Top ten traditional Dutch foods

  • Food & drink
  • The Netherlands
  • 5 min read
Top ten traditional Dutch foods

It’s not a real taste of the Netherlands if you don’t try Poffertjes!

The Netherlands is known for windmills, fields of brightly coloured tulips and wooden clogs. But what about when it comes to their famous dishes? There is a lot more to Dutch cuisine than pancakes! 

1. Poffertjes

Probably one of the most famous Dutch dishes, Poffertjes are small pancakes, baked in an iron skillet, and traditionally served with melted butter and dusted with icing sugar. You can enjoy these all year round, but Christmas and New Year are typically the best times to have them.

The best way to eat them is from a street food van on a cold winter's night, wrapped up warm and cosy against the chill. They are usually served on paper plates with plastic forks, making a very informal but delicious snack.  

2. Hollandse nieuwe haring

Pickled fish always seems to be somewhat controversial in the UK. A dish that you may try once or twice, but not one that typically makes it to the dinner table of many homes. This is very different in northern Europe, where pickled fish is much more common.

Hollandse nieuwe haring is translated to ‘Scoused Herrings', and is raw herring coated in a preserving liquid, made of vinegar, spices and cider. They're usually eaten as a snack, and are often served on their own, or with onions.

3. Pannenkoeken

The Dutch definitely love their pancakes, no matter the size or the topping. Pannenkoeken are a traditional sort of pancake, loved the world over. The Dutch have them sweet or savoury, and many cafés offer a huge variety of toppings.

Pancakes may not seem particularly exotic or different, but there is nothing better than one made by a professional chef, served with a hot cup of coffee as you sit outside a café, watching the world go by.  

4. Sate

Similar to satay sauce, it may be Asian in origin, but it has become a regular feature in Dutch cuisine. While it is enjoyed in the traditional way, over rice with chicken or beef, the Dutch more commonly have it covering their fries. It's basically a different take on mayonnaise or ketchup.  

5. Stamppot

One of the main features of Dutch cooking is its warmth and heartiness, and Stamppot is one of the best examples of this. It's a dish of mashed potatoes combined with root vegetables, like turnip, carrot and onion, but it can also include dark, leafy greens like kale or spinach.

Stamppot is such an old dish (historians believe it dates back to the 15th century) that no one is entirely sure of its origin, or who created it, but it has become a staple of Dutch cuisine. It's perfect to try for dinner on a relaxed evening, and make sure you order it the traditional way, with smoked sausage.

6. Oliebollen

If there is one thing to be said about traditional Dutch food, it's that it's not the healthiest cuisine. But when you are tucking into a plate of Oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts), you probably won't care!

Their name means ‘oil spheres', and they are balls of dumpling batter fried in hot oil, and later sprinkled with icing sugar. There are variations all over northern Europe, but they originate in the Netherlands. Traditionally, they were eaten during yule time by Germanic tribes. The tribes would offer baked goods (including Oliebollen) to the Germanic goddess Perchta, to pacify her and her evil spirits.

7. Erwtensoep

A lot of Dutch dishes have their time to shine during Christmas and New Year time, and Erwtensoep is no different. This is a split pea soup, much thicker than our version. You could always add more stock if you want to make it thinner, but then it wouldn't technically be the traditional soup that the Dutch love so much.

It is often served on New Year's Day; probably the best thing to have if you're feeling a little delicate. But you can have it on any cold evening, to warm your soul.

8. Bamischijf

This is another Dutch dish inspired by Chinese/Indonesian cuisine. Bamischijf is bami (Indonesian noodles and vegetables), packed closely together and then coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. This is more of a treat, and definitely not one that you should have every day!

9. Bitterballen

If you need a little something to eat before a big night out, Bitterballen is an obvious choice for the Dutch. Similar to a scotch egg, they are balls of finely chopped beef or veal that are seasoned with a mixture of spices, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried.

They are part of a spread of food known as bittergarnituur, which basically means ‘garnish for bitters'. They are usually enjoyed with a pint or two of beer, so head to the cosiest Dutch pub you can find and start snacking.

10. Appeltaart

We couldn't have a run-down of the best Dutch food without an appearance from its most famous creation. The apple tart is a must-have when you visit the Netherlands, and has been a part of their culture since the middle ages, first seen in an early Dutch cookbook, ‘A Notable Little Cookery Book'.

In a Dutch apple tart, the apples are sliced, covered with a pastry lattice, and usually served with a side of whipped cream. Simple perfection.

How many of these Dutch foods have you tried? Which ones are you looking forward to sampling when you visit the Netherlands? If you book your tickets early you can save more spending money to really indulge in all those Dutch treats!

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