A brief history of a Dutch classic: The kroket
Upon moving to the Netherlands, it shouldn't take too long before you're confronted with some version of the delicious and well-loved Dutch delicacy - the kroket. Whether it's squished onto a lovely piece of white bread, sandwiched in a white bread roll, dipped in mustard, or eaten plain with a side of frietjes, the kroket never disappoints. Enjoy one with a beer, or indeed after one too many beers, and savour its deep-fried goodness.
But, when sinking your teeth into a kroket, have you ever wondered where it actually came from? What's the difference between a Dutch kroket and a Belgian one? When did the kroket become such a staple traditional Dutch food? Well, dear reader, fret not! Here are the answers to all your kroket-related questions.
Where it all began
Sadly, it would seem that the first version of the kroket we know and love didn’t come from the Netherlands at all, but instead from France. The first-ever recipe for the croquet was found in a 1705 cookbook (Le cuisinier royal et bourgeois) by Louis XIV’s chef, and it is likely that this recipe was based off the traditional dish, rissole, in which meat or fish is wrapped in a paneer layer before being baked. The Dutch didn’t catch onto the dish until much later - the first Dutch recipe only dates back to 1830!
In the 19th and 20th centuries, kroketten shifted from a food of the elite to a food of the people, as leftover meat began to be used to make the ragout. The 1900s also saw the rise of the so-called snackbar, where people could grab a quick and cheap sweet or savoury snack on the go. In 1945, Kwekkeboom introduced the French croquet to their snackbar menu.
After the Second World War, the snack became increasingly popular, and people also started to include kroketten in their evening meals. And then, in the 1970s, kroketten also went on sale in supermarkets, further adding to the popularity of the snack.
Kroketten around the world
So many different countries around the world have their very own version of the kroket, or the croquette. In India, you can enjoy an afternoon snack of the aloo tikki - a potato-filled croquette - and in Japan they have their very own korokke. You can also find different versions of the more traditional croquette in the Caribbean and South America.
But almost every country in Europe has made the croquette their own. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, you can order a side of potato kroketten in plenty of restaurants. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ireland and the United Kingdom all also champion their own versions of the potato croquette.
Spanish croquetas are one of the most well-loved tapas dishes, and are typically filled with jamon, chicken, or saltcod. Italy’s crocchette are normally potato or vegetable filled, but you can also find rice croquettes such as arancini or polpette di riso.
Similarly to the Netherlands, almost every restaurant in Belgium will offer kroketten or croquettes as a side or lunch dish. In Belgium, you can find kroketten filled with mashed potato, shrimp, or cheese, served with a salad, french fries, and garnished with parsley.
Where to get a good kroket in the Netherlands
Well, now you know all there is to know about kroketten - apart from where to buy the best ones. There are so many different kinds available to you here in the Netherlands. So, where should you head to get a sample of the delicious and versatile kroket?
It may sound a little strange to buy kroketten at a patisserie, but at Holtkamp you can buy some of the best kroketten available in Amsterdam.
The name van Dobben is so closely entwined with the Dutch kroket and its history, it would be wrong not to include their version of the deep-fried snack on this list. Of course, you could pick up a packet of their frozen kroketten at your supermarket, or you could visit their eetsalon in Amsterdam, which has been providing the public with kroketten since 1945.
Kwekkeboom was one of the first shops established in the early 20th century, offering members of the public a quick snack. They introduced the French croquette to the menu in 1945, and their version of the snack has been loved by people ever since.
Febo is famous around the world for its vending-walls, filled with burgers, frikandelen, and broodjes kroket. While their version may not be the most sophisticated, it is certainly satisfying, and everyone living in the Netherlands should buy something from their wall of fried foods at least once.
The Croquetten Boutique has so many different kinds of kroketten, it can be difficult to choose what to have. Alongside more traditional flavours, they also offer a chicken gyros kroket, a green curry and vegetables kroket, and a sweet pineapple and coconut kroket. They have cute little cafe in central Utrecht, but on those days where you can’t bear to drag yourself out of the house, they also offer home delivery via Deliveroo!
Slagerij Dungelmann in The Hague has stellar reviews, with some people saying they sell the best kroketten in the country. Definitely worth a visit!
Fancy trying to make your own?
Or maybe, instead of buying some, you’d rather have a go at making your own? If you've ever made bitterballen before, then you're already a pro, as the recipes are pretty much exactly the same - make a ragout, cool it, and then roll it in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs before frying. So, everyone, deep fryers at the ready - let's make kroketten!
There are tonnes of recipes available online, and Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn have loads of different kroket varieties on their AlleHande website - everything from the traditional beef kroketten (rundvleeskroketten), Dutch cheese kroketten (kaaskroketten), and shrimp kroketten (garnalenkroketten), to more wacky and fun versions (think jackfruit, goulash, or tuna, for example!).
Or, if you'd rather follow a recipe with a handy video to help guide you, why don't you check this one out.
Or, of course, if all else fails, just pop to the local supermarket for some store-bought frozen kroketten - we promise not to tell. Don't know which ones to go for? Check out the video below for the Great Kroketten Test of 2017, where eight different kroket brands are pitted against each other to find the one true champion.
What's your favourite kind of kroket? Have you ever made any before? Let us know in the comments!