Before we get started on the different Dutch foods you have to try during a visit to my adopted country of the Netherlands, I would like to ask you to undertake a little exercise. Raise your right hand to the side of your neck, keep it upright and flat as if you’re about to karate chop into your collarbone. Then wave it around a bit by your ear and say the words “Mmm lekker!”. Congratulations, you’ve just learnt how to say “Mmm this Dutch delicacy is delicious!” in Dutch. Kinda.

Now let’s tuck into my sixteen favourite Dutch foods, and yes, I have pretty much listed them in my own order of preference but it’s over to you to pick the one you like most.


bitterballen at de foodhallen - de foodhallen amsterdam oud west_x960

Small, orange, deep-fried and with an unexpectedly soft meat and potato stew filling, bitterballen neither look or sound appetising but once dipped in mustard (and after cooling down a bit so you don’t ruin your taste buds for the remainder of your trip) they are strangely addictive and by the end of your visit to the Netherlands you’ll find it impossible to enjoy your biertje at borrel time without a plate of bitterballen in front of you.


poffertjes by Frances M Thompson

Essentially small pancakes, when done right poffertjes are like little clouds of fluffy sweet air best served with a generous blob of butter and half a ton of icing sugar that you can then get all over your face as you eat them though you may also have a choice of sweet sauces to add even more calories to your plate. My favourite place to get poffertjes in Amsterdam is from the lovely couple who are at Albert Cuyp market three days a week and at Lindengracht market on Saturday mornings.



I already miss the heady smell of fried dough that drifts along the streets from the oliebollen stalls set up around Amsterdam in early winter and in the run up to Christmas. A distant cousin of the doughnut, oliebollen are deep-fried balls of dough with dried fruit inside to help you convince yourself they’re healthy. Believe me, they’re not.


It’s hard to make the stamppot sound and look good when you consider it’s just a plate of mashed potato mixed up with one of the world’s least popular vegetables – kale, sauerkraut, endive, turnip and spinach – then served with a sausage and if you’re feeling adventurous, bacon bits and gravy. Yes, it screams “STODGE” but it’s delicious and the perfect dish for a cold winter’s evening. If you’re in Amsterdam I recommend going to Moeders to get a stamppot cooked like a Dutch mother would, or get it from Foodie’s in De Pijp which serves my absolute favourite sauerkraut stamppot.


Kipsate by Frances M Thompson

One of many Indonesian dishes that have become Dutch stalwarts, kipsate is nothing like the chicken satay I expected it to be. Yes, it’s served on skewers and is flavoured with a peanut sauce, but rather than the dry chicken dish I was used to in the UK, in the Netherlands the sauce cloaks the chicken and is far richer than anything I’ve ever tasted before. Some of the sauces we’ve tried in bars and restaurants across Amsterdam almost taste like they have chocolate in them… no bad thing!



It’s likely that you’ll smell stroopwaffel before you see them. These caramel filled thin biscuit like waffles are best enjoyed fresh or failing that warmed up over a hot cup of tea and coffee.

Oude Kaas

Dutch Oude Kaas

Outside of the Netherlands, when we think Dutch cheese we think Edam, or round little cheeses with a weak flavour and an almost plastic texture. I quickly learned that this is NOT the way the Dutch do cheese. In fact, go into a Dutch cheese shop and ask for Edam and they’ll think you want directions to the city it’s presumably named after. Instead do yourself a favour and get some oude kaas (old cheese). Gritty in texture and stronger than any extra mature cheddar I’ve ever tasted, this is now my favourite kind of cheese… in the world.

Nieuwe Haring


Once described to me as the Dutch’s take on sushi, there’s no denying I had to psyche myself up a bit (and rope my dad into doing it with me!) to try my first raw pickled herring or nieuwe haring as the Dutch call it. Served with pickle and raw onion, it’s certainly not for everyone but it tasted surprisingly fresh, light and definitely not as fishy as I was expecting. While I may not queue up for one everyday (as many Dutchies do) I will be trying it again.


The chances are you’ve already tried speculaas – it’s served as an accompaniment to coffees all over the world – but did you know that it came from the Netherlands? No, neither did I until I moved here. Created using a mixture of the spices the Dutch East India Company first started importing in the 17th century speculaas flavoured treats come in many shapes and sizes (including a spread!!!) but traditionally they’re biscuits served up to celebrate Sinterklaas on 6th December. That said, you’ll find a packed of speculaas biscuits in my cupboard at any time of year.


apple pie and coffee at cafe winkel in amsterdam_x960

Having grown up eating the best apple pie a mum could make, it came as a bit of a shock when I discovered that Dutch Apple pie is a completely different affair to the shortcrust pastry dish I looked forward to after roast dinners on Sundays. Thicker, fuller and with many more layers, appeltaart should only be made with Dutch apples (obviously) and every cafe or household will have their own recipe for which spices to add and how to make the pastry, ipso facto you should try as many slices as you possibly can during your visit! In Amsterdam, my favourite apple pie continues to be that served at Cafe Winkel in Noordermarkt.


Krentenbollen didn’t seem that exciting to me when I first saw them in my local Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket). They’re exactly the same as the hot cross buns we have at Easter in the UK. But then I went to Dutch lessons and on the last day our teacher brought us an afternoon treat, krentenbollen. As we practised our verbs he disappeared to prepare the buns and I waited to smell that familar toasting smell. But it never came. Instead he came back with a plate full of krentenbollen, each with a slice of oude kaas in the middle. Yep, that’s how they eat them here… and despite myself, it’s delicious, though I do toast them and serve with butter in the privacy of my own home.


haring and kebelling on eating amsterdam food tour_x960

Give me a choice of pickled herring or kibbeling and I’ll always go with the latter. This snack dish of cod fried in a light batter, dipped in dill mayonnaise is worryingly more-ish and if you’re in Amsterdam you can find my favourite being served at Meer Dan Vis in Jordaan, as featured in this eating tour of the city which I really enjoyed.

Patatje Oorlog

While you could argue the fries, or patat, you enjoy in the Netherlands are more “Vlaamse Frites” than a Dutch speciality, the tradition of adding oorlog sauce is something I’ve only found in the Netherlands. A strange mix of sate, mayonnaise and raw onions, oorlog translates as “war” in Dutch so the dish could literally translate as “fries war”. I’m not sure if the name refers to the conflict of flavours in the sauce, to the messy appearance of the dish or if it has more historical connotations, but it’s one of my boyfriend’s favourite Dutch snacks… especially after a night on the biertjes.


And talking of things you eat when you’re a bit tipsy in the Netherlands, let me introduce you to “kapsalon”. Ia plate of chips, add some kebab or shwarma meat, lettuce and cheese and that’s what you’ll find young Dutch things munching on in the early hours of the morning in a vain attempt to sober up. Considering that “kapsalon” translates as “hairdressers”, I’m not sure what is weirder the name or the dish itself.


sweet shop in amsterdam_x960

My least favourite Dutch food by a long way but it would be wrong not to include it in this list as it’s one of the Netherlands’ biggest delicacies. In fact, no other nation consumes as much drop as the Dutchies. So what is it? It’s licorice. Depending on your taste buds you’re either shuddering and shaking your head or you’re nodding and licking your lips right now. If you’re the latter then get yourself to the Netherlands quick smart where they have more variations of licorice than I can even list here.



I think I’ve saved the weirdest food for last, because I don’t even think it’s really a food. In fact, I’m not sure what it is. Before I moved to the Netherlands, I would have said it was something you used to decorate cupcakes, because you know, it’s basically those teeny tiny bits of sugar we call “hundreds and thousands”. Now I know that it’s so much more than that to some Dutchies; it’s their breakfast! I’ve still not got around to actually trying hagelslag so if you do come over here and give it a try before I do, please come back to me on whether it’s something I’m really missing out on. Bedankt!

So they’re my sixteen recommended Dutch foods for you. Hope you enjoy trying out some of them on your next trip to the Netherlands… Eet Smakelijk!

All photos by Frankie except oliebollen, stroopwafel & hagelslag.


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.