Dutch Food Culture – What To Eat When You’re In The Netherlands

Dutch food culture banner

Food is inarguably a central part of life. Oh well, who am I kidding? Food IS life. One of the reasons I really like the Netherlands is because the Dutch food culture is similar to the Nordic and Finnish one. We use a lot of the same ingredients, although in different combinations and in different ways, and the tastes are a bit the same. Here are some of the things you need to eat when you’re in the Netherlands (even if some might sound weird at first).

Breakfast (ontbijt)

Fresh orange juice. I will never go back to drinking concentrate orange juice again. That’s for sure! Here you can make your own fresh OJ in almost any supermarket (at least  Albert Hein, Jumbo and Deen) by picking the size of bottle you want and filling it with fresh juice. T-H-E  B-E-S-T. As a side note, in some stores, you can jar your own fresh peanut butter. I never liked it so much before, but since doing the fresh thing I can’t get enough.

Eggs on bread with mayonnaise. Okay, honestly I don’t know if this is only my bf’s way of eating it, but still, I’ve never seen it eaten like this anywhere. So we start by frying an egg or two and maybe putting bacon on top of the egg. Then the fried egg is laid on top of any white bread bun/toast and on top of that mayonnaise. Ready to go!

For the kids: Chocolate hagelslag on toast. What is hagelslag you might ask? It’s sprinkles! Yes, those sprinkles that 95 % of the world’s population would put on ice cream during a hot summer day. Dutchies were obviously not happy to use it only for ice cream and decided it’s a perfectly adequate food for breakfast as well. Every Dutch person seems to be hardwired to eat chocolate sprinkles on their toast when they are kids.

Lunch (middageten/lunch)

Boterham means sandwich in Dutch. There’s plenty of fresh sandwiches to go around in this country and this might be the Dutchies favourite lunch. It’s not totally uncommon that they have a pack of bread with them to work and when lunchtime is around they just put on the topping of their choice. Simple toppings you can choose to eat your sandwich with are i.e. carpaccio, filet americain (meat creamy thing) with onion or egg salad.

Dutch food; Beef carpaccio with pine nuts and Dutch cheese

Beef carpaccio with pine nuts, pesto and Dutch cheese – works also fine on top of a sandwich.

Haring. We also have herring in the Nordics, but we eat mostly the conserved type from a Swedish Abba jar. In the Netherlands they eat it raw with chopped onion and possibly pickles. You’re also supposed to eat it in a specific way (as demonstrated by my boyfriend). First, you pick the half herring from the plate and smother it in chopped yellow onion and then you flip your head backwards and eat the whole thing in one go. I usually eat it in pieces, honestly, I can’t muster all that herring taste at once.

Kibbeling. This is a white-fleshed fish eaten fried with some remoulade sauce, preferably accompanied by fries. One of my favourite fish and chips! Be sure to buy it from a proper fish shop for the best and freshest taste.

Dutch food; Kibbeling en haring IJmuiden, Netherlands

Dutch food: kibbeling and herring in IJmuiden, Noord-Holland.

Dinner (avondeten)

Stamppot. Traditional Dutch dinner consists of a lot of the same ingredients used in the Nordics, but they’re prepared in a different way or mixed in a different manner. One of my favourite things as regular food is actually stamppot. It’s roughly mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables, for example, boerenkool (kale), zuurkool (sauerkraut). This is eaten accompanied by i.e. sausage, meatballs or any piece of other meat.

Sliptong. I have no clue what this fish is called in English, but it’s a white fish pan fried with oil/butter. Supergood! So far I’ve only eaten it in restaurants, so if you have the chance do it!

Dutch food; Sliptong fish dish

Sliptong fish dish

Dutch Chinese food. Okay, maybe this is not originally completely Dutch, but believe me when I say that Dutchies managed to make Chinese food their own. The whole concept is just different than what you’d find anywhere else. My favourite dish is Foo Yang Hai, which is a fried egg in sweet and sour sauce.

Bami goreng. These dishes originate from Indonesian food, as Indonesia once was a colony of the Netherlands. Bami goreng is stir-fried noodles with garlic, onion, vegetables, meat, egg and chilli. Alternatively, you can try nasi goreng if you prefer rice.

Sate also originates from the Indonesian cuisine. It’s meat skewers served with thick peanut sauce called satay/sate sauce. You can buy pots of the sauce in the supermarkets if you feel like you can’t get enough. You can find Indonesian restaurants everywhere, especially in Amsterdam, so take your pick!

Desserts / Coffee time

Gevulde koek. This is a cookie with an almond mass inside it – yum! Perfect with some coffee or tea. I’ve never been much for cookies, but since I moved to the Netherlands I’m starting to believe they have the best cookies in the world. Most cookies even from the normal stores taste like homemade and are not crazy expensive either.

Dutch food; Gevulde koek

Gevulde koek

Anything with marsipan and speculaas. There’s marzipan candies, cookies and cakes. This is another reason I feel like I belong here, I love marzipan. Speculaas is a biscuit usually eaten with coffee, but it’s also used a lot to bake with. Its taste comes from some mix of spices like cinnamon and cardamom.

Dutch food; Homemade Gevulde cake with speculaas and marzipan.

Homemade cake with speculaas and marzipan.

Vanilla vla. Pretty much vanilla pudding, which I have never really liked. Before now that is. There’s something so simple about the taste that it makes it so good. There’s also different variations of vla, like chocolate vla or vla met slagroom (vla with cream).

Tony’s Chocolonely. I thought I’d never ever like a chocolate more than the Finnish Fazer’s Blue (Fazerin Sininen / Fazers Blå), but after discovering Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate last summer I’ve found my very close second favourite. My favourite flavour is without a doubt the milk chocolate with caramel sea salt (melk karamel zeezout).

Dutch food; Dutch Chocolate, Tony's Chocolonely

Dutch chocolate; Tony’s Chocolonely

Wilhelmina pepermunt. This is maybe not a dessert really, but you can’t leave a restaurant in the Netherlands without getting a peppermint candy with your bill or pick it from a bowl when you pay.

Dutch food; Wilhelmina pepermunt

Wilhelmina pepermunt

Snack food

Poffertjes. I swear this might be my favourite way of eating pancakes. Poffertjes are small mini-pancakes served with butter and powder sugar. Simple, but oh so good!

Dutch food; Poffertjes in Amsterdam Noord

Poffertjes in Amsterdam Noord.

Bitterballen. It took me a little while before I learned to like bitterballen. It’s what it sounds like. A bit bitter tasting ball-shaped fried snack that you’d normally eat with mustard.

Croquette. Another fried food (no surprise). Croquettes are filled with a mix of meat, mashed potato and vegetables pretty much mixed into a mush and covered in breadcrumbs and then fried. I like the vegetable croquette and the cheese filled heavenly thing called kaas soufflé.

Dutch cheese. If you ever visit the Netherlands you’re making a big mistake if you don’t taste their cheese. If buying a whole block of cheese is intimidating for you, you can opt to buy ready cut cheese cubes in any supermarket in a bag or a box. I prefer the oude kaas (old cheese) that has matured a bit longer and had a stronger taste than jonge kaas (young cheese). Buy yourself some good Oude Amsterdam or gouda cheese and you’re all set!

Dutch food; Tapas in Dutch supermarkets

Tapas in Dutch supermarkets

Fritjes. Somehow fries always seem to taste better in the Netherlands. Normally you get mayonnaise with them (rather than ketchup as in many other countries). Also, you can opt to eat it with some chopped yellow onion. If you want to taste something very special, you should try the patat oorloog (war potatoes), which is fries served with mayonnaise and peanut butter sauce (pindasaus).

Dutch food; Fritjes met mayo

Fritjes met mayo en ui (Fries with mayo and onion)

Beer and gin. Not a snack, but drinks are an important part of Dutch food and social culture. Heineken is the most loved beer it seems, even if there are very many nice ones from other breweries, i.e. Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Amstel or Hertog Jan. I recommend to drinking a gin when you’re out and about as they have very nice gin mixes, i.e. with elderflower, cranberry and even chocolate.


Dutch food and drink; Gin with cucumber

Gin with cucumber

I hope you’ll enjoy the Dutch cuisine as much as I do, whether you live here or as a tourist. Cheers!

Heineken brewery tour in Amsterdam.

Heineken brewery tour in Amsterdam with my sister, summer 2016.

Read more about Dutch foods i.e. on I Amsterdam’s site here, as I could obviously not cover it all.

Related reading:

13 Things From Finland I Always Miss When Abroad

9 Things You Know If You’ve Ever Lived in France

Top 10 Favourite Things To See And To Do In New York City

Jasmine Zelda is a twenty-something Swedish-speaking Finn from Hanko, Finland. In 2017 she took the leap and moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands to follow her dreams and to build an international marketing career. She has previously lived in Paris and southern France, upstate New York, USA and Sweden. She has a passion for writing, social media, marketing, PR and appreciates the small good things in life.


  • Laura / Nordic Wife December 28, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I actually wrote about my Dutch favourites a couple of weeks ago! But I’d say my top three includes snert, kaasstengels and Indonesian rijsttafel. All sooo tasty!

    • Jasmine Zelda December 28, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Yes!! There’s so many lovely things to eat in this country!!

  • Marias Memoarer January 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Tack för tipsen, blir eventuellt en resa till Amsterdam i år, så ska återkomma till detta inlägg när det blir mer aktuellt! 🙂

    • Jasmine Zelda January 14, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      Vad bra att jag kunde vara till hjälp! Ska försöka skriva lite mer om Amsterdam och Nederländerna generellt i framtiden! Hoppas du får en fin (eventuell) resa och om du behöver tips får du mer än gärna höra av dig 🙂


Leave a Comment

Show Social Buttons
Hide Social Buttons