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11 Delicious Dutch Foods to Try in Amsterdam

There are so many great Dutch foods to try

One of the best ways to get to know a country is through its food. You learn about the history, culture, and preferences of a people based on the things they eat every day. And if you’re lucky, the process tends to be pretty delicious. I had no idea what to expect of the cuisine when I arrived in Amsterdam. All I knew of Dutch food was cheese and beer, which doesn’t even scratch the surface of the treats available in the Netherlands.

Here’s a look at ten food experiences (and one drink!) worth having on a visit to Amsterdam.

Stroopwafel, a sweet snack in the Netherlands

Stroopwafel
Stroopwafels are fun to eat and to say (thanks to Wikipedia, you can hear the pronunciation here). The snacks are made from two thin layers of baked dough—like very skinny waffles—stuck together with caramel syrup. Originally made in Gouda 200 years ago, stroopwafels are available fresh at bakeries and food trucks across the Netherlands, as well as sold packaged in grocery stores. They come in mini sizes or versions the size of your face, like the one I tried.

Gouda cheese is a typical Dutch food. Its name comes from the Dutch town where it was traded.

Gouda cheese
Also originally related to the city of Gouda is…well, Gouda. This yellow cheese is made from cow’s milk and can be aged anywhere from about 4 weeks to over a year. The younger versions tend to be very mild, and older versions may take on sweet, nutty flavors. Smoked Gouda is also very popular. Interestingly, Gouda cheese got its name not because it is produced in the city, but because it has historically been traded there. Visitors can still see the weekly cheese market in Gouda during the spring and summer.

Pickled herring in Amsterdam

Herring
In the Netherlands, people have eaten raw herring for hundreds of years. This fatty fish is lightly brined and salted and then served with chopped onions and pickles. I was not itching to try it (at all) and almost certainly wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been included on the food tour I took with Eating Amsterdam. And you know what? I’m glad I did. I was shocked at its light, fresh taste when I had been expecting strong and super fishy. A pleasant surprise.

Rijsttafel for one--a smaller portion of the traditional Indonesian rice table that's common in Amsterdam

Indonesian food
One of the best Dutch foods actually isn’t Dutch at all—it’s Indonesian. The food of the former Dutch colony is tremendously popular in Amsterdam, and for good reason. There are so many flavors, textures, and different, delicious combinations to try.

A common way to try a lot of Indonesian foods is the rijsttafel, a Dutch word that literally means “rice table.” This elaborate meal consists of 15+ side dishes served in small portions, accompanied by rice. Typical options for the dishes include egg rolls, sambals, satay, and vegetables. I was lucky to get a spot at the bar of the renowned and super popular Sama Sebo, where I tried the modified rijsttafel for one. I’m pretty sure it was just as fabulous as trying the whole spread, and I didn’t have to be rolled home.

Dutch apple pie, a traditional (and delicious!) Dutch food

Dutch apple pie
Apple pie is the quintessential Dutch dessert. It’s been part of the menu in the Netherlands for 500 years, making it one of the oldest Dutch foods. Dutch apple pies are similar to American apple pies, but they’re not as sweet, and the apples are densely stacked. I didn’t miss the extra sugar at all, and the cinnamon, raisins, and fresh whipped cream pushed it over the edge to make it one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Trying Dutch apple pie is an absolute must on any trip to Amsterdam.

High Wine at The Dylan hotel in Amsterdam is one of the great food experiences to have

High Wine
High Wine is not a specific food, but it is certainly an awesome Dutch food experience. Every day at 4:30pm, The Dylan Hotel in Amsterdam hosts this refined four-course pairing. The expertly-crafted bites (each course is appetizer-size) are paired with four complementing wines from around the world. The result is astounding. From pheasant paired with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to chocolate goodness alongside an Austrian Spatlese dessert wine, everything strikes the perfect note.

Poffertjes (puffy pancakes) are a great Dutch food treat

Poffertjes (puffy pancakes)
Puffy pancakes (known as poffertjes in the Netherlands) are one of my favorite Dutch food discoveries. These simple, fluffy treats are made with yeast and buckwheat flour and then topped with the perfect combination of butter, powdered sugar, and maple syrup. Apparently, they’re a child’s snack during most of the year, except for the Christmas holidays when adults join in. I don’t know why the tradition varies based on the time of year, but if I lived in the Netherlands (and didn’t have to worry about the size of my pants), I would eat them as often as possible.

Pancakes for dinner at Amsterdam's The Pancake Bakery

Pannekoeken (large pancakes)
You might gather that the Dutch love their pancakes. And I’m with them on that! Unlike the small poffertjes, pannekoeken are dinner-plate-sized specialties. Traditionally, they are eaten with a type of syrup called treacle, but you can find them served with any number of things at any time of the day. The gem in the photo above is from dinner at Amsterdam’s The Pancake Bakery—a delicious option made with bacon, cheese, and mushrooms.

Bitterballen are a great Dutch food beer snack

Bitterballen
Bitterballen are a traditional beer snack in Amsterdam. The breaded balls filled with gravy are fried to a perfect golden brown and are available at pretty much any pub you come across. Bite-sized and served with mustard, bitterballen are great on their own or with one of the great craft beers from the Netherlands.

Patat frites in Amsterdam. So many sauces!

Patat frites
They’re French fries. But perfectly fried and coated in one of the dozen or so sauce choices, they can be a little bit of heaven. Mayonnaise is the Dutch condiment of choice, but I’m partial to curry sauce myself.

Developed over 350 years ago, genever is the traditional spirit of the Netherlands

Genever
The last Dutch food to try in Amsterdam is, well, a drink. Genever is the traditional spirit of the Netherlands. This clear liquor is made from distilled malt wine that is flavored with juniper and spices. The result is similar to gin but smoother with a malty flavor and a hint of sweetness. There are three traditional kinds of genevers—oude (old), jonge (young), and superior—plus a huge variety of liqueurs. The liqueurs can get a little crazy, ranging from normal flavors like blackberry to those with names like Hansel in the Cellar and My Aunt’s Perfume. These 400-year-old products are still available in tasting rooms throughout the city that date back centuries. Visiting one is an experience not to be missed.

We were the guests of Eating Amsterdam and The Dylan. All opinions of the sweet and savory are our own.


Do you have a favorite Dutch food or one you can’t wait to try?

From delicious fried items to perfect sugary desserts, there is a lot to love about Dutch food. Try these 11 foods and drinks on a visit to the Netherlands.






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What do you think about 11 Delicious Dutch Foods to Try in Amsterdam?

  1. Stephen Garone March 13, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    I tried just about all of these, but I missed the genever. Sounds good! Was it?
    Stephen Garone recently posted…Windy Wellington’s Best BuildingsMy Profile

    • Laura Longwell March 13, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

      I really enjoyed it. The flavors of the genever and the cocktails made with them are great, and the experience of visiting some 300-year-old bars was unique. I always love finding a place where most of the patrons are locals.

  2. Stef March 14, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    My favorite are poffertjes. Back in Germany I ate them every year on the Christmas market.
    Stef recently posted…Why now is the best time to start living your lifeMy Profile

    • Laura Longwell March 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

      I didn’t know Germany has poffertjes! I’ve been missing out!

  3. michael March 29, 2016 at 2:59 am #

    Great post. However..being a dutchie…i must correct you…it is jenever…instead of genever.
    cheers
    Michael

    • Laura Longwell March 29, 2016 at 11:32 am #

      Thanks, Michael. I found the spellings used pretty interchangeably. In the article that focuses just on the spirit, I used both. Either way, it’s delicious 🙂

  4. Heather March 31, 2016 at 3:40 am #

    I’m heading to Amsterdam soon and can’t wait to eat and drink all of these things!!
    Heather recently posted…Wandering the Ancient Alleys of Split, CroatiaMy Profile

    • Laura Longwell March 31, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      Have a great time. It’s a beautiful (and delicious) city!

  5. Rob Heckers February 28, 2017 at 7:47 am #

    Poffertjes should be on the list.

    And it’s Jenever not Genever

    • Laura Longwell February 28, 2017 at 10:43 am #

      Poffertjes are on the list. With a photo. Genever is the most common spelling in English.

  6. Maureen June 11, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    Nice post! I have been thinking about the poffertjes-adults-Christmas issue though, mainly because I never heared of such a tradition….. (And I’m already Dutch for over 50 years now, since the day I was born)
    I think I figured out were the confusion comes from: adults don’t eat them at Christmas (or “kerstmis” in dutch) but when they go to a fair (or “kermis” in dutch)! And who doesn’t go back to ones childhood and feels like a child again there? So there you have your explanation why adults only eat poffertjes at the “kermis”
    Whenever in Amsterdam on Kings Day, one can try them on the fair on Dam square then

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