Handy Substitutes for Traditional Dutch Ingredients

What to Do When You Can't Find a Traditional Dutch Ingredient

Vanilla Beans with Vanilla Sugar in Bowl
Can't find Dutch vanillesuiker? Make your own. Schon & Probst/Getty Images

Dutch recipes often have ingredients that can be pretty hard to find outside of the Netherlands. Many are available online, but that can be a hassle and generally requires planning far in advance. So when you're stuck and cannot find that traditional Dutch ingredient, here are some simple substitutions.

Dutch Ingredient Substitutions

  • Amandelspijs (sweet almond paste used in Dutch baking): You can easily make your own amandelspijs with simple ingredients or order it ready-made online.
  • Dutch Brandy: You can use cognac for pretty much any recipe requiring Dutch brandy. Strictly speaking, cognac is simply aged brandy.
  • Goudreinetten (apple pie apples): A great option would be Bramley apples, or whatever your local variety of cooking apples are. You want a crispy, tart apple. A good local fruit monger should be able to help you on your way.
  • Hagelslag (sandwich sprinkles): Similar chocolate sprinkles are available for decorating cakes, but you can also order hagelslag from an online retailer like the Dutch Epicure Shop Bakery.
  • Koekkruiden: This requires the same spices as speculaaskruiden minus the cloves. You can easily make your own speculaaskruiden or order online.
  • Smoked mackerel: If a recipe requires smoked mackerel you can use another local oily fish variety, smoked of course.
  • Smoked eel: While the texture will be different, like smoked mackerel, you can use another local oily fish variety (smoked) for a recipe.
  • Speculaaskruiden (a spice mix used in Dutch baking): Speculaaskruiden is most famous for speculaas cookies, but can be found on the ingredients list for other delicious baked goods. You can get a good result using pumpkin pie spices, but it will taste more authentically Dutch if you make your own speculaaskruiden or order online.
  • Vanillesuiker (vanilla sugar): Many Dutch recipes call for sachets of vanilla sugar that are sold in American supermarkets, but you can also make your own using 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for every 1 tablespoon of sugar (which is about the equivalent of a sachet). You can also make your own more traditional vanilla sugar by placing a vanilla pod in a jam jar of white sugar and leaving to infuse for a few weeks to infuse.
  • Zaanse mosterd: If you need to substitute a grainy variety of Zaanse mustard, simply look for a local mustard that has mustard seeds in it, too. In a pinch, you can also mix mustard seeds into your ordinary smooth mustard and leave overnight to soften a bit.

​Where to Order Dutch Ingredients Online

Many traditional Dutch ingredients, particularly classic spice blends, can be found online from retailers like the Dutch Epicure Shop Bakery or Typical Dutch Stuff