A Guide To Dutch Christmas Foods

Soeculaas | © Franklin Heijnen / Flickr
Tom Coggins

With the festive season almost upon us we decided to put together a list of Dutch seasonal specialties that are guaranteed to win over even the most steadfast Scrooge. All of these delicious snacks, drinks and dishes exude yuletide cheer and radiate warming, Christmassy aromas.


These thin, crunchy cookies are laced with a handful of delicious spices that give them a distinctive flavor that is somewhere between a British gingernut biscuit and Germany’s anise infused springerle cakes. Speculaas is typically eaten during Sinterklaas, but generally start appearing in Dutch supermarkets around October. They are often baked into festive shapes or made to resemble objects that are traditionally associated with the Netherlands, such as windmills or clogs.

Fresh speculaas

Gevulde Speculaas

Two types of gevuld speculaas


At the start of the Christmas season Dutch pubs begin to sell a delicious type of mulled wine called glühwein. This warming drink is significantly more peppery than other European variants and contains traditional Dutch spices like anise, nutmeg and cinnamon. These aromatic ingredients are boiled with red wine and the resulting beverage is then served up with a slice of orange or an aniseed star. A waft of glühwein smells like christmas and guzzling down a glass or two will immediately remedy the winter shivers.


Oliebollen literally translates to English as oil balls and resemble large, spherical doughnuts covered in delicious molten fat and powdered sugar. Obviously, these greasy treats are exceptionally calorific and should be approached with caution, as it is extremely easy to end up scoffing down a whole tray of oliebollen before even realizing it. Over Christmas, hundreds of oliebollen street vendors pop up around the Netherlands and prepare these tasty pastries from inside dedicated food trucks.

A bowl of oliebollen


Traditionally, pepernoten came in many shapes and sizes but are now usually baked into thick, penny-sized discs. The cookies taste very similar to speculaas and contain almost the same ingredients. However, pepernoten have a pronounced tang and crunch that differentiates them from speculaas. Dutch stores tend to sell pepernoten by the bag full and it is common to see the cookies covered in chocolate or marzipan.

Pepernoten with other candy


Kerststol is an oval shaped sweet bread that is filled with large chunks of almond paste and dried fruit. Bakers first create a sugary dough and then add sultanas, raisins, brandy and lemon zest. Afterwards this mixture is rolled over a slab of marzipan, creating a swiss roll-like concoction which is baked until its outer crust is crispy and brown. Kerststol’s filling remains soft and fluffy after taking it out of the oven and its center should be deliciously gooey. People often glaze it with poedersuiker (confectionary sugar) and eat Kerststol with a glass of seasonal beer or wine.

Kerststol straigjht from the oven


Although this dish is eaten all year round in the Netherlands, during the colder months stammpot becomes the staple meal of many Dutch households. The idea behind stamppot is cunningly simple and revolves around northern Europe’s favorite vegetable: the humble potato. This starchy base is pounded into a fine mash and then mixed with other boiled vegetables such as kale, carrots or peas -a process that adds a dash of color to the potatoes. Several types of meat are usually served on top of these mashed ingredients and stammpot is often garnished with lashings of thick gravy.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article