Typical Dutch Meals

Find out about mealtime customs and some typical Dutch meals...

A typical Dutch breakfast consists of several types of bread, slices of Dutch cheese, butter, jam or honey, sometimes eggs, sausages or prepared meats. Coffee, tea, chocolate and fruit juice are drunk at breakfast.

Another traditional Dutch breakfast is an uitsmijter, which is the name given to a substantial meal of eggs (usually three), bread, cheese and/or ham and bacon.

In the cities, working people usually have a rather light lunch and eat more substantial dishes for dinner. The lunch might consist of sandwiches (broodjes), served in a sandwich bar; or a koffietafel with various cold cuts, cheese, bread and conserves, a side dish with a cottage pie, salad or an omelette; or filled pancakes; or lightly salted green herrings, bought from a street stall.

Rural families on the other hand are more likely to have their main meal at midday, and have an early dinner consisting of bread, cold cuts, cheese and salad.

Some Typical Dutch Dishes

Main courses

  • Erwtensoep is a thick pea soup, full of fresh vegetables, served with smoked sausage, cubes of bacon, pig's knuckle and bread
  • Groentensoep is a clear consommé with vegetables, meatballs and vermicelli
  • Stamppot is a simple dish consisting of mashed potatoes with different ingredients, such as carrots (wortel stamppot), kale (boerenkook stamppot) or endive (andijvie stamppot). It is generally served together with rookworst, a juicy smoked sausage
  • Patat is like French fries although usually thicker in the Netherlands and served with mayonnaise, or with mayonnaise and saté-sauce (patatje oorlog) or with mayonnaise, ketchup and raw onions (patat speciaal). Patats can be bought from any snackbar or stall
  • Kroket and Frikandel are roll-shaped snacks containing some kind of meat. Both are usually available from snackbars or outside stalls
  • Haring Raw herring with onions is a typical Dutch delicacy: the fish are held by the tail and allowed to gradually slide into the mouth (the head is removed and the fish has been cleaned). The first catch of the season, the Hollandse Nieuwe, meaning Dutch New, is considered a special treat
  • Seafood dishes are often very good, especially in cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and include fried sole (gebakken zeetong), fried whiting (lekkerbekjes), shrimps, oysters, mussels, lobster, royal imperial oysters and eel (smoked, filleted and served stewed or fried or on toast)

Desserts

Favourite Dutch desserts include:

  • Pannekoeken - eaten with all kinds of fillings: syrup, cheese or fruit
  • Wafels met slagroom - waffles with whipped cream
  • Spekkoek is a cake made with layers of buttered sponge and Indonesian spices
  • Poffertjes are like small pancakes, served warm with a lot of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. They can be bought from market stalls (poffertjeskraam)
  • Stroopwafel is a kind of cookie made with two thin waffle-type wafers and a special caramel filling. The waffle is cooked at high temperature on a waffle iron and syrup is spread on the two halves before they are put together
  • Vla is a thick sweet pudding made from milk and offered in various flavours (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry). It is fairly similar to English custard
  • Hopjes-vla and bitterkoekjes-vla have very typical tastes and should be tried
  • Vlaai is a sweet pie or pastry typical of the southern part of the Netherlands such as Brabant and Limburg although it may also be found in other places. It comes in different varieties and usually has some kind of fruit filling
  • Drop - this liquorice is widely eaten in the Netherlands and comes in different forms and tastes; it may be sweet or extremely salty
  • Oliebollen - a ball of deep fried dough topped with powdered sugar. Popular during the holiday period (November - December), and are consumed with champagne on New Year's Eve. Variants include raisins in the dough or Berlinerbollen, a custard cream-filled oliebol.

Cheese in Holland

The Netherlands is famous for its cheese and cheese markets. Dutch cheese is exported throughout the world and the most well-known are Edam, Gouda and Leiden cheese. Every region in the country produces cheese, anything from mild to extra mature, seasonal to mass produced varieties. Certain cheeses are flavoured with cumin, chives, garlic or cloves and sheep's and goat's cheese are also produced.

The best known cheese markets are in the Towns Edam, Gouda, Woerden and Alkmaar.