For such a small country, the Netherlands has quite a few iconic dishes and foods that are worth trying on your next trip. From sweet treats like stroopwafels to herring and codfish, here are the top 10 must-try Dutch foods.
These little croquette-type snacks are iconic in the Netherlands. A popular bar snack, bitterballen are often eaten alongside small beer or glass of wine. They are a thickened meat stew, that is rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. At Amsterdam's DeHallen food market, head straight to De BallenBar, where Michelin-starred chef Peter Gast serves different flavors of Bitterballen—the truffle one is not to be missed.
Another Dutch classic is apple pie. Along with apples, the filling usually includes cinnamon and currants and the pie is topped with whipped cream. Café Papeneiland, an easy-going local eatery, serves some of the best apple pie in the country; the recipe that has been handed down through generations.
Stroopwafels are baked batter "sandwiches" filled with caramel, and they are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee. In fact, some people place the stroopwafel on top of the coffee as a sort of lid to warm up the stroopwafel for an altogether more oozy experience. Stroopwafels are thought to have originated from Gouda (famous for its cheese) so it makes sense to head there for your first bite of this addictive sweet treat. Avoid pre-packaged versions in shops and head to the Syrup Waffle Factory for freshly made stroopwafels.
Dutch Pancakes (Pannekoeken)
Dutch pancakes are not dissimilar to large French crepes and they come topped with sweet and savory flavours such as apple and cinnamon sugar or cheese and ham. Head to Leiden and make a pit stop at Oudt Leyden, which has gained a reputation as the best pancake house in the Netherlands.
With the North Sea close at hand, fresh fish isn’t exactly in short supply in the Netherlands. Head to the island of Texel and you can experience some of the freshest fish, plus the famous Texel lamb, which tastes incredible thanks to the animals being able to roam freely. You can try local food from land and sea, that’s been expertly prepared, at Bij Jef, a Michelin-starred restaurant on the island.
The Dutch pancakes cousin is poffertjes, small puffed up pancakes. Light and spongy, they are traditionally served with butter and icing sugar. You can get poffertjes in plenty of restaurants and supermarkets but since the 1800s these little sweet treats have been sold at a delightful stall in a small park an hour outside Amsterdam. It's open each year from March until early September.
Fries (Frites) and Sauce
The Dutch love their fries and most come smothered in frietsaus: a lighter, sweeter version of mayonnaise. At Dapp Frietwinkel, in Utrecht, the team cooks up fresh batches of organic frites each day. Choose from a selection of sauces, including an egg-free mayo for vegans and an ever-changing seasonal sauce.
Another gift from the North Sea is herring, which is traditionally served raw with onions in the Netherlands. Head to Schmidt Zeevis, which supplies fresh fish to restaurants across the country, and stock up on food from its lunch corner or take seafood home from the delicatessen and cook it yourself.
Hutspot was first discovered in the 1500s in Leiden, when the Dutch found a stew that the Spanish were cooking after they had fled the city during the Eighty Years’ war. The original stew was made from parsnips, but today it is potato-based and mixed with carrots, onions, and sometimes, meat. The Hutspot’s cousin is Stamppot which consists of potatoes mashed with various vegetables like kale and sauerkraut. During the winter head to Roberto’s in Leiden, to sample this traditional Dutch stew.
Oliebollen are deep fried dough balls with currants that are dusted with icing sugar. Traditionally eaten warm on New Year’s Eve, street vendors and bakeries start serving these sweet treats during the winter festive period. Get yours from Hollandse Gebakkraam, a friendly vendor on Marie Heinekenplein, a stone’s throw from the famous Albert Cuyp Market.