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The Best Of Amsterdam Food: 10 Must-Try Dishes

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Amsterdam’s rich history, museums, architecture, and canals provide plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the city’s culture. In addition to exploring points of interest when traveling, I love sampling local cuisine on Amsterdam food tours. 

Amsterdam Food Favorites | 10 Must-Try Dishes

Food tours are a great way to sample regional foods and learn about local history. And Amsterdam’s food scene is as diverse as its population. During a recent visit, I enjoyed a walking food tour in Amsterdam’s Jordaan District, focusing on local, family-owned establishments. 

Located near the city center, the Jordaan is known for its beautiful houses, unique shops, restaurants, and cafes. Built in the 17th century, the Jordaan formerly housed the working class. However, the area gradually declined and was on the verge of destruction.

A passionate group of citizens saved the area, and its revitalization began in the 1970s. Today, the Jordaan is known as an artistic district and has become a desirable place to live in the city. 

The Best Amsterdam Food | Must Try Dishes

Dutch Apple Pie

Dutch apple pie, or appeltaart, dates back to the Middle Ages. This pie was one of my favorite foods on our tour. Not overly sweet, the pie is not just for dessert; locals enjoy it throughout the day.

Unlike its American counterpart, Dutch apple pie is baked in a springform pan, resulting in a very deep pie, making it look more like a cake. Our pie had a buttery, cake-like crumb base, an irresistible filling of sliced apples, raisins, warm spices, including cinnamon, and crumb topping.

A dollop of freshly whipped cream served alongside the pie created a heavenly bite. I must confess that I loved it so much I had to return the next day for another slice. 

Dutch Apple Pie

Herring

Herring is very popular in the Netherlands and a Dutch delicacy. This small, slender, silver fish can be found in the eastern part of the North Sea, mainly around Norway and Denmark. The season’s first herring, Hollandse Nieuwe, is highly celebrated. 

Herring may only be labeled as Hollandse Nieuwe if it has at least 16% fat and has been gutted, salted, and preserved according to traditional Dutch methods. The herring must also have been caught during a specified period during the spring and summer. 

The traditional method of eating herring involves grabbing the fish by the tail, sliding it across onions, and lowering the fish into your mouth. Thankfully, our Hollandse Nieuwe was cut into bite-sized pieces, served with chopped onions and pickles, and eaten with toothpicks.

Admittedly, I was dubious about trying this delicacy. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the herring’s fresh, creamy, and buttery taste. Reminiscent of sashimi, this dish is best when prepared at the time of ordering. 

Herring

Kibbeling

Kibbeling is a Dutch street food item with roots dating back to the 19th century. Its name is derived from “kabeljauwwang,” which translates to “cod cheeks” in Dutch. Originally, kibbeling was made with cod scraps to avoid wasting part of the fish.

Today, this delightful street food is also made with other types of fish, including haddock, hake, or pollock. Chunks of white fish are batter-dipped, deep-fried, and served with a dipping sauce. 

I was hooked on my first bite. The crunchy, lightly seasoned batter encompassed tender morsels of cod, resulting in a flavorful taste full of texture. Our kibbeling was served with a savory remoulade sauce of mayonnaise, garlic, and herbs, the perfect accompaniment. 

Kibbeling

Gouda

I adore cheese, so I was excited to find that we were sampling Gouda. The Netherlands is one of the largest cheese producers and exporters worldwide. Encased in a wax rind, Gouda is one of the most prominent and well-known cheese exports. 

We sampled three cheeses: young Gouda, goat’s milk cheese, and aged Gouda. Made from cow’s milk, younger Goudas are soft and mildly flavored, while aged Goudas are harder and deeper in flavor. 

Young Gouda is aged for four weeks or less. I enjoyed this cheese’s soft texture and fresh, lightly sweet flavor. Our aged Gouda was aged for two years, boasting an amber color. Compared to the young Gouda, this harder textured cheese had a sharp, nutty, salty flavor.

Pale in color, the goat’s milk cheese had a creamy texture and clean, slightly tangy flavor. Candied ginger and fig bread added additional textures and depth of flavor to our tasting. 

Gouda

Broodje Rendang

The most surprising food we tried was broodje rendang, an Indonesian food. Amsterdam has a large population of Indonesian immigrants, and the exotic cuisine is quite popular.

Broodje is a small piece of bread generally used in sandwiches. The rendang was stewed beef marinated in numerous aromatic spices and herbs and then simmered in coconut milk for several hours to develop its depth of flavor.

Our sandwich was served on a roll like a hoagie bun. The rendang was melt-in-your-mouth tender with an earthy spiciness and a hint of sweetness, resulting in an enticingly flavorful sandwich.

Broodje Rendang

Bitterballen

It is said that Bitterballen was born out of necessity in the 17th century to use up leftover meats. Bitterballen are like deep-fried meatballs typically consumed with alcoholic beverages. Ours were served with Jenever, a distilled Dutch spirit.

Bitterballen are traditionally filled with a beef or veal ragu, shaped into balls, coated with breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. These crunchy bites were served piping hot with a soft, gooey, savory filling with a hint of nutmeg. Our bitterballen came with mustard that added a tangy contrast.

Jenever

Jenever translates to “juniper,” the berry from which the liquor gets its taste. Jenever was invented in the 1500s by pharmacists who added juniper berries to their medicinal tonics. 

Jenever is traditionally served in small tulip-shaped glasses filled to the brim. You drink it by bowing down, lowering your lips to the glass, and taking your first sip without touching the glass. I’m glad I tried it, but I was not a fan of its gin-like flavor profile. 

Bitterballne and Jenver

Stroopwafels

A popular street food, stroopwafel translates to “syrup waffle.”  Stroopwafels are thought to have originated in the late 1700s to mid-1800s by a baker in Gouda, Netherlands, who pressed excess bakery crumbs in a waffle iron and sandwiched them together with syrup.  

This treat features two round, thin waffle “cookies” with caramel syrup in between. Our stroopwafels were served warm, and the heady aroma of cinnamon and caramel filled the air. I became enamored with this sweet delight after my first bite.  

The soft, chewy, distinctively cinnamon-flavored waffles paired perfectly with the lusciously gooey, caramel-like filling. 

Stroopwafels are best eaten warm. A popular warming method involves placing a stroopwafel on top of a hot cup of coffee or tea and waiting a few minutes until the caramel softens. Get ready for a divinely sweet, gooey confection.

Stroopwafels

Poffertjes

I couldn’t resist trying this Dutch specialty during my first day in Amsterdam. Although they were not part of our food tour, they are worth mentioning. Poffertjes are miniature, round, puffy pancakes that look like flying saucers. 

Poffertjes are traditionally served with butter and dusted with sugar. However, they can also be served with various toppings like fruit, ice cream, chocolate, liquors, and whipped cream.

I ordered mine with banana, Nutella, and whipped cream. For those not familiar with Nutella, it is a delectable creamy spread made with hazelnuts and cocoa. I realize this combination may be a bit too sweet for some, but my inner child squealed with delight each time I took a bite.

Poffertjes

Oliebollen

As we strolled along the streets in Amsterdam, we encountered a food stall selling Oliebollen. The name translates to “oil balls.” Small balls of doughnut-like pastry are deep-fried and typically topped with powdered sugar. 

There are many tales behind the history of Oliebollen. One story says Germanic tribes offered oil-fried dough to the gods during winter celebrations. With the spread of Christianity, the treat became associated with religious celebrations like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

Oliebollen became widely popular in the Netherlands in the 19th century and are an important part of Dutch holiday traditions, especially during New Year’s Eve. They symbolize bidding farewell to the old year and embracing the year to come. 

My freshly made Oliebollen were crispy on the outside and moist inside. Although they reminded me of donut holes, they were not as sweet. The sprinkling of powdered sugar added the right amount of sweetness to complement the fried dough. It definitely is one of the best of all Amsterdam food.

Oliebollen

Why I Love Amsterdam Food Tours

I love food. And I especially enjoy sampling the local cuisine whenever I travel. Trying a wide variety of dishes may be difficult, depending on the length of a stay. And researching a destination does not guarantee a memorable food experience. 

An Amsterdam food tour allows you to taste local delicacies in an organized fashion and within a short time span. An expert tour guide can share their knowledge of the food, people, and places you visit. A guide can also provide insight into the history and culture of the food. 

Many Amsterdam food tours focus on locally owned establishments, meaning you will have access to places that locals frequent, resulting in a more authentic experience. Your tour guide can also recommend restaurants and other activities to enjoy during your stay. 

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