Top 10 Dutch foods – with recipes


There’s much more to Dutch food than raw herring. Here are the top 10 most popular Dutch foods, together with Dutch recipes for you try at home.

Dutch cuisine is varied and delicious. From piping hot street snacks, heart-warming stews, thick tasty soups and lots of different Indonesian foods because of the country’s colonial past, to the vast pancakes (and tiny pancakes), pies filled with spiced apples and, of course, raw herrings – there are many foods to enjoy in the Netherlands. Here are just 10 Dutch foods to try.

Pannenkoeken (sweet and savoury)

Pannenkoeken are delicious Dutch pancakes, which are often eaten with sweet and/or savoury foods like slices of bacon, apples, cheese, raisins, stroop (a treacly Dutch syrup), chocolate, an apple sauce calledappelstroop, icing/powdered sugar, nuts – and even smoked salmon and crème fraiche. Usually much thinner than an American or a Scotch pancake – more like the traditional English pancake – they 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 a high heat. 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. There are pancake restaurants all over the Netherlands or you can make them yourself at home: take turns flipping hugepannenkoekens over – it’s fun!

Make your own:


Top 10 Dutch foods: Pannenkoeken


Erwtensoep is a thick pea soup­ – so thick that some say you should be able to stand a spoon up in it – and it’s really a meal in itself. It’s made from dried split green peas and other vegetables, such as celery or celeriac, onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes, plus different cuts of pork, with slices of smoked sausage added in just before serving. It’s often eaten with a 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, which is one-day old soup.

Make your own:

Top 10 Dutch foods: Erwtensoep


The Dutch have been enjoying appelltaart 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), 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

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 Dutch and there are Indonesian restaurants everywhere. Nearly all of them will have bamigoreng 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 Goreng


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.

Make your own:


Top 10 Dutch foods: Bitterballen


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 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


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 contain sultanas or other dried fruit, but the finishedoliebollen 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: Oliebollen

Hollandse nieuwe haring

This soused herring, served with chopped raw onions and with or without bread, can be only calledHollandse 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 that enzymes allow the fish to ‘mature’) and then preserve them in brine (this is the ‘sousing’). Every year, fishing boats are decorated with flags on Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag), when the first fish of the year are brought in. 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 if you prefer, 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


This may not be the most sophisticated dish you’ll ever eat but it’s a satisfying, nutritious and delicious dish which will really warm you up 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) andrauweandijvie (endive) – each one perfect for comfort food.

Make your own:


Top 10 Dutch foods: Stamppot

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


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