Dutch food

Top 10 Dutch foods – with recipes

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There's much more to Dutch food than raw herring and smashed potatoes. Here are the top 10 most popular Dutch foods, together with top Dutch recipes for you to try at home a different cuisine.

You don't often hear rave reviews about top Dutch foods – some even say Dutch food is bland and monotonous – but for those in the know Dutch cuisine is varied and delicious. There are also many regional specialities to discover, which means you'll can easily come up your own list of top Dutch foods the more you explore.

You can't go wrong in the country that invented the orange carrot to honour the royal House of Orange family and is world famous for its top Dutch cheeses; Gouda and Edam are just two, and the towns of the same name host spectacular cheese markets. In a recent Oxfam report, the Dutch diet also ranked as the world's healthiest with regards to having the most plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable food out of 125 countries, beating France (2) and Switzerland (3).

With a long colonial and multicultural history, there's plenty of diversity to be found in the top Dutch foods if you search them out. From piping hot street snacks, heartwarming stews, pies filled with spiced apples and an assortment of Indonesian influences, Dutch food is easy on the palate. Here are just 10 of the best Dutch foods you have to try.

Top Dutch foods you have to try

1. Pannenkoeken (sweet and savoury)

Pannenkoeken are delicious Dutch pancakes and truly a Dutch favourite food, often eaten with sweet and/or savoury foods such as slices of bacon, apples, cheese, raisins, stroop (a treacly Dutch syrup), chocolate, an apple sauce called appelstroop, icing/powdered sugar, nuts – and even smoked salmon and crème fraiche. They can be eaten as a main course for lunch or dinner, or as a dessert. They're often served flat and eaten with cutlery, or rolled up and eaten with your fingers.

Usually much thinner than an American or a Scotch pancake and more like the traditional English pancake, Pannenkoeken can also be huge. They're made from a batter of flour (sometimes buckwheat), milk, eggs and salt, and cooked quickly over a pan on high heat. There are pancake restaurants all over the Netherlands or you can make them yourself at home: take turns flipping huge pannenkoeken over – it's fun!

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Pannenkoeken

2. Erwtensoep

Erwtensoep is a thick pea soup­ – so thick that some say you should be able to leave a spoon standing up in it – and it's really a meal in itself. This top Dutch food is made from dried split green peas and other vegetables, such as celery or celeriac, onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes, plus different cuts of pork.

Slices of smoked sausage are added just before serving, and it's commonly accompanied by a piece of rye bread (roggebrood) topped with a type of smoked bacon called katenspek, cheese and butter. Erwtensoep is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day but it's welcome on any cold winter day.

You'll often see skaters alongside the frozen canals warming themselves up with some hot and delicious snert, another name Dutch pea soup.

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Erwtensoep

3. Appeltaart

The Dutch have been enjoying appeltaart or apple pie for centuries; the first printed cookbook dating back to 1514 contains a recipe for one. An appeltaart is a deep pie with a pastry top and bottom, unlike the French apple tarts, which are open. It's filled with a mixture of slices or pieces of apple – often using a slightly tart variety called goudreinet– sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Sometimes raisins or currants are added, too. Traditionally, the top of the pie is made from an attractive lattice of pastry strips, so you can see the filling through it. Enjoy it served with whipped cream (met slagroom) and a cup of coffee (koffie).

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Appeltaart

4. Bami Goreng

Back in the 17th century, the Netherlands was an important colonial power ruling the world's spice trade. The jewel in its crown was Indonesia, and when the Dutch East India Company went bust in the 19th century, Indonesia became a Dutch colony. Today, Indonesian food is almost synonymous with some of the top Dutch foods.

You'll find Indonesian restaurants everywhere. Nearly all of them will have bami goreng on the menu: stir-fried egg noodles with garlic, onion, vegetables, meat, egg and chilli. Other Indonesian specialties to look out for include rendang (meat in coconut and spices), rijsttafel (rice with lots of small dishes of spiced meat and vegetables) and a spiced layer cake called spekkoek.

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Bami Goreng5. Bitterballen

If you're in a café or bar anywhere in the Netherlands, then be sure to ask for bitterballen. These little meatballs are often served as part of a bittergarnituur, a selection of savoury snacks ­– bite-sized Gouda cheese, tiny egg rolls, sliced local sausage – to accompany drinks. Bitterballen are made from a mixture of chopped beef (or chicken, veal or mushrooms for a veggie option), which is cooked in broth, flour, butter and herbs. After chilling the mixture to firm it, it's then rolled into small balls, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried until crisp and golden. They are delicious dipped in grainy or spiced mustard and a firm favourite of Dutch top foods..

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Bitterballen6. Poffertjes

These tiny fluffy pancakes are made with yeast and buckwheat flour, have a light, spongy texture and are served with icing/powdered sugar, butter and sometimes stroop syrup. During the cold season and at the top Dutch festivals and fairs, you can buy them from food stalls and eat them with a little fork in the street. They're usually cooked in special poffertjes pans, which have lots of shallow indentations in them – but if you're making them at home you can drop small spoonfuls of the batter onto a drying pan or skillet and carefully turn them over to cook the other side.

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Poffertjes

7. Oliebollen

These are the Dutch version of doughnuts. They are traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve but you'll find them sold on street stalls throughout the cold winter months. The word oliebollen means ‘oil balls' but don't let that put you off – while they are deep-fried (like doughnuts), they are totally moreish. The dough, which has sugar and lemon zest added to it, may or may not have sultanas or other dried fruit, but the finished oliebollen should always be covered with plenty of icing/powdered sugar – don't treat yourself on your way to an important meeting! Eat them hot, straight from the food stall, or cold, with a cup of coffee (koffie).

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Oliebollen8. Hollandse nieuwe haring

This soused herring, served with chopped raw onions and sometimes with bread, can be only called Hollandse nieuwe haring if caught between the months of May and July, when the fish has fattened up by the ideal amount. Strictly speaking, that means a minimum of 16 percent fat. Traditionally, fishermen clean and gut the fish at sea (leaving in the pancreas so enzymes 'mature' the fish) and then preserve them in brine, known as ‘sousing'. Every year, fishing boats are decorated with flags on Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag), when the first fish of the year are brought in among much celebration. To eat haring the Dutch way, hold the fish by the tail, throw your head back, open your mouth and let the fish slide in. Or you can eat it in a sandwich called a broodje haring.

Make your own:

  • Dutch recipe with great reviews.
  • Delia Smith shows you how to souse your own herring here.
  • Here's how to fillet – and pickle – your herring (with photos).

Top 10 Dutch foods: Haring
9. Stamppot

This may not be the most sophisticated top Dutch food you'll ever eat but it's a satisfying, nutritious and delicious meal that really warms you on a cold winter's night. It's simply mashed potato mixed together with different (also mashed) vegetables and usually served with a smoked sausage and some gravy. There are lots of different versions of stamppot: boerenkool (kale), zuurkool (sauerkraut), hutspot (onions and carrots) and rauweandijvie (endive) – each one making great comfort food.

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Stamppot

10. Sate

Sate is an Indonesian food that has become an integral part of Dutch cuisine. It's a dish of skewered seasoned meat  ­– chicken, pork, beef ­– served with a thick peanut sauce, which is made from a sweet soy sauce called ketjapmanis, peanut butter and an Indonesian chilli sauce called sambaloelek. While you might have had sate (or satay) before in another country, the chances are that you won't have enjoyed it quite like they do in the Netherlands – served on top of chips (French fries), a bit like mayonnaise or ketchup.

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Sate


Eat and prepare traditional foods from around the world


Photo credti: Midori (Bami Goreng), Frankiin Heijnen (Bitterballen), a little tune (Poffertjes), Takeaway (Haring), yannah (Stamppot), Takeaway (Sate).


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3 Comments To This Article

  • DonT posted:

    on 2nd May 2018, 22:15:55 - Reply

    Lord, looking at all those delicious Dutch dishes makes me realize that we in North-America are so deprived of mouth-watering food. We are living in a food desert here!
    Maybe I'll move to Holland just for the food alone!
  • JosephHill posted:

    on 1st March 2018, 10:02:05 - Reply

    Delicious!! Thank you so much for such a tasty recipe. Sure I will try it and will suggest for my friends. Usually I am interested in cooking getting more and more new recipes.
    Usually I love it. So here I hope this recipe will be one of my favorites.
    Thank you so much for sharing such a post and sure will try it.

  • marjolein posted:

    on 14th March 2017, 00:05:04 - Reply

    Hi! the information you use in this article is fine. however we dutch dont consider bami to be dutch, but ill let that slide. what you could really improve on is your pictures tho. your pannekoeken, erwtensoep and appeltaart hardly look like the dutch versions. ill link you some suggestions for how they should look.
    pannekoeken: http://food5.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/DSC002281.jpg
    erwtensoep: https://www.skuytevaert.nl/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Erwtensoep-en-roggebrood-met-spek-breed.jpg
    appeltaart: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nD616awetCg/UeaqgD_eQjI/AAAAAAAAEwA/VTQ_aODptQ4/s640/oma's appeltaart 1a.jpg