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
- Poppy seed bundt cake – Czech makova babovka
Get more ideas in this category with poppy seed recipes.
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.
Tried this recipe?
Leave a review down in the comments! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest. Subscribe to my newsletter. Send me any question about Czech cuisine to my e-mail. I love hearing your feedback!
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
Poppies are really hard to get here (Michigan), so I got to make this only once when my cousin sent a packet full of poppy seeds from the Czech Republic. Even then, this tasted fantastic! I think that poppies are really underrated in the US.
Ahoj David, poppy seeds are one of the most commonly used ingredients in the Czech Republic when it comes to making filling for kolache and buchty buns. Always a great choice!
FYI, canned poppyseed filling is available in grocery stores. Is on the baking isle with pie filling.
Be forewarned, store-bought canned filling is hardly worth it; it's overly sweet and lacks a depth of flavor. Once, my grandma switched to canned in a pinch and that batch lost a certain specialness of homemade. It's worth it to go homemade, since you're already fussing with kolacy or buchty anyway.
I couldn't agree with you more! However, I also take into account that poppy seeds are not as widely available around the world as they are in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, there is the issue of how to grind it.
If I were to make a big batch of this.. what is your recommendation for storing leftovers? Fridge? Freezer? Canning?
I usually only make the amount I use. Maybe it's because poppy seeds are widely available in the Czech Republic, both whole and ground. If you make a big batch of poppy seed filling, probably the easiest way to preserve it is to divide the chilled filling into smaller portions and freeze it. Hope it helps at least a bit!
Best wishes, Petra
Why do you add jam? I've never heard of doing this. Wouldn't it take away the taste from the poppy seed?
I add jam to the poppy seed filling to make it juicier, if I may say so. In the Czech Republic, we usually add plum jam (povidla), but I know that's not as easily available in the US.
My Czech grandma occasionally used to put some cut-up prune plums for flavor, too. Or, also, often raisins.
Yes, the Czechs often add raisins to poppy seed filling! Sometimes I add a little jam to make the filling juicier.
Love these recipes!
Thank you very much for your nice words, Sheila!