Essential Dutch winter foods to eat in Amsterdam
As the cold sets in, slip into something elasticated and eat your way around Amsterdam with these seasonal Dutch delights from erwtensoep and stamppot to appeltaart or pancakes.
It’s green. It’s more delicious than it looks. It’s snert. Often, you’ll see it called erwtensoep or Hollandse erwtensoep but it all means the same. Snert is emblematic of Dutch winter cuisine, and it’s the ultimate winter warmer: a thick pea soup packed with onions, celery, leeks, carrots and sliced rookworst (smoked sausage), traditionally served with rye bread and smoky bacon. Stop by Amsterdam institution Moeders or The Pantry for a steaming bowl of Snert when the craving or the cold hits.
It may not have its origins in the Netherlands, but fondue has a special place in the hearts of all Dutchies. Few things are cosier than huddling around a cauldron of hot melted cheese with a bottle of red on a winter’s night, which is why the Swiss staple has become something of a mainstay in the Lowlands. There are plenty of places to get your fondue fix in Amsterdam – some favourites include Cafe Bern, ‘t Blaauwhooft, Fondue & Fondue – and we've even put together a selection of the very best fondues to make life easier and, dare we say, cheesier.
Stamppot is a big lovely mess of mashed potato mushed up with other vegetables, including sauerkraut, kale, spinach or turnip greens. Sometimes the potato is smashed with carrots and turnips, and then it’s called hutspot. You’ll normally find it served with a generously portioned rookworst (smoked sausage) or a pork chop at one of these traditional Dutch restaurants.
Looks aren't everything. Suddervlees literally means "braised meat" which translates on the plate to a big hearty beef and ale stew. It makes absolutely no attempt to look attractive (see picture), but with its punchy combo of slow cooked meat, beer, onions and seasoning, it’s winter on a plate for many people in the Netherlands. Get it with frites to mop up all that lovely gravy at places like Par Hasard.
Oliebollen (which translates to "oily balls" – yum?) are so special that you can only get them for a few short winter months. Traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve, they’re deep-fried dough balls dusted with powdered sugar, studded with raisins and currants. Look out for the oliebollenkramen (stalls), which appear around Amsterdam in mid-October, and eat as many as you possibly can before they disappear for another year. These are our picks of the best places to find them.
Repeat slowly: "Poff-fert-jus". Now you know how to say it, you have no excuse for not ordering trays and trays of these tiny pancake-treats while you’re in Amsterdam. Get them steaming hot from a street vendor, slathered in melty butter and powdered sugar, and devour them whole. The De Pijp neighbourhood has two options nearby - the festive, fairground-style Carousel Pancake House or Albert Cuypstraat's Poffertjes Albert Cuyp.
Nice things about eating massive pannenkoeken (pancakes) in winter: everything. Thankfully, pancakes are as ubiquitous as bicycles in Amsterdam, so drizzle them in syrup and sugar and let the good times roll. Take a look at some of our favourite pancake houses if you’re in need of inspiration.
Chocoladeletters and pepernoten
Go into any food store in November or early December (pre-Sinterklaas), and you will probably see lots of giant letters made from chocolate. These chocoladeletters are an integral Sinterklaas tradition in the Netherlands, given as gifts to reflect the first letter of the recipient’s name. It’s also absolutely fine to buy them for yourself. Likewise, you'll see the supermarket shelves stacked high with pepernoten (speculaas-spiced mini biscuits), which are eaten by thousands of spectators as Sinterklaas makes his customary under-the-radar arrival into the city, with a massive canal parade known as the Sinterklaas Intocht.
Wrapping your hands around a mug of hot chocolate milk on a winter’s day is one of life’s simple pleasures. You’ll find hot chocolate (usually found on menus under 'Chocomel') at most cafes and street markets in Amsterdam - ask for yours with a splash of rum if you want to feel a bit adventurous. These are our favourite spots for an indulgent cup.
Holland’s national pastry comes into its own in the winter months, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting on a heated terrace on a crisp winter’s day, tucking into a thick slice of freshly baked apple pie. Appeltaart (Dutch apple pie) is a thing of wonder: with layers of sliced apple tightly packed under a layer of yummy doughy pastry. Winkel 43 and Café Papeneiland are often said to have the best appeltaart in Amsterdam, but there can be only one winner – and only one way to find out.