Sourdough Oliebollen: Dutch New Year’s Doughnuts

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These oliebollen are a delectable New Year's treat, whether you're Dutch or not!


A Dutch New Year's celebration just wouldn't be complete without oliebollen, the aptly-name “oily balls” that are the heavenly match of a cake doughnut and apple-raisin fritters.

Since marrying into a Dutch-Canadian family, I've come to love the New Years tradition, but as with most baked goods in my kitchen, I set out on a mission to come up with a healthier sourdough version that makes the grains more digestible and uses more nourishing fats.

Enjoy – and Happy New Year!

This post has been featured at YeastSpotting at the Wild Yeast blog.


These oliebollen are a delectable New Year's treat, whether you're Dutch or not!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Sourdough Oliebollen: Dutch New Year's Doughnuts

Delectable doughnuts for a New Year's treat, whether you're from Dutch heritage or not!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Resting Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Dutch
Servings: 2 -3 dozen
Author: Kresha Faber


  • 1 ½ cups sourdough starter
  • ¼ cup unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • cup whole milk
  • cup melted butter, cooled but still liquid
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 6-8 cups tallow, lard, or your favorite frying oil


  • The night before you want to make your sourdough oliebollen (or at least 6 hours), mix the starter, sugar, flour, milk, butter, and lemon juice in a large non-reactive bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 6-18 hours.
  • When you're ready to fry your oliebollen, heat enough fat to completely submerge the oliebollen to 360° F. (Yes, this is slightly lower than you typically fry doughnuts, but this is a more tender dough than some and you also want them to remain as soft as possible on the outside without becoming crunchy nor soaking up huge amounts of oil.)
  • Meanwhile, stir the egg, salt, baking soda, apple, and raisins into the sourdough sponge.
  • When the fat is hot, dip a teaspoon into the fat to keep the dough from sticking to the spoon, then drop the dough into the fat by heaping teaspoons. Let fry until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip the bollen over until the rest of the doughnut is brown, another 2 minutes or so.
  • Drain and enjoy dipped or dusted with homemade powdered sugar.


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    1. I’ve never tried it myself, but I know several people who use a flax egg substitute regularly in a number of baked goods, so definitely give it a go!

  1. Thank you for this great recipe! I’m from the Netherlands and grew up with Olie Bollen and Appel Flappen. I have a regular recipe and make some every year. THIS year (this month) I started my sourdough starter and love the idea of sourdough olie bollen! I made some of these today and they came out lovely! Thank you so much for this recipe! Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!

  2. It is safe to say that originally Olliebollen would have been a sourdough recipe? And if so, when did we go from this being a somewhat healthy treat ( sourdough, fermented,properly prepared grain, lard) to what we now know as a unhealthy crime against humanity AKA oi balls of doom

    1. Yes, theoretically, merely because these have been made for hundreds of years (I love this painting, called “Maid with Oliebollen,” which is circa 1652) and – as you obviously know – natural fermentation was the way breads and grains were commonly prepared.


      The changing of how they’re made simply changed alongside all the other changes with how grains are used and treated in cooking, which happened largely through the last century.

  3. Hi! May I ask what the baking powder and baking soda are for in this recipe? I am still learning my baking foundations and can’t work out why the baking soda is in the recipe that also has sourdough starter in it to rise. Can’t wait to try it…the Dutch member of the household can barely wait! Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s a great question! 🙂

      The baking soda in this recipe is to help make the dough a bit lighter and airier – basically, to give the doughnuts a fluffier texture rather than a cakey, denser texture. Also, the baking soda adds just a touch of that alkaline flavor that’s essential in oliebollen. 🙂

      Enjoy! We love oliebollen season and hope you do too!

  4. I’m so excited to make these sourdough olliebollen! My grandparents immigrated from Holland and it’s been a family tradition to make olliebollen every New Years Eve! I’m excited to try it this time with sourdough and freshly milled whole wheat flour! I’m wondering where can I find a good source of tallow or lard?

  5. 5 stars
    My goodness, these were AMAZING! I grew up having oliebollen (my German heritage mom learned how for my Dutch heritage dad). I’ve made it for my own family in the past, but we’ve made so many dietary changes in recent years that I haven’t made them anymore. But on a whim I searched for a sourdough version and wow! I did make a few changes that worked well. I decreased the amount of starter and replaced the remainder with half/half flour water (and allowed overnight for fermenting), used fresh ground flour, and used milk kefir instead of milk (so then I left out the lemon juice and added just a bit more kefir). Oh and used coconut oil instead of butter! Seriously, these were amazing. Thank you so much!

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe!! I look forward to cooking this again for the upcoming New Years. I made it last year and it worked well, although I did use karnemelk instead of the milk/lemon juice mix. I also soak my dried fruit the night before in boiling water with a dash of rum.

    1. Yes, but even just feeding it once should activate it enough. Well, if it’s been inactive for several months in the refrigerator, it might need a full 3-4 feedings to be active enough, but generally, just feeding it once and letting it rise before measuring for this recipe should be plenty.

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