We Tasted And Ranked 11 'American' Foods At A Dutch Lidl And This Is The Best One

As an American living in Europe, it can be hard to come by tasty food that reminds me of home. Sure, there are restaurants all over that claim to serve classic American food, but they always seem to fall short. Or in worse cases, they charge an arm and a leg for something we'd normally pay 5 bucks for. So when supermarkets have sales on "American" food, you can bet that I perk up. Could it be that the perfect dupes are available, and I don't have to empty my entire bank account for them? Or am I just destined to keep searching forever?

This week, the Dutch Lidl locations are having USA Week, and I ventured out to snag a few goodies. Into my shopping cart went copycats of American foods, as well as stereotypical items to see what the European interpretation is (the main brand is McEnnedy American Way, Lidl's take on food from across the pond). Here's my ranking based on how close they taste to their American versions.

11. McEnnedy Pickled Gherkin Slices

Pickles are something Europeans can't get right here. The texture's usually wrong, and they're also too sweet. Ask any American on this side of the pond, and they'll tell you they'd give their right arm for pickles done right. I've bought jar after jar, thinking I'd finally have a replacement for Vlasic pickles, only to be disappointed. So imagine how excited I was when Lidl announced pickles for American Week.

Well folks, unfortunately, this was a total let-down. The slices are very soft and flimsy, almost slimy, with no crunch at all. You can get crunchier homemade pickles that are much more satisfying. It's really a shame, since the taste is pretty close, as it's got almost the right ratio of sweet and sour. I guess if you want a little tanginess to your burgers, you can slip a few of these in since they're pretty thin. And at €1.59 a jar, you can afford to have some soft pickles on reserve. Just don't serve them on their own.

10. McEnnedy Hot Dog Sausages

In America, we get our hot dogs in plastic wrap with no liquid. So imagine my surprise when I moved halfway across the world and found hot dogs floating in jars with brine like science fair experiments gone wrong. You can even get them in cans filled with brine, which is almost equally as weird.

The fact that McEnnedy's hot dogs came in jars already made me suspicious. Peering into the jar, I saw that they're long and skinny, and a bit anemic looking, so they're not very reminiscent of American hot dogs. For what it's worth, my British husband said they looked like standard hot dogs from the UK, but he's had better from cans. These imposters taste vaguely like American hot dogs, but fall short since they're very bland. They could be ok with sauce and buns, but these hot dogs definitely don't taste like they're from the USA. I paid €2.99 for a jar of 6 hot dogs, which isn't terrible. But to be honest, I'd rather pay the same amount for 2 decently done sausages instead.

9. McEnnedy Sandwich Toast

This is one of the more bizarre things I've ever seen, considering that sandwiches don't typically have hot dog or cheeseburger fillings in them. There's an age-old debate about whether a hot dog is a sandwich, and I guess McEnnedy decided to table the debate and actually make a hot dog sandwich. I didn't have huge expectations for this, and I was right not to.

The hot dog sandwich had little sliced bits in it, but I wouldn't say the hot dogs tasted American. The sandwich was also strangely sweet, and upon checking the back of the package, it said the sandwich was made with sugar and other sweeteners (for whatever reason). Despite being so saccharine, the sandwich was still quite bland, even though it had cheese, pickles, and onions. Plus, each bite tasted kind of powdery. The cheeseburger sandwich wasn't as sweet, but the packaging still said it was made with sugar and sweeteners. This product had essentially the same ingredients as the other (ground beef instead of hot dogs), but used an unnamed white cheese instead. Considering that each sandwich cost close to €1, I'd pass and opt for a real hot dog or cheeseburger instead, especially since these fillings didn't have an ounce of the USA in them.

8. Neo Giant cookies

Oreos are another old-school snack that numerous kids enjoy to this day. And there's a reason for that: Oreos aren't overly sweet and have a crunchy chocolate outer layer, and their creme filling is yummy to lick off. Many brands have tried to bring out their own versions, but usually fail miserably. This made me interested in trying the Neo giant cookies.

Based on looks alone, they weren't a match to Oreos since they're big in size but with the same thickness. The creme has a grayish hue and appears plasticky. When you taste it, it's shockingly unsweet — rather, it's more savory than sweet. The cookie part tastes like Cocoa Puffs or salty cardboard, and the creme isn't much sweeter either. What's most horrifying is that even though I only took one bite, there was a lingering cookie aftertaste that wouldn't go away, even after drinking water. The pack costs €1.49 for 15 cookies, which gives you bang for your buck. However, I'll be spending that buck elsewhere in future.

7. McEnnedy Baked Beans

Baked beans are another thing I miss here. I used to live in San Diego, and I still dream of the baked beans from Phil's BBQ. You can never quite get the spices and ingredients for homemade baked beans just right. And nothing from a can will ever come close, even though you can boost the flavor with a dash of soy sauce. These beans did match my hopes, but those hopes were not high.

I gave all 3 McEnnedy baked bean varieties a try, starting with the classic flavor. The classic wasn't what I thought it'd be at all — it's more like British baked beans (meaning it's a tomato sauce, not BBQ), but not as sweet. I liked this one the best since it wasn't swimming in a pool of liquid like the other 2 were. The can of smoked style baked beans was peppery and had corn in it, which I didn't care for. The honey BBQ baked beans were weirdly sweet and had smoked bell pepper bits. They may have been the culprit for the slightly chemical-like bitter taste. Overall, I wouldn't buy any again, since none tasted vaguely American.

6. McEnnedy Cheesecake

An excellent cheesecake can be a gratifying end to a meal, but a good New York cheesecake can change your life. With how dense and heavy it is, it can even be a meal on its own — dessert for dinner! Wanting a good way to wrap up my American food tasting, I picked up this fairly-sized cake.

On the first bite, I realized the McEnnedy New York style cheesecake has a heavy vanilla taste. I got curious, so I took a look at the back of the box. Lo and behold, it listed the product as "cheesecake with vanilla flavoring," which explains the heavy-handedness of the spice. I was severely disappointed since you can't taste the cream cheese at all, and the cake was powdery. Plus, the crust also just tastes like crumbly cardboard and wasn't made from graham crackers. I suppose the cost isn't bad if you want to have a party or get-together. Just make sure not to invite Americans who love their desserts, cuz they'll certainly side-eye you.

5. McEnnedy Mac & Cheese

A bowl of mac and cheese can evoke warm childhood memories, so it's easy to see why people both young and old enjoy this simple pasta dish. Its simplicity is exactly why there have been so many variations around the world and throughout the times, including some unusual ones like Aldi's lobster mac and cheese. It's weird, but supermarkets seem to miss the mark, although Lidl doesn't fail as badly.

In general, the McEnnedy mac and cheese is a solid choice. It comes in a huge 1 kg tray that you throw into the oven and forget about for half an hour. It tastes yummy, but is a bit salty, and there are onion pieces which is kind of weird. The pasta pieces are also super soft, almost mushy, and they're large and twirly, not like the traditional and dainty elbow pasta. The dish is more creamy than cheesy, but honestly, I'm a sucker for anything creamy, so I was fine with that. But did it taste like the classic American mac and cheese we all know and love? Sadly, no.

4. McEnnedy Cookie Dough

Many of us have childhood memories of baking cookies with our families. After making the mixes, we'd lick the spoons, even though we weren't supposed to. Well, McEnnedy has made safe versions that come in small ready-to-eat tubs similar to the ones you get for ice cream.

When I took the lids off, I was impressed with the smell and textures I saw. The American-style one looked like a dollop of dough, and the brownie one looked like someone had scooped some gooey mix in. McEnnedy did a good job with the American-style cookie dough since my brain was screaming warnings at me that I was eating something raw, even though it wasn't. It was nice and soft, but had hazelnut pieces for some reason? I could've done without that, especially since classic chocolate chip cookies don't have this extra ingredient. As for the brownie cookie dough, it has a smooth mouth feel. We thought there was a hint of a minty aftertaste, but there was no mint listed on the ingredients list, so that was strange. The tiny tubs cost €1.29 each, which is on the pricier side, so I wouldn't buy these again.

3. McEnnedy double burgers

We'd all love to throw down some juicy patties on the grill for mouthwatering burgers, but it can be time-consuming. Even if you opt for simple cheeseburgers, it's still a lot of work to fire up the grill. This means that shortcuts are acceptable at times, even if they don't give you the best results.

Microwavable burgers may sound like a bad idea, but McEnnedy really shocked me here. Its humongous double patty burgers are easy to prepare — simply cut open the bags, throw the burgers onto a plate, and nuke them for 160 seconds. This is enough for them to be piping hot, but as with most microwaved breads, the buns were sweaty and soggy in the middle while rock hard on the outsides. With that said, the double beef cheeseburger was pretty good. It had a bland pepper sauce, but it worked with the pickles, onions, and cheese. The double pork burger had bacon, cheese, BBQ sauce, and onions. If you didn't tell me, I would've thought the pork patties were beef, so that was so-so. However, the bacon was nice and thick, which is hard to find in Europe.

If McEnnedy was going for a McDonald's dupe for the beef burger, I'd say its version is much better. The patties are still sad pucks, but there are two to make up for it. Plus, it cost just €2.99, which rivals McD's prices.

2. McEnnedy Pop Corn

I have fond memories of kettle corn since I'd always buy bags at farmers' markets and fairs. Walking past the hot stalls with the large cast-iron kettles, I'd have trouble resisting the smell of freshly made kettle corn. Considering that I haven't found any stalls thus far in my time here, settling for store-bought products would have to suffice.

The McEnnedy sweet popcorn isn't bad at all. Each bite is crunchy, salty, and sweet, exactly how kettle corn should be. Each popped kernel is giant too, making your bites highly satisfying. It is popped with oil instead of air-popped as kettle corn should be, but it doesn't taste oily at all. The big tub is more than enough to share with your loved ones, and it's so delicious you're sure to be left with nothing by the end of the day. At €2.49 a pop, I'd gladly buy it again, even though it's not hot and fresh from a fair. Otherwise, I'll make do with this foolproof kettle corn recipe.

1. McEnnedy Toaster Tarts

As a child, I wasn't allowed many sugary treats, and that included Pop-Tarts. When I grew up and went to college, I finally got to see what I missed out on, and I instantly fell in love with these gooey pastries. Admittedly, it's been a while since my university days, and Pop-Tarts live in the cobwebs of my mind. So upon seeing the McEnnedy toaster tarts, I knew I had to try them.

The toaster tarts were the right size, but on the thin side. McEnnedy wasn't very generous with the frosting either, as it's very sparse. As expected, when I took a bite, there was barely any filling inside. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these were outstanding dupes for Pop-Tarts! The strawberry toaster tarts had a slightly artificial taste, but not enough to bother me. The chocolate toaster tarts were also tasty. Both came in boxes of 4 sleeves with 2 toaster tarts in each and were priced at €1.99, meaning each individual toaster tart cost €0.25. At these prices, I'd much rather have these than pay an exorbitant amount at expat shops for real Pop-Tarts.


To write this article, I selected dupes of American foods in Lidl's USA Week sale, as well as ones that are stereotypically American. I based my rankings on how closely these dupes tasted to the real things. In addition, the ease of preparation and price tags played a role too, especially since I can purchase the real products at expat shops (but at premium prices).