Learn how to make homemade poppy seed filling for kolache, kolacky cookies, buchty buns, or yeast breads! These are all traditional Czech pastries that traditionally call for poppy seeds. Let's dive into the recipe!
Czechs are the world's largest producers of poppies, so it is not surprising that poppyseeds have become a staple of Czech cuisine. The Czech name for the filling made with poppyseed is "makova napln".
The poppy seed filling is based on ground poppy seeds cooked in milk. It is sweetened with sugar and flavored with various ingredients. Here are some of them: spicy jam, freshly grated lemon zest, spiced rum, or perhaps crushed cloves.
MY TIP: Try this poppy seed roll (it tastes fantastic!)
➜ How to grind poppy seeds
In the Czech Republic, we buy blue poppies either whole or already ground.
If you are based in the US, you can get poppies in European deli stores (Polish, German). The downside is that you can only get whole poppy seeds, which you need to grind before making the filling.
The first way to grind poppy seeds is with a special manual poppy seed grinder. It’s available on Amazon in the US if you want one (I saw a few when I did some quick research).
The other method uses a clean coffee grinder and grinds the poppyseed in small batches.
I recently debated whether poppy seeds could be crushed in a food processor. Unfortunately, the results of those who tried it indicate that a food processor is not an appropriate tool for grinding poppy seeds.
To make poppy seed filling from scratch, you’ll need:
- Poppyseed, ground in a mill or coffee grinder
- Whole milk, avoid using low-fat milk because there is no further fat added in this filling, and this is not a low-calorie recipe 🙂
- Granulated sugar
- Jam, the best variant is prune jam (Czech favorite); however, grab any solid jam you’ll find in your pantry
- Lemon zest, freshly ground
✅ You’ll find the exact amount of ingredients below in the recipe card, which you can also print out.
➜ Instructions with photos
STEP 1: Combine ground poppyseed and milk in a medium saucepan.
STEP 2: Bring the milk mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the hot milk and poppy seeds from burning. Add sugar, jam, and lemon zest.
STEP 3: Set the stove on medium-low heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the poppy seeds soften; it takes about 10 minutes. Don’t forget to stir.
STEP 4: When finished, transfer the poppy seed filling to a bowl, set it aside, and allow it to cool down completely:
Important: This poppy seed filling thickens while cooling down. Make sure it’s cold before using it.
➜ Cook’s Tips
- Add a few biscuit crumbs and stir if the filling is too thin.
- If the filling is too thick, add a spoon or two of milk.
- Let the filling cool down before using it!
More poppy seed recipes:
- Kolache – authentic recipe for Czech kolace
- Škubánky s mákem – sweet treat with poppy seed topping
- Makovec – poppy seed coffee cake
A simple way to grind poppy seeds is by using a particular mill. It’s a mainstay in Czech kitchens; try to find one from Tescoma (a Czech brand). Another method is to grind poppy seeds in a clean coffee grinder.
Add some vanilla, crushed cloves (spice), rum-soaked raisins, or a tablespoon of spiced rum to the cooled filling for more flavor.
Maková Náplň - Czech Poppyseed Filling
- 1 ½ cup poppy seed (220 g) whole
- 1 cup milk (240 ml)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 g)
- ⅓ cup jam (110 g) any solid jam: eg, plum, strawberry, apricot
- ½ Tablespoon lemon zest freshly ground
- If you have whole poppyseed, grind it first.
- In a pot with a thick bottom, combine ground poppyseed and milk.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent milk from burning. Add sugar, jam, and lemon zest.
- Lower the heat and cook until the poppyseeds soften; it takes about 10 minutes. Don’t forget stirring.
- When finished, transfer the poppyseed filling to a bowl, set it aside, and allow it to cool down completely.
- Makes about 1 ½ cup of filling.
- If you’re filling smaller spaces (for instance Czech kolache or kolacky), put the filling in a decorating bag first and spray it over the pastry.
- Make sure the filling cooled down completely before using it.
DISCLAIMER: Because I come from Central Europe, my recipes are based on metric units such as grams or milliliters. Check out how I convert metric units to the U.S. system:Conversion chart