10 Foods to Try in Amsterdam (and Where to Try Them)

Amsterdam City
Courtesy of Chris Heckmann

While the Netherlands is not exactly known for its food, the Dutch have invented and perfected numerous culinary creations over the years. While visiting the beautiful and historic city of Amsterdam you’ll have a chance to try many things to please your taste buds. In this article, we will discuss the top 10 foods to try on a trip to Amsterdam and the best place to try them.



Short Intro to Dutch Food

Dutch food is not exactly a cuisine. While there are many unique staples of the Dutch diet, few would label it its own cuisine. Have you ever heard of a Dutch restaurant? Historically the Dutch diet was meat and potatoes based. The climate of the Netherlands is not exactly favorable to non-native flavors.

That all being said, just because there’s no specific Dutch cuisine doesn’t mean there isn’t great food in the Netherlands. Most of the foods to try in Amsterdam on this list you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

For a full guide to Dutch food culture and eating out in the Netherlands refer to this detailed article on the subject. And without further distraction let’s get down to it. Here are the top 10 foods you need to try when visiting Amsterdam and where to go to try them.

Bitterballen

Bitterballen is probably the most Dutch food you can try on your trip to Amsterdam
Bitterballen is probably the most Dutch food you can try on your trip to Amsterdam. Credit: Stock Photography

Bitterballen is a typical Dutch bar snack that you eat while drinking beer. Well, ideally. You can have them whenever you want. It’s commonly seen on bar menus, though most restaurants in the city also feature them on their appetizer menu. It’s basically a deep-fried ball of mushy meat coated in breadcrumbs. Typically, you dip bitterballen in mustard – like a Bavarian pretzel. It’s probably the most Dutch food there is and something you rarely find outside the country. If you only try one new food in Amsterdam, go for bitterballen.

Where to eat bitterballen:

Just about anywhere in Amsterdam, but why not enjoy some bitterballen with a fine craft beer at the de Prael taproom downtown.

Indonesian Rice Table

The Indonesian rice table is a uniquely Dutch twist on southeast Asian food that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Sparing you the details of Dutch colonialism, the Netherlands had a huge stake in Indonesia back in the day and the spices and cuisine made its way back to the motherland. The rice table – Indonesische rijsttafel in Dutch – is a feast of numerous small Indonesian dishes of eclectic flavors served with rice. If you want a second round of one of the dishes all you have to do is ask.

Where to get an Indonesian rice table:

You have to go to an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam and there are dozens. For the best combination of affordability and deliciousness, head to Aneka Rasa in the city center. Walk-in only. No reservations accepted.

Fresh Stroopwafels

Mini stroopwafels (syrupwaffles) with cup of coffee and jam
Image by depositphotos.com

These days you can get stroopwafels just about anywhere. The Dutch thin caramel waffle – Pronounced “strope-waffle, not “strupe-waffle” – has become a staple of supermarkets from New York to Bangkok. But there’s only one place to get a fresh stroopwafel right off the iron and that’s in the Netherlands. Packaged stroopwafels are tasty, but a warm, fresh stroopwafel is on another level. Stroopwafels are typically enjoyed with coffee, and even though they are very sweet, are often eaten in the morning.

Where to get a fresh stroopwafel:

There are plenty of options for fresh stroopwafels in Amsterdam. Stop by Melly’s Stroopwafels for a big, tasty one.

Kibbeling

The Albert Cuyp Market is the most popular market in Amsterdam
The Albert Cuyp Market is the most popular market in Amsterdam. Credit: Stock Photography

Kibbeling can be described as lightly fried fish bites of fresh white fish served with your choice of dipping sauce. It’s a staple of the Netherlands and something you need to try if you get the chance. The fish is usually haddock, cod, or another North Sea fish and it’s always delicious. Kibbeling is often enjoyed on weekends at the market and it’s a daytime food. Places that sell kibbeling are usually not open past 18:00.

Where to find kibbeling:

You can find kibbeling at fish shops or at weekend markets like the Albert Cuyp Markt. Yes, you read that right: fish shops. These are like the seafood section of the grocery store but a separate seafood-only store. Viswinkel Peter Tol makes the best kibbeling, but it’s a bit off the tourist track in the eastern docklands. Unless you want to experience Amsterdam like a local, you’ll probably want to go for Frens Haringhandel, which is in the city center.

Haring Hollandse Nieuwe (Raw Haring)

a serving of raw haring is a rite of passage for a trip to Amsterdam
A serving of raw haring is a rite of passage for a trip to Amsterdam. Credit: Stock Photography

Haring Hollandse Nieuwe is raw herring with pickles and onion. Herring is a small fish that lives in abundance in the North Sea. They are not as small as a sardine, but you can finish one in a few bites. This is yet another super Dutch thing to eat when you’re visiting Amsterdam. If you’re turned off by raw fish, however, stick to the kibbeling.

Where to find Haring Hollandse Nieuwe:

It’s more street food than a meal. You can also find it at weekend markets or, again, at fish stores. If the market isn’t running, head back to Frens Haringhandel.

Gerookte Paling (Smoked Eel)

The Smit family has been smoking eels in Volendam since the early 1900s
The Smit family has been smoking eels in Volendam since the early 1900s. Courtesy of Chris Heckmann

Eating creepy little sea-snakes might not sound too appetizing, but don’t knock it till you try it. European eels used to swim freely in abundance but are now a critically endangered species. Because of this, eel fishing is now strictly limited to only four months per year so that the eels can properly breed. What used to be a staple of the Dutch diet is now a delicacy. You can still order smoked eel year-round, however, and if you get the chance, it is simply delicious and should not be passed up.

Where to get smoked eel:

You can find smoked eel, again, at fish stores, but for the best smoked eel head to Smit-Bakkum in Volendam, about a 25-minute drive or a 40-minute bus ride from central Amsterdam.

Pannenkoeken (Dutch Pancakes)

The Pannenkoekenboot gives you a scenic cruise as you enjoy fine Dutch pancakes
The Pannenkoekenboot gives you a scenic cruise as you enjoy fine Dutch pancakes. Courtesy of Chris Heckmann

Dutch pancakes are sort of like a mix between American pancakes and crepes. They can be savory or sweet and are often had for dinner or lunch, not breakfast. They are quite thin, meaning that one pancake won’t really fill you up.

Where to eat pannekoeken in Amsterdam:

Restaurant De Carrousel serves up some solid pancakes. Or for a unique experience, how about an all-you-can-eat pancake cruise down the IJ River on the Pannenkoekenboot.

Spareribs

Spareribs might not sound like a Dutch delicacy, but the Dutch have been cooking up fine barbecue pork ribs for generations. While the concept of eating the ribs of a pig were an American creation, Dutch travelers brought the idea back across the pond and it took off. These days just about every contemporary (non-ethnic) restaurant in Amsterdam has spareribs in the menu. It’s unlikely you won’t be satisfied with your spareribs wherever you get them. Just don’t call them baby-back ribs. The server will have no idea what you’re talking about. They are known only as spareribs in the Netherlands!

Where to try spareribs:

Just about any non-ethnic restaurant in Amsterdam, but BAR Becue Castell is well known for serving up the best ribs (and steaks) in the city.

Apple Tart (Dutch Apple Pie)

Simple, yet effective, Dutch apple pie is a staple of the dessert menu at Dutch restaurants across the country. It’s usually served warm with vanilla ice cream. While, again, the Dutch didn’t invent the apple pie, they sure have perfected it.

Where to find Dutch apple pie:

It’s usually on dessert menus at contemporary restaurants and oftentimes at cafes too. For the most famous apple pie in Amsterdam head to Winkel 43 in the Jordaan neighborhood. Just be prepared to wait in line for a taste of the fine pie.

Cheese

a typical cheese stand at a Dutch weekend market
A typical cheese stand at a Dutch weekend market. Courtesy of Chris Heckmann

Cheese is currency in the Netherlands. Well, at least it used to be. These days the country still produces and exports vast quantities of cheese and cheese is ingrained in Dutch culture. Cheeses are typically named after where they were made. Gouda cheese is huge in the US, but Gouda is just a little Dutch city between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Edam, Haarlem, Alkmaar are also known for their cheeses. Bread and cheese is a very common lunch for Dutch people. Once you taste some Dutch cheese you’ll see why.

Where to find the best cheese in Amsterdam

Cheese shops are literally all over the city and it’s hard to pick the best. If you make it to a weekend market, there will be numerous cheese stands and these are your best bet. If you’re not there on a weekend, just stop in one of the dozens of cheese shops downtown and try all the free samples.

Honorable Mentions

Stamppot

Mashed potato dish typically served with spinach, often with sausage mixed in.

Beef stew

It’s more Flemish (Belgian) than Dutch, but traditional Dutch restaurants will usually make a fine and hearty beef stew.

Oliebollen

Basically, a fried ball of dough coated in powdered sugar (sort of like a Dutch donut).

Kroket

Similar to bitterballen but larger, more deep-fried, and comes with a variety of fillings (you can literally purchase them from vending machines in a train station).

Poffertjes

Basically mini Dutch pancakes.

Conclusion

There are tons of unique Dutch culinary creations and other foods that the Dutch have perfected to try on your trip to Amsterdam. Don’t settle for a basic eating experience.

Plus, if you are in Amsterdam and searching for CBD, try some CBD vape.

Even though the Dutch are not internationally known for their food, you’ve seen by now that they certainly could be!