Dutch Quirk #15: Cram oliebollen into their mouths as soon as it gets cold

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Well, it’s officially oliebollen season in the Netherlands, so it’s only appropriate to address this quirk now while it’s fresh, and happening en masse at almost every Dutch square near you.

Don’t get us wrong, we at DutchReview LOVE oliebollen — we’ve carried entire conversations about it. and how excited we are to have them back in the cold months. A silver lining to look forward to during Dutch winters, if you ask us. 🥶

What is it?

Oliebollen literally translates to “oil balls” or oil cakes, which is straight-up descriptive enough for the fried delicious Dutch delicacy — but here’s a visual aid anyway.

photo-of-dutch-oliebollen-stacked-on-plate
You can’t go wrong with a sugary olibollen to warm your heart. Image: Marjon Besteman/Pixabay

It’s basically a desert fritter-like dish and a New Year’s Eve food tradition that’s sold in designated mobile carts around the Netherlands during the cold months.

Oliebollen comes in a variety of flavours: from raisin, currant, or apple-infused, to the basic Oliebollen with just powdered sugar on sprinkled on top.

Coming from New Orleans, the standard sugared oliebollen is very similar to French beignets — the dough is only shaped differently (puffy ball vs an airy square) and is not always sold hot off street carts. So it’s not a bad idea to pop it in the oven for some delicious heat. 🍴

Why do they do it?

Simply put: it’s delicious! 🤤 But to expand on that answer a bit, aside from olieballen’s historical timeline in the Netherlands, I believe the combination of sugar and fried dough really helps combat the cold Dutch winter. Think of it as a sweet, sweet cure to the blues if you will. 🎷

Why is it quirky?

To be crystal clear, the dish itself is not quirky, but rather the Dutch seasonal obsession — which we can set our clocks to. ⌚ Sure, it’s a cold months’ tradition, but I honestly would vote to keep it oliebollen carts on the streets year-round to supply and support the Dutchies’ addiction.

While the designated street carts around Dutch cities are very aesthetic with their warm lights, colours, and designs — their gezellig nature only adds to the quirkiness and Dutch exclusivity of this habit.

picture-of-dutch-street-stand-selling-oliebollen
There’s generally a line outside olieballen stalls around the Netherlands, but trust us, it’s worth it. Image: dutchscenery/Depositphotos

Should you join in?

Absolutely! Run to the nearest stall or cart and stand in line now while it lasts. 🏃‍♀️⏳ We wouldn’t steer you wrong when it comes to Dutch food.

DutchReview crew tip: to join the hype train, be economical and buy olieballen in bulk to share with those around you — a move guaranteed to earn you relationship points with Dutchies or anyone with a sweet tooth. 💯

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: portosabbia/Depositphotos

Farah Al Mazouni
Farah believes she's been on many adventures during her millennial life, each for a different (sometimes invisible) purpose. The latest adventure whisked her away to Amsterdam for love, and what a magical surprise she found in this city. Armed with imaginary confetti in her pocket, and ready to celebrate all wins, big and small, Farah says "ahla w sahla" or “welcome” to her latest adventure in this wonderland.

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