‘Friet’ or ‘patat’? The ultimate guide to Dutch fries

All about the Pata-friet! 🍟

The humble Dutch fries. In a nation known for fierce and unadulterated debates, the Dutch will disregard standard social manners in the spirit of the argument.

Is Zwarte Piet racist or a nod to Dutch heritage? Does the government interfere too much or too little? And is wearing the burka a religious right or a national threat?

But above all these issues, there is one Dutch debate that rages supreme. The ultimate argument has divided families, split up relationships, and caused wars among friends. The debate that divides the nation: friet versus patat.

Two sides of the same coin

“We have to come up with a third, alternative word for fries (patat) or fries (friet),” tweeted Amsterdammer Mark Traa in 2019. “Otherwise, we as a country really can’t go further.”

But what makes these Dutch fries so differently delicious? Where did delicious Dutch fries come from? Out of the thousands of choices, which sauce do you choose? What the hell are war fries? And why can the Dutch not agree on a name?

People eating Dutch french fries with mayonnaise and peanut sauce
Lekker! Image: Depositphotos

We’re asking the real questions here at DutchReview, and delving into the ultimate guide to Dutch fries. Grab some friet patat popcorn, settle in, and enjoy the wild ride of Dutch fries.

What makes Dutch fries different?

Let’s make one thing crystal clear: in the land where Dutch masters honed their craft, where labourers stole land back from the sea, and home to a royal family that people don’t even hate that much, there is only one Dutch national treasure: the humble fries.

READ MORE | The Dutch food dream: 13 unmissable dishes in the Netherlands

Dutch fries are not slim, like the very American French fries — instead, they are broad, strong, and a little chunky. They’re not served in a pesky small container but an ingenious cardboard cone contraption sometimes adorned with the crown jewel: sauce holders.

Dutch fries are never submitted to a freezer’s cold blasts; instead, they are cut and served the same day. They are plunged into boiling oil a minimum of two times, resulting in a crispy outer fry and fluffy inner fry.

And finally, for the thick and chunky Dutch fries, one squirt of sauce is not enough.

For reasons unbeknownst to the masses, the sauce can only be heaped on top, saturating the top layer into a saucy mess, and neglecting the bottom layer to be distraughtly sauceless. More on sauce later.

Where did Dutch fries come from?

No one knows exactly who introduced this golden goodness to the world. There’s a lot of ongoing arguments about whether the French or the Belgians created fries in the first place.

Delicious Dutch fries — or are they Belgian? Image: Charleston’s TheDigitel/Flickr/CC2.0

One of the rumours is that French fries came about when American soldiers visited Europe during WWI. They were astonished by the delicious fries, heard the language spoken near them and wrote home to their sweethearts about the “French fries.”

However, the Americans were, in fact, in French-speaking Belgium. So french fries? Pffff! More like Belgian fries. The fries spread to Belgium’s neighbours, resulting in the delicious Dutch fries we enjoy today.

So is it ‘friet’ or ‘patat’?

The great Dutch fries debate rears its ugly head once again. It’s divided a nation — literally. The English version of this debate would literally be “fries or chips”. You can see why it’s so important to know the answer.

The Dutch website patatoffriet.nl (yes, there is a whole website dedicated to it) says that the majority of the Dutch tend to order patat. However, those from Brabant, Limburg, and Belgium would instead order friets.

According to freelance journalist and fry-enthusiast, Rens van de Plas, who conducted extensive research into the matter by analysing a whopping 153 restaurants’ menu cards, Dutchies say friet almost up to the border of the province of Utrecht.

The map you never knew you needed. Image: Cavit/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

But are the Dutch happy to just say “well, that’s okay, you call it your thing and I’ll call it mine”? Of course not! They’re Dutch, and they have to tell everyone their opinion all the time. We guess that’s one reason why we love them.

What should you put on your Dutch fries?

Every Dutch fry store comes with a long bibliography of sauces. You can choose one, or two, or three, or probably all of them if you pay enough (and you know, wanted all of them for some reason).

The options are endless. Image: Freepik

But, if you want to order Dutch fries just like a Dutchie, here are some popular things you can request:

Patat zonder — fries without. Fries, fries, and more fries with zero sauce. Nada, zip, zero.

Patat met — fries with mayonnaise. Easily the most popular with Dutchies, this is fries just with mayonnaise. They don’t even have to say the mayo part — just “fries with”, and that’s all the fry-artist needs to know.

Patat pinda — fries with peanut sauce. Thought to be from their Indonesian past. Not recommended for those with peanut allergies.

Patat special — fries special. Dutch fries with mayonnaise, combined with either ketchup or curry sauce and sprinkled with chopped white onion. Also SUPER popular.

Patat oorlog — war fries. Fries with mayonnaise, peanut sauce, and chopped white onion. Only for the very brave or very Dutch.

But when you approach a Dutch fries stall, you may be bewildered by all the options. We’ve translated every one we can think of below for your fry-eating pleasure:

SauceEnglish translationDescription
MosterdMustardNot that popular, but it makes it on the list.
SamuraisausSamurai sauceSpicy sambal and mayonnaise are mixed and given a hell of a cool name.
AndalousesausAndalusia sauceHailing from Belgium, a sauce of mayonnaise, tomato paste, and capsicum.
KnoflooksausGarlic sauceBanned on date nights if you want to get lucky.
BarbecuesausBarbecue sauceMmmm! Tangy and sweet. We’ll take ten.
FritessausFry sauceA lean, Dutch version of mayonnaise.
KetchupKetchupWe think you know this one.
TartaarsausTartare sauceFishy and British.
JoppiesausJoppie sauceA secret recipe, but a mix of onions and curry powder. Delish! Named after a worker called Joppie.
Groene pepersausGreen pepper sauceSauce, but with green pepper. That’s all.
Vlaamse MayonaiseFlanders MayonaiseMayonnaise with a small amount of lemon and vinegar. Has a bit of a kick to normal mayo.
CurryCurryThe holy grail of sauce on fries. Highly recommended (by us).
CocktailsausCocktail sauceFeeling a little fancy? Have some mayo mixed with ketchup or Worcestershire sauce! Wait a minute.
PiccalillyPickled sauceGarlic, capsicum, and cauliflower, pickled in vinegar for a tangy taste.
ChilisausChilli saucePrepare wisely for the sweats.
The Dutch do have swarms of sauces to choose from.

Dutch fries today: the debate continues

The great friet debate has been saturating Twitter for years and was lastly sparked up again in 2019. We’ve translated some of the best ones below.

Patates-friet. That was the original name. One part is used by one part of the population, another part by another part,”

“Potato fingers”

“P from fries + IET from fries = PIET. That word is really much less charged. Tonight we eat Piet.”

“Frietat. Compromise. Nobody happy. Resolved.”

Meanwhile, a very official survey from the prestigious food-ordering service Thuisbezorgd proves that the Dutch are divided:

“Hoera! Frietje have been in existence for 150 years. Or is it …. “patatje“?”

Whatever those golden slices of goodness are called, we only know one thing: Dutch fries are delicious!

What do you think of the humble Dutch fries? Are you team ‘Friet’ or team ‘Patat’? Let us know in the comments below!🍟

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺https://gallivantations.com
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).

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  1. We had an argument with my boyfriend about this.
    He comes from Friesland, and I’m learning dutch. One day I spoke about patat, and he didn’t (want to) understand me He said it’s Fries not patat. I told him that I’ve learned the name patat so if he cannot explain what’s really the difference, then I will call patat and that’s all. We are both stubborn😃


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