In our other post, we talked about Dutch food in general and our food culture (Click this link to read). In this post, we created a list of 50+ must-try Dutch foods when you come to visit. Organized (as good as possible) by meal-type and season. Because this post is extensive here is a short cut menu if you're interested is a particular kind of Dutch goodie:
If you need sugar we're sure you'd love to try these Dutch candies:
Are an old fashioned Dutch hard candy with a coffee flavor. Available at every supermarket. You can recognize them by their white paper with a yellow logo.
Most people give a face like no, yucks. But really give the Dutch ones. It's a distinguished taste for sure, but very different to the licorice that you have at home, we call that candy zoethout, not drop. Dutch drop is much better and can only be bought in Holland and Belgium. Drop comes in sweet and salty versions, some even with a honey flavor.
Koetjes repen (chocolate bar):
Just the wrappers of these chocolate bars makes it worth it to buy them. I guess the flavor is nothing exceptional. But it's a different flavor and holds so many memories for me. This was the chocolate bar my grandmother had in her purse for my brother and me (Gerjo) when she came to visit. It was always a treat!
Tony Chocoloney Chocolate bars:
The colorful wrappings just makes you happy. Then the flavor of the bars is even better and comes in a lot of varieties. Our personal favorite: Tony's Chocolonely Dark 51% Almond Sea Salt (but many people say theirs is the regular chocolate with Seasalt and Caramel). The best part is that this chocolate is produced 100% verified slave free. Not even something Fair Trade producers can guarantee. Discover your personal favorite at most supermarkets or candy stores.
Best to buy a Stroopwafel hot, straight from the iron at a local weekly outdoor market. Or else you can purchase them pre-made at any supermarket.
A lot of coarse almond paste inside a delicious cookie. What not to love. Again, the best ones can be bought at a real bakery. But you can purchase them pre-packed at any supermarket as well.
A mergpijp most often consist of cake, cream, sometimes jam, almond paste and chocolate. That sums it up nicely. For the best ones, head to a real bakery. Supermarkets carry them as well (lower quality) .
A "Jodekoek" is a very simple and delicious cookie. Available at every supermarket.
Bastogne koeken are made by LU. Oh, we promise you one thing: you'll be addicted, ones you try these. The Dutch love them that much that we even make pie crusts with these cookies.
Dutch pastries and Dutch pies that will make you very happy
Sometimes (anytime), it's time for a full upgrade from cookies to pastries and pies. Well, the Dutch now how to do that. Read about these incredible treats bakeries around the country bake for us every single day:
Oh, do we like a good fresh Tompouce. It's two layers of crispy puff pastry, thick cream [or whipped cream], and a layer of a high gloss glaze, usually pink). And orange when it's Kingsday.
HEMA department stores are famous for them. And they are cheap! You can find a HEMA in most towns and shopping centers. And nowadays at many railway stations too. For a higher quality version, go to a local bakery. Supermarkets do sell them in the cooled section or the freezer section. But maw, it's HEMA or a bakery for us.
Slagroom taart (whipped cream pie):
We can stop right here, right? We mean whipped cream, not just as a topping, but a pie wholly dedicated to the good stuff. Typically Dutch too. Velvety layers of fluffy cake filled with thick slabs of sweet whipped cream in between and on top. It's so good. You must try it. Besides a full pie, you can also buy slices. Available both at bakeries and supermarkets.
Mokka taart (Mocha Cake):
Another favorite for many Dutch people. Often featured at birthday parties. A pie quite similar in texture as the whipped cream pie above but with a more solid creamy filling with coffee flavor.
Dutch Apple Pie:
Americans might claim apple pie is theirs, but the Dutch won't agree. Dutch Apple Pie is fantastic and different from American Apple Pie. It's less sweet here (still plenty sweet, don't worry), the crust is different, and it can contain almond paste here. It's delicious.
The best apple pie hands down in the country can be bought at Winkel 43 in Amsterdam. Conveniently located in the center of town. Dudok Apple Pie is also famous. Dudok is located in Rotterdam. Pro tip: if the server asked you if you want whipped cream with your apple pie, never say no (unless for medical reasons).
The province of Limburg (in the South of the country) is famous for its pies, called Limburgse Vlaai. They come in many fruit flavors and rice. These are the most traditional ones. Thankfully we can get them all around the country. From supermarkets, HEMA department stores, and chains like Multivlaai.
One we like in particular is the "Appel kruimel vlaai" (Apple Crumble) from HEMA department stores.
These chocolate puff pastries filled with velvety whipped cream and covered in semi-dark chocolate are just divine. The original can only be bought at one bakery in the country, in Den Bosch. Read our post about Den Bosch to learn more about them and where to buy them.
Ready for something else than sweets? Then it's time for some proper Dutch snacks:
It can't get any more Dutch than a bitterbal. They're excellent! We're not kidding you. Every Dutch pub/cafe offers Bitterballen as an afternoon or late-night snack served with mustard. Bitterballen are great to share. These fried balls filled with a creamy beef filling are hot, though (temperature) when served. The inside is much warmer than the outside. You won't be the first to burn their mouths (or the last).
Vlammetjes are another fried snack. They are spicy and hot! I love them, but if you're like Herman and don't like spicy food, then these little heat devils are not for you.
Rookworst (smoked sausage):
HEMA department stores are famous for them. You can get half hot ones directly from the till. Served with or without a soft bread roll and with or without mustard. There is no correct way of eating them. I like them without bread but with mustard. Most people eat them plain without bread and mustard.
They are a classic! Often referred to as small puffed up pancakes. But they're different. The batter and thus the flavor is different. Poffertjes are usually served with half melted butter and powdered sugar. You can also dress them up with a shot of your favorite liquor (adults only). Orange liquor is the choice for many.
Dutch Herring as in raw fermented fish, eaten by the tail with onions and pickles. Sounds lovely, right? It's definitely in the weird dutch food category. But oh boy is it yummie!
Buy your raw Herring at a local fish shop or a fish truck. Pretty much every town has one or more. For Herring, you do need a developed taste. We're just saying. And don't feel bad if you can't bring yourself to it. Herman is still working on getting rid of his fear of raw Herring. I love it on the other end.
This is how you eat a herring correctly: sprinkle it with raw onion, pick it up by the tail and take a bite. (pickles are optional, it's no extra charge, but you need to ask for them because most people eat them with onions only).
Don't get Herring at the supermarket. They are not as good. Get them from a proper fish shop or market stall.
Kibbeling (Fried fish):
The flavor is good and liked by everyone. This is a safe choice compared to Herring. Kibbeling is best bought at a local fish shop or fish truck, freshly prepared in front of your eyes. When you see a line at a fish shop, it's the Kibbeling they're waiting for. If Herring scares you, then go for Kibbeling!
This is how you eat kibbeling correctly:
- Order the portion size you want (which is always large, right?). No, large is actually the perfect size to share.
- Pick a sauce: remoulade is the default, but you usually get a choice of four sauces. Try a different one with each order and find your favorite.
That's it. I've seen a few videos on YouTube from foreigners eating kibbeling "the right way." Then I see them add stuff like salt, pepper, and even lemon juice. At that point, I gross-out. Please do not do that. That is not the right way of eating kibbeling.
It's salty enough by itself. And the lemon juice at the table is meant for other fish like salmon. Just remember: it's fish pieces + sauce only.
A "saucijzenbroodje" is like a sausage roll but typically spiced. Usually, local bakeries sell the best ones. Ask them to heat one for you. A saucijzenbroodje from LaPlace restaurants and Jumbo City are very good on the go! You'll find them at larger railway stations and city centers. Otherwise, the ones from the Albert Heijn supermarkets are good but need to be heated. It's also a staple snack at (museum) cafes and theme parks.
Like grandma makes it. Typically Dutch. (It's like meatloaf but then a ball, and different spices are used). The juicy ones are hard to find. But you can try a good enough tasting gehaktbal at "snackbars" and gas stations. Or better get invited by Dutch people in their home and ask their grandmother to make them (first check if their grandmother(s) is/are still alive, to avoid awkward situations). Grandmothers make the best "gehaktballen" in the world.
Borrelmix (or Borrelnootjes):
This is a typical staple at every Dutch party. Also referred to as "Borrelnootjes". These are peanut's in a spiced coating, usually sweet. If you like nuts and calories, you have to try these out. - Available at every supermarket.
Patatje Joppie potato chips:
Nothing Dutch per se to Potato chips right? But buying the Patatjes Joppie sauce (Joppie sauce fries) flavor most definitely is Dutch. Once introduced as a fun one-time limited edition after a competition, it proved itself as a flavor to stay.
What to try for a real Dutch Breakfast:
Regular or wholewheat (volkoren) for some extra fiber. These are round crispy bread perfect for savory or sweet toppings. Buy at any supermarket.
Available in many different variations at any supermarket. Basically, an excuse to eat chocolate straight out of bed. Our personal favorite is the dark chocolate XXXL version from Lidl.
Do it right with a thick layer of real full cream butter. Not the fake stuff. You'll find many varieties in supermarkets. It's fun to try different ones. But for your first try, we recommend the original from Peijnenburg.
Looking for a Dutch Lunch, these are typical Dutch things to eat at lunch:
Erwtensoep (Pea soup):
Erwtensoep should be thick (your spoon should almost be able to stand in it.) Warm pea soup served with (rye) bread is our to go to lunch in wintertime. Full with peas, winter vegetables, and rookworst (smoked sausage). It's so comforting. If you get a really traditional version (sold at butchers, and by our grandmothers), it also includes pork belly.
An Uitmijter are fried eggs usually 2 or 3 with ham and/or cheese or roast beef on top, served on fresh slices of bread. It's delicious.
The Dutch eat a savory pancake most often for lunch. We've written a lot about them in our main post about Dutch food. You can read it by clicking the link.
Fries with a hot snack:
Fries (yes with mayo) and a hot snack are considered lunch for many Dutch people. We have an array of options to go along with your fries. Which you can't find anywhere else in the world. The most common options are:
The Dutch are most known for their round yellow Gouda, Edam, or Beemster cheeses. They come in all kinds of different varieties. From "young cheese" (Jonge Kaas) to Matured (Old) cheese. The later is my personal favorite. Herman doesn't like cheese at all.
You'll also find popular varieties like Cumin, which is another one of my favorites! It's something I always bought with my grandmother at her local cheese shop. She served them on crackers, and it was such a treat.
Read more about Dutch cheese in our main post about Dutch food.
Foods to try for a real Dutch diner:
You already know what they are (if you've read our other article about Dutch food), but finding them is more of a challenge.
It's not a dish easy to find in a restaurant. If you do see it on the sign. Don't think twice. Go in and order it. Moeders (Rozengracht 251) is a restaurant known to serve Dutch classics in Amsterdam. When you go, bring a picture of your mom. They add it to the wall next to thousands of others.
You can also purchase a pre-made stamppot at a supermarket near the convenience meal section. Get the more expensive version for a better taste (they look fresher too). Butchers also often sell homemade stamppot varieties as well.
Meat, potatoes, and veggies:
Traditionally this dish is a vegetable like cabbage or Brussels sprouts or peas, with boiled potatoes and some meat like a gehaktbal (see below, pork chops or a sausage.) This is the classic dish I grew up with and was served almost daily. Moeders (see above) always has a few versions on their menu for you to try.
After all these goodies, who doesn't have room left for some typical Dutch Desserts? Herman has, for sure!
Vla is a typical dairy dessert. It's not found anywhere else in the world and comes in many flavors. Buy "vla" at any supermarket in the cooling section. Hopjes is my favorite, most people love vanilla (me too), and there are tons of other flavors to try, like whipped cream, strawberry, or chocolate. How to makes this great dessert even better? Add whipped cream. No need to make it complicated.
Advocaat is a thick kind of eggnog with alcohol. What's not to like about that, right?
One of the best Advocaat is called Tokkelroom (expensive). You can get it in upmarket supermarkets near the wine section. It's lighter in color than cheaper Advocaat, which is bright yellow. All supermarkets have the cheaper stuff, but not always the Tokkelroom.
The best of the best is when you can find a Dutch family or a farmer's shop in the countryside, who know how to make it themselves. That is another level of Advocaat and out of this world! You must add whipped cream, or it's not traditional.
Famous Dutch Seasonal Foods for the Holidays
The list above is already quite long. But there's more. The Dutch have a rich tradition when it comes to holiday foods. Especially around Sinterklaas, which is a children's holiday on December 5th.
Typical Dutch Sinterklaas foods are:
Marsepein is almonds and sugar made into candy in all kinds of different shapes. Getting it from the bakery (usually a slice from a big pig (really) will give you the highest quality. The percentage of almonds tends to be higher at a bakery compared to the Marzipan sold in supermarkets.
If you say you don't like Marzipan, try the Dutch version. It's different in flavor then what you buy as a baking ingredient at home. It's more coarse and sweet.
Medium soft gingerbread-like cookies. Good ones are though to chew. It's a very traditional Sinterklaas candy for sure.
Crispy cookies, often also called "pepernoten" but that's not correct. "Pepernoten" are more chewy and bigger. "Kruidnoten" are small and crispy. The ones from Bolletje are the best.
You can buy any letter of the alphabet as a chocolate letter in different flavors during the Sinterklaas season.
Borstplaat is sugary candy that makes your teeth fall out, but of course incredibly good!
Buttery puff pastry with (A LOT of) almond paste inside. You must heat a piece of "Amandelstaaf" in the oven to bring out its best flavors. It's a calorie bomb, but worth every single one of them.
Strooigoed candy is a mix of "Kruidnoten" and other candy. Usually thrown in the house for kids to pick up everywhere when Sinterklaas is celebrated on December 5th.
All of these special Dutch Sinterklaas foods are available from late September till early December.
Easter and Paaseitjes:
Paaseitjes are chocolate eggs for Easter and come in a variety of flavors. Get them in a bag from any supermarket the month before Easter. Or much more fun mix your own flavors from Candy stores like Jamin, HEMA department stores, or Albert Heijn supermarkets. Just the wrappers are feast to look at.
Oliebollen and New Year's Eve:
This is the snack for New Year's Eve. But available during the entire winter season. You can see Oliebollen mobile trucks in every city and town. These sugary dough balls with or without raisins are best eaten when still hot and with loads of powdered sugar.
Want to learn more about Dutch food and Dutch food Culture?
Then please read our other Food post about Dutch food and Dutch food culture. And psst.. more restaurant tips are included in that post.
Want to learn more about holland and Dutch culture?
Which foods are you trying on your next visit to Holland?
Let us know in the comments below what foods you're going to try or have tried! We’d love to hear.