Amsterdam has always been a hit for a weekend away from the UK with more and more people heading over to check out the culture and indulge in a weekend of exploring the dutch capital. When visiting a new city a big part of the experience for me is trying as much traditional food as possible. Although I am quite fussy, I am slowly starting to become more adventurous with the food I am trying and I have been pleasantly surprised with how much my palette has matured. I really enjoyed researching and writing my top foods to try in Budapest post so I thought why not put together the same thing for Dutch cuisine? Here’s my 10 traditional dutch foods to try when in Amsterdam.
Originating in the Netherlands, a pannenkorken or dutch pancake is a thin, light pancake much larger in size than its American siblings but not quite as thin as Crêpes. You can find pancake houses all over the city offering a wide range of sweet and savoury options. I am yet to indulge in a savoury pancake (I’ve always been a lemon and sugar kind of girl) but after visiting the Pancake Bakery and seeing the hundreds of different options options available, I will definitely be trying a savoury option next time.
Pannekoeken’s little brother, these small fluffy pancakes are light and fluffy and miniature in size. They are a yeast based pancaked made with buckwheat and traditionally served hot with a dollop of butter and powdered sugar. You can find these dotted around at various different food vendors but we found a lovely little pancake house next to the Anne Frank House which served these delicious treats which we headed back to more than once. If there is one thing you have to try when you are in Amsterdam make it these decadent little delights.
Dubbed one of the worl’ds most underrated cookies, the stroop waffle or syrup waffle is another traditional dutch sweet treat in the form of two thinly pressed waffles sandwiched together with a caramel syrup (the stroop). These are best eaten warm so the syrup has a chance to melt and become all gooey. A lot of places will sell these dipped in chocolate and then covered in various different toppings but I think they are best served plain with a good old cuppa. You can pick these up from pretty much anywhere in Amsterdam.
Oliebol or oliebollen in plural are deep fried balls of dough very similar to a doughnut or sweet dumpling. Typically eaten during the winter time, you can pick up these doughy delights from mobile street stands for less than a €1 a piece. Traditionally served coated in powdered sugar, I only managed to try the plain option but you can also find these filled with raisins and sultanas. These sweet treats are an essential part of New Year’s celebrations in the dutch culture so if you have the chance to grab one definitely take it.
In Holland the appeltaart’s are one of the most popular sweet dishes served in almost every bakery and cafe, sometimes selected as the only sweet option on the menu. Much deeper than the apple pies we find here, these pies are jam packed with large slices of apple and flavoured with lemon, sugar and cinnamon. Covered with pastry on both sides, traditionally you will find the top adorned with lattice of pastry strips.
The Netherlands boasts the highest consumption of liquorice in the entire world. Unlike the sweet treat we are used to, in the Netherlands this candied treat is served sweet or salty and is more commonly known as ‘drop’. Drop comes in many shapes and sizes with a variety of different sweet and salty flavours available. You won’t have to look very far to find this dutch delicacy but if you are unsure which are the best ones to try then head to the Old Dutch Candy Store where Mariska will talk you through all the different kinds.
Kaas is in fact the dutch word for cheese and is another delicacy that you can’t miss when wandering around the city. Dutch cheeses are predominantly made semi-hard or hard with popular varieties including Gouda, Edam and Old Amsterdam. Introduce yourself to the many different flavours and accompaniments in one of Amsterdam’s many cheese shops where you can try samples of pretty much every flavour. If you`re after a more detailed introduction to the world of Dutch cheese then head to the Reypenaer Tasting Room for a professionally guided tasting of their award winning cheese.
A bitterbal is a deep fried crispy meatball, rolled in breadcrumbs and served with mustard on the side. Made with a mixture of beef broth and spices, these balls of goodness are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You can try these pretty much everywhere but if you find yourself in the Foodhallen be sure to check out De Ballenbar hosted by michelin star chef Peter Gast offering a fusion of different bitterballens to try including chorizo, goat’s cheese and truffle.
Similar to a bitterbal but more of an oblong shape, the Kroket is a deep fried meat roll covered in breadcrumbs. A fast food delicacy you can eat them on their own or as a sandwich filling or burger with mustard alongside. The most common place to pick up one of these is the street vendor Febo featuring automatic vending machines filled with fried, hot snacks. Perhaps a bit gimmicky but a must try if your in the city and a surprisingly tasty fast food option.
In Amsterdam a highly popular dutch delicay is raw herring lightly cured in salt and served with raw onions and pickles. The best time to try this delicacy is once the herring season commences in May, but you can find this snack served all year round due to the strict regulations in place governing the preparation of the fish. The dutch are passionate about herring but this is quite an acquired taste and won’t be for everyone. If you’re not a fan of raw fish then opt for Kibbeling instead which is battered or deep fried nuggets of white fish served with a herby mayonnaise and fresh lemon.