The Most Popular Dutch Desserts & Sweets
Two of the things the Netherlands is most famous for are their cows, milk and cheese. So it will probably not be a surprise that a lot of popular desserts are the milky ones. However, there are also other products that deserve a spot in this list of 10 popular Dutch desserts. Let’s have a look.
The variety of desserts has increased immensely in the last two decades and companies keep introducing new flavours and options. Some brands introduce a new flavour every month and if it sells well, it becomes part of their range.
The most popular choice for a dessert after dinner is vla, which translates as custard. It is sold in 1 liter packs for pouring into your dessert bowl. It is a bit thicker than yogurt due to the corn starch used, but is not as firm as pudding. Dutch parents often tell their children they won’t get any vla if they don’t eat their dinner!
Vla comes in many flavours, for example, vanilla and chocolate, but you can also find a combination called dubbelvla. Don’t shake the package though, however tempted you may be as your dessert will look less appetizing.
Special varieties are often sold for special occasions, such as Wintervla (special flavours, often with cinnamon) and Oranjevla, which is orange and, as that is the national color, it can be found around the time of the European and World Football Championships. In the past few years many more varieties have been introduced so there should be one to everybody’s taste.
2. Krentjebrij of watergruwel
This Dutch dessert was first documented in 1695. It can be eaten hot or cold and is made with water, grit, berry juice, raisins, currants, lemon juice, and sugar.
Like vla, it is sold in 1 liter packs. Also, it has a very loyal group of fans; when the manufacturer announced production would be stopped, there was a nationwide protest, after which another company took over production.
Vlaflip is a combination of yogurt or vla (custard) with lemonade syrup, possibly sprinkled with chocoladehagelslag.
It combines the sour taste of yogurt with the sweetness of vla, lemonade, and chocolate sprinkles. Years ago it was hand made as a treat, but today you can find it in 1 liter packs, just like vla and yogurt.
Vlaai is a sweet pie that is mostly eaten in the southern part of the Netherlands (Limburg). The dough is made with yeast and is filled with a variety of things: fruit, such as strawberries, cherries or apple, rice or semolina. The upper part can either be a crumble or a grid of dough.
Vlaai can be eaten off a plate but it should be firm enough to eat it with the hand.
Kwark is soft cheese and contains more protein than other dairy products due to it being drained until it contains less than 87% water.
It can be bought plain and or combined with fruit such as banana or berries. It is also sold with added flavours such as vanilla, peach, blueberry, strawberry or cherry. Another option is stracciatella kwark, with crispy little pieces of chocolate.
Pudding is a firm custard that holds its shape when tipped onto a plate. It is often sold as a special treat, in a pack shaped like a Bundt pan. You open the package, pierce the bottom so the pudding comes out easily and turn it upside down onto a plate. There is often some sauce left in the bottom that drips satisfyingly onto the top of the pudding.
The number of flavours is almost endless. Vanilla with strawberry sauce, Dame Blanche with chocolate sauce, brownie or Chipolata (a combination of sweet raisins, pineapple, orange, and papaya).
Chocolademousse (chocolate mousse) is considered more as a treat than as a healthy dessert. It is made from chocolate with whipped cream and egg whites. Sometimes a little sugar is added too.
Although already containing whipped cream, an extra dollop on the top enhances the flavour and appearance.
This (originally French) pudding is made with eggs and gelatin. It is very airy due to the whipped cream.
The name of this dessert is French and not easily pronounced, so when it was introduced onto the Dutch market, they produced a very funny commercial with a child learning how to pronounce it.
Griesmeelpap is rather like a porridge made with semolina. Milk, sugar, vanilla sugar, and semolina are cooked together until it thickens. It can be eaten hot or cold and is delicious with some red berry juice over the top.
10. Crème brûlée
This is of course a traditional French dessert, but it’s also highly popular in the Netherlands. It is easy to make, with cream, milk, sugar, and egg yolks. It is served in a small bowl with caramelized sugar on top.
This Italian dessert has become very popular over the last decade. Made with lady fingers, cacao, and mascarpone, it is an easy and fun dessert to make with children.
Although the classic tiramisu recipe is made with coffee, in the Netherlands chocolate milk is often used to soak the lady fingers in, making it more appealing to kids.
12. IJs en ijsjes
IJs (ice cream) is often served on special occasions, for example, on a summer barbecue or Christmas dinner. For the summer, a wide range of ices are popular, such as Magnum or Cornetto, but also water-based ice creams on a stick (popsicle).
For Christmas and other special dinners it is customary to serve a scoop or two of ice cream, sometimes accompanied by fruit, sauce or whipped cream. Ice cream bars are sold year round and only require cutting into slices before serving, but there are also special ice creams for Christmas shaped as a snowman or reindeer.
A classic ice cream dessert is the Dame Blanche. It is made with two scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream with hot chocolate sauce. Sometimes it is accompanied by fruit such as banana.
Cheese is popular, but is not commonly eaten as a dessert at home in the Netherlands. It is usually served in restaurants and on special occasions such as Christmas and parties.
It is common to serve several varieties of cheese with some bread (nut or date bread) or crackers or baguette accompanied by chutney or jam. Often fresh and dried fruits are added too, to cleanse the palette between the cheeses.
Popular choices are hard Dutch cheeses from cow’s milk, such as Gouda and Edam, as well as goat’s cheeses, both hard and soft. Often French cheeses are also served, such as camembert, epoisses, roquefort etc.
14. Pavlova and Eton mess
Pavlova and Eton mess are not everyday desserts, but they are fun to make together with the children. The only difference between pavlova and Eton mess is that the latter is served in a bowl or a glass while the former is served on a plate.
The meringue can be decorated with a whole number of different things, all topped off with a good layer of whipped cream.
Fruit is a popular option, but for kids parties it is not unheard of to bake small Pavlovas and use M&Ms and other small chocolates.
15. Lava cake
Mostly served at restaurants, lava cakes are a popular choice for dessert. If made correctly, the molten chocolate (lava) comes out streaming when the small round chocolate cake it opened up. It can be decorated with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles or a scoop of ice cream.
This rather sour dessert is a popular among people who want to keep down their sugar intake. To make yogurt, the milk is fermented, changing its taste and viscosity.
Plain yogurt can be found in different varieties. There is non-fat yogurt and roomyogurt (which is creamy with 5-8% fat) and everything in between.
Different flavours have become more popular over the last few years. The most popular are made with fruit, such as peach, strawberry, and forest fruits. Another popular choice is vanilleyogurt.
Which is your favourite?
Now you know what the most popular desserts in the Netherlands are. Dutch cuisine has been influenced by other countries, just like the language. Still, for most people, a milky dessert is the option of choice as they are considered healthy due to the protein and calcium.
Have you ever tasted any of them? Do you have a favorite?
Related: Most Popular Dutch Foods