Amsterdam is renowned for its incredible culture, gorgeous architecture, and relaxed attitude to life... but what about the food?
Well, in case you didn't know, it's fantastic! Today, we take a delicious deep dive into the delicacies of the Dutch capital – from the deep-fried delights of Amsterdam street food to the heavenly old-school baked classics and everything in between. Here are the 15 best foods to try in Amsterdam.
For the best way to discover these 16 excellent local dishes, book an Amsterdam food tour. You'll get expert insights into the origins and preparation of the city's most famous dishes!
Best 15 foods to try in Amsterdam
1. Dutch pancakes
Known in Amsterdam as Pannenkoeken, Dutch pancakes are served in pretty much every cafe in town. Large and thin and served with tons of butter, they have a melty, gooeyness that makes them pure comfort food.
These bad boys are wonderfully versatile – the Dutch often serve them topped with herring, salmon or other savory delights, but alternately sprinkled with powdered sugar or stroop (a delicious Dutch syrup).
Learn all about the origin of Dutch pancakes and try the best in town with an Amsterdam walking tour with Dutch pancakes lunch.
Better yet, learn how to make your own with a private Dutch pancake class in the home of an Amsterdam native. Talk about authenticity!
2. Poffertjes (mini pancakes)
These marvelous mini morsels are a festive favorite, both during the summer and at Christmas time. Their light spongy texture makes them taste totally different than a regular pancake, while the gooey and warmth on the inside and a pleasant crunch on the outside will send your taste buds into overdrive!
The secret is yeast and buckwheat flour, which gives them the trademark fluffiness, and the fact that they're cooked fast and hot in a cast iron pan.
You'll find Poffertjes in pretty much every Dutch supermarket, but for the real deal visit a local cafe or restaurant. I recommend Poffertjes Albert Cuyp, an old-school street stall specialising in these little beauties.
3. Dutch herring
Okay, now we're into dangerous territory. That's because Dutch herring is without the most divisive dish on the list. This is one Dutch food you either love or hate, and you'll have to try it to find out!
Highly salty and powerful, herring tastes unlike anything else. Although people assume it's served raw, it's not. The flavor comes from the fact that it's kept in brine for up to months, producing a deep, salty, umami flavor and bringing a wonderfully succulent texture.
Dutch herring is generally served in two ways – either cut into pieces and served with onions and pickles or eaten whole in one piece, dangled from above, and devoured in one go. Amsterdammers also eat herring sandwiches called broodjes haring.
Keeping the focus on fish, Kibbeling is one of the most famous street foods in Amsterdam – you'll find it served up in street stalls and eateries all over the city. This traditional Dutch delicacy consists of deep-fried pieces of cod covered in a crispy spiced batter and served with various traditional dipping sauces, usually garlic mayonnaise, remoulade, or tartar sauce.
You'll find some of the best Kibbeling in Amsterdam at the Dappermarkt or in the many fish markets around De 9 Straatjes (the Nine Streets).
Another famous Dutch food that you'll find served by street vendors all over the city, Bitterballen, is a ball-shaped meat croquette that is absolutely out of this world! The creamy, dreamy filling is made from stewed meat that has been thickened by adding a roux.
Generally served with a portion of fries and a dollop of Dutch mustard, Bitterballen is undoubtedly one of the most famous traditional food items you'll find in Amsterdam. You can even find some amazing vegan bitterballen in Amsterdam.
If you want to eat this traditional Dutch food like a local, try a Bitterballen and croquette tasting.
These are the most iconic Dutch sweet treats – you've most likely tried them before – these irresistible waffles are a must-eat in Amsterdam. Stroopwafels consist of syrupy, buttery cinnamon caramel sandwiched between two wafer-thin waffle layers... yes, it's as good as it sounds!
Translating as 'syrup waffles' in English, you'll find stroopwafels all throughout Amsterdam – in supermarkets, street corners, cafes, restaurants... everywhere.
Want to find the best stroopwafel in Amsterdam? A private food tour with a local is a great way to find the best Dutch foods when you visit Amsterdam. Or you could take our recommendation and head to Rudi's Original Stroopwafels – an old-fashioned street stall that's a stone's throw from the Heineken Experience.
7. Appeltaart (Apple pie)
With a pastry that's lighter, sweeter and crunchier than typical apple pie, Amsterdam's famous baked treat Appeltaart is pure comfort food. Usually served with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top, Dutch apple pie is also a lot deeper than American apple pie.
The apple comes typically with a hint of cinnamon, while the apple is slow-baked to soften it but still with a slight firmness. The star of the show, however, is the pastry. It's Crumbly, buttery, with just the right amount of sugar, to die for.
Visit Winkel 43, a vibrant cafe/restaurant in Jordaan, for one of Amsterdam's best slices of homemade apple pie.
8. Kaas (Dutch cheese)
Abraham Kef's cheese tasting room is one of the city's best cheese experiences, and if you're into wine, a wine-and-cheese pairing is a must. You'll also find many cheesemongers and cheese shops throughout the city and bars and restaurants that offer cheese platters.
A Dutch specialty smoked sausage, Ossenworst, was initially made of ox meat but is made from beef nowadays. Subtle spices such as pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and mace bring a wonderful aroma; this sausage is usually sliced and served with pickles, onions, and a generous helping of Dutch mustard. Oh, and remember the beer for good measure!
Head to the ridiculously cool A. van Wees Tasting Locality, where you can try authentic ossenworst and many other traditional Dutch foods served with their snack platter.
A quintessential Dutch dessert, oliebollen is not only one of the best-tasting snacks in Amsterdam, but it's also, without doubt, the one that's the most fun to say. Try saying "Oliebollen" loud and proud without beaming with joy. It's impossible!
Still, these sweet treats don't quite translate as well into English – literally 'oily balls.' Okay, that's enough snickering... despite the name conjuring up images of greasy balls, these decadent Dutch doughnuts are pure indulgent heaven. They are a must-try when visiting Amsterdam: sweet and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and deliciously soft.
You won't have to search far and wide either – almost every bakery sells them, particularly during winter.
11. Stamppot (mashed potatoes)
One of the most popular side dishes you'll find in Amsterdam, stamppot is a dish consisting of mashed potatoes combined with one or more vegetables. Typical vegetables used in stamppot include carrots, onions, sauerkraut, spinach, or turnip greens.
Stamppot is usually served alongside a hearty meat dish, often steak or smoked sausage.
Regarding the best restaurants for this hearty side, The Pantry regularly causes a stamppot stampede with their versions of this traditional Dutch cuisine, including a delicious boerenkool stamppot – kale and mashed potatoes. Delicious!
12. Rijsttafel (rice table)
The influence of Indonesian cuisine in Amsterdam is clear to everyone who visits. There are many Indonesian restaurants throughout the city, and many traditional Indonesian dishes are served in typically Dutch taverns and restaurants. This comes down to the fact that thousands of Indonesians migrated to Amsterdam following WWII, bringing their culture and cuisine.
A collection of small side dishes – like a Dutch table of tapas – Rijsttafel is one of the best-known Indonesian staples. It's also the best way to sample Indonesian food when in Amsterdam.
Long Pura is a famous Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam where you can order Rijsttafel, among other delicious delicacies. You could also spend an afternoon doing a Food and History Tour, checking out historical local foodie stops in Amsterdam.
13. Patat friet
Amsterdam's version of French fries, patat friet, serves broad, chunky chips deep-fried to perfection. Mayonnaise is typically the dip of choice and often comes served up in its own little ingenious sauce holder within the fries' cardboard cones. You'll also find Dutch fries topped with chopped onion, tomato sauce, and – in the case of the Dutch Indonesian version patatje oorlog – peanut sauce.
Head to Heertje Friet for the best patat friet in the whole city. You'll also find many fantastic patat stands and Dutch fries specialists in and around the Nine Streets.
Amsterdam's favorite drink is a robust and malty spirit from juniper berries. While it's been likened to gin – even picking up the nickname 'the grandfather of gin,' Genever has more of a blended bourbon or scotch malt flavor. If you like your spirits, you have to try this Dutch delight!
Of course, a drink is only as good as the setting in which you drink it. Therefore, head to 't Nieuwe Diep, a quirky hidden gem inside an old pump house. It's a distillery and bar that serves its own brand of genever, which you can enjoy on its tranquil terrace overlooking a pond, fruit trees, and herb garden.
Learn all about genever at the House of Bols tasting experience, where you'll sample this classic Dutch spirit and its history.
Most of the best things to eat in Amsterdam pair perfectly with a tall, frosty one, and for beer drinkers, sampling the local tipple is a must! The Dutch export more beer than Germany and the U.S. combined – the majority comes from big names like Heineken.
What is traditional Amsterdam food?
The most traditionally eaten food in Amsterdam is quick to make and delicious. It's essentially street food!
We're talking the likes of bitterballen, the delicious croquette balls, the fluffy, buttery Dutch pancakes, and stroopwafels, those little heavenly syrupy caramel wafers.
What is the Netherlands' national dish?
Many would say herring, which is cured to give it a wonderful salty flavor and is typically eaten in one go. It's not for everyone – Dutch herring proves divisive! However, those who like it like it!
Regarding desserts, the most famous dish is Poffertjes – the wonderful mini pancakes served in cafes all over Amsterdam.
Does Amsterdam have a good food scene?
Absolutely! You'll find everything from fine dining restaurants and old-fashioned taverns to sumptuous street food hangouts and cozy coffee shops, all serving outstanding food.
You'll even find large food halls such as Foodhallen in Amsterdam with various dishes worldwide.
What drink is Amsterdam known for?
Although they are both made from juniper berries, jenever is different from gin – it has a far more malty flavor and is more similar to whisky.
The Dutch also love their beer! Amsterdam is home to the world-famous brands Heineken, Amstel, and many other excellent smaller Dutch beers.
What is the weird Dutch breakfast?
An unusual breakfast that many Dutch (especially kids) indulge in is hagelslag. A whole load of chocolate sprinkles poured on top of buttered white bread.
The word hagelslag roughly translates as hail storm – referring to the shower of sprinkles that cover the slice of bread. This quirky breakfast dates back over a hundred years and shows no signs of disappearing!