Here in the Netherlands we have this Dutch tradition that every year around New Year’s Eve the whole nation goes wild on Dutch Doughnuts or as we call them “oliebollen” (oil balls). Truth be told that last name doesn’t sound too appealing if you translate it from Dutch to English but trust me, these Dutch donuts are so delicious!

Dutch doughnuts

Growing up my dad used to bake Dutch doughnuts for the entire family, so that meant buckets and buckets full of those little brown crispy balls. But once I left the house I had not tried to make them myself until a couple of years ago when a friend and I decided to give it a go. And I was hooked. Baking them yourself is so much more rewarding then buying them in a store. Around the month of december popup stores show up around the country baking them so it’s pretty easy to buy them instead of baking them yourself. But trust me; give this a go with the tips below.

What do you need to make the Dutch Doughnuts?

For making this base recipe you do not need a lot; flour, milk, yeast and little bit of sugar and a little bit of salt. In addition you need the following tools to make your life easier:

  • deep fryer
  • large bowl
  • slotted spoon, to take the donuts out of the hot oil
  • ice cream scoop or two spoons

Making the batter

First of all you need to make the batter for this oliebollen recipe. That is pretty simple and straight forward. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. You can make a yeast mixture first. You simply add the yeast to a little bit of the lukewarm milk and let that sit until it forms bubbles. You then mix all the ingredients together, except the salt, in a large bowl and mix it until it forms a smooth batter. For mixing you can use a wooden spoon as it should come together quite easily. The batter itself is fairly liquid. Add the salt as the last ingredient and mix it through. You then place the bowl covered with a clean tea towel in a warm place and let the batter rise for about an hour.

Dutch doughnuts with icing sugar

How to handle the batter

Once your batter is done you can divide it into two batches to create different flavors. I love to add little apple pieces, raisins or cranberries and some orange zest.

For handling the batter you use two metal spoons or you use an ice cream scoop. I like to use the latter as that makes it a little easier to make all the oliebollen at the same size. Or roughly the same size.

You dip the spoons or the scoop into the hot oil before dipping it into the batter and then you slowly let it fall into the hot oil. You can fry a couple of doughnuts at the same time but make sure not to overcrowd the pan.

When you don’t have too many doughnuts in the pan at any one time they usually flip over automatically when one side is cooked. If not help them a little bit with your two spoons. Once they are golden brown you take them out with the slotted spoon.

Of course the recipe is easy to multiply if you want more doughnuts. This recipe makes about 15.

Dutch doughnuts

Which oil do you use to fry the doughnuts?

For frying the Dutch doughnuts it is best to use a neutral oil. Sunflower oil is used most but you can also use rice oil or corn oil or peanut oil if you want.

How to prevent the Dutch doughnuts from becoming greasy?

Despite the name “oil balls” they are not supposed to be greasy at all. If you squeeze one of the oliebollen you should only see a little bit of oil at most and it should definitely not be dripping out of the donut. To make this happen you have to make sure you use fresh oil and make sure it is at the right temperature. If the oil isn’t hot enough the doughnuts will suck up all the oil. The temperature of the oil should be 180˚C (350˚F) for best results.

Once baked you let them drain on kitchen paper towels. Don’t stack them all on top of each other right after baking, but first let them drain and cool and then you can stack them together.

How to get the doughnuts to be round?

To be entirely honest I sometimes fail to make them perfectly round. But using an ice cream scoop works the best. Like I said above, dip them into the hot oil, scoop the batter and slide it into the hot oil. All extra bits on the sides are actually really nice and crispy so don’t worry too much if they’re not perfectly round. I never heard anyone complain.

How best to heat the Dutch doughnuts?

Most people bake all their dutch oliebollen at the same time and then reheat when needed. I like to make a lot of oliebollen and then keep them in an airtight container (of course once they are first cooled). You can also keep them under a slightly damp tea towel. Traditionally the doughnuts are served with icing sugar. But if you want to reheat them the next day it is best to add the icing sugar after heating. Reheating is easiest in the oven at 200˚C. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. It’s best to spread out the balls on a baking tray for best results. Add the powdered sugar to the warm oliebollen and serve right away.

You can reheat them in the microwave but they won’t be as crispy.

Dutch doughnuts

How long should an oil ball fry?

You need about 5 to 6 minutes to make sure the doughnuts are golden brown. Make sure to not overcrowd the fryer. The oil will cool too quickly and it will take too long before they are golden. Which will result in greasy balls. It is best to use a deep fryer that automatically keeps the temperature, but you can absolutely use a regular pan with oil (I do) for deep frying the oliebollen batter. Just make sure to check regularly with a thermometer. It should be between 175˚C (340˚F) and 180˚C (350˚F) for best results.

How to prepare the filling?

In this recipe I haven’t used any filling and they are delicious without, but if you want to add extra’s with dried fruit make sure to start on time. Leave them to soak and rehydrate for a bit, then drain and leave them to dry. You do not want any additional liquid in your doughnuts. I soak the fruits and then leave them to drain on a clean tea towel for about a day. That way I make sure they are ready to be used in the doughtnuts.

Having said that; I also sometimes use dried cranberries and raisins and don’t bother to rehydrate them. Works fine for me but you can try it out yourself what you prefer.

Adding a bit of citrus zest to the filling will give them a little bit of extra flavor and make them somewhat fresher.

Of course these dough balls are not the healthiest kind of snack but we don’t eat them for the rest of the year so I think it is oke to enjoy these delicious oliebollen once every year.

Dutch doughnuts with icing sugar
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Dutch doughnuts

This delicious and traditional Dutch treat is not difficult to make!
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 15 oliebollen


  • Deep fryer


  • 500 gr flour
  • 500 ml full fat milk
  • 7 gr instant yeast
  • 7 gr salt
  • 25 gr sugar


  • Place the flour in a large bowl and add the yeast and sugar. If the milk is cold make sure to heat it to lukewarm. Mix your flour mixture bit by bit with the milk until you have a smooth batter. Add the salt and mix with a wooden spoon till the batter is smooth and liquidy.
  • Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm spot for about an hour to rise.
  • Heat your deep fryer or add the oil to a large pot. The oil should be a t 180˚C (350˚F) for best results.
  • Before starting stir your batter through and scoop the batter with two spoons or with an ice cream scoop. Let it drop into the oil carefully. It is easiest to do this if you dip your spoons or scoop into the oil before dipping into the batter. That way it will slide of the spoons easily. Don't over crowd the fryer to prevent the oil cooling down too quickly and everything sticking together. Once one side is golden brown it usually turns around to the other side automatically. If not help it along with two forks.
  • Take the balls out once golden brown and leave to drain on a piece of kitchen paper.
Course: snacks
Cuisine: Dutch
Keyword: flour

Nutrition Information

Calories: 150kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 195mg, Potassium: 92mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 56IU, Vitamin C: 0.001mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 2mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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