Home About the Netherlands Cuisine The best Dutch snack foods you have to try – with recipes
Last update on February 18, 2020
Sophie Pettit Written by Sophie Pettit

From fluffy pancakes to steaming stamppot, we check out the best Dutch snack foods that every expat should try at least once.

The Netherlands might not be known for its adventurous cuisine, but when it comes to snack foods, nobody beats the Dutch. From the sweet and the savory – to the darn right crazy – there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. Just take a look at these “lekker” Dutch snacks, with recipes to try at home.

~ Savory snacks ~

Bitterballen

Arguably the King of Dutch snack foods, bitterballen have long dominated the bar-snack scene in the Netherlands. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, these devilishly delicious meatballs typically contain beef, chicken, veal, or mushroom ragout. The tasty mixture is chilled and rolled into balls, then coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried until golden. Bitterballen are typically served with a grainy or spiced mustard dip, and often come as part of a bittergarnituur; an assortment of fried finger foods that accompany drinks. But be careful when you take that first bite, as these little treasures can be hotter than the sun – we aren’t exaggerating!

Bitterballen

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Kroketten

Similar to bitterballen, but cylindrical in shape, kroketten (or croquettes in English) come with a variety of fillings, such as beef, pork, vegetables, potatoes, and shrimp. They can be eaten on their own as a snack or served on sliced white bread or hot dog buns with a tasty mustard dip. This popular snack can be found in many bars, cafés, and restaurants throughout the Netherlands; including McDonald’s and the legendary vending machine snack bar, FEBO. But just like bitterballen, they can also be extremely hot inside – so be careful!

Krokets

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Frikandel

This unusual looking sausage might not look very appetizing, but it has remained one of the most popular Dutch snacks since it first appeared in the Netherlands in 1959. Frikandel is a long, skinless, dark-colored sausage which is made from a mixture of chicken, pork and/or beef. However, some manufacturers have been known to use horse meat – so be warned! Unlike most sausages, frikandel is deep-fried. It can be eaten on its own or on a bread roll (broodje frikandel), and is usually served with curry ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and diced onions. However, more adventurous snackers have been known to eat it with apple sauce. Still not convinced?

Frikandel

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Patatje Oorlog

Make chips, not war! French fries are a global favorite, but the Dutch take the humble friet to a whole new level. This oddly named snack consists of fries topped with a variety of condiments, including mayonnaise, finely chopped onions, and peanut satay sauce. The name, which literally translates to “war fries”, refers to the fact that eating them is a particularly messy affair. The snack itself also resembles a battlefield of condiments. Patatje Oorlog is typically served on a plate or in a cone-shaped cup and goes down nicely with a cold beer on the side. But however you eat it, make sure you have a napkin on hand to clean up the mess afterward.

Patatje Oorlog

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Haring

Opinion is certainly divided when it comes to this slippery Dutch delicacy. However, nobody can deny that raw herring (Hollandse nieuwe haring) is an institution in the Netherlands. Technically, it is only served between the months of May and July, when the fish has fattened up to the ideal amount (16% fat). During this time, herring is served on a plate with chopped raw onions or in a sandwich (broodje haring). To eat it like a true ‘Dutchie’, though, you hold the fish by the tail, throw your head back, open your mouth, and let it slide in. The Dutch are so crazy about herring that they even have a whole festival dedicated to it, called Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag). During the celebrations, fishing boats are decorated with flags and women dress in traditional costumes to welcome the return of the herring fleet and feast on the new season’s catch.

Raw herring

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~ Sweet treats ~

Appeltaart

The Dutch have been enjoying appeltaart (or apple pie) for centuries. In fact, the first printed cookbook dating back to 1514 contains a recipe for one. An appeltaart is a deep pie which is filled with slices of apple mixed with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and sometimes raisins or currants. Traditionally, the top of the pie is made from an attractive lattice of pastry strips; which allows you to see the delicious filling below. This heavenly dessert is usually enjoyed with a generous serving of whipped cream (slagroom) and a cup of coffee (koffie).

Dutch Appeltaart

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Poffertjes

Got a sweet tooth? Then you will no doubt adore these tiny, fluffy pancakes. Made with yeast and buckwheat flour, poffertjes have a light and spongy texture and are popular snacks at festivals and outdoor events in the Netherlands. They are cooked in special poffertjes pans, which have lots of shallow indentations in them. Food stalls usually serve them warm on a piece of cardboard paper with powdered sugar, butter, or syrup (stroop). If you are making them at home, however, you can simply drop small spoonfuls of the batter onto a frying pan or skillet and carefully turn them over to cook the other side. Just heavenly!

Dutch Poffertjes

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Oliebollen

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning oliebollen – the Dutch answer to doughnuts. The word oliebollen literally translates to ‘oil balls’, but don’t let that put you off because these deep-fried delights are totally moreish. The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, and baking powder, and sometimes contains raisins or other dried fruits. But they should always be covered with plenty of powdered sugar when served; so perhaps don’t eat one on your way to an important meeting! Sadly, oliebollen are traditionally only eaten during the festive season and New Year’s Eve. During this time they can be found on street stalls throughout the country. But when you do get to try one, make sure to eat it hot, straight from the food stall, or cold, with a cup of coffee (koffie).

Oliebollen

~ Main meals ~

Erwtensoep

Essentially a meal in itself, erwtensoep is a thick pea soup­ – so thick in fact that some say you should be able to leave a spoon standing up in it! It is made from dried split green peas and other vegetables such as celery, onions, leeks, carrots, and potatoes. Slices of smoked sausage are added just before serving; and the soup usually comes with a piece of rye bread (roggebrood) topped with smoked bacon (katenspek), cheese, and butter. While the Dutch traditionally eat Erwtensoep on New Year’s Day, it is also a popular choice during the cold winter months. In fact, you will often see skaters along the frozen canals warming themselves up with a steaming hot mug of snert – another name for this tasty soup.

Erwtensoep

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Pannenkoeken

Pannenkoeken have remained a staple of local cuisine in the Netherlands for centuries, and it’s not hard to see why. These hearty Dutch pancakes can be topped with sweet or savory ingredients; such as bacon, salmon, apple, cheese, chocolate, powdered sugar, and stroop (a treacly Dutch syrup). But don’t be fooled into thinking they are similar to the American or Scotch variety, because they can be huge! As a result, they can be enjoyed as a main course for lunch, dinner, or dessert – if you have room. Pannenkoeken are made from a simple batter of eggs, milk, flour (traditionally buckwheat flour) and a pinch of salt. They are then cooked quickly over a pan on high heat and flipped until golden. Fortunately, there are countless pancake houses dotted all over the Netherlands, meaning you are never far away from your next big feast.

Dutch Pannenkoeken

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Bami Goreng

Due to the colonial connection of the Netherlands with Indonesia, you will find some surprisingly exotic dishes when exploring Dutch cuisine. In fact, you will find Indonesian restaurants everywhere throughout the country, and nearly all of them will have bami goreng on the menu. This stir-fried egg noodle dish blends together garlic, onion, vegetables, meat, egg, and chili to offer a spicy kick. Other Indonesian specialties to look out for in the Netherlands are rendang (meat in coconut milk and mixed spices), rijsttafel (rice served with small dishes of spiced meat and vegetables), and a spiced layer cake called spekkoek.

Bami Goreng

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Stamppot

This might not be the most sophisticated dish you will come across in the Netherlands, but you will certainly be grateful for it during those cold winter evenings. Literally translating as ‘mash pot’, stamppot is the ultimate comfort food and involves mashing together potatoes with other vegetables, and serving it with a big smoked sausage and gravy. There are many varieties of stamppot to try, including boerenkool (kale), zuurkool (sauerkraut), hutspot (onions and carrots) and rauweandijvie (endive). Nutritious, delicious, and easy to make, stamppot is undoubtedly one of the best dishes the country has to offer.

Dutch stamppot

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Saté

Another hugely popular Indonesia dish, saté has become an integral part of Dutch cuisine. It is believed to have originated in Java, and consists of skewered and grilled meat served with a thick sauce; this is made from sweet soy sauce, peanut butter, and an Indonesian chili sauce called sambaloelek. While you may have tasted saté (or satay) before in other countries, the chances are that you won’t have enjoyed it quite like they do in the Netherlands – served on top of French fries! Now how’s that for ultimate indulgence?

Kipsaté

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