The Best Local Foods to Eat in Amsterdam

Table of contents:

The Best Local Foods to Eat in Amsterdam

Ready to learn more about The Best Local Foods to Eat in Amsterdam to get a taste of my experience there?

The true essence of Amsterdam isn’t just in its picturesque canals or the buzz of its cultural scene, but also in the flavors of its traditional dishes. Imagine biting into a stroopwafel, its caramel filling warm and gooey, right from a local market stand, or savoring the crisp exterior of a bitterballen before reaching its hearty, meaty center.

These are the tastes that define Amsterdam’s culinary heritage. When you visit, make sure to indulge in these iconic treats. Let’s dive into the culinary journey that awaits in Amsterdam and uncover the top local dishes that will make your trip unforgettable.

In Amsterdam, stroopwafels are not just a sweet treat; they’re a reflection of Dutch baking finesse. These syrupy delights, initially crafted in Gouda during the 18th century, have become a staple in Amsterdam’s food scene.

Another must-try is bitterballen, a deep-fried savory snack filled with a mixture of chopped meat, broth, butter, flour, and spices, often served with mustard for dipping. It’s a common fixture in Dutch pubs and a perfect accompaniment to a cold beer.

But the culinary adventure doesn’t stop there. Feast on haring, a raw herring fish typically served with onions and pickles, a recipe that dates back to the Dutch Golden Age. For cheese aficionados, a visit to Amsterdam would be incomplete without tasting Gouda, named after the city in the Netherlands. Be sure to try it in different ages – from young and creamy to old and crumbly.

To understand why these foods are significant, it’s essential to appreciate their roots in Dutch culture. Stroopwafels represent the ingenuity of Dutch bakers, bitterballen the convivial pub culture, haring the maritime history, and Gouda the rich cheese-making tradition. These dishes are more than just food; they are a gateway to understanding Amsterdam’s history and way of life.

As you wander through Amsterdam, let your palate guide you through the city’s storied streets. Sample poffertjes, small fluffy pancakes, at a cozy café or enjoy a hearty erwtensoep, a thick pea soup that’s particularly popular during the colder months. Amsterdam’s culinary landscape is a tapestry woven with tradition and taste, waiting to be discovered by those eager to explore it.


Stroopwafels, a Dutch favorite, are delightful waffle cookies with a thin, crisp layer and a rich caramel center. These sweets are essential to try in Amsterdam. Their popularity stems from the different ways you can enjoy them, such as in ice cream or as part of a milkshake. The contrast between the crunchy waffle and the sweet, sticky caramel offers a distinctive taste experience.

For the best stroopwafels in Amsterdam, Albert Cuyp Market is a must-visit. This vibrant market is a feast for the senses, with an assortment of street food, including stroopwafels made on the spot. The scent of warm waffles is irresistible.

Lanskroon, a quaint bakery in Amsterdam’s core, is another spot famous for its stroopwafels. Established in 1902, this family-run bakery has mastered the stroopwafel, evidenced by the harmonious blend of crunchy waffle and smooth caramel in every bite.

Amsterdam is the place to savor stroopwafels, whether you stick to the traditional recipe or explore different dessert forms. Don’t pass up the chance to treat yourself to this authentic Dutch confection when you’re in the city.


When visiting Amsterdam, you simply can’t skip the chance to savor Bitterballen, a cherished Dutch snack. These savory morsels, which date back to the 1800s, are a testament to Dutch culinary ingenuity, utilizing leftover meats to craft something delicious. Nowadays, they boast an array of flavors, from classic beef to innovative vegetarian options.

The secret to their irresistible nature lies in the contrast between the crunchy breadcrumb shell and the soft, flavorful center. It’s the kind of snack that perfectly encapsulates Amsterdam’s taste traditions.

To experience Bitterballen as the locals do, make your way to a traditional pub or ‘bruin café.’ Notably, Café de Klos, Café Luxembourg, and De Ballenbar are renowned for their exemplary versions of the snack.

Enhance the enjoyment of Bitterballen with a chilled Dutch beer. This pairing isn’t just a casual suggestion—it’s a cultural ritual, combining the crispiness of the snack with the cool refreshment of the beer.


Herring plays an integral role in Dutch gastronomy and is particularly prominent in Amsterdam’s diverse food landscape. This fish, celebrated for its rich flavor and nutritional value, is a common sight in the city’s eateries and markets.

Locals in Amsterdam often enjoy herring as ‘haring’, a delicacy involving raw, marinated herring fillets. The marinade, a simple blend of salt and vinegar, enhances the herring’s natural taste. Served with onions and pickles, the herring can be savored solo or sandwiched in a bun. A unique Dutch tradition involves eating the haring by holding it by the tail and taking bites, which allows a full appreciation of its taste.

The benefits of herring extend beyond its taste. It’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health and can help lower the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, herring offers a high-quality protein and a wealth of vitamins and minerals, contributing to a well-rounded diet.

Herring isn’t just a meal but a cultural experience in Amsterdam. Both food enthusiasts and those eager to immerse themselves in local traditions shouldn’t pass up the chance to try herring. Given its role in Dutch culture and its health advantages, herring is a favored choice for both residents and visitors. Therefore, when you find yourself in Amsterdam, indulge in the rich taste and nutritional benefits of this celebrated fish.

Pea Soup

Pea soup, a staple of Amsterdam’s culinary offerings, stands out as a warming dish, especially favored during the Netherlands’ chilly winter months. Here’s why pea soup is an essential dish to savor in Amsterdam:

  1. Depth of Taste: Crafted with split peas, an assortment of vegetables, and either smoked pork or sausage, Amsterdam’s pea soup delivers a depth of taste with a hint of smokiness that captivates the taste buds.
  2. Nutritional Value: This soup isn’t just about taste; it’s a nutrient-packed meal featuring peas, potatoes, and carrots. It offers a sustaining meal to fuel your adventures through Amsterdam’s picturesque streets and canals.
  3. Inclusive Varieties: Amsterdam’s eateries are mindful of diverse dietary preferences, providing a vegetarian pea soup that rivals the traditional version in flavor. Smoked tofu or tempeh often replaces meat, ensuring this classic dish is accessible to all.
  4. Cultural Immersion: Relishing pea soup in Amsterdam connects you to Dutch culture. It’s commonly paired with rye bread and bacon, offering a glimpse into the traditional Dutch dining experience.

Amsterdam’s pea soup is more than just a dish; it’s a reflection of the city’s heritage and a must-have for anyone seeking to experience local flavors and customs. Enjoying a bowl of this soup is a way to participate in a long-standing Dutch tradition and to understand the city’s character through its cuisine.


In our journey through Amsterdam’s culinary scene, we’re savoring the classic Dutch specialty: poffertjes. These tiny, puffy pancakes, beloved across the Netherlands, are crafted from a simple mixture containing flour, eggs, milk, and a key ingredient—yeast. This last component is crucial as it infuses the pancakes with their signature airy quality. Cooked in a specialized poffertjes pan with shallow depressions, they emerge as petite, evenly browned rounds.

Poffertjes stand out for their versatility in toppings. Sweet-toothed individuals might sprinkle them with powdered sugar and add a pat of butter, while those favoring savory can top them with cheese, crisp bacon, or smoked salmon. This interplay of flavors elevates the humble pancake to a culinary delight.

Now, to distinguish poffertjes from their larger cousin, the pancake: Though their batters share common ingredients, the yeast in poffertjes imparts a unique, slightly sour note. Their diminutive size not only makes them charming but also enhances the taste experience. Their fluffiness is another distinction, a trait that wins over both residents and visitors.

To truly appreciate poffertjes, one must understand their cultural significance. They’re not just food; they’re a symbol of Dutch heritage. This is partly why they’re such a hit at local markets and festivals. When you bite into a poffertje, you’re tasting a piece of the Netherlands—a country that prides itself on its rich culinary traditions.


Oliebollen are a quintessential part of Dutch gastronomy, originating from the Netherlands. These deep-fried delights are renowned for their crispy shell and soft, airy center, and are traditionally served with a liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar. A visit to Amsterdam isn’t complete without tasting oliebollen, and here’s why:

Firstly, oliebollen are steeped in Dutch history. These pastries boast a rich heritage dating back to the Middle Ages, embodying a piece of the Netherlands’ culinary soul.

Secondly, they’re a seasonal treat, mainly associated with winter festivities and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Sharing oliebollen is a way to partake in local customs and enjoy a taste of Dutch holiday spirit.

Thirdly, oliebollen come in various flavors. Beyond the classic recipe with raisins, you’ll find choices ranging from chocolate to apple, catering to diverse tastes and preferences.

Lastly, the taste of oliebollen is truly captivating. The crisp shell contrasts beautifully with the tender interior, and the sugary topping adds the perfect finish to these delightful pastries.

In essence, oliebollen aren’t just a treat; they’re a cultural experience and a testament to the Dutch tradition of enjoying good food in good company.

Dutch Cheese

Dutch cheese, renowned for its full-bodied taste and long-standing heritage, is a highlight for anyone exploring Amsterdam’s culinary scene. The city’s landscape is speckled with inviting cheese shops that showcase an array of tasty cheeses for both tasting and purchasing.

At the heart of Amsterdam, De Kaaskamer stands out as a preeminent destination for cheese lovers. This welcoming establishment features an extensive collection of Dutch cheeses, including the smooth Gouda and the sharp Edam, catering to a diverse range of preferences. The staff at De Kaaskamer, well-versed in cheese varieties, are keen to lead patrons through a tailored cheese tasting, offering insights into the characteristics of each cheese and suggesting complementary pairings.

Another essential stop for cheese aficionados is Reypenaer Proeflokaal. Beyond selling exquisite cheeses, this distinctive venue conducts cheese tasting workshops. Participants gain insight into the artisanal cheese-crafting process and explore a selection of matured cheeses, each with a unique taste signature. The cheese connoisseurs at Reypenaer Proeflokaal are dedicated to their art and eager to impart their expertise to visitors.

These shops not only celebrate the rich tradition of Dutch cheese-making but also serve as educational hubs where one can deepen their understanding of this delectable art form.


In the bustling culinary landscape of Amsterdam, Pannekoeken stands out as a cherished treat. Here’s why these traditional Dutch pancakes are a must-try:

Firstly, Pannekoeken offer an impressive variety of tastes. You can savor the classic combo of bacon and cheese or opt for something more exotic like apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The wide range caters to all palates.

Secondly, these pancakes are known for their hearty size. Unlike the standard pancake, Pannekoeken are notably larger, providing a satisfying and substantial meal. You can expect to leave the table full and content.

Thirdly, those with dietary needs aren’t left out. Amsterdam’s eateries frequently serve gluten-free Pannekoeken, enabling everyone to partake in this culinary joy without gluten concerns.

Lastly, savoring Pannekoeken is a dive into Dutch culture. The pancake houses of Amsterdam exude a warm, inviting ambiance, offering a genuine local dining experience.

Indulging in Pannekoeken isn’t just about enjoying a meal; it’s embracing an integral piece of the Netherlands’ gastronomic heritage. The experience is enriched by the diverse flavors, generous servings, inclusive options, and the cultural ambiance that these establishments provide.

Did you like reading about the The Best Local Foods to Eat in Amsterdam?
Share blog post:

Read the complete travel guide of Amsterdam

Related articles about Amsterdam