What is typical Dutch food? (Foreigners talk about Dutch food)

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If you’re planning to go to the Netherlands, you better know what to expect when you’re going to eat. In this video foreigners talk about something that might raise some questions: Dutch cuisine.

We asked our language students what typical Dutch dishes they know and if they like Dutch food? And what do they think of the eating habits: sandwiches for lunch and dinner at six o’clock?

Eating to survive

First impressions when foreigners talk about their Dutch food experiences:

  • “Dutch food lacks finesse and taste. It is boring, basic and functional.”

Not that great, right? So what are they talking about?

Let’s say there are 3 categories of Dutch food

  1. Mmmmwwoaaaooo (which means, it’s okay. Not good, not bad)
  2. Love it or hate it
  3. Delicious
  1. Category: Mmmmwwoaaaooo – Not good, not bad

Boterham met …

A Dutch lunch in general is really basic. It consists of a boterham (bread and butter) met hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), a boterham met pindakaas (peanut butter), a dubbele boterham met ham, and the list goes on. And of course, the Netherlands is known for its great cheeses.

Most Dutch people have their main meal, a hot dinner, early in the evening. Saying that, what you get might be a bit disappointing.

A lot of times it’s all about Aardappels, vlees en groenten (potatoes, meat and vegetables). Sometimes also called ‘een AVG’ (aardappels – vlees – groenten).


This one is considered the number 1 typical Dutch food. Lots of potatoes, lots of vegetables, boil them and mash it all together (stamppot translated literally as ‘mash pot’).

And that’s it!

This dish is especially good for cold and dark evenings. You can vary the vegetables as much as you want, so include sauerkraut, spinach, carrot, onion and kale. Whatever you want.

Traditionally, the dish is served complete with a rookworst (smoked sausage) and gravy. For the gravy you should make a small hole in the stamppot and fill it with gravy.

  1. Love it or hate it

Deep fried food

Almost everybody’s favourite: Dutch fried foods. Dutch cuisine is known for its fried food. Meat products like the frikandel, mexicano, viandel or kroket are eaten without knowing exactly what is in them. 

What a foreigner called a:

  • ‘UFO: Unidentified Fried Objects’

But it’s not only meat that is fried. ‘Friet met’ means you get fries with mayonnaise. So the Dutch put mayonnaise on their fries, but it doesn’t stop there. They also like to put pindasaus (peanut sauce), ketchup, curry-ketchup, onions, beef stew and many more things on the beloved fries.

Rauwe haring (raw herring)

The Netherlands is next to the North Sea, so sea food is widely available. Herring is available all year round, but if caught between May and July, it is referred to as Hollandse Nieuwe. The herring season starts every year with the traditional auction of the first tub of Nieuwe Haring.

You can eat it in two ways.

As a broodje haring, a white bun with raw herring or… just the raw herring on its own.

You eat it like this: you grab the fish by the tail, you tip your head back and bite the fish upwards.  Optional extras with haring are chopped onion or sliced gherkins.

Drop (Dutch liquorice)

Drop is salty, black and disgusting (according to most foreigners).

The Dutch eat it during the day, just as a snack. Working in an office, you will see tins of drop everywhere. And once you start eating it, there is no stopping. So be careful!

  1. The GOOD stuff

The sweet stuff: Poffertjes, oliebollen and stroopwafels

Foreigners generally see these as the best things in the Dutch kitchen.


These are basically little pancakes with butter and powdered sugar.


Oliebollen are made by frying a ball of dough in a deep fryer. When cooked you sprinkle them with icing sugar. Oliebollen are traditionally eaten at New Year.

Last but not least. And most students from the summer school and tourists agree, this is pretty good: the stroopwafel!


Stroop is syrup, so now you probably know what this is. A stroopwafel is made of two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle.

The Dutch really enjoy eating stroopwafels. We like them so much that we have started using them in other foods. So now we have:

  • Stroopwafelijs (ice cream)
  • Stroopwafeltaart (cake)
  • Stroopwafelmuffins (muffins)
  • Stroopwafelcupcakes (cupcakes)
  • Stroopwafelkruimels (crumbs)


A special category: ‘Chinese food’

Nasi, noodles, satay or foe yong hai; almost everyone in the Netherlands has tasted Asian cuisine.

We like to say ‘We eten bij de Chinees’.

The dishes of the ‘take-away Chinese’ are a well-known phenomenon in the Netherlands, or at least they were. The last few years we seem to go less and less often to the Asian kitchen.

So what is this so-called Chinese food?

After the Second World War, Chinese restaurants became very popular in the Netherlands. When Indonesia became independent, many Indonesian migrants and Dutch soldiers moved to the Netherlands, together with a group of Dutch Indonesians with a Chinese background. This created a greater demand for Indonesian food in the Netherlands. After all, the migrants were accustomed to eating in the Dutch East Indies. It also had an influence on the already existing Chinese restaurants.

In the Dutch East Indies a mixture of local and Dutch recipes and eating habits had arisen.

This transformed into something that is not really Chinese, not really Indonesian, but 100% Dutch!

It used to be a tradition, on Sunday evening, watching football and ordering a Chinese takeaway. In the last few years, eating habits have changed due to the introduction of a lot of new cuisines and as people switched to ordering online. Saturday and Sunday are still the days when most orders are placed.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School