Bitterballen

So you went out for a few drinks. You forgot to eat dinner. Those 8% Belgian beers are beginning to take their toll. What to do? The answer is in the bitterballen. Delicious, deep fried crispy meatballs traditionally served with mustard for dipping – they’re the ultimate in Dutch pub snacks and can be found on the menu at most Amsterdam drinking establishments.

Bitterballen Amsterdam Franklin Heijnen

Stroopwafel

If you try one Dutch sweet treat, make it a stroopwafel. Two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup; these delectable delicacies are best enjoyed hot and gooey from a street market or bakery.

Stroopwafel Amsterdam Steven Vance

Thick Dutch fries

Yes, but not just any fries. Trust us. You might see these thick cut fries called patat or frites on menus, and traditionally they come served in a piping hot paper cone slathered with any manner of tasty toppings. Ask for 'patatje oorlog' for a dollop of peanut satay sauce, mayo and onions, or a 'patat speciaal' for a mix of curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onions.  

Fries in Amsterdam David Berkowitz

Raw herring

Raw herring may sound a little scary to the uninitiated, but every visitor to Amsterdam should give it a go. You’ll spot haringhandels (herring carts) serving up this Dutch speciality all over the city - ask for a ‘broodje haring’ to get the fish served in a small sandwich with pickles and onions. The best time to try raw herring is between May and July when the herring is said to be at its sweetest.

Raw herring in Amsterdam Jessica Spengler

Kibbeling

If you’re not feeling quite brave enough to try raw herring (see above), then you can still get your fishy fix from kibbeling – battered and deep fried morsels of white fish; usually cod. They’re every bit as delicious as they look, and usually served with a mayonaisey herb sauce and lemon. Try it hot and fresh from a street market or food truck for the best kibbeling experience.

Kibbeling Amsterdam by Zoetnet

Croquettes from a vending machine

Now we’re not talking about Michelin standard cuisine here, but these hole-in-the-wall cafés get into this list of Dutch must-tries on novelty value alone. Head into any FEBO and you’ll see an array of hot snacks including hamburgers, kroketten and frinkandellen displayed behind glass doors. Put some coins into the slot and voila; dinner is served.

FEBO Amsterdam Nerd Reynolds

Oliebollen

The name literally means ‘oil balls’ - but don’t let that put you off.  Essentially they are deep fried sweet dumplings (sometimes containing fruit pieces) and dusted in powdered sugar, and they’re so delicious that they only come out around New Year’s Eve, just before the January diet kicks in. 

Oliebollen Amsterdam CC BY-SA 3.0 Takeaway via Wikimedia Commons

Say cheese!

Cheese is big business in the Netherlands, so don’t go home without visiting one of Amsterdam’s many 'kaas' shops or markets and tasting some Gouda, Geitenkaas or Maasdammer. For an introduction to the most popular Dutch cheeses, stop by the Cheese Museum or one of the Henri Willig Cheese and More shops. Next, visit the Reypenaer Tasting Room for a professionally-guided tasting of their award-winning cheese. In the Negen Straatjes (9 Streets) the Kaaskamer’s shelves are stuffed with cheese from the Netherlands and abroad.

Now say ’poffertjes’!

Repeat after us. 'PO-fer-jus'. These little fluffy clouds of battery goodness are served up at restaurants and pancake houses all over Amsterdam, but nothing can beat a bag of hot, buttery poffertjes from a street market vendor. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and let the good times roll.

Poffertjes Amsterdam Mira Pangkey

Ontbijtkoek

This delicious ginger cake comes in loaves, and is stodgy enough to ensure that one slice is always enough. The name literally translates to ‘breakfast cake’; though you can tuck in at any time of the day really because you’re a grown up and nobody's going to stop you. Spread some thick butter on it for extra yumminess. 

Ontbijtkoek Amsterdam CC BY-SA 3.0 Takeaway via Wikimedia Commons

Stamppot

One for cold winter evenings, stamppot is the ultimate Dutch comfort food, not dissimilar to British Bubble & Squeak. Translated literally as ‘mash pot’, this traditional dish involves potatoes mashed with other vegetables – traditional stamppot includes various combinations of sauerkraut, carrot, onion or kale - and is usually served with a big juicy sausage.

Stamppot Amsterdam Tavallai

Dutch liquorice

Liquorice eating in Holland is something of a national pastime – in fact the country boasts the highest per-capita consumption of the sweet in the whole world. But if anyone in Holland offers you some licorice (and they will); BEWARE. This is not liquorice as you know it, but a more salty, black version known as ‘drop’. Approach with caution, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

licorice amsterdam

Snert

Snert. You heard us. Holland’s version of pea soup is a thick green stew of split peas, pork, celery, onions and leeks, and contrary to its name, it’s completely delicious. Widely consumed all over the Netherlands, snert makes for a hearty winter snack traditionally served up by street vendors to ice skaters on the frozen canals

Erwtensoep Amsterdam CC BY-SA 3.0 Takeaway via Wikimedia Commons

Indonesian Rijstaffel

The strong Indonesian influence on Amsterdam’s food scene can be felt (and smelled, mmm) all over the city, and a no culinary tour of Holland would be fully complete without a visit to an Indonesian restaurant. Order a rijsttafel (rice table) for the true Indish-Dutch experience; a medley of small dishes from all over the Spice Islands, developed in the times of Dutch colonisation in order to allow colonials to sample dishes from around Indonesia.

Rijstaffel Amsterdam Marc van der Chijs

Tompouce

Apparently named after a performing dwarf who went by the stage name of Tom Pouce, this cream-filled rectangular pastry is characterised by a layer of smooth pink icing on top. Tompouce is strictly regulated to ensure consistency in size, shape and colour – although for the past few years the icing has turned bright orange in Amsterdam around King’s Day

Orange tompouce Amsterdam Kars Alfrink

Ready to try some real Dutch cuisine?