Must-Try Foods in the Netherlands
As an avid self-proclaimed foodie, I make it my mission to try new foods whenever I visit foreign countries. When I traveled to Holland (also known as the Netherlands) this past June, I sampled everything from raw fish to fried snacks. While there were certain foods I didn't want to eat again, there were many more that I kept coming back to. I've included the majority of my favorites here—along with a few of my not-so-favorites.
Fish and chips are served all over Holland, but this can be quite a filling meal. Kibbeling, on the other hand, is a snack that's great to have on a walk through the streets of Amsterdam or after a trip to the beach in Noordwijk (and just about everywhere else—it's very popular with the locals!).
This fried fish is delicious and can be found at fish stalls throughout the country. The vendors often ask which sauce you prefer, and I recommend tartar sauce!
2. Broodje Garnalen
Otherwise known as a shrimp sandwich, this delicious meal can also be found at fish stalls throughout the country. The tiny shrimp in the sandwich can be somewhat addicting—I ended up ordering this over anything else at every fish stall we stopped at!
This perfectly satisfying lunch is served on a roll and the tiny shrimp is stuffed into it, topped with sauce. Every time I ordered it, I told the vendor to give me whichever sauce they thought was best, and while I still don't know what all of the sauces I tried were, they all were amazing.
3. Raw Herring
Now, personally, I'm not the biggest fan of this Dutch delicacy. However, it is wildly popular among locals and tourists alike, served at nearly every fish stall in the country. It can be eaten in a bun, but most commonly is eaten without any bread by holding it upside down at its tail.
Additions like raw onions or even gherkins can amp up the flavor. This salty snack is not for picky eaters but is definitely worth a try as one of the most famous dishes in the country.
In addition to seafood, the Netherlands also boasts delicious sweets. Poffertjes, mini puffed pancakes, make a lovely breakfast. I ordered them my first morning in Amsterdam with Nutella and strawberries, and after that, craved them for the entire rest of my holiday.
Poffertjes are light and fluffy and are very difficult to dislike. They can be eaten for breakfast or even a quick snack, often topped with powdered sugar. Aside from the amazing taste, they're cute enough to post on social media.
These Dutch pancakes are very different from poffertjes. They are more similar to crepes than pancakes in that they are very thin and large. Pannenkoeken can be savory or sweet depending on what you're in the mood for. I, of course, went for the sweet route and opted for berries and cream. However, I imagine they would be great with cheese, bacon, or even smoked salmon. The possibilities are endless and every restaurant will have its own variations on the traditional treat.
Tourists typically enjoy pannenkoeken as breakfast, but if you want to act like a true local, the Dutch normally eat them for lunch or dinner. If you spend a day in Zaanse Schans (which you should), the pannenkoeken at the Restaurant de Kraai is worth a try.
6. Fries and Mayo
Don't knock it 'till you've tried it. If you read the title and thought, 'Mayonnaise? No thank you,' you are not alone. However, mayonnaise in the Netherlands is unlike mayonnaise anywhere else. Otherwise known as fritessaus, this "fries sauce" is much sweeter and lighter than mayo. This delicious snack can be found at nearly every snack shop.
The snack shops in Holland serve Dutch fast food and are very popular among locals. The majority of them are open very late (fun fact: in the summer, the sun sets around 10 at night!). Bottom line: Even if you absolutely despise mayonnaise, you have to try this snack. If you still don't like the mayo, Dutch fries are very tasty and can be enjoyed with other condiments, such as ketchup, peanut sauce, and even raw onions (again, don't knock it 'till you've tried it!).
A fresh take on the mozzarella stick, this Dutch snack is addicting and delicious. It can be found at nearly every snack shop and is very popular. The thin dough is wrapped around cheese, which is then fried and served hot. While it may not be the healthiest treat, it is definitely worth a try and is super easy to find. Snack shops are around almost every corner.
Stroopwafels are very popular in the Netherlands, but can also be found at coffee shops (aka Starbucks) worldwide. The thin layers of wafer are filled with syrup, and oftentimes they are caramel flavored.
These sweet treats can be enjoyed alone or alongside a coffee drink. When I ordered coffee at restaurants, I would be given a mini stroopwafel and I liked to dip them in the foam of my cappuccinos. Highly recommended!
Bonus! Tony's Chocolonely Bars
I couldn't resist adding this bonus treat to the list: Tony's Chocolonely bars. In my opinion, they are 100% the best chocolate in all of the Netherlands. They come in many different flavors, all of which are equally delicious. A must-try.
What Are Your Favorites?
Do you have experience with Dutch cuisine? I'd love to know which foods are your favorites. Please share your opinions in the comments section below.
© 2019 Ari Berman