While it’s not one of the most popular international cuisines, Dutch food holds its own. See the best Dutch food to try and discover new favorites from the Netherlands!
If you’re not familiar with tasty dishes like pannenkoeken and bitterballen, it’s time you got to know the best Dutch food to try! Keep reading to see what yummy foods you’ll find in the Netherlands.
What Is Dutch Food Like?
Dutch food, or Dutch cuisine, hails from the Netherlands and is deeply rooted in Dutch history, regional seafood, cheese, and vegetable ingredients, and delectable sweets that are as varied and colorful as the famous tulip fields in Holland.
Dutch food is seafood heavy – fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters, clams, and mussels. Meat pies, sausages, pastries, breads, stews, and a huge variety of sweets and desserts are the heart of Dutch cuisine.
Different regions of the Netherlands have slightly different flavors and dishes, usually separated into Northeastern, Western, and Southern Dutch food.
Northeastern Dutch Food
In the less-populated Northeast (Gelderland, Overjissel, Drenthe, Friesland, and Groningen provinces) of the Netherlands, dried and smoked sausages, heavily spiced pastries, rye and pumpernickel bread, and cheeses are popular.
Kruidkoek (Dutch gingerbread), spekdik (sausage-filled pancakes), Metworst dried sausages, Gelderse rookworst smoked sausages, and Friese Nagelkaas clove cheese are unique flavors of the Northeast.
Western Dutch Food
In the Western region of the Netherlands (Hollan, Zealand, Betuwe, and Utrecht), Dutch food takes a different flavor profile with lots of dairy, seafood, Ossenworst beef sausages, and big, doughy pastries and breads.
Western Dutch food is big on cheese, milk, and butter because the area is flat and filled with dairy cattle. Gouda, Edam, and Leyden cheeses are popular and the butter here is ultra-fatty and sumptuous.
Chocolate is a big deal in the region – it’s where Dutch process cocoa was developed. The stroopwafel, Oliebol pastries, Zeeuwse bolus, and doughy duivekater white bread are regional favorites.
Southern Dutch Food
Southern Dutch food (Limburg, Flemish region, and North Brabant) is a bit different from Northeastern and Western varieties, featuring lots of soups and stews, sweet pastries and meat pies, grilled and sauced meat cuts, and specialty dishes.
This region developed its own artsy haute cuisine, based on French methods and presentation using rich sauces, premium meats, and perfectly cooked vegetables.
Dishes popular in the South include Ossenhaas (beef tenderloin), biefstuk (beef steak), and varkenshaas (pork tenderloin) with stews like hachee (beefy onion stew) and stamppot (mashed potatoes, kale, smoked sausage stew).
26 Examples of the Best Dutch Food to Try
Getting hungry yet? Now that you have a solid understanding of the different types of Dutch cuisine by region, let’s take a look at the best Dutch food to try!
1. Stamppot (Mashed Root Veggies and Greens)
Stamppot is a hearty Dutch dish usually reserved for the colder months of the year. It’s a dish of mashed root veggies, including potatoes, turnips, and carrots. Greens are sometimes included, like kale or spinach.
Spices and broth add flavor to this filling, warm meal that dates back to the 17th century. Starchy and packed with tasty veggies, it’s even better with smoked sausage!
2. Hollandse Nieuwe (Salted Herring)
Hollandse Nieuwe is salted herring served with raw onions and gherkin pickles, but hear us out – this dish is tangy, salty, and famous throughout the Netherlands. It’s deeply rooted in tradition.
The fatty herring is cleaned with the head removed, then packed in salt. Traditionally, you’re supposed to lift the herring over your head by the tail and take an upward bite!
3. Kibbeling (Fried Cod Bites)
Kibbeling is small, succulent battered chunks of white fish that are crispy, fatty, and delicious. They’re a popular street food today and typically served with a side of garlic aioli or tartar sauce for dipping.
In the past, kibbeling was prepared from the leftover cod used for other dishes. Now, it’s made with the best and freshest cuts of this white fish, dipped in batter, and fried to a golden brown. Yum!
4. Poffertjes (Dutch Mini Pancakes)
These pint-sized pancakes are thick and fluffy, made with buckwheat and yeast to help them rise. They come dusted with powdered sugar, a pat of butter, or whipped cream and fruit.
Eat these babies fresh from a street food stand with a fork to do it the Dutch way. You’ll want more than you order – they’re tasty and airy and served with sweet toppings.
5. Pannenkoeken (Dutch Pancakes)
Pannenkoeken are thicker than French crepes, thinner than American pancakes, and incredibly tasty when loaded up with toppings or eaten with savory meats and veggies.
Dutch pancakes are eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and are often topped like a pizza with a variety of foods, like powdered sugar and fruit or sausage/bacon and cheese.
6. Kroket (Fried Meat-Stuffed Croquettes)
The Dutch version of a croquette, these log-shaped goodies are stuffed with minced meat, rolled in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried until they’re crispy and golden brown. Is there a better snack?
You’ll find tons of kroket fillings and flavors, from Indonesian to goulash and seafood. They’re often served alone, on a slice of moist white bread, or on a bun with mustard. Even McDonald’s sells them in the Netherlands!
7. Bitterballen (Fried Meat-Stuffed Balls)
Just like a kroket but presented in ball form, bitterballen are stuffed with savory minced meat. The filling is rolled in breadcrumbs, deep-fried to a crispy finish, and served with dipping sauces and plenty of beer.
Mustard is a favorite dipping sauce since it cuts through the fried flavor for a tangy, sour note. When you see a spread of these on a Dutch table, you don’t grab just one!
8. Stroopwafel (Caramel-Stuffed Waffle Cookies)
You’ve probably heard of or tasted stroopwafel, thanks to the global production of a processed, still-delicious version. The real thing is even better – buttery caramel sauce sandwiched between two crispy waffle cookies.
To keep with tradition, you’ve got to eat your stroopwafel (syrup waffle in English) by placing it over a cup of hot tea, coffee, or cocoa to soften it up on one side.
9. Bamischijf (Deep-Fried Noodle Dish)
Indonesian flavors are big in the Netherlands, and bamischijf is a great example. A slice of stir-fried noodles and veggies, called bami goreng, gets coated in seasoned breadcrumbs and deep-fried til crispy.
The result is a combination of Indonesian flavors bursting with noodles and vegetables that might reduce some of the deep-fried guilt. These snacks are served with sweet and tangy dipping sauces.
10. Frikandel (Minced Meat Sausage)
Frikandel don’t look super-appetizing on their own – it’s a long, thin sausage made from seasoned, minced meat – but once they get topped up, you’ll see the appeal right away.
Chicken, beef, or pork is used to make the sausage, which gets seasoned up with unique spices like cinnamon, pepper, and mace. Frikandel is served with fries, onions, and a mayonnaise sauce.
11. Sate (Grilled Meat Satay)
The Dutch love sate – grilled meat satay – and it’s something every palate will appreciate! A skewer of grilled chicken, pork, or beef gets grilled up over high heat and served with sate, or satay, sauce.
Sate is sweet and savory, once again working in those Indonesian flavors. You can enjoy it served with rice or have the sate sauce over fries for a different take!
12. Patatje Oorlog (War Fries)
Speaking of fries, patatje oorlog – also known as “war fries” – is an example of the best Dutch food to try. Crispy, seasoned fries are topped with a creamy, rich sauce and diced onions.
They’re called war fries because they look a bit chaotic and violent, covered in a mixture of mayonnaise and pindasaus, or peanut sauce, before getting a sprinkle of diced onion on top.
13. Wentelteefjes (Dutch French toast)
Breakfast lovers, listen up: Wentelteefjes, the Dutch version of French toast, is a sweet and hearty dish that takes stale bread and turns it into a custard-like French toast that’s rich and crisp on the outside.
Stale bread slices get dipped in milk and eggs before being fried in butter until golden brown on both sides. After hitting them with cinnamon sugar or toppings of your choice, they’re ready to dive into!
14. Hachee (Beefy Onion Stew)
Slow-cooked, tender beef and savory-sweet caramelized onions form the base of hachee, a rich and hearty Dutch stew that gets a subtle zing from vinegar, bay leaves, and cloves.
This might be the best Dutch food to try when it’s chilly out – a steamy bowl of hachee and a hunk of crusty bread sounds like the perfect meal.
15. Erwtensoep (Split Pea Soup)
The split pea soup you know might be watery and lack flavor, but erwtensoep – Dutch split pea soup – is super thick (a spoon should stand up in it), full of flavor, and seasoned with pork, celery, leeks, and carrots.
You’ll appreciate how packed it is with nutrients and it’s even better the second day! Enjoy a piece of smoked sausage and a slice of fresh rye bread alongside it.
16. Saucijzenbroodjes En Worstenbroodje (Sausage Pastry Rolls)
Spiced, ground meat, fluffy pastry dough, and a quick toss in the pan to fry or the oven to bake gives you Saucijzenbroodjes en Worstenbroodje – sausage-stuffed pastry rolls.
Lots of butter is the key to creating the fluffy pastry for this dish. After they’re fried or baked, the rolls are sliced up for perfect serving sizes. Try dipping them in a sweet or savory sauce!
17. Huzaransalade (Dutch Potato Salad)
If you love potato salad, try the ingredient-packed Dutch version: Huzaransalade! This potato salad uses potatoes, carrots, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, pickles, and mayonnaise.
The potatoes are cooked until tender, then other ingredients get piled on and mixed into the mayonnaise base. It’s served cold and the perfect accompaniment to a picnic or cookout!
18. Tosti (Ham and Cheese Panini)
The simple pleasures in life include tosti, a Dutch “panini” made with slices of ham and melty cheese on bread that’s grilled up on a sandwich press or in a special machine called a “tosti apparaat.”
Bars around Amsterdam serve lots of tostis and offer them in 2 versions: Cheese or ham and cheese. Get creative and try unique cheeses, meats, and flavor combos to upgrade your sandwich!
19. Tompouce (Puff Pastry Stuffed With Sweet Cream)
Dutch tompouce, or tompoes, is a French-style puff pastry similar to a Napoleon filled with thick, sweet cream in the middle and a sugary icing on top, usually colored differently for Dutch holidays.
The crispy, flaky pastry puffs up and becomes light and airy as it cooks. The creamy, sturdy filling is what makes this dish so delicious, then top it with icing – you’re in heaven.
20. Oliebollen (Dutch Donut Balls)
When the name of a dish translates to “oil balls,” you know it’s going to be good. Oliebollen starts with a thick dumpling batter fried in oil, then topped with icing sugar to finish.
They’re tasty little donut balls that are sweet without being overwhelmingly so. Traditionally eaten around Christmas, these treats are yummy enough to nosh on year-round!
21. Rookworst (Smoked Sausage)
Sausage lovers, rookworst should be on your list. It’s the best smoked sausage and often served alongside stamppot or erwtensoep for a meaty addition full of spices and flavor.
Rookworst features a crisp skin and each sausage is slightly bigger than a hotdog. Try it alone or in a bun with a little quality mustard and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
22. Pepernoten (Ginger Cookies)
Fans of cinnamon and gingerbread will love pepernoten, Dutch gingerbread cookies that are purposely baked in irregular shapes around Christmastime.
These sturdy cookies are made with gingerbread spices, brown sugar, flour, and cold butter cut in. Bake them up around the start of December to do it like the Dutch!
23. Appeltaart (Apple Tart)
You can’t go wrong with apple-based desserts, and tasting a Dutch appeltaart is proof. Sliced tart-sweet apples are arranged in a crust and covered with lattice pastry, then baked down to release their sugary syrup as the crust browns and crisps.
Cinnamon, sugar, and apples are the dominant flavors in this simple and sweet treat. Served with whipped cream or ice cream for extra decadence, this is a winner every time.
24. Appelflaapen (Apple Turnover)
If you’re craving apple flavors but in a hurry, skip the appeltaart and try appelflaapen instead. This is the Dutch version of an apple hand pie or turnover, featuring flaky pastry that hides generous apple filling inside.
Raisins, tart apples, sugar, and cinnamon are often used in the filling that gets sealed up into a delicious pastry that makes it easier to eat on the go. For an extra treat, drizzle the pastries with icing!
25. Boterkoek (Butter Cake)
Butter cake gets a rich flavor from real butter, sugar, and flour baked into a soft and moist cake that makes the perfect base for any flavor you want to add. Enjoyed on its own, it’s simple and slightly sweet with a spongy texture.
Versions with vanilla, almond, fruits, or chocolate are even better – the sky is the limit with boterkoek as the base! Try topping a slice with fruit or jam for a breakfast treat.
26. Drop (Licorice)
If you think you’ve had real licorice, think again. The stuff in the US is weak compared to what the Dutch enjoy and call “drop” instead of licorice.
The Netherlands boasts the highest licorice consumption in the world, eating over 4 pounds of the confection per person annually! Drop is available in salted or sweet varieties and it’s one of the best Dutch foods to try.
Things to Consider
Like what you see on this list of the best Dutch food to try? You might consider experimenting in the kitchen, ordering some Dutch essentials to recreate those flavors, or visiting the Netherlands for a real taste of Dutch dishes!
- Try whipping up Dutch food at home. While it can be tough to source certain ingredients, it’s possible to make many of the examples from this list of the best Dutch food to try at home! From pannenkoeken to appeltaart, you can enjoy lots of traditional Dutch flavors without leaving the country.
- Look for Dutch sweets and ingredients online. In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to source Dutch-made products online. From Dutch drop licorice candies to sauces, spices, and snacks, search for ingredients or foods you want to try and see if you can have them shipped to you!
- Head to the Netherlands for a traditional taste. If you want the real deal, you’ll have to head to the Netherlands and sample some of the traditional Dutch foods. Amsterdam has tons of restaurants and shops offering many of the dishes and treats on this list, so do a search online to find the best place to satisfy your Dutch food cravings when you go!
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some lingering questions about the best Dutch food to try? Reading through the FAQs should clear those up.
What is the most popular food of the Dutch?
Popular Dutch foods around the world include stroopwafel, or caramel sandwiched between crisp waffle cookies, kibbeling, or battered fish bites, and bitterballen/krokets, or breaded minced meat deep-fried and served with sauces.
Seafood, starchy vegetables, meat, stews, pastries, and dairy are popular Dutch ingredients used to make thousands of dishes.
What is a typical Dutch dinner food?
A typical Dutch dinner food might include hachee (beef and onion stew) served with crusty bread and butter or a big bowl of erwtensoep (split pea soup) and a link of rookworst sausage.
During the warmer summer months, Dutch dinner foods are lighter and might include a salted herring sandwich with huzaransalade (Dutch potato salad).
What is traditional Amsterdam food?
Traditional Amsterdam food includes traditional Dutch favorites from around the country, but every local and visitor enjoys a tosti - grilled ham and cheese sandwich - after a late night in the city.
Other appetizer-style foods like bitterballen and krokets, sweet pastries and desserts, and grilled meats and seafoods are popular in Amsterdam.
What is the Netherlands number 1 food?
The number 1 food in the Netherlands is stamppot, the national dish of the Netherlands.
It’s made with mashed potatoes and root veggies (carrots and turnips), greens (kale or spinach) and usually served with rookworst or other smoked sausage.
This hearty, warm dish is filling and best enjoyed in the colder months of the year.
So, What’s the Best Dutch Food to Try?
Whether you’re adventurous enough to taste raw salted herring or prefer sticking to those universally-loved deep-fried dishes (like bitterballen or oliebollen) that the Dutch have mastered, the best Dutch food to try is still up for debate.
From rich, savory dishes that warm you up and stick to your ribs on chilly nights to fresh seafood flavors and delectable sweets wrapped in flaky pastry dough, there’s no doubt that Dutch food is worth eating.
If you’re not heading to the Netherlands anytime soon, grab some basic ingredients and see what Dutch goods you can score online. Get in the kitchen and try whipping up the best Dutch food to try, no passport needed!