Poppy Seed Kolache

This kolache recipe is a classic Czechoslovakian variation with a poppy seed filling. The sweet yeasted pastry is folded up on itself as you would find in Minnesota.

Poppy Seed Kolache
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 two 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

Prep Time 60 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Rising time 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 16
Yield 16 buns

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


  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups (586 to 520g) all-purpose flour, divided

  • 1 (7-gram) package active dry yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace or ground nutmeg

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter

  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 (12.5-ounce) can poppy seed filling (or make your own, see below)

  • 1/4 cup raisins, optional

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tablespoon milk

Homemade poppy seed filling (if you are not using canned)

  • 1 cup (145g) poppy seed

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/3 cup (78g) finely chopped dates

  • 1/3 cup (43g) finely chopped nuts (such as walnuts or pecans)

  • Dash cinnamon


  1. Mix 2 cups of the flour with the yeast and nutmeg:

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

  2. Make the dough:

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, butter, sugar, and salt just until warm to the touch (120°F to 130°F) and butter is melted.

    Pour the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture mixture. Add the 2 eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds (if using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment).

    Scrape the side of the bowl, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

  3. Knead dough and let rise:

    Switch to the dough hook (if using a stand mixer) and on low speed, beat in as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a soft, supple dough. Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes.

    Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  4. Make the filling:

    Meanwhile, if you are making the poppy seed filling from scratch, combine the filling ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Simple Tip!

    You should have about 1 1/2 cups of filling, which is more than you'll need to fill the kolache. You can freeze any extras, or stir them into your next batch of banana bread.

  5. Deflate and divide the dough:

    Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.

    Divide the dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Grease 2 baking sheets.

  6. Roll out the dough and cut into squares:

    Roll each dough half into a 16x8-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle into eight 4x4 squares.

    cut kolache dough
    Elise Bauer
    add poppyseed filling to kolache squares
    Elise Bauer
  7. Shape the kolache:

    Place 1 heaping tablespoon of poppy seed filling onto the center of each square. If you want, add a few raisins on 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
    Elise Bauer
    fold kolache
    Elise Bauer
    secure kolache
    Elise Bauer
    secure kolache with toothpick
    Elise Bauer
  8. Proof the shaped kolache:

    Preheat the oven to 375°F.

    Place the kolache on the greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double, about 35 minutes.

  9. Brush with the egg wash:

    Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Lightly brush the egg wash over the kolache.

  10. Bake:

    Bake at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden.

    Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Remove toothpicks.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
261 Calories
9g Fat
39g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 261
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 52mg 17%
Sodium 211mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 132mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.