The Dutch are famous for their dairy products and especially for their (cow milk) cheeses. The vast majority of Dutch cheeses are semi-hard or hard cheeses. Famous Dutch cheeses include Goudse, Edammer, Leidse cheeses. A typically Dutch way of making cheese is the blending in of herbs or spices during the first stages of the production process. Famous examples are cheeses with cloves (usually the Frisian nagelkaas), cumin and caraway (most famously Leyden cheese), or nettle.
Dutch bread tends to be very airy, as it is made from yeast dough. From the 1970s onward Dutch bread became predominantly whole grain, with often additional seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds mixed with the dough for taste. Rye bread is one of the few dense breads of the Netherlands. White bread used to be the luxury bread, often made with milk besides water. A Frisian luxury version of white bread is sugarbread, white bread with large lumps of sugar mixed with the dough.
Apart from cheese, the Dutch also use meat products and sweets on their bread. Typically Dutch use sweets like hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), molasses, and peanut butter. Regionally popular hearty meats include bloedworst, dried sausage and uierboord, made from (Cow) udders.
The Dutch drink coffee and tea throughout the day, often served with one simple biscuit. Dutch thrift led to the famous standard rule of only one cookie with each cup of coffee; it has been suggested that the reasons for this can be found in the trade-mentality and Protestant upbringing. A popular Dutch story (that has never been confirmed) says that in the late 1940s then-Prime minister Willem Drees's wife served this to a visiting American diplomat, who then became convinced that the money from the Marshall Plan was well-spent. Café au lait is also drunk often. It is called Koffie verkeerd (Coffee-the-wrong-way-around also referred to as 'milk with a cloud of coffee'). Other hot drinks include Kwast (warm water with the juice of a lemon), anijsmelk (hot milk with anise) and the very popular hot chocolate or chocolate milk .
Dutch invite friends over for "koffietijd" (coffee time), which consists of coffee and cake or a biscuit, and is served between 10 and 11 a.m. (before lunch).
Dinner, traditionally served early for international standards, starts at about 6 o'clock in the evening. The classical Dutch dinner consists of one simple course: traditionally potatoes, with vegetables and meat and gravy, or a stew wherein potatoes and vegetables have been mixed. If there is an entrée, it is usually a soup. Current Dutch dinner is often heavily influenced by foreign kitchen. Amalgamies of foreign dishes such as Italian pastas, Indonesian meat and rice dishes, Mexican enchiladas, Swiss cheese fondue are commonly encountered on the Dutch dinner table and on the menus of local restaurants. The final course is a sweet dessert. Traditionally yoghurt with some sugar or vla (cooked milk with custard).
Some classical typical Dutch dishes include stamppot (Dutch stew) and pea soup. Famous stamppotten include:
Hutspot, made of potatoes, onions and carrots served with slow-cooked meat or bacon. This is a legacy of the Spanish invaders, who left a pot of hutspot in their trenches outside the hungering besieged town of Leiden in 1574. When the city was liberated, this stew was one the first food its inhabitants found. Before potatoes were used in Europe hutspot was made of parsnips, carrots and onions.
Boerenkoolstamppot, kale mixed with potatoes, served with gravy, mustard and rookworst.
Stamppot rauwe andijvie, raw endive mashed through hot potatoes, served with diced fried speck.
Hete Bliksem, boiled potatoes and green apples, served with "stroop" (syrup) or tossed with diced speck
Zuurkoolstamppot, sauerkraut mashed with potatoes. Served with fried bacon or a sausage. Sometimes curry powder, raisins or slices of pineapple are used to give a stamppot an exotic touch.
Stews are often served with mixed pickle, including zure zult or stewed pears (stoofperen).
The meat products include meatballs, blinde vink, minced meat wrapped in bacon, balkenbrij, a type of liverwurst and meatloaf. The gravy in which the meat is produced is also eaten. A variant of this, eaten around the IJsselmeer, is butter en eek, where vinegar is added to the gravy.
If a dish consists of beans/potatoes, meat and vegetables, these vegetables are sometimes served as a stew, like "rode kool met appeltjes" (red cabbage with apples), or "rode bieten" (red beets). Regular spices used in this kind of stews may be Bay Laurel, Juniperus communis berries, cloves and vinegar.
Dinner can also be pancakes. The Dutch make them in several forms, including poffertjes (miniature pancakes) and spekdik (a Northern variant with bacon). Wentelteefjes are similar. Broeder, a type of cake, is also eaten for dinner, mainly in West Friesland.
Desserts often include vla, pudding or yoghurt. Regional variants include broodpap, made from old bread, griesmeelpudding, grutjespap, Haagse bluf, Hangop, Jan in de zak, Karnemelksepap, Rijstebrij (rice pudding), Krentjebrij, and Watergruwel.
Traditionally wine has received a modest role in Dutch cuisine, but there are many brands of beer (mainly lager) and strong alcoholic liquor. The most famous Dutch beer producers are Heineken in the west and Grolsch in the east. Also a variety of bitters where Beerenburg is the most famous. Strong liquors include Jenever and Brandewijn, but also kandeel (made from white wine), Kraamanijs (a liquor made from anise), Oranjebitter (a type of orange brandy, which is served on festivities surrounding the royal family), advocaat, Boerenjongens, raisins on brandewijn, Boerenmeisjes, apricot on brandewijn.
Whipped cream cake, a very popular Dutch cake
Oliebollen, a Dutch pastry eaten on New Year's Eve.On special occasions, pastries are eaten.
When a baby is born in a family, the young parents traditionally serve their guests beschuit met muisjes (Dutch rusk covered with sugared aniseed).
The Dutch festival of Sinterklaas (dedicated to Saint Nicolas) is held on the 5 December. Special pastries are made and are distributed by his aide Zwarte Piet, they include pepernoten (gingernut-like biscuits but made with cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg mix of spices), letters made from chocolate, marzipan, borstplaat (discs of fondant); and several types of spiced cookies: taai-taai, speculaas and kruidnoten, banketstaaf, made from almond meal
On New Year's Eve, Dutch houses smell of piping hot oil deep fryers in which oliebollen, appelflappen and appelbeignets (battered apple rings) are prepared. These yeast dough balls, filled with glacé fruits, pieces of apple and raisins and sultanas, are served with powdered sugar and are a treat especially for New Year's Eve. The Dutch also brought their oliebollen to America, where they are now known in a slightly different form as donuts.
On birthdays all kinds of cakes and cookies are eaten, including appeltaart, Bossche bol, dikke koek, cream cake, Fryske dumkes, gevulde koek (cookies filled with almond meal), Groninger koek, Janhagel, Ketelkoek, Kindermanstik, Knieperties, Krakeling, Krentenwegge, Kruidkoek, Limburgse vlaai, Nonnevotten, Ouwewijvenkoek, peperkoek, Rijstekoek, Spekkoek (from Indonesia), Sprits, Tompouce, Trommelkoek, Bitterkoekjes, Kletskop and Stroopwafel.
A famous Dutch sweet is Drop (liquorice). Dutch drop is sold in a large variety of shapes and forms. Drop can be either sweet or salty (or very salty). It is sometimes flavored with coconut fondant (Engelse drop or English drop), honey (honingdrop), mint (muntdrop), salmiak (salmiakdrop), or laurel (laurierdrop). Typical shapes are lozenges, ovals, oblongs and coins. Honeycombs for honeydrop are also familiair. Some brands have introduced ranges of typically shaped drop after: cars (autodrop), farm animals and machines (boerderijdrop) etc.
The Dutch have their own types of fastfood. A Dutch fastfood meal often consists of a portion of french fries (called friet or patat) with a sauce and a meat product. The most common sauce to accompany French fries is mayonaise, while others can be ketchup or spiced ketchup, peanut sauce or piccalilli. Sometimes the fries are served with combinations of sauces, most famously speciaal (special): mayonnaise, with (spiced) ketchup and chopped onions; and oorlog (literally "war"): mayonnaise and peanut sauce (sometimes also with ketchup and chopped onions). The meat product is usually a deep fried snack; this includes the frikandel (a deep fried skinless minced meat sausage), and the kroket (deep fried meat ragout covered in breadcrumbs).
A smaller version of the kroket, the bitterbal, is often served as a snack in bars and official receptions with mustard. Regional snacks include eierbal (a combination of egg and ragout) in the North and East, and Brabants worstenbrood, a sausage baked in bread. Other snacks are the Indonesian-inspired bamihap (deepfried bread encrusted mee goreng), and the nasibal (deepfried bread encrusted nasi goreng).
Another kind of fastfood is fish. This includes raw herring, which is sold and eaten (often with chopped onions) in markets, by lifting the herring high in the air by its tail, and eating it upwards, or (less messy) on a bun. Another regular fish snack is "kibbeling"; deep fried nugget sized chunks of cod, smoked eel and rollmops.