Dutch cuisine is comprised of the foods, eating preferences and cooking methods and traditions from the Netherlands. Largely shaped by the practices of farming and fishing, Dutch cuisine also relies heavily on the rich soil for raising domesticated livestock as well as growing crops.
Over the centuries, several international influences have made their mark on “Nederlandse keuken” (Dutch for ‘Dutch cuisine’). When the Dutch came to the Netherlands to settle, as well as people of Eurasian descent, they naturally brought with them their culinary preferences. Also, after Indonesia gained its independence from Dutch colonial rule in the middle of the 20th century, Indo cuisine made its way into and blended in with Dutch cuisine.
Dutch cuisine traditionally has been noted for its straightforward and relatively simple composition. Many characterize it as “rustic”. It utilizes a wide variety of vegetables, dairy products and meats. A Dutch breakfast or lunch is quite Spartan in nature, often just some bread with spreads. The main meal, however, dinner time is a full hearty meal. Meats, potatoes, and vegetables that are in season.
Traditionally the Dutch people are hard workers. Laborers, needing lots of available energy for the day, called for a diet that was relatively high in fat and carbohydrates. So traditional Dutch cuisine is heavy with dairy products and potatoes. It is still today high in carbs and fats, quite simple and rather rustic, although lots of holidays call for fancier, special dishes.
Most recently, beginning in the twentieth century, Dutch cuisine has taken on somewhat of a modernization. In most major cosmopolitan cities especially, international cuisines are served in restaurants, and the influence of international dishes has found its way into the modern day cuisine of the Dutch people.
Here is a look at typical meal time fare in traditional Dutch Cuisine:
Breakfast and Lunch-
When the Dutch take their breakfasts and lunches, the fare is (traditionally) very simple and similar at both meal times. You are served bread, always, with sweet toppings, a large selection of meat cold cuts, and cheeses. The Dutch are known the world over for their fabulous cheeses, like Edam, Gouda, and Leyden, and of course for their specialty cheeses, which have herbs and spices blended in them.
Dutch bread for centuries was made from yeast dough. Hence, it tended to be quite light and airy. It is still made that way today, but beginning in about the 1970s other Dutch breads took on new characteristics. They began using whole grains and seeds – pumpkin or sunflower, usually – for added texture and flavor. The thickest, most dense bread in Dutch cuisine is their excellent rye bread.
Koffietijd (“Coffee Time”)
It has been tradition in the Netherlands for centuries to invite friends over to your house their version of the “coffee break” (koffietijd = coffee time, in Dutch). Koffietijd, which is served mid-morning, between 10 and 11am, typically consists of coffee a biscuit or slice of cake or a biscuit. Koffietijd can also be served during any other “between meals” times during the day, also. Between lunch and dinner, around 4pm, or even after dinner, between 7 and 8pm.
You don’t have to wait for a formal koffietijd to have some coffee, either, if you are Dutch. They take coffee all throughout the day, often with a snack of just one biscuit. The Dutch are traditionally a very thrifty people and, as such, have a conservative attitude toward snacking. It has been the standard rule for hundreds of years that you are permitted one biscuit per each cup of coffee.
Coffee is not the only beverage of choice. Café au lait is also quite popular. Called koffie verkeerd – which translates literally into “wrong coffee” – it is comprised of equal portions of hot, foamy milk and black coffee. The Dutch also take tea very often. Their tea however, is much weaker than English tea, and it is taken without adding milk to it. Other popular hot drinks are warm lemonade, hot milk with aniseed, and hot chocolate.
Dutch dinners are served early when compared to many other international cultures. The main meal is taken right around 6pm, or even earlier. Traditionally a Dutch dinner would be very simple, and consist of just one, main and large course. Always a dish made with vegetables, potatoes and meat. This meal is known as the AVG (an acronym for Aardappelen, Vlees, Groente). In the traditional past, true to the Dutch thrifty nature, the AVG would be largely vegetables and potatoes with just a small amount of (the more expensive) meat. The potatoes and vegetables might be served as a stew, and the meat often served with a gravy.
With the recent modernization of Dutch cuisine, however, the very simple traditional dinner meal has become less popular and prevalent. In the Netherlands today, dinner can include several courses, with recipes influenced by international cuisines. Quite often dinner will start with a nice hot soup before the other, heavier courses are served.
Below is a list of traditional, authentic recipes. For your convenience, each dish is hyperlinked. Click on the dish of your choice and you will be taken to a print-friendly page with just that recipe on it. So have fun now, off you go into the rich tradition of delicious …
Boerenkool Stamppot (Delicious sausage and greens dish – a real comfort food)
Dutch Croquettes (Breaded meat dumplings)
Gehakt Ballen (Dutch Meatballs)
Hutspot with Meat (Boiled potato, carrot and onion mash, served with beef or pork)
Oliebollen (Traditional Dutch Donuts)
Slavinken (Minced pork and beef, spiced, wrapped with bacon and deep fried)
Contact us and/or Join Our Mailing List
(We respect your privacy. Subscribers’ info are not shared with anyone. EVER)