The history of stamppot and how it became a traditional Dutch staple

What is stamppots origin story, how did it become a traditional Dutch staple, and the big question: what the heck is it?

When you think of Dutch food, you probably think of cheese (Gouda, anyone?) and the giant pancakes you’ve had in those wonderful Dutch pannenkoeken restaurants.

However, when it comes to traditional meals in the Netherlands, one of the first things any Dutchie will reference is stamppot.

Stamppot is a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several vegetables (and sometimes fruits). These vegetable pairings traditionally include sauerkraut, endives, kale, spinach, and turnip greens. This is then usually paired with traditional Dutch sausage. 😋

Stamppot, through the years

The endurance and popularity of the stamppot are truly mind-boggling. The dish is said to be one of the oldest, and yet still one of the most popular Dutch dishes ever!

To really understand how the dish became such a favourite traditional Dutch food, one must look into the past and understand how it came to be in the first place.

It all started in the 1600s when stamppot first started out as a staple during the cold season and stayed as a winter dish for hundreds of years.

READ MORE | How to survive the Dutch winter: weather, clothing, and more

It’s called a “winter dish” because of the meal’s warmth and ability to immediately fill you up. It was a must-have food during the harvest months because, in this period, potatoes were available in abundance, and many hungry farmers could be filled up quickly and cheaply. 🥔

Variations of stamppot

There are lots of stamppot recipes in circulation, but here are some of the most popular ones in the Netherlands:

  • Boerenkoolstamppot (kale stamppot)
  • Zuurkoolstamppot (sauerkraut stamppot)
  • Hutspot (onion and carrot stamppot)
  • Rauwe Andijviestamppot (raw endive stamppot)
  • Preistamppot (leek stamppot)

Although the Dutch and their affinity for mashing their food is one that’s quite legendary, we have to admit that no one knows who invented the stamppot.

One thing is clear, though, the hutspot recipe was discovered when the Dutch resistance succeeded in driving the Spanish away from Leiden. It’s quite a legend in its own right.

Legend of the “free” hutspot

As we know, the Dutch fought a war with Spain called The Eighty Years’ War. This war was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, as well as the French region of Hauts-de-France, against King Philip II of Spain.

Not the prettiest of foods, but definitely tasty. Image: M.Minderhoud/Wikkimedia Commons/CC3.0

For those of us who don’t know, the word hutspot is derived from the Dutch words hutsen (to mix) and pot (which is, well, pot).

During the Eighty Years’ War, the Spanish tried to capture Leiden in 1573, as the inhabitants stubbornly defended their city and withstood a one-year siege.

Bye bye, Spaniards

On October 3, 1574, the resistance finally succeeded in driving the Spanish away and liberating the city.

It is reported that the Spanish soldiers fleeing Leiden left cooked bits of an unfamiliar stew of carrots, meat, onions, and parsnips, which the starved inhabitants of Leiden ate up really quickly. 🥕

Not knowing what to call the unfamiliar dish, they named it hutspot, and it has remained a symbol of their victory to this day.

Stamppot and Leidens Ontzet

The anniversary of the liberation of Leiden, known as Leidens Ontzet in the Netherlands, is still celebrated every October 3 in Leiden.

Leidens Ontzet is a happy time full of eating hutspot and drinking booze. It’s definitely an event you shouldn’t miss! 🍻

While the origins of the Dutch stamppot may not be very clear, one thing everyone can agree on is that it is a much-loved dish in the Netherlands. Hutspot still remains a symbol of Dutch freedom and victory in the siege of Leiden. 🇳🇱

What do you think of stamppot? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 6 February 2018, and was updated in October 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Chuka Nwanazia
Chuka Nwanazia
A renegade wordsmith, freelance writer, poet, and digital marketer based in Amsterdam. Besides writing, he extremely enjoys traveling around Europe in search of old and rare books, writing poems while riding the train to nowhere, performing at poetry events, spending too much time reading books, contemplating the meaning of life, preparing tasty dishes and desserts, and searching for the perfect bookshelf.

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  1. Your photo looks more like Naakte Kindertjes in Het Gras (Naked Children in the Grass) recipe than one of the stamppot recipes you mentioned. My parents also made brown beans and bacon on those very cold days. We used the bacon fat as gravy on our boiled potatoes. It all got mashed up on our plate because…well, everything gets mashed together, doesn’t it?

    • Blote Billetjes in het Gras is a mix of potatoes, white beans (looks like bare bottoms) and green beans (the grass). The other dish is Bruine Bonen met Spek.

  2. In Ireland we have Irish Stew which is very similar with same ingredients except the ingredients are cut up and not mashed.

  3. […] Stamppot springs from the Dutch tradition of obliterating multiple food groups by mashing them together as a winter comfort food. A sort of mix and mash. Potatoes, vegetables and even fruit are used. You get a great mixture of all flavors because, how could you not when they are all mashed together? It seems like a good way to get kids to eat their veggies. […]

  4. I am Dutch and I have always learned that at the end of the siege of Leiden, the good people of Leiden ate Herring and white bread, Every year in October when they commemorate the end of the siege they eat herring and white brood. There is an old saying that most of the Dutch people will know: Haring en witte brood, Leiden uit de nood.

  5. I am from the US Virgin Islands and we have a very popular dish I am sure is originated from Stamppot due to Denmark once owned the Virgin Islands before the United States. We call our version of Stamppot POTATO STUFFING. This is a delicious dish made with mash potatoes, onions, peppers, raisins and multiple of chopped vegetables with a Caribbean kick to it. Our Potato Stuffing is savory and sweet. Good to know its a big part of our Denmark past.

    • It might be, but this is about a traditional Dutch dish, not a traditional Danish dish. The Dutch are from the Netherlands, not Denmark.

  6. It was always my understanding that stampot originated because of cooking everything in one pot. I grew up on a small boerderij near the village of Bergentheim, Salland, Overijssel during the late 40s and early 50s. There was no electricity nor running water and my mother cooked on a cast iron stove (fueled by peat). In the summer the stove was dismantled, taken to a shed and cleaned thoroughly and stayed there during the warmest weather.
    My mother cooked on a single burner “oliestel”, kerosene stove during this time.
    Hence cooking everything in one pot. We had stampot with any available vegetable and on Saturdays it was “bruine bonen met speak”. We also had “karnemelkse pap”, buttermilk porridge or porridge made from a variety of other grains.
    I still enjoy these dishes occasionally and have introduced them to my family here in Ontario, Canada.

  7. My guess has always been (and it’s only a guess) that most national dishes (i.e. comfort foods) originated by creatively using leftovers.

  8. I made Stampot this evening. We live in the States and mom taught me the one pot method. Her mom taught her to make the different kind. Carrots, onions, was also one she made a lot. Mom said they ate these during the war, wwII, often only the heater to cook on.

  9. Op kostschool kregen wij minstens 1 keer per week HETE BLIKSEM…..
    Afschuwelijk vond ik het. Aardappels en Appelmoes met misterieus vlees. Ik proef ‘t nog, na
    52 jaar….Bah.
    Maar Ik ben gek op Boerenkool en Gelderse worst, Kaantjes en Azijn…Mmmmm

  10. I love stamppot ever since I spent some time in Wageningen, and I make it here in Israel in the winter. Kale is hard to find here but I substitute cauliflower and/or broccoli and it works fine. In the Netherlands, rookworst (smoked sausage) is the traditional accompaniment and I can find some similar sausages in the Russian grocery shops here in Jerusalem.

    One thing is sure – it is quick to make, and really fills you and warms you on a cold, rainy winter night. I’m surprised it is not more widely known.

  11. You will find the same in many countries, but they call it baby food. There is a reason you don’t find many Dutch restaurants internationaly

    • From a Dutch recipe book I have:
      1 farmer-style sausage or 1 lb chuck/round steak.
      2/3 lb onions
      4 lb potatoes
      Simmer the steak in salted water for 2 hours (if using) until tender.
      Peel and chop up the veg and boil together until fork tender. Mash all together and stir in last 3 ingredients. Add meat or sausage slices and serve. A good prepared beef gravy would also be tasty on the side.
      Good luck.

    • Put chopped potatoes and onion in a pot and just cover with water, add some bay leaves and start boiling. After 5-8 minutes add chopped kale. Boil the pot dry. Add a bit of milk to help with mashing. Warm up a sausage on the side. Season with butter, salt, pepper and my favourite, malt vinegar. Enjoy! (You can chop up the sausage and mix in or eat beside with some Dutch mustard for bonus points)

  12. Some comments confuse hutspot and herring and white bread – all if these foods are associated with Leiden. Leiden was liberated on the 3rd October 1584. Hutspot stems from the pot left by the Spanish when they took off and was found by a boy coming over the wall.
    Herring and white bread were brought into the city for the starving population on flat boats manned by the “geuzen” – basically they were guerillafighters – some of them fought as pirates/guerillafighters and some on land.Many of the citizens of Leiden today will go to the townhall on the 3rd October (obviously they have to register for this) early in the morning and get their herring and whitebread rations handed out. At home and in restaurants and in street parties in Leiden people will eat hutspot.


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