There are countless kinds of borrelhapjes (literally translating to “drink snacks”), and that’s because beer goes very well with so many different types of food. From simple salted peanuts and bread with butter, to Dutch cheese with mustard… Every bar in Amsterdam offers a different selection of finger food. But Dutch people seem to have one favorite kind of borrelhapje: the deep-fried kind. Because nothing goes better with beer than hot, greasy bites, and almost every bar sells the basic selection of deep-fried hapjes. If you are wondering what stands behind the mysterious names, here is a short guide to the classics of Dutch beer snacks.
Bitterballen are perhaps the most popular beer snack in the Netherlands. Imagine crunchy breadcrumbs on the outside, and a soft, juicy meat ragù on the inside. But be careful! Bitterballen tend to be searingly hot in the middle. So don’t just carelessly pop one in your mouth immediately; first dip it in mustard and carefully bite a tiny piece off, so that the inside can cool down a little.
Ironically, a portion of French fries (frites) is a classic Dutch snack. If you’re lucky, you will be served homemade fries, which basically means thick strips of potato (often still with their skin on), deep fried and seasoned with spicy paprika. Dutch fries are always served with mayo, or a special mayo-based sauce (fritessaus). And, frankly, that’s the way it should be.
It’s hard to explain what frikandel really is, but it can be described as a sort of minced meat hot-dog. Traditionally it is served as a whole dish with French fries or on a bun topped with diced onion and curry ketchup, but sometimes you can also get pieces of frikandel when you order a mixed portion of deep-fried snacks (bittergarnituur).
Kaasstengels (cheese sticks) are my personal favorite. They are mozzarella sticks wrapped in a spring roll pastry and deep fried to the point where the pastry gets crunchy on the outside, and the cheese melts to a heavenly softness in the center. Served with sweet chili sauce, these are highly addictive.
The kipnuggets (chicken nuggets) served in Dutch bars are a much tastier version of MacDonald’s McNuggets. Usually served with (yes, you guessed it right) sweet chili sauce.
On the Hunt for Borrelhapjes
You can get borrelhapjes practically everywhere in Amsterdam, unless you go to a very fancy restaurant serving lobster croquettes as finger food. But if you are a borrelhapjes–newbie, here are some recommendations for where you can get tasty snacks in Amsterdam. Don’t forget to order a glass of local beer to go with them!
Brouwerij Troost – one of our favorite spots in de Pijp, this is a genuine Dutch brewery where they brew their own range of Dutch beers. Try a tasting flight to get the full experience, paired with plenty of tasty borrelhapjes. (Brouwerij Troost also features on our Twilight de Pjip Food Tour!)
Cornelis Troostplein 21
+31 (0)20 737 1028
Open: Mon – Thu 4 pm – 1 am; Fri 4 pm – 3 am; Sat 2 pm – 3 am; Sun 2 pm – 12 midnight
Café de Doffer – a real Jordanese brown café, Café de Doffer has been welcoming local clientele for decades, if not centuries. (Also features on our Jordaan Food Tour!)
+31 (0)20 622 6686
Open: Sun – Thu 12 noon – 3 am; Fri 12 noon – 4 am; Sat 11 am – 4 am
Cafe de Blaffende Vis – known for its amazing parties on King’s Day (the Dutch king’s birthday and a huge – and very orange – national holiday), Café de Blaffende Vis is the place to eat and drink like Dutch royalty!
+ 31 (0)20 625 1721
Opening times unknown
If you feel like the portions served in bars are not big enough, you can always invest in a deep fryer and get some frozen hapjes from the supermarket to indulge in your own greasy snack feast. But I would recommend reserving that option for some very special occasions and invite a couple of friends to share them with you!