Popular Dutch Foods

| Leiden International Centre

One of the best ways to learn more about a new country and culture is to get to know their traditional and popular foods. The Netherlands is known for its wide variety of fried foods, but it also has a range of other popular snacks and meals that provide a fun insight into daily life here. Many of these meals have their own histories and reputations, and knowing a little more about those can also help you to bond more with Dutch neighbours, friends, and colleagues. For instance, the popular Dutch 'borrel' (evening drinks or snacks with friends and colleagues) comes with its own kaasplankje (cheese board) and borrelgarnituur (borrel snacks) - and the borrel itself is a regular social event for many Dutch friends and workplaces. 

Curious about what other meals you can look forward to in the Netherlands? Check out some of the most well-known examples below for more inspiration!

Fries (and snacks)

Fries (or chips) are common throughout the Netherlands, and they're a popular snack for both Dutch people and internationals. You can buy fries at many restaurants, cafes, pubs, and there are even shops that specialise in making fries (sometimes called 'friethuis' or 'friethuys', literally meaning 'fries house'). When ordering fries here you will also be asked what kind of condiment (sauce) you would like to have with it - and there are many different options to choose from! Of course, you can find staples like mayonnaise and ketchup, but you'll also have the choice of satesaus (peanut sauce), oorlog (a combination of peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and onion), and andalouse (a combination of mayonnaise, tomato puree, and herbs), to name but a few. 

Other snacks that you can also order alongside your fries usually include bitterballen (a round, fried, meat-based snack), kroket (croquette), bamihap (deep-fried, battered noodles), frikandel (a Dutch sausage), loempia (spring rolls), and kaassoufflé (a deep-fried cheese snack). You can ask for a variety of condiments with any of these snacks.


The word 'kapsalon' also means 'hairdresser' in Dutch, but when the foodie meaning of the term refers to a popular Dutch meal made from fries, salad, shoarma, cheese, and several other ingredients. For vegetarians, it's usually quite common to swap out the shoarma for falafels. This meal received its name because it owes it origins to a hairdresser, who wanted to combine all of his favourite foods into one meal. He asked one of his local shoarma shops to make it for him, and it became a regular order for not just him but also for others who saw him ordering it and wanted to try it out themselves. So next time you see kapsalon on a menu, why not give it a go?

Pea Soup

Pea soup, known as 'erwtensoep' in Dutch, is another Dutch staple. Recipes for this soup date back as far as the 16th century, and even today the soup is considered by many to be a staple comfort food (especially in the winter months). It's so deep-rooted in Dutch culture and history that the cooking of pea soup has been officially recognised as being part of Dutch intangible cultural heritage! If you happen to be looking for some ways to fully immerse yourself in Dutch culture, then preparing some erwtensoep may well be a good way to begin.

Stamppot (Mashed Potatoes)

Mashed potatoes, or 'stamppot', are another Dutch comfort food popular in the colder months of the year. However, this meal doesn't consist only of mashed potatoes - instead, traditionally you can choose between mixing in either kale, sauerkraut, endives, or a combination of onions and carrots (referred to in Dutch as 'hutspot'). In addition to your choice of the above, you should also add in smoked sausage (rookworst), which now also comes in a vegetarian option, too. Once you've combined all of these together, add some gravy over the top and serve! 


Pancakes are perhaps one of the most universally known Dutch staples. Whether it's large savoury pancakes, with a range of toppings available that can be customised much like pizza toppings, or sweet pancakes with syrup and powdered sugar, there's sure to be a flavour of pancake that you will enjoy! Indeed, the Dutch love pancakes so much that they also come in different sizes, with a miniature version of the pancake ('poffertje') being a popular snack food that you can buy from many market stands and stores.