Poppy Seed Kolache

BakingPastryPoppy Seed

Classic Czechoslovakian kolache pastry, with a poppy seed filling. Minnesota style, the pastry is folded up on itself.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My father gets a faraway look in his eyes when he remembers his Minnesota Czech grandmother’s poppy seed pastries.

Called “kolache” (koh-LAH-chee), “kolacky” (koh-LAH-kee), or how my dad pronounces it, koh-LAH-chkey, these Czechoslovakian yeast-based pastries can be filled with any sweet pie or pastry filling.

Dad loves poppy seed filling, and armed with an old Better Homes and Gardens recipe, he set out to recreate the kolaches of his childhood.

I think he was successful (after quadrupling the filling to dough ratio in the recipe), so much so that the day after making and eating these, he announced that he had gained 2 pounds, prompting him to give up dessert for two whole days. (Please God, in my next life, could I have my father’s metabolism?)

My father makes these kolaches with canned poppy seed filling. If you want, you can make the filling from scratch; I’ve included a filling recipe that I found online.

Poppy Seed Kolache Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 16 kolaches


  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace or ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Canned poppy seed filling (or make your own*)
  • Raisins (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk

*Poppyseed filling (if you want to make your own filling, otherwise, you can use canned)

  • 1 cup poppy seed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • Dash of cinnamon


1 Combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and nutmeg or mace in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

2 Make the dough: In a medium saucepan heat and stir the 1 cup milk, the 1/2 cup butter, the granulated sugar, and salt just until warm (120°F to 130°F) and butter almost melts.

Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with the two eggs and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping side of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

3 Knead dough and let rise: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (for 1 to 1-1/2 hours).

4 Prepare filling: If you are making the poppy seed filling from scratch, combine the filling ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until it thickens, stirring often. Set filling aside to cool.

5 Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Grease 2 baking sheets.

6 Roll out dough, cut into squares: Roll each dough half into a 16x8 inch rectangle, about an 1/8 inch thick. Cut each rectangle into 8 4x4 squares.

cut kolache dough add poppyseed filling to kolache squares

7 Add filling, fold and press dough corners: Place a large, heaping tablespoon of poppy seed filling onto the center of each square. If you want, add a few raisins to the top of the filling. Brush the four corners of each square with water. Draw the corners up and gently press together. Secure with a toothpick.

fold kolache dough over poppyseed filling fold kolache secure kolache secure kolache with toothpick

8 Second rise: Place on well greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 35 minutes).

9 Brush with egg wash: Brush with an egg wash made with one egg beaten with a tablespoon of milk.

10 Bake: Bake in a 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Remove toothpicks.

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Adapted from a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, 1997.


Lisa Fain's kolaches from the Homesick Texan

Poppy Seed Kolache

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

51 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Victoria

    I’m also from MN and my Grandmothers parents settled in MN. They were from Bohemia. She use to make kolache’s for us prior to her passing. My favorite was poppy seed but she made prune also. They looked just like the recipe you made. She grew her own poppies even. She had my uncle make a grinder from an old coffee grinder to grind the seeds using a drill to run it. Quite clever actually. Then the police told her she had to destroy her flowers due to the opium qualities. She added cake donuts to her poppy seed along with some liquid-water or milk. Unfortunately she didn’t leave us a recipe so it’s been trial and error for me to recreate it. They turned out great! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I didn’t use the spices because she didn’t use them but I may next time to see how they taste. Thanks again!


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  2. Heather

    Excellent! I’m always looking for new ways to eat poppy seed filling, and this recipe did not disappoint. Made the dough in my bread machine – melted butter in milk separately and added all the ingredients to machine and set for dough. Used solo poppy seed filling. So yummy!


  3. Betty

    I also make kolaches my recipe is very similar, I have a question. After you let it raise the first time you punched it down and on floured surface and divided in half. Then you let it rest. Why do you let it rest again instead of rolling it into a rectangle and cutting your squares?

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  4. Becki

    I lost my grandma’s recipe (we rolled it out and cut like cinnamon rolls)- this was VERY close to what i remember growing up! Thank you, you helped make our Christmas extra special!!


  5. Lynda

    I have my Great Grandmas recipe for Kolache as my Grandmother pronounced it. She got it from My Great Grandmother and was taught how by her. They came to WI from Bohemia which is now the Czech Republic a long story there. But they settled in mid-upper WI area and had 10 children. My Grandmother made the Most Awesome Delicious Kolache we all would just fill our stomachs with as many as would fit. OMG I can almost taste them now. Our favorites were the Prune with a Cheese topping and the Poppyseed. She made the Poppyseed by hand in where she would grind them and then cook them in Milk on the stove then she added sugar and a dash of cinnamon. It was to Die for. I have made her recipe many many times and my children can’t wait to get hold of them either. I must have inheireted some of her talents. Sadly no one in my family wants to learn how.. So I will make them as long as I can and then the recipe will be passed down and who so ever wants to try to make them can.

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