Olie Koeken (Fat Balls)

When I was a VERY small child, I remember New Year’s Day having its own traditional food….Oly Koeken. There is some dispute over how to spell this food because these are Dutch words (that many grandchildren who don’t know a word of Dutch still love to eat!) I’ve seen the name of this pastry written Oly Koeken, Vet Ballen, Vet Bollen, Ole Bollen, oliekoecken, and a few other variations. The basic translation, however, is Fat Balls. This pastry is a little blob of dough that is deep fried and then rolled in a paper bag of sugar. I remember LOVING the taste of these treats as a child.

Sugared Olie Koeken

So, this year, in spite of the fact that I don’t eat friend foods but about twice a year, I went looking for Grandma’s Ole Kueken recipe. I found three and each is quite distinct. Here’s the first:

Oly Koeken (Fat Balls)

  • 2 1/2 c. lukewarm milk
  • 1 cake yeast (I’m thinking this must be a Tablespoon, but I’m not positive)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 T. butter, measured after you melt it
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1 c. currants or 3/4 c. raisins
  • Flour enough to make a batter that can be dropped off the spoon. (I’m estimating that this would be about 5 c.)

Let stand until light, then drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and fry until brown. While these things are still hot, drop them into a brown lunch sack with about a cup of sugar. Shake until thoroughly coated.

Frying Olie Koeken

Alternatively…drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet. Brush with a little butter and let rise. Bake until golden brown and do the sugar routine as soon as they come out of the oven.


19 thoughts on “Olie Koeken (Fat Balls)

  1. These are actually called oliebollen and I wouldn’t advise baking them in an oven as it’s the oil that gives them there special little touch:)
    You don’t actually have to suger them when hot, you can just let them cool down and use icing suger in plenty when you eat them

  2. Your grandma used to make these for every school festival (a fund raiser) She her Dutch friends would stand out in the hot sun frying them. We all looked forward to them each year. She had another recipe that was made with buckwheat flour. Did you find that `recipe in her files.


  3. A family I knew every year at our county fair had a booth that made the fat balls (oliebollen). It was a treat that we all looked forward to. They offerd the balls sliced open and stuffed with fruit or pudding filling in a cone cup.

    • My wife loved these as a child. She would get them at the Travers city (MI) county fair. She liked the chocolate ones best.

  4. When I was a child , my father and I traveled with the carnival and there was a booth that made these (only they would cut the middle and put pudding or you choice of filling and it would come in a cone shaped paper cup) .

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  6. These are called Ole Koeken or Ole Bollen, depending on where you’re from in the Netherlands.

    I don’t know of any version that can be baked (since the name implies it’s cooked in fat). Still, my favorite recipe is made with buttermilk, raisins, apples (diced) and doesn’t use any yeast. Instead it uses 1 t. of baking soda and 1 t. of baking powder. The hardest thing is bothering to clean up the deep fat fryer. The proportions for everything else look pretty similar.

    I don’t coat my ole koeken in sugar either, figuring there’s really sugar enough in them and I hardly need those extra empty calories. If you rolled them in sugar it would be more like a sugared doughnut.

    My mom continually reminds me that I’m *supposed* to make them for New Year’s, but I always make them earlier as I have Jewish friends who like them during Hannukah, when foods cooked in oil are traditional.

    Then I make them again for New Year’s anyway.

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  8. Yes I make the olie bollen to, and deep fry them. At home ( The Netherlands) I never made them just went straight to the bakery and buy them. Since I could not buy them here I just had to make them myself. Now I hope that my children will keep up this tradition also. In case you wonder what the history is behind this tradition, check out my website and look under desserts there you will see my recipe and the history about olie bollen. Great site by the way.

  9. Thanks for the helpful information on fat balls! We have been reading “The Wheel on the School” and were intrigued by the delight the children exhibited in receiving fat balls. Now, we understand! They sound yummy! I will make them soon. Have a lovely day.
    Warmly, Debbie

  10. I was so excited to find your web site! My dear mother used to make these for me when I was very young. I have told my sons about them and the pester me to make them some but I could never find a recipe – didn’t know how they were spelled – seems to be a common controvery. Mom called them olie koeckens or something close to that. She learned the recipe from her mother and grandmother. “unfortunately Mom has lost the recipe and now thanks to you I can teach my children and they can continue the tradition.

  11. I love how in the last paragraph of the post you made this little Freudian slip:

    “So, this year, in spite of the fact that I don’t eat friend foods”

    I have also looked on fried foods with great affection, but have stopped short of calling them friends.

  12. Pingback: Dutch Olie Koeken for New Years | My Sister's Kitchen

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  14. I found this site while looking for a recipe to make Almond Patties. My mother and I made a trip to NW Iowa and Casey’s Bakery last week so now I had to figure out how to make the patties and Rusk buns in WV. Then I saw your link to Olie Bollen – this seems to be the exact recipe I have had in my stash for many years. I cut it from the Edgerton Enterprise, a hometown newspaper in SW Minnesota. Anyway, I used the recipe last year and didn’t realize until I was part way into it that the last line “Flour enough to make a batter that can be dropped off the spoon.” was not very helpful. I think your suggestion of about 5 cups is correct. I know I just kept adding flour and adding flour until I ended up with dozens and dozens of Olie Bollen with raisins and apple pieces, which we loved and shared at a picnic, the office, and the teacher’s lounge. LOL I will be looking at more of your recipes! Thank you.

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