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Happy new year!

Oliebollen vendor, Den Haag

Oliebollen vendor on the Plein square in Den Haag

Eating oliebollen on new year’s eve is a Dutch tradition, but we also like them in the weeks before Christmas. Oliebollen are basically deep-fried balls of dough, sometimes with raisins. They are eaten with powdered sugar. Many people make their own (and if they do you can often still smell the oliebollen days later in their kitchen), but in the last few days of the year they are also widely available from bakeries, supermarkets and market stalls.

Around November, stalls like these pop up everywhere, and in the first days of January they disappear again. The photo was taken on a quiet morning in mid December. No customers now, but there probably were quite a few later in the day. If you visit in the afternoon of 31 December, you will have to wait in line even though there are several people serving.


It’s not too hard to make your own oliebollen, if you want. You will need:

  • 3dl. (10.14 fl oz) milk
  • 20g (0.7 oz) fresh yeast (I often use a sachet of instant yeast instead)
  • 400g (14 oz / 0.9 lb) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • optionally: 200g raisins
  • oil for deep-frying
  • powdered sugar
  • two spoons and a fork
  • a pan for deep-frying

I usually make around 25 oliebollen with these amounts. Adjust to suit your needs.

Mix fresh yeast and lukewarm milk. Add flour, eggs and salt. If you use instant yeast, add it to the flour, and add the mixture plus the eggs and some salt to the milk. Mix everything well to make a smooth dough.

Add the raisins (or any other filling that you like – see below for filling tips) and stir through the dough. If you like your oliebollen without raisins just skip this step.

Put the dough in a bowl and fully cover the bowl. Let it rise for at least an hour on a warm place – don’t take off the cover while it’s rising!

Using two wet dining spoons, let small amounts of dough – a spoonful per oliebol – slide into the hot oil (about 170°C / 340°F). Keep the spoons wet (or slightly greasy) to prevent the dough sticking to the spoons. Deep-fry for about five or six minutes. For best results use a fork to turn them half-way through.

Tip: For best result, use sunflower oil. Don’t use solid frying fats, because if you do the oliebollen will be greasy when they cool down. Don’t use an oil with a strong flavor (like olive oil) either. Personally, I won’t use anything but sunflower oil when I make my oliebollen.

Serve hot or cold, with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Variations: Make your oliebollen a bit different

If you know another tasty oliebollen variation please let me know, in the comments section below!

  • Replace part (or all) of the raisins by apple cubes. Tiny cubes that are similar in size to a raisin give the best result.
  • Candied peel is another popular addition, albeit one that I don’t particular like.
  • Instead of raisins you can also use dried currants, or a mix of raisins and dried currants.
  • Do you like ginger? Try adding some to your oliebollen, it’s delicious!
Oliebollen - the ingredients

Oliebollen – the ingredients

Making Oliebollen

Making Oliebollen





Updated new year’s eve 2014.



  1. Happy New Year! | The world of Henk van Kampen - […] a traditional Dutch new year’s eve snack. I prepare a bowl with oliebollen every year, see my oliebollen recipe…

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