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Typical Dutch Food You Should Try in the Netherlands

Dutch food might surprise you.

The Dutch cuisine isn’t world-famous but this doesn’t mean that the Netherlands doesn’t have delicious food.

When you are in the Netherlands you have to try at least some of these dishes and snacks. Even though some Dutch food might sound very weird to you…

In this article we are sharing a wide range of Dutch food, most of which we grew up with, and much of which we still eat regularly.

And to make more sense of it all we have divided it up into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and we’ll tell you where you can find all this typical Dutch food so you can try it yourself. 

Dutch Food to Try

Dutch Breakfast Items

1. Hagelslag

bread with hagelslag is typical Dutch food

Hagelslag are really just sprinkles, usually made of chocolate, that the Dutch put on their bread.

Weird? Maybe. But it’s definitely typical Dutch food and a lot of kids, but also adults, will have a slice of bread with hagelslag for breakfast.

We eat this almost every morning with a cup of coffee, which we find delicious!

Where Can You Try This?

If you are staying at a hotel in the Netherlands you will almost always find hagelslag as one of the breakfast items. 

It’s not really something you would order in a restaurant though so if you are not staying at a hotel and want to try hagelslag, just do what the Dutch do: go to the supermarket, buy some sliced bread of your choice, some butter and a box of hagelslag. Don’t bother toasting your bread, we don’t often do that. Just butter it generously and sprinkle a thick layer of hagelsag on top of it.

2. Ontbijtkoek / Peperkoek

a slice of ontbijtkoek as a Dutch breakfast

Ontbijtkoek translates to ‘breakfast biscuit’ although breakfast cake is more accurate.

Also called Peperkoek or Kruidkoek (‘pepper cake’ or ‘spice cake’), it’s a type of cake that is often enjoyed during breakfast, but also as a snack at any time of the day.

I would say it’s less sweet than your average cake and with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg it might remind you of gingerbread.

If you want to enjoy this Dutch food the way the Dutch do then cut off a slice of ontbijtkoek, spread a generous layer of butter on it and sprinkle that with sugar.

When we were young we often ate this with our breakfast as a “dessert”. Nowadays we don’t do this anymore, because this isn’t the healthiest Dutch food to consume daily 😉.

Where Can You Try This?

Ontbijtkoek is not something you’d normally find in cafes or restaurants.

You might find it as part of a buffet breakfast in your hotel, but otherwise just go to any supermarket and buy it there. You can even find pre-sliced versions that make a perfect snack.

The brand Koninklijke Peijnenburg is the most famous brand of ontbijtkoek

3. Krentenbol

2 krentenbollen: famous Dutch food
Picture by Takeaway – typical Dutch food

A krentenbol is the Dutch version of a currant bun.

The buns are made with eggs and butter giving it extra flavor and they sometimes also contain some lemon peel and sugar.

The Dutch, who eat a lot of bread, will eat this bun both for breakfast and for lunch.

Generally it’s eaten either with butter and sugar or with a slice of cheese. But since the bun is flavorful on its own you can also just eat it without adding anything to it, which is normally what I do.

Where Can You Try This?

As with ontbijtkoek, a krentenbol is not something you’d normally order in cafes or restaurants. 

You may find it as a breakfast item in your hotel but otherwise just go to a bakery or the bread section in any supermarket and get a bag of krentenbollen (plural of krentenbol).

Tip: if the weather is good and you are planning a picnic, krentenbollen make a perfect picnic item.

Dutch Lunch Items

4. Poffertjes

cooking poffertjes as a Dutch snack or lunch
Picture by Tijs Zwinkels – famous Dutch food

Poffertjes are like mini, extra fluffy pancakes that are prepared in a special poffertjes pan.

They are both a nice Dutch snack and a good lunch option, if you are craving a sweet lunch.

Poffertjes are normally eaten with some butter, which melts nicely when put on top of the hot poffertjes, and some powdered sugar.

If people ask me which Dutch food they should try and will definitely enjoy, I always mention poffertjes.

Where Can You Try This?

Cafes that offer traditional Dutch food will often have poffertjes on their menu.

You might have to walk past a few cafes and restaurants before you find one, but if you are in a city center you will eventually find a place offering poffertjes.

And if you can’t find a cafe offering them, then look for a pannenkoekenhuis (pancake house) which is a restaurant specializing in pancakes. They will always serve poffertjes.

Alternatively, on market days you might spot a vendor selling freshly prepared poffertjes. This is even better because then you get to see how they are made! And this way they make a great snack while strolling around the market.

You can nowadays also buy premade poffertjes in the supermarket. If you are staying in a place with a microwave you could reheat them and eat them at home, but I don’t recommend that. They are really so much better when made fresh!

5. Dutch Cheese

Dutch cheese wheels
The famous Gouda cheese market & a selection of cheese in a cheese shop

Dutch cheese is probably one of the most famous Dutch foods and not only in the Netherlands but all over the world.

For lunch, the Dutch love their cheese sandwiches.

I have had foreign friends jokingly complain about the Dutch lunch saying “it’s all just bread and cheese here!”. And they are not wrong. We will literally just get a slice of bread, don’t even bother toasting it, put a few slices of cheese on top and call that lunch.

Oh and then as a snack later in the day we’d get the same block of cheese, cut it into cubes, maybe serve it with a little mustard and eat these cubes of cheese while enjoying a beer or a glass of wine.

But, there is a great variety of Dutch cheese and you should definitely try some.

Where Can You Try This?

What we love to do is go to a market or a cheese shop where you can see the different wheels of cheese and see just how many varieties of Dutch cheese there are.

You can order small quantities (or large quantities) of different cheeses here. And a nice bonus: they generally let you try some cheese first, so you can sample even more varieties.

You can also find a large variety of cheese in the supermarket and could prepare your own cheese sandwich with that or create a nice cheese board.

If you go to a restaurant you will always find items containing cheese, although not just Dutch cheese but often also cheese from other countries. 

Popular dishes to order with Dutch cheese are a grilled cheese sandwich, a ‘broodje gezond’ (french bread with cheese, ham, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and a boiled egg – or slight varieties of this) and a cheese board (which will often include Dutch and foreign cheeses).

Tip: a cheese board in the Netherlands is often offered as a dessert option. Strange? Maybe. But if, like myself, you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, some cheese and a nice glass of dessert wine is actually a great end of a meal.

6. Raw Herring

a man eating raw herring in the Netherlands
Picture by Takeaway – popular Dutch food

Herring is a special Dutch food to eat…

If you have been looking into Dutch food to try, you probably have come across, and potentially have been disgusted by our raw herring.

But then again, most of us eat raw tuna and salmon as sushi as well, so you might want to give this a try!

Herring is an oily fish that you eat raw with onions. Some will add some pickles, others eat it as a sandwich.

With our family it is a tradition to eat a herring sandwich on Fridays for lunch and to get some herring as a snack when we visit a Dutch city for the day.

Where Can You Try This?

The most important thing is that the herring is fresh, so your best bet is to buy it at a fish stand you find at markets or in a fish shop.

You can buy herring that is conveniently sliced into bite-sized pieces (which is what I would recommend) but if you want to be truly Dutch about it, don’t have it sliced, hold it by the tail, tilt your head and enjoy!

Dutch Snacks

7. Bitterballen

bitterballen as Dutch snacks

The Dutch have a whole range of deep-fried snacks, but bitterballen are the most famous option. And, bitterballen are the one snack most visitors enjoy, unlike some other varieties such as sausages made from left-over meat (frikandellen) or strange things such as deep-fried fried rice (nasischijf).

Bitterballen are essentially breaded, deep-fried, meat-filled balls. But, these days you can also get several vegetarian versions, including bitterballen filled with Dutch cheese!

Where Can You Try This?

Bitterballen are the perfect Dutch snack to enjoy with a beer or a glass of wine in the afternoon, preferably outside on a sunny terrace.

Most Dutch cafes serve bitterballen. Or order a ‘bittergarnituur‘ which will give you a wider range of deep-fried snacks.

8. Stroopwafels

a plate of Dutch cookies called stroopwafels
Picture by Markus – famous Dutch cookies

Stroopwafels are perhaps the most famous Dutch snacks.

So famous that I’ve seen them being sold in countries ranging from Spain to South Africa and, more recently, at Starbucks in the USA.

A stroopwafel is a wafer cookie with a delicious caramel filling, and they are best when eaten fresh!

Where Can You Try This?

The best place to get a stroopwafel is from a stroopwafel vendor at the market.

Whatever city you are visiting in the Netherlands, there will be a market somewhere in the center once or several times a week. And at those markets, you will almost always find a stroopwafel vendor.

Try to go there both to see how these stroopwafels are made and to get your hands on a hot, fresh stroopwafel. For as long as I can remember this has been my favorite thing to do when going to a Dutch market!

You can also buy a package of stroopwafels at the supermarket and at many souvenir shops.

Tip: if you buy stroopwafels in the supermarket and love coffee, place a stroopwafel on top of your hot cup of coffee for a minute. This way the syrup warms up slightly so that it is nice and runny and the cookie absorbs some of the coffee flavor. If you don’t like coffee, place the stroopwafel in the microwave to have the syrup melt a bit.

9. Saucijzenbroodje

a saucijzenbroodje on a plate

A saucijzenbroodje is a warm puff pastry roll filled with seasoned minced meat. It’s the Dutch version of a sausage roll.

Where Can You Try This?

The best place to get a saucijzenbroodje is at a bakery.

Some bakeries these days will have some seating so that you can enjoy your saucijzenbroodje with a cup of coffee as a break from shopping or sightseeing.

But otherwise a saucijzenbroodje is a popular snack to eat while walking around the city or to take with you and eat at home.

You can also buy saucijzenbroodjes in the supermarket. Some sell fresh ones and other supermarkets sell packages of saucijzenbroodjes to finish off in the oven.

And, more and more places have started offering vegetarian versions of the traditional saucijzenbroodje.

10. Dutch Licorice

a selection of drop, a typical Dutch candy

Dutch licorice, called ‘drop‘ here, can be both sweet or salty, firm or soft, and comes in a variety of shapes. 

Drop is a famous Dutch candy, eaten by both kids and adults. But we know, if you are not from the Netherlands or from the Nordic countries, you probably find this very weird candy.

If you’ve never tried it though you definitely should, just to know what it is.

Where Can You Try This?

You can buy bags of drop at supermarkets or at candy stores.

11. Tompouce

traditional Dutch tompouce
Picture by Amin – traditional Dutch snacks

A tompouce is a typical Dutch pastry that we often have with a cup of coffee.

It’s the Dutch version of the French mille-feuille and the Italian mille foglie.

The tompouce is made of two layers of puff pastry with pastry cream in between and glazed with icing, which most often is pink.

In our family, it is a tradition to eat this when there is something to celebrate, for example a birthday.

Where Can You Try This?

You can buy tompouce at almost all bakeries and at some supermarkets.

But a famous place for Dutch people to buy tompouce is at the department store called Hema, which you can find in any bigger city.

Fun fact: orange is the national color of the Netherlands and therefore on King’s Day, our annual celebration of the king’s birthday, you can buy tompouce with orange glazing.

12. Speculaas

speculaas with coffee - the best Dutch food
Picture by Turku – the best Dutch food

Speculaas is a type of spiced cookie, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ Day in the Netherlands (December 5th).

It might remind you of gingerbread cookies because the spice mix used to bake these cookies contains cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and pepper.

Where Can You Try This?

If you are lucky you will get a ‘speculaasje‘ (a small speculaas cookie) when you order a coffee in a cafe.

But otherwise you can buy a package of speculaas in any supermarket, in many souvenir shops or get some fresh speculaas at most bakeries.

As far as Dutch snacks go, speculaas is definitely one of our favorites. 

Tip: also try some stuffed speculaas (gevulde speculaas in Dutch) which is a softer version of the speculaas cookie stuffed with a sugary almond paste.

13. Oliebollen

3 oliebollen with powdered sugar

Oliebollen, which literally means “oil balls” are deep-fried balls of dough, either plain or with raisins. In English they are more commonly known as Dutch donuts.

If you visit the Netherlands around New Year’s Eve, you will see oliebollen everywhere: on markets, sold by street vendors throughout the city, in supermarkets, and even in some cafes and restaurants.

Oliebollen are a typical New Year’s Eve snack and although vendors seem to pop up earlier every year, it’s definitely a holiday season snack and you will hardly find it anywhere the rest of the year.

Where Can You Try This?

If you visit the Netherlands between Christmas and New Year’s Eve you’ll have to try some oliebollen.

Get them fresh from any of the many vendors throughout the city. Most larger city squares will have at least one vendor selling them and you can also often find a vendor in front of the train station.

14. Beschuit Met Muisjes

beschuit with pink and blue muisjes

This is something you probably won’t eat unless you are visiting a family with a newborn baby. But, it’s such a typically Dutch tradition that we had to list it here.

Beschuit met muisjes literally translates to ‘biscuit with mice’.

Beschuit is a round, hard and dry biscuit (also known as Dutch crispbakes) that’s about a centimeter thick and made from twice-baked bread. The top of the biscuit is covered in a layer of butter and then sprinkled with the muisjes​​​​​​​, which are seeds from the anise plant (aniseed) covered in a sugary coating.

Where Can You Try This?

Beschuit met muisjes is a snack served to friends and family when they visit a newborn baby.

If the newborn has older, school-going siblings, they often bring this snack with them to school to serve to their teacher and classmates.

But, if you are not visiting someone who just had a baby, you can simply buy beschuit, butter and muisjes in the supermarket to try this unique Dutch food…

Fun fact: the muisjes traditionally come in two colors: blue and pink. If the newborn is a boy, the parents will serve beschuit with blue muisjes, and if the newborn is a girl, you’ll get beschuit with pink muisjes.

Dutch Dinner

15. Pannenkoeken

a plate of traditional Dutch pancakes

Pannenkoeken are the Dutch version of pancakes which are thinner than American pancakes but thicker than French crepes.

We generally eat them for dinner and occasionally for lunch.

And they can be served with an incredibly wide variety of toppings. The more traditional toppings include syrup and powdered sugar, apple slices and cinnamon, or cheese for a savory version.

But more creative toppings can include anything from spicy chicken to banana with peanut butter.

Where Can You Try This?

To enjoy the widest range and best quality of pancakes, go to a ‘pannenkoekenhuis‘ (pancake house) which is a restaurant specializing in pancakes. You can find these in any major city and some smaller towns.

Alternatively you can buy ready-made pancakes or pancake batter in the supermarket to make your own.

16. Stamppot

Dutch dinner: stamppot with a sausage
Picture by Omid – Dutch dinner

Stamppot is a truly typical Dutch food.

Every Dutch person grew up eating stamppot, especially in winter.

It is a dish in which potatoes and one or more vegetables are mashed into a mix, usually served with some gravy and a sausage.

It’s a hearty, cheap and easy to make Dutch dish which is probably what made it so popular in past centuries.

Where Can You Try This?

Stamppot is a dish that is mostly enjoyed at home and is therefore hard to find in a restaurant.

However, if you are visiting Amsterdam then check out Moeders restaurant. They specialize in traditional Dutch food and also serve stamppot.

Alternatively, you can buy pre-made stamppot in any supermarket. Simply heat it up and enjoy!

17. Patatje Oorlog & Patat Met Mayo

a typical 'patatje met mayo'

French fries with mayonnaise… Many people say we are crazy for doing that, but the Dutch love it!

Patat met mayo (fries with mayo) is exactly that: french fries, often served in a paper cone, covered with a generous amount of mayonnaise.

Patatje oorlog (a ‘war frie’) is a serving of fries topped with peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and onions. Patatje oorlog is one of our favorites, but you can choose any topping you like on your fries.

It is impossible to imagine the Dutch culture without this typical Dutch food. It is easy, cheap, and delicious.

If you have spent the day at the beach, or have spent all day exploring the city, then getting a quick ‘patatje‘ is a popular thing to do.

Where Can You Try This?

Where in the UK you go to a fish & chips shop, in the Netherlands you go to what we call a patatzaak (frie shop) or snack bar.

Order a patatje with a topping of your choice and marvel at the wide variety of deep-fried snacks available, which I will describe next.

Apart from these shops selling patatjes, you’ll also often find food stands by the beach, on city squares, and at markets offering patatjes.

18. Deep-Fried Snacks

Dutch snacks on display in a snack bar
Picture by Takeaway – deep-fried snacks in a Dutch snack bar

As I mentioned earlier, there are a whole range of deep-fried Dutch snacks and some of them will seem quite weird to you (I know, there definitely is some weird Dutch food).

We often order a deep-fried snack or two to go with our patatje.

There are many choices, ranging from a variety of deep-fried sausage-like items to deep-fried cheese (kaassoufflé) and deep-fried noodles (bamischijf).

Where Can You Try This?

At the snack bar you can order these snacks at the counter, but another typical Dutch thing that many snack bars have is a wall with tiny windows.

Behind each tiny window is one hot snack. Put some coins in the wall, select your item and open the window to collect your snack… It’s an experience you have to check out!

19. Kibbeling

a traditional Dutch dish of kibbeling
Picture by Janericloebe – Dutch food to try

Kibbeling is both a typical Dutch snack and a Dutch dinner option.

It’s chunks of battered white fish, commonly served with a mayonnaise-based garlic sauce or tartar sauce.

Many Dutch people eat this on a Wednesday because a lot of fish stalls offer a discount on this day.

When we were young we often had this for dinner on Wednesdays, served with delicious baked potatoes.

Where Can You Try This?

As with the herring, you can buy kibbeling at one of the fish stalls at a market or at a fish shop.

20. Erwtensoep

a bowl of Dutch pea soup

Erwtensoep, which we also call snert, is the Dutch version of split pea soup.

This dish is mainly eaten in the Winter and might be thicker than you expect a soup to be. In fact, the Dutch believe that erwtensoep should be so thick that you can stand a spoon upright in it.

Where Can You Try This?

Some more traditional restaurants offer erwtensoep both for lunch and for dinner. If you are visiting Amsterdam you can order it at restaurant De Blauwe Hollander.

Alternatively you can buy erwtensoep in any supermarket.

21. Kapsalon

a serving of the Dutch food Kapsalon
Picture by Martin – popular Dutch food

Kapsalon is a more recent Dutch food that became very popular very quickly.

The dish consists of fries, covered with shawarma, topped with cheese that is then briefly grilled so that the cheese melts. Some salad is added on top of the dish and it’s often served with garlic sauce and hot sauce.

The story goes that kapsalon (Dutch for barbershop) was invented in Rotterdam in 2003, when a barber regularly went to a nearby shawarma place and asked for this concoction of ingredients. The shop started writing it down as kapsalon and somehow it became a popular dish that can now be found all over the Netherlands and in a growing number of other countries.

Where Can You Try This?

Most shawarma shops and kebap shops will offer kapsalon and some snack bars do too.

Apart from a Dutch dinner option, it is also a popular dish to eat late at night, after a night out.

22. Vla

a bowl of Dutch vla
Picture by Qaswed – a typical Dutch dessert

We saved the least known Dutch food for last, which is vla.

The Netherlands is a dairy country and that becomes very obvious when you go to the milk and dessert sections in any Dutch supermarket.

Apart from a wide selection of cartons of milk and yogurt you will also find cartons of vla here.

Vla resembles a pudding but is runnier, hence why it’s poured out of a carton.

Vla is a typical Dutch dessert that most of us had frequently when growing up.

Our favorite flavor of vla is chocolate, but you’ll see that you have quite a few varieties to choose from.

Tip: put some whipped cream on top, this makes it even better!

Where Can You Try This?

Vla is hardly ever served in restaurants so if you want to try this typical Dutch food just get it from the supermarket.

Famous Dutch Food You May or May Not Want to Try

I know, some of the Dutch food we listed might sound crazy to you.

Thankfully, the Netherlands is also known for being a multicultural society offering food from all over the world. So if you’d rather try some authentic Greek, Vietnamese or Peruvian food while you’re in the Netherlands, that’s possible too!

But, I do hope you try at least a few Dutch snacks!

And if you are going to Amsterdam and love food tours, check out this combined Amsterdam canal cruise and food tour.

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the best Dutch food to try

Cynthia and Alexander

Author: Cynthia and Alexander
Writers and entrepreneurs, Cynthia and Alexander are inspired to travel the world. ‘Normal’ 9 to 5 jobs were not for them, they decided to follow their dreams and started Travel Your Memories. This with a vision: sharing their travel passion. They like adventure and sports. They spend most of their “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and are passionate about travel, sport, and health.
Wondering which countries they have visited? Check their travel destinations page for more information.

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