It is BBQ season but the question is: How do the Dutch actually BBQ?

So the sun is finally shining, summer has officially sprung, temps have risen above freezing (at least for this week), so it is officially time to barbecue in the Netherlands. Coming from the Caribbean, I consider myself an expert when it comes to barbecuing and what it involves.

Disclaimer: given the current coronavirus situation, you may do a BBQ outside as long as you respect the necessary social distance of 1.5 metres.

A few years back, on the first warm day of spring, we called up our friends and invited them for a BBQ.  I immediately got busy making my mom’s good old fashioned potato salad, put together a nice tossed salad, set my rice cooker on and went on to make my shopping list for the first BBQ of the season.

What to buy when you want to barbecue in the Netherlands?

That list included chicken legs and ribs, the obvious BBQ staple as well as some ground beef for my homemade hamburgers, buns and perhaps a few steaks to round out the menu.  I was ready to shop, but as we pulled into the grocery store, my significant other started talking about things like speklap and worstjes and I gave him a sideward glance as I made a beeline for the meat department, eager to get my BBQ on.

I began to stock the cart with my meats of choice and was disappointed to see that the selection of ribs was minimal at best. I also noticed that there were several foreign-looking meat products slowly filling the cart. The likes of which I would NEVER have put on my grill had I been back in the Caribbean. I mean pork chops? Really? Yes! Apparently, karbonade or pork chops is a common grilling delicacy here in tulip town. Pre-made kebabs also made their way into the BBQ cart, and although shish kabobs or shashlik(in Dutch)do tend to be a common BBQ item, meatballs on a stick are not.

Barbecuing in the netherlands
Worstjes on the teeny tiny grill. Image: Jarmoluk/Pixabay

Finally done with raiding the meat department I noticed that there was actually an alarming amount of meat products and very little of anything else in our cart.  Besides my salads & rice, I then began to wonder, what do they actually eat then? Meat? Only meat? Lucky enough I did not have to wonder for long, as my honey then deposited a massive tub of peanut sauce (Satésaus) into the cart and happily proclaimed he was “done” shopping.

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Wearily I left the Jumbo and pondered how I was going to balance out the meat assortment we were about to grill up, as a salad would only go so far.  And what was I going to do with that much peanut sauce, I mean we were not having Indonesian night!  I asked all these questions out loud of course and as my partner got the BBQ going he advised that all would be ok, we had everything we needed.

Needless to say, it all turned out well…ok. We enjoyed a nice leisure BBQ and I spent the next week following a vegetarian diet to balance out all the meat we consumed. I also had leftover potato salad and plenty of rice and beans to last for days. Seems they really do just consume meat at BBQ’s.

Barbecuing in the Netherlands: What rules do you have to follow?

I think it goes without saying that you are not allowed to light a grill up inside your apartment. So if you don’t have a balcony or a garden, head to your nearest park. But wait! There’s something to be noted: there are specially designated places for you to barbecue. But first, some general rules:

  1. Your grill must be at least 2m away from trees and bushes.
  2. You need to get rid of the hot coals in the provided metal containers and not on the grass.
  3. The grill must be placed on a stable surface.
  4. The barbecue must in no way come in direct contact with the grass.
  5. You cannot have an open fire.
  6. You have to take all of your waste and rubbish with you.

Where can you barbecue in Amsterdam?

You are not allowed to barbecue anywhere in the Centre District. However, in the other districts, there are specially designated areas for you to get your grill on! The City of Amsterdam has an interactive map set up for you to pick and choose, so make sure to check that out!

Where can you barbecue in The Hague?

In principle, you can barbecue anywhere in the Netherlands, as long as you are not a nuisance. But, of course, there are rules for you to follow and keep in mind. The specially designated barbecuing spots in The Hague are in Westbrekpark in the Scheveningen district and Zuiderpark and the Uithof in the Escamp district. There is also a ban on barbecuing in certain areas in the city: the Japanese Garden, the Rosarium, and Park De Verademing. Check out the City of The Hague’s website for all their rules to keep in mind!

Where can you barbecue in Rotterdam?

You can barbecue in most open-air spaces in Rotterdam. You have specific areas to enjoy this in the Kralingse Bos, Het Park, Vroesenpark and Zuiderpark, the main parks in the city. But the above rules apply here as well! So be sure to follow them so that everyone can enjoy their day out.

Tips to make your Dutch BBQ a hit

Since this first BBQ I have learned several things. Tips that I think are good to pass on to my fellow non-Dutchies so that you too can enjoy a Dutch BBQ without wondering what you have gotten yourself into.

  1. Check out your local butcher, they tend to have bigger and better ribs that your local supermarket.
  2. Local markets can conjure up fresh corn on the cob if you ask in advance and it’s the right time of year.
  3. The Dutch do not grill and eat. They grill one type of meat, serve that up and then grill the next and so on, the entire BBQ is centred around the meat, and this leads to a very long and relaxed grilling experience, so be prepared to spend the afternoon/evening slowly enjoying a wide variety of meat products. **I believe this method of grilling stems from the fact that most Dutch buy teeny tiny charcoal grills that allow for minimal grilling space.
  4. Peanut sauce or Satésaus is considered a condiment! So make sure you always have some on hand in addition to your mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.
  5. The Dutch do not eat their burgers with buns! Knife, fork and beef patty is the way it’s done here, so save yourself the hassle and skip the buns, you will be the only one eating them!
Barbecuing in the netherlands
Our NOT so tiny American grill! Image: Supplied

So there you have it! Everything you need to know when you want to barbecue in the Netherlands! Did we miss out on anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: diddi4/Pixabay 

7 COMMENTS

  1. BBQing is for real man and real man only eats meat, real meat.
    No speklappen or worstjes, fine by me, but not on my watch.
    Burgers do the thing, big juicy ribs and as grande finale a big ass peace of steak.
    Thats how real man conquers BBQ. Those side salads, womanish. Why?
    And there is always a lot of meat left, cause most of your guests start eating the salads and “Stokbrood met pindasaus” before the meat is ready.

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