It had been nearly 10 years since our last trip to Amsterdam. Don’t ask why. Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most exciting capital cities, especially for food. From traditional Dutch food to international dishes, food in Amsterdam is everywhere. Our guide highlights some of the must-eat dishes and best places to eat in Amsterdam.
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What To Eat In Amsterdam
Aside from its red-light district, canals, and loads of bicycles, what is Amsterdam known for? Dutch cuisine certainly isn’t what most people think of. But one of the important things to know about Amsterdam is you can find nearly anything to eat.
As a port city, Amsterdam and its food is heavily influenced from the outside. You’ll find cuisines from Asia, Africa, as well as South America. It’s one of the reasons why we love Amsterdam. But you’ll also find tons of Dutch food worth trying. For many travelers to Amsterdam, ourselves included, no trip to Amsterdam is complete without sampling some Dutch gouda, pickled herring, or the famous Dutch pancakes, Pannenkoek.
Eating In Amsterdam
In terms of where to eat in Amsterdam, the choices are endless. On the high-end, there are 23 Michelin Star restaurants in Amsterdam. If you are traveling to Amsterdam on a budget, there are tons of food trucks in Amsterdam. These food trucks serve up a wide range of tasty Dutch treats and international favorites. Additionally, there are half a dozen food markets in Amsterdam worth checking out.
The cost of eating in Amsterdam varies. During our trip to Amsterdam, we ate at a wide range of restaurants, excluding a Michelin restaurant. As an example of cost, we ate Pannen Koeken (pancakes) at Pancake House. Two pancakes and two cafe lattes cost us €30 or roughly $30. Alternatively, you can eat at FEBO for as little as €2.50 per item.
Overall, despite Dutch food not having the greatest reputation, Amsterdam is one of the best food cities in the World. It has a wide variety of food options to fit all budgets.
Pannen Koeken or Pannenkoek is a Dutch pancake. They are absolutely delicious and are some of our favorite things to eat in Amsterdam. Pannenkoek are not as thick as American-style pancakes. And they are not as thin as a French crepe. This makes them a uniquely Dutch treat.
Pannenkoek come in various flavors, from savory to sweet. They are a popular Dutch breakfast but can also be enjoyed as a filling snack. Popular “toppings” include ham, apples, cheese, and my favorite, bananas.
Amber and I ate our pancakes at Pancake House Mondial. They have some of the best pancakes in Amsterdam. There are a few Pancake House locations around Amsterdam. If you want to have them for breakfast, get there before they open. Seating is limited.
Bitterballen is one of the most popular foods eaten in Amsterdam. They are savory Dutch snacks made from deep-fried balls of veal or beef. They are similar in texture to croquettes in Spain. You can find bitterballen at almost any Amsterdam food market and restaurant. They are usually served with mustard for dipping. Best of all, they make a perfect accompaniment to a pint of Dutch beer.
If you are looking to try these delicious Dutch snacks, we enjoyed our sampling of bitterballen at De Ballenbar inside FoodHallen.
Want to see Amber smile, offer her some poffertjes. These small, fluffy Dutch pancakes are pockets of goodness according to Amber. Poffertjes are not to be confused with pannenkoek. Similar in texture, poffertjes are topped with powdered sugar and warm butter. They are incredibly satisfying, whether you have them as part of a dessert or as a snack from a local food market.
Eating raw fish isn’t really our thing unless, of course, it’s Japanese sushi. Everyone says you must eat Dutch herring when you go to Amsterdam. More accurately, you have to eat it like the Dutch. The whole herring, at once, with onions and pickles. For two people who travel for food, this isn’t exactly appealing to Amber and me.
Much like us, you may not think raw herring sounds very appealing. But if you’re visiting Amsterdam, it is a must-try. Raw herring is not only a staple Dutch snack, in Amsterdam, it’s a delicacy. So, during our trip to Amsterdam, we finally tried it. And to be honest, we both enjoyed it.
Red herring, or haring, is a “fishy” fish compared to a white fish or tuna. This is the #1 reason why we’ve avoided eating it. The herring is served with chopped, raw onions and a mix of pickles. Amber’s not an onion fan and passed on them. I ate them and think it helped with the fishiness of the herring. The dill pickles helped clean the mouth of the fishy, oniony, taste.
If you are looking to sample this traditional Dutch food, head over to Stubbe’s Haring. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, they serve up some of the best and freshest herring in the city.
Gehaktballen are one of my favorite things to eat in Amsterdam. But then again, I love all things meatballs. Gehaktballen are slightly larger than an Italian-style meatball. They are usually made using a mixture of beef and pork. Oftentimes, they are seasoned with nutmeg, mustard, onion, and black pepper.
What makes Dutch meatballs different? First, you won’t find them in a bowl of marinara sauce. Instead, gehaktballen are cooked in their juices until tender. They are served with a side of bread, and often with mustard or peanut sauce.
You’ll likely find these at many Dutch restaurants, but for some of the best ones, head to the Amsterdam Foodhallen. We ate this Indonesian-inspired Gehaktballen at the Dutch Meatball Company.
During our first trip to Amsterdam in 2007 all I wanted to try was one thing; rijsttafel. We first heard about rijsttafel on an episode of Rich Steve’s Europe. Having never been to Asia or Amsterdam, I was in awe of rijsttafel. So many dishes and so many flavors. When we finally ate rijsttafel in Amsterdam, all my expectations were met.
Rijsttafel (rice table) has its roots in Indonesia, a former Dutch colony. A rijsttafel consists of numerous small plates of food. From grilled chicken satay, curried fish, beef rendang, vegetables, and of course steamed rice. It’s like Spanish tapas but served all at once.
So, if you want to try something a little different from the typical Dutch cuisine, There are many restaurants in Amsterdam that serve rijsttafel. Thanks to a recommendation from our friend in Amsterdam, we ate rijsttafel at Hotel Jakarta and can’t recommend it enough.
Most people aren’t aware that the Dutch make some of the best cheese in the World. But they do. Kaas is a Dutch cheese from Holland. The two Dutch kinds of cheese most people are familiar with are Edam and Gouda. Of course, Kaas translates to cheese, covering various kinds of cheese. In Amsterdam, these tend to include types such as edam, gouda, leidse kaas, komijnekaas, maasdammer, and nagelkaas amongst others.
The best way to get the most out of trying cheese during your trip is to head to the Amsterdam food markets, where you’ll get the best variety and can sample before you buy.
If you said that we’d discover an entirely new cuisine in a Metro station in Amsterdam I’d say you are crazy. But that’s how we discovered Surinamese food. And oh my, what a discovery. The question Amber and I have now is, where’s Surinamese food been our whole lives?
Surinam is a small South American country with ties to both Indonesia and India. As a result, its cuisine features influences from both countries. You’ll find Surinamese dishes with curries and spices with distinctive Indian and Indonesian roots.
Our new favorite Surinamese dish are Surinamese Broodjes (sandwiches). How do I describe Surinamese Broodjes? They are curry sandwiches, usually chicken, served on fresh, soft rolls with a cucumber slice. So simple. So delicious. And I’m so hungry thinking about them.
We discovered Surinaamse broodjes at De Hapjeshoek inside the Amsterdam Metro station at Waterlooplein 6. Not only is the food incredible, but the staff took the time to explain Surinamese food to us.
It’s no secret Amber and I love our gin. A gin tonic made with an excellent Irish gin or especially Spanish gin brings a smile to our faces. Little did we know that after visiting Amsterdam, we’d become big fans of jenever, the Godfather of modern gin.
Jenever, Genevieve, or gin is overshadowed by more popular spirits such as whiskey, vodka, or tequila. That said, even if you don’t like gin, sampling jenever in Amsterdam is a must. The best place to sample jenever in Amsterdam is at Wynand Fockink. Dating back to 1679, Wynard Fockink produces dozens of flavored jenever, brandies, and liqueurs. The staff at Wynard Fockink is highly knowledgeable and will guide you in selecting the right spirit for you.
Pro Tips: Don’t try lifting your glass of jenever after its pours. Follow tradition and get low to sip from off of the counter. You might hear about if from the staff if you don’t.
Appeltaart is a traditional Dutch, sweet apple pie. It’s best enjoyed on the side of a fresh, steaming cup of Dutch coffee. Appeltaart is not quite the same as a classic American pie. It’s more dry compared to its American cousin. But don’t think this makes it less delicious.
The place to try appeltaart in Amsterdam is Winkel 43. Amber and I are huge dessert people, but their appeltaart could change that. They serve a huge slice of appeltaart topped with a sweet, but not sweet whipped cream. Winkel 43 is very busy so be prepared to wait. In the summer, they have tables set up outside to enjoy your appeltaart.
Everyone knows the most famous Dutch beers, Heineken and Amstel. But the Dutch also make incredible craft beer. Beer drinking is a popular pastime in Holland. If you find a bar with a nice view of the canals, do yourself a favor and stop in for a cold one.
In terms of craft beer bars in Amsterdam, there’s no shortage. In between sampling delicious Dutch treats, we visited a few craft beer bars. By far our favorite craft beer bar in Amsterdam is Gollem Craft Beers. Gollam has a large selection of Dutch and international craft beer. Their staff is super knowledgeable and friendly. There are a few locations around Amsterdam so keep an eye open.
Fried Food Frona FEBO
FEBO has some of the best fast food in Amsterdam. There, I’ve said it. Visiting a FEBO is one of our all-time favorite things to do in Amsterdam.
FEBO is a snack food chain that has become a staple to the locals in Amsterdam. These vending machines are not your typical vending machines. They are filled with freshly made Dutch snacks like bittenballen, kipburger, and frikandel. Food in a FEBO vending machine cost only a couple of euros making them ideal for budget travelers.
In all of our travels, Japan included, we’ve never seen anything like FEBO. It’s uniquely Dutch and a must-try when you are in Amsterdam. You’ll find several FEBO locations throughout Amsterdam with most locations open until 3:00 AM.
This traditional Dutch snack is a staple food in Amsterdam that originates from the North of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Frikandel is a meat snack that resembles a meatball crossed with sausage without skin and can be eaten hot or cold. They are deep-fried and served with a simple dip of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and diced raw onion.
You can pick these meaty snacks up from almost any food market or restaurant, and if you want them to take home, you can grab them cold and precooked in packets at the grocery store.
Kroketi is a traditional snack from the Netherlands similar to the classic French croquettes or even the potato snack you might have in the bottom of the freezer. However, they are usually filled with various ingredients like seafood, cheese, meat, and gravy before being rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
One of the most popular Kroketi you’ll find in Amsterdam is stuffed with ragout, a recipe found to date back to the 1830s. You can enjoy this Dutch snack in most Amsterdam restaurants as a sandwich or served with fries, and also at many bars as a snack.
Kaassouffle is one of the only vegetarian options for fast food in Amsterdam. Think oversized mozzarella stick. You’ll find kaassoufflebe at most FEBO stations in Amsterdam. It’s also a popular snack item at bars and restaurants. Kaassouffle comes in two shapes, rectangle or half-moon. They are filled with a range of ingredients including meat, cheese, and spinach.
You can probably imagine the smell when you walk through a street food market in Amsterdam during winter, deep-fried dough, stewed apples, cinnamon, and sugar. It’s what makes Amsterdam such a popular destination during the holiday season.
Appelbeignets are a Dutch snack often served around New Year. It’s a sweet treat that is somewhere between an apple pie and a doughnut, and they are served warm with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Peppernuts, otherwise known as Dutch cookies, are a tasty snack found in cafes and stores across Amsterdam. They have an exciting history linked to the Sinterklaas Festival. Peppernuts were initially made from scraps of gingerbread dough. With their gingerbread base, peppernuts come in a variety of flavors including chocolate, stroopwafel, and coconut.
Kibbeling is a tasty, fried fish that pairs perfectly with a pint of Dutch lager. The fish used in kibbeling is often off-cuts or leftover chunks of cod, hake, or pollock. The fish is battered and deep-fried. Kibbeling is often served with a dipping sauce, such as knoflook (garlic aioli), remoulade, or a vinegar-based sauce called ravigote. Having spent 3 years living in Spain, kibbeling reminded me of fried cod we used to enjoy.
Stamppot is a traditional Amsterdam dish made with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It’s a hearty dish, so you better be hungry. Vegetables such as endive, turnip, and kale are typically used. Another variation of stamppot is called hutspot. Hutspot is made with mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions. Both stamppot and hutspot are served with traditional smoked sausage.
This traditional Dutch food is a beef and onion stew, which is a popular meal served in Dutch homes for family meals. It’s a warming comfort food that is slow-cooked, so the meat falls apart in a rich, gravy-like sauce.
Sometimes referred to as hash, this dish has been around for thousands of years and used to be made using whatever leftovers the family had.
Nothing beats a homemade hachee, but if you want a quick fix, you’ll find this ready-made at most grocery stores around Amsterdam.
Stroopwafels are one of Amsterdam’s most famous sweet treats. You will find stroopwafels almost anywhere in Amsterdam. And that’s a good thing because they are delicious. One of Amsterdam’s must-eat food, stroopwafels are essentially a wafer-thin cookie-looking biscuit. Inside, you’ll find a sweet and tasty single layer of caramel.
Our tip for eating stroopwafels is very simple, eat them freshly made. But please, be careful. Freshly made stroopwafel can burn the roof of your mouth as well as your tongue.
No matter where you are in Amsterdam, but especially around street vendors or FEBO points, you’re likely to see patat frites or fried potatoes at pretty much all of them. Like fries, these thick potato sticks are cut into chunky finger-sized pieces before frying and seasoning.
Typically, you’ll find them served in a cone with mayonnaise, aioli, or any other kind of sauce you fancy. This is one fast food in Amsterdam you won’t struggle to find.
FAQs – Amsterdam Food Guide – What To Eat In Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands is also the food capital. Some of the most famous foods in Amsterdam include raw herring, stroopwafel, and bitterballen. Food in Amsterdam is heavily influenced from around the world including the famous rijsttafel.
The answer to this will depend on who you ask. In the Netherlands, several dishes qualify for the national dish. Raw herring, rijsttafel, and Guoda cheese are top contenders for this honor. However, the real answer is stamppot. Stamppot is a simple dish of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and smoked sausage.
Breakfast in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands is far different than breakfast in the United States. A typical breakfast in Amsterdam consists of bread with butter, cheese, and cured meats, like ham. Tea, coffee, and juice are the most typical drinks at breakfast.