Old-Fashioned Dutch Doughnuts (Oliebollen)

Round doughnuts dusted with confectioners' sugar piled up on a serving plate

The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise Time: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Yield: 40 doughnuts
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
323 Calories
14g Fat
41g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 323
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 208mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 133mg 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.

“This recipe actually really wow’d me! The dough is a little wet, but don’t let it discourage you. Once the dough hits the oil, it will puff right up. This was a very easy to follow doughnut recipe the whole family can enjoy.” —Tracy Wilk 

Old fashioned dutch doughnuts/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 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

  • Vegetable or sunflower oil, for frying

  • Sifted confectioners' sugar, for garnish

  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Yeast Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Dutch doughnut recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / 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).

    Bubbling yeast mixed with water in a small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs and the yeast mixture to the well.

    Flour, sugar, eggs, and yeast mixture combined in a glass mixing bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

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

    Smooth flour and milk mixture in a glass mixing bowl

    The Spruce Eats / 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. The dough will be wet, which is normal.

    Risen bubbling yeast dough in a glass mixing bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

Fry and Serve the Oliebollen

  1. Heat about 3-inches of oil in a large, heavy duty pot or deep fryer to 350 F. 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.

    Tiny bubbles forming around a wooden spoon handle inserted in hot oil in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / 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 pot.

    Doughnuts frying in bubbling oil in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

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

    Doughnuts degreasing on a platter lined with paper towel

    The Spruce Eats / Ana Zelic

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

    Doughnuts dusted with confectioners' sugar from a small wire mesh sieve

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

Recipe Variation

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

How To Store

  • 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.