dutch head cheese

Dutch Cheese, the famous Dutch dairy product

In the Netherlands we love Dutch cheese. At lunch and breakfast we often eat a sandwich with a spread of butter and a slice of cheese. We eat it as a snack at parties and we often use it in our dinner.

Yearly we make about 750 million kilograms (165 million lbs) of cheese in the Netherlands. That is the same weight as about 100.000 adult African Elephants.

Two thirds of this is used for export. An average Dutch person eats about 17 kg (37 lbs) per year.

Prehistoric Dutch Cheese

The earliest traces of cheese making in the Netherlands have been dated 800 bc. Archaeologists have found pots with small holes in them, indicating the making of cheese.

Milk would be put in an ceramic pot for a about a week and then placed in the pot with holes so only the thick part (curd) of the milk would remain. The curd could dry and form the base of the cheese.

Medieval times and Golden Age

In the Medieval times the Dutch started exporting cheese products on a large scale. In the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) when the Dutch prospered in their trade, art and science, the Dutch where known as a ‘Kaasland’, cheese country.

The Dutch are Cheese heads!

The Dutch name for cheese is ‘kaas’ and the dutch people are often called ‘Kaaskoppen’, meaning cheese heads. A ‘kaaskop’ is a wooden mold where the cheese is shaped in.

One story says that when Napoleon invaded the Netherlands in the early 19th century, the Dutch farmers picked up their pitchforks and wore these wooden cheese molds as helmets to fight of the soldiers.

The famous Gouda Cheese

The most famous cheese from the Netherlands is Gouda cheese. It is named after the town of Gouda.

Cheese is not produced in Gouda. But Gouda had a big cheese market where the cheese from the Netherlands is traded.

The traditional market in Gouda is still happening on Thursdays from April till August. Search the Gouda website for the ‘Gouda Cheese Market’ updates on date and times.

Alkmaar, Dutch capital of cheese

Nearby Amsterdam is the town of Alkmaar. There the cheese market has become even more of a tourist attraction.

In Alkmaar you can also visit the Cheese Museum.

Dutch sayings about cheese

Cheese is a big part of Dutch culture. As such, it occurs in a lot of Dutch sayings, such as these:

  • ‘He has not eaten any cheese from it.’ (‘Hij heeft er geen kaas van gegeten.’). Meaning: He does not know anything about this subject.
  • ‘He wont have his cheese eaten from his bread.’ (‘Hij laat zich het kaas niet van zijn brood eten’). Meaning: He won’t let anyone take, what is rightfully his.

In the Netherlands, we eat a lot of cheese. Dutch cheese is an important part of Dutch culture. Here you can read all about it.


Dutch cheese production is currently in the hands of dairy factories, which produce and export hundreds of millions of tons of cheese every year. The cheese markets in Alkmaar, Gouda and Edam remind us of the origins of a flourishing cheese trade and have become popular tourist attractions. The Dutch still love cheese and eat about seven pounds of it annually per person. Just like Julius Caesar, let yourself be surprised about the many types of Dutch cheeses and sample the country’s “yellow gold”.

Top 4 cheese attractions

Alkmaar Cheese Museum

Dedicated to all things cheese, the museum presents objects which illustrate the history of cheese-making, farm-ing culture and dairy trade in Holland.

Alkmaar Cheese Market

Experience the unique theatre of the cheese market in Alkmaar.

Cheese market in Edam

The Edam cheese market was historically the hub of the city, where farmers brought their cheeses to for sale.

Gouda cheese market

Discover the centuries old cheese trading tradition in Gouda.

Discover everything about Dutch cheese. Visit the cheese markets and read more about the types and history of cheese.