Thursday, November 4, 2010


Oliebollen, OH-LEE-BOW-LEN, are eaten in Dutch homes on New Years Day or other festive occasions. They are balls of yeast dough deep-fried and served with powdered sugar. They can be plain, filled with raisins, currants and/or chopped apple, or the dough can be used to coat apple slices before frying. The fried apple slices are called APPELFLAPPEN. Oliebollen became an American favorite in the 1700’s in New York.

Oliebollen ready to eat.  Eet Smakelijk.

This recipe is used by permission from Mary Cogbill and Julie Clason from Tante Nellie’s Kitchen—Home of the Dutch Lunch Special. They serve Dutch food at Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan and for other Dutch celebrations in the area. They give their proceeds from their work to Word and Deed, an international Reformed Church relief mission organization.

Mary and Julie make and fry up huge amounts of Oliebollen. Oliebollen is best eaten warm so they either put the Fat Balls under a heat lamp or in a roaster. For a home cook, putting the Oliebollen in a warm crock-pot or small roaster with paper towels separating the layers would be a great way to serve them at a party.

Remember when deep-fat frying, never allow children or pets to be in the kitchen while you are working. Burns are unbelievably painful. I bought a Fry Daddy to make the oliebollen as we have a fryer, but if takes a couple of bottles of oil to fill it while the Fry Daddy only takes 4-cups of oil. There is no heat setting on the Fry Daddy but I felt it did a good job on the oliebollen.

You can’t make the Fat Balls too big or the center won’t be cooked. I found 2-tablespoons of batter worked well. I tried to do it as Mary and Julie do, putting a heaping amount of batter on a tablespoon while using a second tablespoon to push the batter into the oil. I wasn’t doing real well so I went back to my trusty ice cream scoop. I filled the scoop half-full, about 2-tablespoons, then I put the scoop in the oil and pushed the button on the scoop to release the dough. I really liked this method and will continue using it. When I used a scoop there were not as many “branches” sticking out of my ball.

Oliebollen can be frozen. To reheat: Place frozen oliebollen on a shallow baking pan and bake, uncovered, in a 400° oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.

So moist, so good.  Eet Smakelijk--eat hardy.

I had to add an additional 1/3-cup flour to make the batter thick enough. Of course, this could have been because I measured incorrectly. With everything that is going on around here I could easily have measured wrong.  When working with yeast, I always use an instant-read thermometer to test the temperature of the liquids.  With this recipe, there is no need to let the dough rise.
1 c milk
1 c water
1 t yeast
1 t salt
¼ c sugar
2 2/3 c flour
1 c raisins
Canola oil for frying

Sugar for sprinkling on warm oliebollen, powdered sugar or bottled cinnamon sugar or mix a ½ cup sugar and 1-teaspoon cinnamon, roll warm doughnuts in cinnamon mixture to coat.

Ingredients:  Flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk, raisins, water and oil for frying.

Powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting the Fat Balls.

In a saucepan, heat milk and water until lukewarm (110°). In large mixing bowl, combine yeast, salt, sugar, flour and raisins; add warm milk and water. Mix well, until mixture forms a thick, sticky batter. Batter should be thicker than pancake batter, thinner than bread dough. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375°. Drop dough by large spoonfuls (about 2-tablespoon per ball) into the hot oil or use an ice cream scoop as I do. Depending on size, fry 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden, turning as needed. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar or dip in sugar while still warm, if desired. NOTE: This tip is from Julie and Mary: Dip spoons in oil before dipping in batter helps batter to slide of the spoons. Should make about 2 ½ dozen.

Mix dry ingredients with raisins.

Instant-read themometer to check temperature of milk and water.

Heat milk and water to 110°.

Add to dry ingredients while beating with an electric mixer.

Batter is thicker than pancake batter, but thinner than bread dough.

I use an ice cream scoop to put the batter into the hot oil.

Fat Balls frying.

Put fried Fat Balls on paper towels to drain.  Dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.


  1. I know this was posted a few years ago, but am so happy that I just had to respond. I was just talking to my grandma (who is now referred to as Oma that she is a great-grandmother) and asked her what she used to eat and she mentioned these. Going to try them sometime soon and see what else you have to offer. Thank you.

  2. I was looking for these Oliebollen in Holland (MI) today, the start of Tulip Time, but couldn't find them....wanted an authentic Dutch fat ball, like the ones they sold in the markets when I visited Nethetlands. Then I just decided to look for a recipe & found this page. Thanks!

  3. We just read about fatballs in The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. We can't wait to try out your recipe! Thanks for posting it!

    1. We just read about them in the Wheel on the School too! What a great book. So glad that we found this recipe because we had no idea what fat balls were!

  4. I hope you enjoy the recipe. I love Fatballs and will have a recipe soon, I hope, for Fatballs made with mashed potatoes.

  5. My family makes these every year for New Year's, a tradition from my grandmother who was in the womb when her parents emigrated. I never knew how to spell them, though, we just call 'em "fat balls". Our recipe has mashed potatoes in it, though!

  6. I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has a large Dutch population. Fat balls were sold at a local bakery but the best ones were made by my childhood friend's grandma. A taste I've never forgotten.