Borrelhapjes are traditionally eaten in the Netherlands alongside a round of drinks with friends – partly due to their uncanny ability to soak up large quantities of alcohol. Most Dutch pubs have a special menu set aside for these deep-fried snacks and often cook their own homemade borrelhapjes. Here’s a roundup of the most common, iconic and delicious borrelhapjes in the Netherlands.
Bitterballen are a traditional type of Dutch meatball that is usually served with a mild, almost sweet mustard. Theses crispy, deep-fried snacks are covered in a crunchy outer shell which is filled with molten beef and a savory ragù sauce. During public holidays or football matches, people will often stick miniature Dutch flags into bitterballen as a symbol of national pride.
Although a large number of borrelhapjes contain meat, there are several exceptions and many Dutch pubs serve vegetarian fried snacks. Kaassoufflé, for example, often appears on menus and usually only contains cheese, pastry and oil. This crusty delight is commonly served with saté, a peanut-based sauce with a slightly spicy edge.
Regular krokets are basically elongated bitterballen and contain the same meaty ingredients. Many pubs serve miniature versions of these tasty, cylindrical snacks and they often appear mixed into a pile of assorted borrelhapjes. Due to their peculiar shape, mini-krokets can be torn open and used as a dipping pot for other snacks.
Modern Dutch cuisine has strong ties to Indonesian food, and many dishes from Southeast Asia have made their way to the Netherlands due to colonization and immigration. Loempias, for example, are extremely popular in the Netherlands and have become a staple part of the national diet. Pubs tend to serve several types of loempias and often have vegetarian varieties that are filled with carrots, cabbage and other vegetables.
Kaasloempias are a special type of loempia that are filled with molten Gouda cheese rather than meat or vegetables. Like other typical borrelhapjes, kaasloempias are deep-fried – a cooking method that melts their cheesy core while giving their outer layer a distinctive crunch. These delicious rolls are usually served with a small bowl of chili sauce for dipping.
Normal sized frikendel are traditionally eaten alongside a portion of fries and topped with grilled onions and curry ketchup. Their smaller counterparts are commonly thrown into a pile and eaten by hand in pubs throughout the Netherlands. These snacks resemble miniature sausages and have an almost spicy taste.
Although kaas blokjes aren’t fried, they are definitely within the same culinary field as other borrelhapjes. This dish translates into English as ‘little cheese blocks’ and unsurprisingly consists of cubed pieces of cheese. Usually, these blocks are made of Gouda or Edam and come with a small helping of mustard.