1. Broodje Kroket (Croquette Sandwich)
‘Een broodje kroket’ is Dutch for the English translation: ‘a croquette sandwich’. It’s a bun with an (often crushed) croquette with mustard or ‘fritessaus‘. These typical Dutch snacks have become such an important part of the culture, they’re often used as a comical insult. Croquettes are for sale in all snackbars, having them served on a sandwich is also very common. The latter is something not all snackbars offer.
2. Frikandellen (Dutch Sausage)
Frikandellen—or Dutch Sausage—are one of the favorite Dutch snacks. They’re often joked about being the main source of food for boys aged 12 to 16 attending preparatory vocational secondary education (VMBO). One Dutch joke goes: “Stick a frikandel sandwich in the ground and water it with energy drink, and naturally a VMBO student named Mitchell will grow.” During recess, students join in a mass trek to the supermarkets to purchase the famous frikandelbroodjes and energy drinks.
Popular ways to eat fikandellen include frikandel speciaal—which is a Dutch sausage cut vertically, filled with mayonaise, curry and cut onions—and frikandelbroodjes (frikandel sandwich), which is not really a sandwich, but more like puff pastry.
It is often said that all sorts of waste meat is used in the production of this sausage, such as eyes, tongues, etc… But that’s simply not true. While waste meat is used, it’s always parts that were cut out of the primal cuts such as the chuck, rib, loin, round, flank, short plate, brisket and shank. No matter what anyone tells you, you’re not eating cow eye.
3. Drop (Black Licorice)
I remember going to the United States of America with one of my best friends who grew up in Amsterdam. In his excitement, he decided to buy a bag of black licorice to share with people in America. I warned him that he wasn’t gonna be very popular, but he just wouldn’t listen. When he was enjoying his bag of black licorice, he noticed a little boy looking at his candies hankering for what he was having. So he decided to share. I was keeping my eyes on that little boy to see what his reaction would be, when I noticed he stuffed his face with ALL of the black licorice he had just received. He chewed maybe twice before his facial expression turned to disgust. He tugged his mom’s shirt and gestured he wanted to spit it out—as I predicted. Then his mom gave him a tissue and he spit it all out.
Personally, I can eat black licorice, it’s just I choose not to. The notorious candy comes in all sorts of flavors, one of the most popular being a wine gum/black licorice mix. One of the least favorite flavors for foreigners is the salty black licorice—if you truly desire to do the Dutch thing, you should try it.
4. Stroopwafels (Syrup Waffles)
How fun this is! It doesn’t matter where I travel to, I always take a couple of packages of stroopwafels, because I know I’m gonna make friends, and I’d like to give these to them. An acquaintance of mine in South Africa, actually made a business where he perfected the recipe of stroopwafels and then sold them, later he sold his business for a fairly decent price. Anyone who has been in The Netherlands absolutely love this Dutch cookie. Though they’re mostly available for sale in the Netherlands, you can now also make them yourself.
5. Zoute Haring (Salted Herring)
I don’t eat fish, and if I did, I would never eat it raw. But a typical Dutch experience would be incomplete without trying salted herring. This is by far the most traditional Dutch snacks on this list. Someone I used to know worked with foreigners a lot, and every time he would get foreigners to try salted herring. Most of the time nobody liked the taste.
6. Oliebollen (Deep-Fried Raisin Bun)
These traditional pastries have me craving for them the whole year round! But the stands that sell them only appear the months before December, and leave in January or February. They’ve become such a big part of the Dutch culture that you’d barely see anyone celebrating Sinterklaas, Christmas, or New Years Eve without serving these Dutch snacks. They do also come without raisins, and I personally find them much tastier that way. The Dutch serve them with powdered sugar. You can learn how to make ‘oliebollen’ yourself using our recipe.
7. Bossche Bol (Pastries From Den Bosch)
Although ‘Bossche Bollen’ are available throughout the Netherlands, my friend insisted I try one from his favorite baker in Den Bosch. These ‘Bossche Bollen’ are basically chocolate covered, “uit de kluiten gewassen soesjes” (enormous soesjes). But nobody is exactly sure how to eat them.
8. Tompouce/Tompoes (Dutch Mille-Feuille)
It’s a real struggle to figure out the best way to eat tompouce. Many eat it layer for layer, other’s like to live dangerously. While the Dutch serve pink tompouce most often, it’s also available in orange on national holidays; on Kings Day for instance. Once a girl told me about a tradition in her family: when she or her siblings took their significant others home for the first time to meet the family, they would serve tompouce. They would then proceed to watch (in secret, not awkwardly) how that person would eat the tompouce and base their acceptance on that. Well, not really of course, but still it’s funny.