Belgium is known throughout the world for its national food. From its tasty treats like waffles, chocolate, and sweets, to its globally famous breweries, to its shellfish and seafood. You might ask yourself why this small nation has such a strong culinary identity!
The country has lots of regional dishes that are specific to certain areas or cities. It also has borders and links with many other European countries, so you’ll find variants of certain meals here that are found in different forms throughout Europe.
There are so many dishes that are still cooked and eaten today in Belgium that date back centuries, often with very little change to their core ingredients. With most of the recipes below, opinions will vary from household to household on how to best make the Belgian dishes, so you should feel free to add your own twist!
8 delicious Belgian recipes you have to try
1. Steak tartare
If you’re looking to make an authentic Belgian dinner that’ll really impress, steak tartare needs to be on the list. It’s one of those traditional Belgian food recipes that looks a lot harder than it really is.
This steak tartare recipe is super simple and a great crowd-pleaser. It’s made up of good quality raw beef chopped finely, mixed together with shallots, pickles, capers, and more.
The main thing to bear in mind is the hygiene element. But as long as you buy your beef from a source you trust, keep it cold, and don’t leave it hanging about before eating it, there’s nothing to stop you from making this dish at home.
It also has some pretty crazy history. Rumor has it that the first steak tartare was made around 800 years ago, by the fearsome “Tatars” from Mongolia, who used to tenderize the meat under their saddles as they rode out on attacks. Amazing to think that this is now considered haute cuisine in many places around the world!
Check this steak tartare recipe.
Waterzooi is a heart-warming stew or soup that is a favorite Belgian recipe throughout the country but originated in medieval Ghent. The star ingredient of the stew is chicken or fish, cooked with vegetables and potatoes, and thickened with egg and cream.
The most popular Waterzooi recipe nowadays is made with chicken, but originally it would have been based around freshwater or saltwater fish. Back in the time of the 16th century when it was first popular, fish was incorporated into most Flemish recipes in Ghent, because of the importance of the river Scheldt in the city.
The basic recipe includes veggies like celery and carrots, but it’s one of those recipes from Belgium where you can add pretty much any green you have in the fridge on the day.
Check this waterzooi recipe.
3. Dame Blanche
For an easy dessert that is an instant hit, you have to try out a Dame Blanche recipe. In essence, it’s a bit like an ice cream sundae. It’s constructed with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a delicious syrupy sauce, made from melted chocolate, sugar, butter, and water. Oh, and whipped cream, to finish it off.
The name stems from mythology, translating from the French as “white lady”. White ladies were magical healing wise women. There are a couple of variations on this pudding, such as making it with chocolate ice cream (known as “Dark Lady”) or pistachio ice cream (called “Green Lady”).
You’ll find this dish on practically every restaurant menu in Belgium – but they’re always different wherever you go. Most Belgian households also have their own variant. You can serve it with a cherry on top, or with flaked almonds, or just with a heap of cream. Whatever you go with, this dish has always got the wow factor.
Check this dame blanche recipe.
4. Chicken vol au vent
Vol au vents are the kind of food you expect at fancy dinner parties or nice restaurants – but they’re actually incredibly simple to make at home. They’re puff pastry shells filled with a yummy mix of ingredients such as chicken, veal, mushrooms, and garlic, served with a little puff pastry lid.
This chicken vol au vent recipe is delicious. If you don’t have time to make the puff pastry cases yourself, you can buy them ready-made from any bakery or supermarket in Belgium. When it comes to easy Belgian recipes, this one is definitely one to try.
Check this chicken vol-au-vent recipe.
5. Flemish stew
One of the most famous Belgian recipes is Flemish Stew. It’s absolute comfort food, perfect for warming you up on a cold wintry day.
It’s a bit like Belgium’s version of France’s boeuf bourguignon. The main difference is that instead of cooking with wine, you make it with Belgian beer of course! As you’ll no doubt know, beer culture is massively important in Belgium and has been for hundreds of years. Ideally, for this Flemish stew recipe, you want a nice dark ale.
The beer provides a really rich flavor. The characteristic taste of the Flemish stew recipe, however, is the clash of sweet and sour flavors created by the vinegar and mustard, and the caramelized onion and Liège syrup. The beef is braised at the start to trap in the flavors, then cooked really slowly to make it tender and succulent.
This Belgian dish has a couple of different names – “carbonnade flamande” in French or “Vlaamse stoverij” in Dutch.
Check this Flemish stew recipe.
6. Salade liegeoise
Potato salad is found all over the world in different formats and traditional Belgian recipes for this popular meal call it salade liegeoise. This is essentially a fresh potato salad with bacon and egg – a winning combo.
This recipe comes from the city of Liège originally. It’s simple but tasty Belgian cuisine that takes next to no time to prepare. It’s normally served as a main dinner course. To make it, you just need to cook some potatoes, add green beans and bacon, and toss in a vinaigrette dressing. The finishing touch is a boiled egg, cut up decoratively, and displayed on top.
As you can imagine, there are loads of variants of this dish throughout Belgium. Even within Liège itself, people disagree as to how to prepare the dressing! It just shows you can make this recipe your own by adding whatever you like.
Check this salade liegeoise recipe.
You’ve probably eaten green asparagus before. But have you tried its white counterpart? This is really popular in Belgian cuisine – it’s in season during the months of May and June. White asparagus is slightly sweeter than green and needs peeling as its skin is a little tougher.
It’s a pretty expensive food to buy because it is grown really carefully, covered in soil to prevent photosynthesis from turning it green. It’s sometimes nicknamed “white gold” because it’s so special.
Asparagus Flemish-style is also known as ‘asperges op Vlaamse wijze’ (Dutch) and ‘asperges à la Flamande’ (French). This is the most common way of preparing the vegetable in Belgium – boiled asparagus topped with a yummy egg salad.
The egg salad is kind of similar to a hollandaise sauce, but made from crumbled egg yolks and whites, chopped parsley, melted butter and a squeeze of lemon. It’s a light topping that goes makes this classy dish one of the best Belgian recipes.
8. Belgian endive in the oven
Belgian endive is included in most lists of authentic Belgian recipes, and for good reason. It’s rustic, heartening, comforting, and it’s an absolute classic. Endives are known in Dutch as “witloof” and in French as “chicon”. You might also have heard them called “chicory”. It’s a leafy salad vegetable with a white core, that has a bitter taste.
This recipe is pretty unusual in that you don’t find many dishes that involve putting salad leaves in the oven – but whoever discovered it has made many people very happy! Belgian endive is created by roasting endives with copious amounts of cheese and ham. The end result is rustic home-cooked food that will warm you through and through.
It’s not the kind of food you’ll really find in restaurants, as it’s a bit of a home classic. Mashed potato is normally served up with it, making it the ultimate comfort food.
If you fancy cooking up some easy Belgian food recipes, any of the dishes on this list would be a great place to start. Whether you’re cooking for friends or just for yourself, Belgium has created some amazing dishes. The best thing is that you don’t have to be an experienced chef to make them!
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