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The Facts About Dutch Cuisine

The Facts About Dutch Cuisine

(Last Updated On: June 10, 2023)

History and Influences of Dutch Cuisine

Dutch cuisine has a rich and varied history, with influences from neighboring European countries and Dutch colonies in Asia and the Caribbean. The Netherlands has a lengthy trade history and has incorporated culinary traditions from other cultures. Dutch cuisine is also heavily influenced by the country’s geography and climate.

One of the most popular dishes in Dutch cuisine is raw herring. This dish has been a staple in the Netherlands since the 14th century and is typically served with raw onions and pickles. Another popular dish is the Dutch pancake, which can be enjoyed sweet or savory. It is made with flour, milk, and eggs and can be topped with various toppings, including powdered sugar, peanut sauce, or tartar sauce. Dutch cheese is also a well-known specialty of the country, with varieties such as Gouda, Edam, and Leerdammer enjoyed worldwide. Dutch apple pie is another famous dish with a lattice crust filled with apples, sugar, and spices.

The Netherlands also has a unique snack culture, with bitterballen and kroketten being two of the most popular. These deep-fried snacks are filled with meat or cheese and are often served in bars or food trucks. Due to its history as a colonial power, Indonesian cuisine has significantly impacted Dutch cuisine. Dishes such as nasi goreng and satay are commonly found on Dutch menus, and ingredients such as juniper berries and chocolate sprinkles can be traced back to the country’s colonial past.

Overall, Dutch cuisine reflects the country’s diverse history and cultural influences. From raw herring to Indonesian food, there is something for every palate to enjoy in this unique and flavorful cuisine.

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Popular Dutch Dishes

When it comes to Dutch cuisine, there are some classic dishes that every foodie should try at least once. Whether you’re looking for a savory Dutch snack, a hearty Dutch dinner, or a sweet Dutch dessert, you will find something that will tickle your taste buds. Here are some of the most famous Dutch dishes you should add to your culinary bucket list.

One of the most famous Dutch snacks is the bitterballen. These deep-fried, meat-based snacks are typically served with mustard and are perfect for a mid-afternoon snack or as a side dish with your beer. Another classic Dutch snack is the stroopwafel, a waffle-like cookie with a sweet syrup filling. For a traditional Dutch dinner, you can’t go wrong with stamppot, a hearty dish made with mashed potatoes, kale or sauerkraut, and sausage. Or try the famous Dutch pea soup, erwtensoep, a thick, warming soup made with peas, potatoes, celery, carrots, and pork. If you have a sweet tooth, then you have to try the Dutch dessert known as appeltaart, or Dutch apple pie. This delicious pie is made with a flaky crust and a sweet, spiced apple filling and is typically served with whipped cream. Or indulge in the stroopwafel’s bigger cousin, the stroopwafeltaart, a delicious cake made with layers of stroopwafel and caramel filling. And if you want to try making a classic Dutch recipe, why not make some bitterballen at home? Plenty of recipes online can help you create this beloved Dutch snack.

So there you have it, some of the most famous Dutch dishes you should try. But remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Dutch cuisine, so make sure you explore all the delicious flavors and unique eating experiences the Netherlands offers.

Regional Specialties

The Netherlands may be a small country, but its regional cuisine is diverse and flavorful. Here are some regional specialties that you shouldn’t miss during your visit:

  1. Limburgse vlaai – A traditional fruit-filled pie originating from the southern province of Limburg.
  2. Stamppot – A mashed potato dish with vegetables, sausage, and gravy. This hearty dish is popular in the north and west of the Netherlands.
  3. Hachee – A beef stew with onions and vinegar commonly found in the eastern provinces.
  4. Zeeuwse Mosselen – Mussels from the southwestern province of Zeeland, often served with fries and mayonnaise.
  5. Fryske Sûkerbôle – A sweet bread from the northern province of Friesland, made with sugar and anise.
  6. Bossche Bollen – A pastry from the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, filled with whipped cream and chocolate.
  7. Goudse Kaas – The famous Gouda cheese, named after the city in the western province of South Holland, is a staple of Dutch cuisine.

Be sure to try these regional specialties while visiting the Netherlands and discover Dutch cuisine’s diverse and delicious flavors.

Cheese Culture in the Netherlands

One cannot speak about Dutch cuisine without mentioning its rich cheese culture. The Netherlands is known for producing some of the world’s best cheeses, and they are an essential part of Dutch cuisine.

The Dutch take their cheese seriously; there is a cheese for every occasion. The most famous Dutch cheese is Gouda, named after the city in the province of South Holland, where it has been produced since the Middle Ages. Gouda cheese is usually sold on wheels and comes in different varieties, such as young, aged, and extra-aged. It has a nutty buttery taste and a semi-hard texture, making it ideal for slicing or grating.

Another famous Dutch cheese is Edam, named after the town of Edam in North Holland. Edam cheese is a small, round cheese with a bright red wax coating. It has a mild, creamy taste and a firm texture, making it a great cheese to eat as a snack or use in sandwiches. Aside from Gouda and Edam, Dutch cheese lovers can also enjoy a wide range of regional cheeses such as Beemster, Leerdammer, and Maasdam, to name a few. Each cheese has its unique taste and texture, reflecting the diversity of the Dutch cheese-making tradition.

The Dutch consume and export cheese worldwide, making cheese production one of the country’s top industries. Dutch cheese is so famous that it has become a symbol of the country, and visitors to the Netherlands cannot leave without tasting some of the delicious cheeses the country has to offer.

Beverages and Spirits in Dutch Culture

Dutch cuisine isn’t just about food; it’s also about the drinks accompanying the meals. Beverages and spirits are an integral part of Dutch culture, and they have a rich history and diverse selection.

Beer is perhaps the most popular alcoholic beverage in the Netherlands, with over 100 breweries producing various brews. Dutch beers are typically lighter and less hoppy than those from neighboring countries, with Pilsner being the most commonly consumed type. Jenever, a traditional Dutch gin, is also an essential spirit in the Netherlands. It is often served chilled in small glasses, and some people even use it as a digestive after meals. There are two main types of Jenever; one made with malt wine and the other with grain-based spirits. The malt wine version is usually enjoyed straight, while the grain-based Jenever is often mixed with soda or tonic water.

Apart from beer and Jenever, the Dutch also have a strong coffee culture. Coffee houses are popular meeting spots for friends and colleagues, and many people start their day with a cup of coffee and a slice of Dutch apple pie.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the Netherlands’ love of liqueurs. From advocaat, a creamy egg liqueur often used in cocktails, to the famous Dutch liqueur Bénédictine, flavored with herbs and spices, plenty of sweet, flavorful options exist. Read more about Belgium’s food culture.

Dutch Food Culture and Traditions

Food plays a significant role in Dutch culture and traditions, and the country’s cuisine has a rich history. One of the essential parts of Dutch food culture is gezelligheid, a term used to describe a warm, friendly atmosphere and the joy of sharing food and drinks with family and friends.

The Dutch are known for their love of simple and hearty meals that are made with fresh ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, and seafood. Breakfast is usually a light meal with bread and cheese, while lunch is often a slice of bread with cheese, meat, or fish. The Dutch prefer meat or fish served with boiled potatoes and vegetables for dinner. One popular Dutch food tradition is stamppot, a dish made of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and sausage or bacon. Stamppot is often served during winter and is a favorite among many Dutch families. Another famous Dutch dish is bitterballen, which are deep-fried meatballs served with mustard and a cold beer.

Dutch food culture also includes several festive dishes and sweets. For example, oliebollen, deep-fried doughnuts, are a traditional treat for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Another sweet favorite is stroopwafel, a thin waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel filling in between. The Netherlands is also famous for its cheese culture. Dutch cheeses like Gouda, Edam, and Maasdam are enjoyed worldwide.

In addition to food, beverages, and spirits are also an essential part of Dutch culture. Dutch beer is world-famous, and breweries such as Heineken and Grolsch have made a name for themselves on the global market. Another traditional Dutch drink is jenever, a gin distilled in the Netherlands since the 17th century.

Unique Eating Experiences in the Netherlands

When it comes to food and drink experiences, the Netherlands has a few unique options that are worth trying. Raw herring is a beloved Dutch delicacy that may sound daunting to some, but it’s worth trying. The fish is traditionally served with chopped onions and pickles on a soft bun. The texture is smooth and creamy, and the taste is salty with a slightly sweet undertone. Raw herring is usually consumed between May and July during the herring season.

A stroopwafel is a famous Dutch cookie made from two thin waffles glued with caramel syrup. It’s crispy, chewy, and sweet, making it the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea. They can be found nationwide, but some of the best are at street markets or bakeries. Pancakes may not be unique, but Dutch pancakes are different than most pancakes you’ve had before. These thin and large pancakes can be savory or sweet and are usually served with various toppings. Some popular delicious options include bacon and cheese, while sweet toppings can consist of fresh fruit, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. Krokets are deep-fried snacks filled with meat ragout and coated in breadcrumbs. They’re often served as a quick bite or snack in Dutch bars and cafes. They’re hot, crispy, and filling, making them an excellent choice for a late-night snack.

The Netherlands offers unique eating experiences that should not be missed. From raw herring to Dutch pancakes and krokets, there’s something for every foodie to enjoy. Don’t forget to try these dishes on your next trip to the Netherlands.


What is Dutch cuisine known for?

Dutch cuisine is known for its hearty and simple dishes, often featuring potatoes, vegetables, dairy products, and meats like beef and herring.

Are there any famous Dutch dishes?

Yes, some favorite Dutch dishes include Stamppot (mashed potatoes with vegetables), Bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs), and Dutch pancakes known as pannenkoeken.

Is cheese a big part of Dutch cuisine?

Absolutely! Cheese is an integral part of Dutch cuisine, with the country famous for its Gouda and Edam varieties. Cheese markets and cheese farms are popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands.

Are there any traditional Dutch snacks?

Yes, there are several conventional Dutch snacks. Some popular ones include stroopwafels (syrup-filled waffles), frikandel (deep-fried sausage), and haring (raw herring).

What is the significance of herring in Dutch cuisine?

Herring holds cultural significance in the Netherlands, and eating raw herring traditionally celebrates Dutch heritage. It is often served with chopped onions and pickles.

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