Dutch Oliebollen (Oil Balls)

What in the world is a Oliebollen? This very question danced through my mind while I was researching foods to make for New Years Eve. The name translates literally into Oil Balls. They are a donut like pastry that hails from the Netherlands. This delight is strictly a seasonal item and is made to ring in the new year and is traditionally consumed on New Years Eve.  I became intrigued by this little pastry and felt that I needed Oliebollen in my life. So today, I made a batch for our New Years Eve family celebration. In my opinion, if a donut and an elephant ear from your local county fair got married and had a baby, it would be called Oliebollen. They are a delicious spongy pastry with a slight crispy fried outside covered in a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon! All I can say is Nom…Nom…Nom. I found the below recipe at http://dutchfood.about.com/od/breadspastriescookies/r/Oliebollen.htm. I haven’t changed anything about it since this was my first time making these. I did however make one batch without any fruit added and another with raisins mixed into the dough. Enjoy!


  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 small packets of (instant) dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour (400 g)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (50 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk (475 ml)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 cups vegetable/sunflower oil (2 liters)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Ground cinnamon


In a small bowl, mix the teaspoon of sugar into 1/2 cup (120 ml) of hand-hot water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Stir to combine. ***Important: If your yeast/water mixture does not bubble then you will need new yeast as it is no longer active. Mine didn’t bubble until I let it sit for 10 min and then stirred. Then those little yeasty boys woke up!

Flour/Sugar mix with well inside

Next, mix together the flour and sugar in a mixer then make a well in the middle of the mix. Add the eggs and yeast mixture to the well. Then warm up the milk in the microwave (it should be lukewarm). Add half of the milk to the well in the flour and mix until all ingredients are combined. Once combined add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. It will be very wet and this is normal! 
Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and allow to rise in a warm area for about an hour. I just sat mine on top of my stove. The oven was not on or anything. It sat at room temp. Once the dough has doubled, stir in the salt (and fruit, if using). 
Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or in a deep fryer. To check whether the oil is at the right temperature, stand the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil. If little bubbles form around it, the oil is ready.
You will need two tablespoons to form and handle the dough, as well as a slotted spoon to remove the ‘oliebollen’ from the hot oil. Quickly dip the two tablespoons into the oil and form small balls of the dough with the oiled tablespoons, carefully scraping and dropping the dough into the hot oil. **I used a cookie dough scoop. It looks like an ice cream scoop but a little smaller. I was struggling with the 2 spoon method. So if you have a cookie dough scoop I highly recommend using one.**The ‘oliebollen’ will sink to the bottom of the pan and then pop right back up. You should be able to fry at least 6 ‘oliebollen’ at a time, but don’t crowd the pan (see Tips below). Fry until golden brown on both sides, carefully flipping when required. Drain on a tray lined with paper towels.
Sieve powdered sugar over the ‘oliebollen’ as well as a dusting of ground cinnamon, and serve warm.
If all of the Oliebollen are not consumed at once, then allow them to set out long enough to get “stone cold”. Next, place them in an airtight container and store at room temp for no more than 2-3 days.

You can then heat up your leftovers in a preheated oven at 390 degrees F for 15 min or try in a microwave for 20 seconds. 


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