buy these typically Dutch foods as well as Dutch foods that you’ll commonly find in the Netherlands that I often recommend to visiting friends and family!
Bitterballen is a classic food that you’ll find at most bars around the Netherlands. Made with beef or veal, bitterballen are typically served with mustard. Just be careful when biting into a bitterballen as they’re often very hot inside and you might burn your tongue if you don’t take a small nibble enough to let the steam out first. You can find them at most Dutch bars that serve appetizers, so just ask your bartender! In Amsterdam, I recommend De Ballenbar in the Foodhallen or Finch Cafe for good bitterballen.
This delicious Dutch sweet can be found at your local Albert Heijn although the best stroopwafels are made fresh in front of you at the Albert Cuypmarkt. There’s nothing like when the caramel between the two waffles drips down the waffle. You’ll understand when you try a fresh stroopwafel in Amsterdam!
Herring (known as haring in Dutch) is a typically Dutch food that you’ll find at herring stands all over each Dutch city. You’ll see them served raw with chopped onions as well as pickled in pieces. If you’re wondering about the raw fish, it’s safe to eat and the most popular way to eat haring? Just drop it in your mouth while holding the tail. (The fish are deboned.) If you’re visiting The Netherlands between May and July, you’re likely to try Hollandse nieuwe haring, which means that the herring is more fatty than it typically is (16%+ fat). It’s pretty healthy too!
Tony’s Chocolonely Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Bar
Not typically on the classic list, but a new addition to the list is my favorite chocolate bar in the Netherlands. This chocolate is the first slave-free chocolate in the world from bean to bar. This 100% Dutch chocolate is not to be missed while you’re in Amsterdam. You can stop off at the Tony’s shop at the Westergasfabriek or stop in your local Albert Heijn to find the orange chocolate bar, the Caramel Sea Salt (Karamel Zeezalt) one. There are other flavors, however this flavor is the best.
I didn’t really realize this until I moved to the Netherlands, however licorice (and other anise-related flavors) are a big deal. When you’re at the drugstore or the supermarket, be sure to look for Engelsdrop, the name for licorice in Dutch (literally English drops). You’ll also find a lot of other candies ending in drop at the supermarket. If you’re into licorice, consider trying Dropshot, a Dutch liquor made with salted licorice!
This Indonesian cake is made with cinnamon and it was developed during the Dutch colonial period in Indonesia. It’s meant to emulate the European layered cakes although I’d argue that it’s far more interesting than a standard cake. You’ll find this at any Indonesian toko (a to-go Indonesian cafe). In De Pijp, I recommend Tijn’s Toko.
Pepernoten are a favorite in the December Sinterklaas season. Made with cinnamon, these little crunchy snacks are delightful to snack on. You’ll find them at HEMA, a Dutch shop that sells snacks and clothes. For something different, look for pepernoten covered in chocolate! It’s traditional that parents throw them into children’s rooms to make them look for them!
Did you know that the Netherlands had the biggest Indonesian population outside of Indonesia? Some of the best food that you’ll find in the Netherlands…is Indonesian food! While you’re in the Netherlands, you’ll encounter something called rijsttafel while you’re at fancier Indonesian restaurants. When the Dutch came to Indonesia, they asked Indonesians to bring their best dish. However, Indonesia is composed of many islands with different cooking styles, so they were told that there was not a “best dish,” but one from each of the islands. So, the Dutch asked to try the best dish from each island. These colonial roots are where rijsttafel got its start and although it’s certainly Dutch, I’d argue that you’re better off going to any of the tokos for authentic Indonesian food. Click for my restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam.
Roti came to the Netherlands during the colonization of Suriname. During this time, the Dutch West Indies Company brought indentured Indian servants to Suriname to work. When these Indian workers immigrated, they also brought their food, including Roti. You can try roti in De Pijp (as well as quite a few other areas) along Albert Cuypstraat.
These popular Dutch snacks (similar to the Spanish croquettes) dates back to the time of King Louie XIV when French food was a popular addition to the Netherlands. These tasty fried snacks have different fillings although you’re likely to find them with veal or beef inside. It’s best dipped in mustard although you’ll see many Dutchies smashing one between a slice of bread during lunch time as well. FEBO is the late night favorite for kroketten.
You’ll find Vlaamse Frites all over the Netherlands. This means that they’re Belgian fries. Rather than fries are French (they’re not!), you’ll often see the word Vlaamse in front of the frites found in the Netherlands, indicating that people think that the origin is from Vlaanders, the Flemish speaking part of Belgium. Either way, frites are a cheap and affordable snack. For the best fries in Amsterdam, head to Frites Atelier for some different sauces!
Kibbeling is a favorite Dutch comfort food that you’ll find easily within markets in the Netherlands. It’s pretty simple: fried fish (often cod or pollock) with a mayo-based sauce or tartar sauce. It’s still quite satisfying, so if you’re looking for a satisfying snack while browsing the Albert Cuypmarkt, stop off for some fish.
Oliebollen can only be found in the winter months around December/January as they’re a traditional Dutch New Year’s treat. These fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar are some of my favorite Dutch foods and I often can’t resist a warm oliebol on a cold winter’s day! You’ll only be able to try these Dutch sweets in November (maybe), December, and January. You’ll find some made with rum or raisins at oliebollen stands around the city of Amsterdam during the winter, mostly in residential neighborhoods. The best time to find oliebollen is around New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam.
We could not leave Dutch cheese off this list of Dutch foods. Although you might be tempted to go into the cheese shops near Dam Square, the best cheese shops stock far more than a few types of cheese. I recommend skipping Dam Square in order to head to Kaasland, a neighborhood cheese shop with free samples and better prices. My favorite type is Jonge Boerenkaas, which is made with raw milk. Although it doesn’t have a definitive origin, it’s a protected cheese from the Netherlands and always good. Otherwise, I’d recommend trying the Gouda, Edam, or Beemster cheeses,. You can also find these at your local supermarket or head up to their namesake cities for a nice day trip.
Poffertjes are little Dutch pancakes. These delicious Dutch pancakes are often served with butter and powdered sugar. You can find them while walking around Albert Cuypmarkt or Pancakes! in center. They’re always delightful and don’t underestimate how many poffertjes you’ll want to eat…. (I also love them with nutella!)
Despite what my husband says, Dutch pancakes are definitely worth trying as they’re thinner and less sweet than American pancakes. Closer in width to a crepe, you’ll typically find savoury toppings although it’s also possible to find Dutch pancakes with sweet toppings if you prefer. The Pancake Bakery is a decent place for pancakes as well as Pannenkoekenhuis. (As a heads up: Most Dutch pancake places in Amsterdam run on the more touristy side.)
Stamppot is a traditional Dutch food served with potatoes, spinach, sauerkraut, and some other veggies. (Be warned vegans: this dish is not vegan friendly!) It’s quite a heavy dish, perfect for a cold winter day in Amsterdam. I’d recommend going to Moeder’s, a traditional Dutch restaurant, for stamppot.
These Dutch pastries made with marzipan are some of my favorite Dutch pastries. You’ll find these at some Dutch bakeries although you can also find them in the freezer at some Albert Heijns. They’re shaped almost like a square present box with a marzipan outer layer and a cake inner layer with creme inside. They’re my go-to sweets when I need to bring in something delicious for friends and I recommend trying these Dutch sweets if you have the chance!
The first time that I was in the Netherlands as a tourist, I was endlessly amused by hagelslag. I thought that it was a dessert, however hagelslag is more like a snack (often for kids). You’ll often see it at lunch places for kids. It’s often toasted with white bread and butter, so the sprinkles stay right in place (and melt) as you spread the hagelslag on your bread. Besides chocolate, you’ll find some other flavors if you’re looking for an interesting Dutch food souvenir!
Snert / Erwtensoep (Split Pea Soup)
Snert, known as pea soup, is a staple of Dutch food. You can easily find this at many cozy Dutch bars that serve food and it’s a nice hearty dish in winter.
Dutch Apple Pie
How can I leave out Dutch apple pie!? Although we say that things are American as apple pie, the Dutch have given America a good run for its money. This delicious pie has some differences in the way that it’s created (notably the top), however it’s absolutely delicious. I recommend the pie from Winkel43 in De Jordaan for my favorite apple pie in Amsterdam.
Van Stapele Chocolate Cookies
There’s only one shop with chocolate cookies in Amsterdam that I recommend visiting: Van Stapele. This small cookie store with a beautiful interior only creates one type of cookie: baked-to-perfection chocolate cookies with a gooey chocolate center that melts in your mouth! There’s often a line, but there’s only one Van Stapele.
The first time that I tried ossenworst, I thought it was just normal sausage. I was a bit surprised by how delicious this raw sausage is. Ossenworst was originally made of ox meat, however it’s now made with beef. My mother-in-law was a bit shocked the first time that she tried it, but absolutely loved the taste. Don’t be scared!
For some reason, my Dutch friends insisted that I had tor try vlammetjes. These spicy pork rolls often served around happy hour are always nice to snack on.
Bear with me, but the bread that you’ll find at Dutch bakeries is of higher quality than you might find at home. It’s typical that you’ll go out in the morning or around lunch time for fresh bread to have with your lunch. By the end of the day, there’s typically not much left at the supermarket, so buy your bread early in the day or at minimum try some bread from a Dutch bakery. 😉
Your downloadable Dutch food checklist!
Any other Dutch food that you’d include on your list?