The foods eaten by the people of the Netherlands

The cuisine of the Netherlands has a long history characterized by both regional and international influences. Over the past 500 years, Dutch food has evolved from simple, hearty fare suitable for a seafaring and trading nation to incorporate flavors from colonies, trading partners, and neighboring countries.

Staple Foods

  1. Potatoes: Introduced later on in history, but have become a fundamental part of the Dutch diet, often mashed and served as "stamppot."
  2. Bread: Consumed in various forms and a staple for breakfast and lunch.
  3. Dairy: Cheese ("kaas"), milk, and butter are very commonly consumed.


  1. Fish: Given the Netherlands' extensive coastline and maritime history, fish such as herring, mackerel, and cod are staples. "Haring" is often consumed raw.
  2. Pork and Beef: Sausages like "rookworst," and beef in dishes like "hutspot," are popular.
  3. Poultry: Chicken is used but not as extensively as fish, pork, and beef.
  4. Cheese: The Dutch are famous for their cheeses, such as Gouda and Edam.

Vegetables and Fruits

  1. Root Vegetables: Carrots, onions, and beets are often used, especially in stews.
  2. Cabbage: Used in dishes like "zuurkool" (sauerkraut).
  3. Apples and Pears: Commonly used in desserts like "appeltaart" (apple pie).

Spices and Seasonings

  1. Nutmeg and Cloves: Influenced by the spice trade, these are common in Dutch recipes.
  2. Juniper Berries: Used to flavor traditional Dutch "jenever," a precursor to gin.
  3. Licorice: A popular flavor in both sweet and savory dishes.

Traditional Dishes

  1. Stamppot: A hearty dish of mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables like kale, carrots, or sauerkraut.
  2. Hutspot: A dish of mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions.
  3. Erwtensoep: A thick pea soup, typically eaten in winter.
  4. Haring: Raw herring fish, typically served with onions and pickles.

Sweets and Desserts

  1. Appeltaart: A deep-dish apple pie.
  2. Stroopwafel: Two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of syrup.
  3. Poffertjes: Small, fluffy pancakes usually served with powdered sugar and butter.
  4. Oliebollen: Deep-fried dough balls, typically consumed on New Year's Eve.


  1. Beer: The Netherlands is one of the world's largest beer exporters.
  2. Jenever: A traditional Dutch spirit.
  3. Milk: Consumed in significant quantities, often with meals.

Foreign Influences and Modern Foods

  1. Indonesian Cuisine: Due to historical colonial ties with Indonesia, foods like "rijsttafel" (rice table) and satay have been integrated into Dutch cuisine.
  2. Surinamese Cuisine: Also influenced by another former colony, dishes like roti are common in some areas.

Dutch cuisine tends to be straightforward, hearty, and wholesome, reflecting the nation's history as a maritime and agricultural society. In recent years, international cuisines from Italy, France, and the Middle East, among others, have become more prevalent, reflecting the Netherlands' cosmopolitan and multicultural character. Overall, the past 500 years have seen Dutch food evolve in a manner that both respects its traditions and accommodates a variety of external influences.

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