Old-Fashioned Dutch Doughnuts (Oliebollen)

Old-Fashioned Dutch Doughnuts (Oliebollen)

The Spruce / Ana Zelic

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Rise Time: 70 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 10 servings
Yield: 40 doughnuts
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
376 Calories
17g Fat
47g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 376
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 250mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 75mg 6%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 158mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Traditional Dutch oliebollen (literally, "oil balls") have often been called the precursor of the doughnut, the popular American treat. It seems very probable that early Dutch settlers took their tradition over to the New World where it evolved into the anytime-anywhere snack the doughnut is today. In Holland, they pretty much remain a seasonal treat: made and enjoyed specifically to ring in the New Year.

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. Oliebollen can be made with optional raisins and currants and even bits of chopped apple, but a seasonal snowfall of white confectioners' sugar and earthy ground cinnamon is a must.


  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 8 cups vegetable or sunflower oil, for frying

  • Confectioners' sugar, garnish

  • Ground cinnamon, garnish

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Yeast Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Old-Fashioned Dutch Doughnuts (Oliebollen) ingredients

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  2. In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon granulated sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to stand for 10 minutes (if the yeast doesn't bubble, discard and buy new yeast. The lack of bubbles means the yeast is no longer active).

    sugar, water and yeast in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  3. Mix together the flour and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl, and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and the yeast mixture to the well.

    flour, sugar, eggs and yeast mixture in a container

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  4. Warm up the milk in the microwave just until it is lukewarm. Add half of the milk to the well in the flour, and mix until all the ingredients are combined. Add the rest of the milk, and mix until smooth.

    mix milk with the flour mixture

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  5. Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel and allow to rise in a warm area for about 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled, stir in the salt and let sit while you heat the oil.

    dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

Fry and Serve the Oliebollen

  1. Heat the oil to 350 F 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.

    oil in a pot, check oil with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  2. Quickly dip 2 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. 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 at a time, but don't crowd the pan.

    dough balls frying in oil

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  3. Fry until golden brown on both sides, carefully flipping when required. Drain on a tray lined with paper towels.

    Old-Fashioned Dutch Doughnuts (Oliebollen) on a paper towel lined platter

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  4. Sieve confectioners' sugar over the oliebollen as well as a dusting of ground cinnamon and serve warm.

    Old-Fashioned Dutch Doughnuts (Oliebollen) with powdered sugar on top

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic


  • The dough can be held for 1 or 2 hours covered with a damp dishtowel because the yeast will remain active. Then fry the dough as needed.
  • If the fritters are uncooked on the inside, the oil is either too hot or too cold. The oil should not be hotter than 350 F/180 C. Oil that is too cold is often the result of frying too many oliebollen at one time.
  • Allow leftover oliebollen to cool completely and then store them in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for approximately two days.
  • Leftovers can be warmed in a heated oven at 390 F/200 C for 15 minutes or in the microwave on high (850 watts) for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Leftovers also can easily be frozen and will keep in the freezer for about 2 months. To eat, allow to defrost and then warm as above.

Recipe Variation

  • Add some chopped apple, raisins and currants, and even cranberries to the flour batter.