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What to eat when in the Netherlands – 15 Must Eats

The Classics

“Bitterballen” by mzcrazymz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1. Bitterballen

Bitterballen are breaded meat croquettes traditionally filled with a ragout of beef or veal mixture and deep-fried. Occasionally, a mixture of chicken meat or mushrooms is used for the filling. Mustard is often served with them. They are best eaten while still hot and crispy!
They are a popular snack with alcoholic drinks in restaurants in the Netherlands.

2. Kroket

The kroket is a deep-fried dish in which a filling is rolled in breadcrumbs. They are also known as croquettes in other countries. There are several variants of it with different fillings. For example: meat kroket, potato kroket, goulash kroket, egg kroket and cheese kroket. In the Netherlands, they are so popular as a snack that you can even buy them in vending machines.

3. Frikandel

Frikandel is a skinless, deep-fried sausage that is a popular snack eaten mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium. It can be found in numerous snack bars and frites stands where it is often cut in half and topped with mayonnaise, curry ketchup, and finely chopped onions.

“Frites” by adactio is licensed under CC BY 2.0

4. Frites

Although French fries originated in Belgium, they are no less popular in the Netherlands. Usually, they are served with mayonnaise, but the Dutch also have their own twist on fries. The popular Dutch combination is called oorlog (“war”) and is a mixture of mayonnaise, peanut satay sauce, and raw onions. Are you brave enough to try it?

5. Kibbeling

Kibbeling is a Dutch fish dish. The fish fillets are cut into bite-sized cubes, coated with batter and then deep-fried. Fillets of cod, pollock or hake are used for the preparation. Kibbeling is traditionally served with garlic dip or a remoulade sauce, such as Joppiesauce. It can also be found at many food stalls.

“Stamppot” by Kaeru is licensed under CC BY 2.0

6. Stamppot

Stamppot (Dutch for mashed pot) is a traditional stew of mashed potatoes and vegetables. Commonly used vegetables include kale, spinach, endive, turnips, or sauerkraut. A similar dish in which potatoes are mashed together with onions and carrots is called hutspot. Stamppot is often served in restaurants and at street fairs.

7. Erwtensoep

Erwtensoep is also known as Snert and is a popular pea soup in the Netherlands. Erwtensoep is made from split peas, vegetables, and pork. It is often served with Rookworst sausage and Dutch rye bread. It counts as a winter staple and is also traditionally served on New Year’s Day.

8. Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel is more or less a Dutch buffet of Indonesian dishes developed during the colonial period. Usually, guests are served a plate of rice and can then choose from a variety of side dishes. Popular dishes served at this feast include tempeh blado, beef rendang, pisang goreng banana fritters, and meat or vegetables in spicy peanut sauce (saté).

Something Sweet

9. Stroopwafel

A stroopwafel (Dutch for “syrup wafer”) is a type of Dutch cookie. It consists of two round dough wafers, one on top of the other, about 10 centimeters in diameter, with a filling of caramel between them. Traditionally it is consumed with coffee, tea or cocoa. It is often placed on the cup before consumption to warm it up and thus liquefy the syrup (this can also be done in the microwave). While stroopwafels outside the Netherlands can usually only be obtained industrially produced and packaged, in the Netherlands often prepared fresh at markets by street vendors.

10. Poffertjes

Poffertjes are a Dutch pastry specialty that resemble small, round pancakes. They are relatively thick, served with small pieces of butter, and sprinkled with lots of powdered sugar, making them taste much sweeter than regular pancakes. In some places, they are also garnished with stroop (sugar beet syrup).

11. Dutch Pancakes (Pannekoeken)

Even though the Netherlands are not exactly famous for their cuisine, their pancakes are super delicious. Pannekoek are a type of Dutch pancake that are between French crepes and American pancakes in terms of thickness. They are usually eaten for dinner, lunch or dessert and rarely for breakfast.

Pannekoek are served both sweet and savory. They can be topped with syrup, apples, cinnamon, and sugar but also cheese and bacon.

12. Hagelslag

Hagelslag (“hailstorm”) is a Dutch bread topping made of chocolate or colored sugar. Hagelslag can be sprinkled directly from the package on buttered bread or other pastry. It is one of the most famous Dutch bread toppings. I have to say that I didn’t know this when I first visited the Netherlands and wondered why there were shelves full of sprinkles in every store. 

13. Oliebollen

Oliebollen (“oil balls”) are a Dutch deep-fried pastry traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and at fairs. They are made from a dough of flour, eggs, yeast, salt and lukewarm milk and then deep-fried. In addition, oliebollen can be filled with raisins, currants, or apples. The pastry is usually dusted with powdered sugar.

14. Ontbijtkoek

Ontbijtkoek (“breakfast cake”) is one of the staples of a traditional Dutch breakfast. It is a rye cake flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, honey, pepper, and cloves.

It is usually eaten for breakfast, but it is also popular as a lunch meal or snack. It is often spread with butter and jam or served with cheese.

Something Unusual

“Dutch Herrings” by j_bary is licensed under CC BY 2.0

15. Dutch Herring

Dutch herring is raw herring marinated in a mild preservative liquid. It may be raw herring in a mild vinegar marinade or Dutch herring in brine. This specialty is definitely not for everyone, but you should still try it. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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