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How to Make Poppy Seed Filling

How to make the best poppy seed filling. Store-bought versions can't touch this! from @natashaskitchen

Poppyseed cake and pastry filling is a staple in Russian and Ukrainian kitchens. The good news: it’s not difficult or time consuming to master and you can pre-make it even a week in advance. I just can’t guarantee someone won’t break into your fridge and sneak bites of it during the week. I love that there are just 2 ingredients.

You can find good poppy seeds at Whole Foods and Fred Meyer in the bin/bulk food sections. Most stores carry them but it’s worthwhile to pay a little more for a higher grade poppy seed that tastes sweeter. The cheaper poppy seeds have a slight bitterness to them. Store-bought pre-made poppyseed fillings can’t touch this. It’s wonderful in the poppyseed roulade that I posted awhile back and the recipe that I’ll be posting next (stay tuned!).

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Ingredients for Poppyseed filling:

1 cup dry poppy seeds
8 to 10 oz sweetened condensed milk (about 2/3 of a 14 oz can)

Poppy Seeds

Optional Add-ins:

Raisins (white or brown)
Finely chopped walnuts

Tools you’ll need:

A meat/food grinder (preferred method)
– OR – a clean coffee grinder (can be milled in small batches).

Prepping the Poppy Seeds while dough is rising:

1. Rinse poppy seeds thoroughly in a fine mesh colander, then drain them and transfer to a medium sauce pan.

Poppy Seeds-2

2. Add 3 cups water to the pot. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer. (Don’t boil). Turn off. Cover with lid and let it sit for 30 minutes. Return to a simmer (don’t boil). Turn off. Cover and let it sit for another 30 minutes.

Poppy Seeds-6

3. Drain poppy seeds well through a colander or by keeping lid on and placing several layers of cheese cloth over lid to catch stray poppy seeds. Life is just easier when you use a fine mesh sieve like this OXO Strainer.

Poppy Seeds-3

4. Push the poppy seeds through a food grinder, using the fine grinding plate. I use my KitchenAid food grinder attachment for my stand mixer. You can also use a coffee grinder and do it in smaller batches. Note: If using a meat grinder, you need to push firmly. The seeds won’t grind well unless they are under pressure. P.S. I’ve tried putting them through a food processor and it did not work. Drain off excess liquid if any has accumulated in the bowl.

Russian Cake Truffles-11

Poppy Seeds-8

5. Mix 8-10 ounces of sweetened condensed milk into ground poppy seeds. I like to add 10 oz because I’m wild like that ;). Add raisins if desired (depending on the recipe you’re making). Store in tupperware and refrigerate until ready to use.

Poppy Seeds-7

How to make the best poppy seed filling. Store-bought versions can't touch this! from @natashaskitchen

How to Make PoppySeed Filling (2 ways)

4.78 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Poppyseed cake and pastry filling in a staple in Russian and Ukrainian kitchens. The good news: it's not difficult or time consuming to master and you can pre-make it even a week in advance. I love that there are just 2 ingredients. You can find good poppy seeds at Whole Foods and Fred Meyer in the bin/bulk food sections. Most stores carry them but it's worthwhile to pay a little more for a higher grade poppyseed that tastes sweeter. The cheaper poppy seeds have a slight bitterness to them. Store-bought pre-made poppyseed fillings can't touch this. It's wonderful in roulades and sweet buns (pirohi).
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: $6-$7
Cost to Make: Easy/Medium
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

For the PoppySeed Filling:

  • 1 cup dry poppy seeds
  • 8 to 10 oz sweetened condensed milk about 2/3 of a 14 oz can

Optional Add-ins:

  • Raisins white or brown
  • Finely chopped walnuts

Tools you'll need:

  • A meat/food grinder preferred method
  • - OR - a clean coffee grinder can be milled in small batches.

Instructions

  1. Rinse poppy seeds thoroughly in a fine mesh colander, then drain them and transfer to a medium sauce pan.
  2. Add 3 cups water to the pot. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer. (Don’t boil). Turn off. Cover with lid and let it sit for 30 minutes. Return to a simmer (don’t boil). Turn off. Cover and let it sit for another 30 minutes.
  3. Drain poppy seeds well through a colander or by keeping lid on and placing several layers of cheese cloth on lid to catch stray poppy seeds. Life is just easier when you use a fine mesh sieve.
  4. Push the poppy seeds through a food grinder, using the fine grinding plate. I use my KitchenAid food grinder attachment for my stand mixer. You can also use a coffee grinder and do it in smaller batches. Note: If using a meat grinder, you need to push firmly. The seeds won’t grind well unless they are under pressure. P.S. I’ve tried putting them through a food processor and it did not work. Drain off excess liquid if any has accumulated in the bowl.
  5. Mix 8-10 ounces of sweetened condensed milk into ground poppy seeds. I like to add 10 oz. Add raisins if desired (depending on the recipe you're making). Store in tupperware and refrigerate until ready to use.

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natashaskitchen

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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  • Mary
    December 31, 2018

    I grind the poppy seeds using a coffee grinder after soaking them in boiled water for 30 min. Then I mix in honey (instead of condensed mix) to get the sweetness I want. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 31, 2018

      Thank you for sharing that with me, Mary! Happy New Year! Reply

  • Donna
    November 20, 2018

    FYI, it’s also a staple in Polish households! My mom was 100% Polish and we had stuff with poppyseeds in it all the time. I admit I’ve never made my own, I just buy the canned. I’ll have to try this. Kolackys were my mom’s specialty every Christmas and my favorites were always the Poppyseed ones. I still make them and I can founder on them. Nothing better than himeade poppyseed bread! Yum! Reply

    • Natasha
      November 20, 2018

      I love that so many holiday traditions and memories center around food. Thanks for sharing that iwht us! Reply

  • Andrea
    November 17, 2018

    Is the rinsing and bringing the poppy seeds to simmer multiple times to remove the opiates(morphine and codeine)? And if so, does it remove all of them to make the poppy seeds safe to consume in unlimited quantities? Reply

    • Natasha
      November 19, 2018

      Hi Andrea, I am honestly not sure. I figure if grocery stores sell poppyseeds, they are safe for consumption 😉 Reply

      • Andrea
        November 19, 2018

        Is there a specific reason why poppy seeds need to simmer multiple times and then strained?

         Reply

        • Natasha
          November 19, 2018

          Hi Andrea, it helps to soften the poppyseeds so they mill more readily. It is very difficult to grind uncooked poppyseeds (I have tried!) 🙂 Reply

    • Katie
      November 19, 2018

      I don’t think it removes it, but it’s still safe. I make makowiec (Polish poppyseed roll) and my friends in Poland have told me that if you have a drug test done after eating it, you’ll test positive (even though it’s not functioning as a drug in your body). One year at Christmas when I’d made a few makowiec, my husband and I were traveling and had to go through border control. A drug sniffing dog indicated our car was a problem. I told the officers what it was and they looked at it and were fine with it. But apparently the dog could pick up on it. Reply

  • Sue Levytsky
    December 14, 2017

    Hi, Natasha: Have you tried a Vitamix to grind the poppyseed? Just received one and would like to try if it’s a viable option but don’t want to waste poppyseed if it is not! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 14, 2017

      Hi Sue, I haven’t tried that but a couple of readers reported great results using their Vitamix. Reply

  • Alina
    December 14, 2017

    How long can this filling stay in the fridge if I want to make it ahead of time?
    And also do u think I can freeze baked rogaliki with poppy seed filling? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 14, 2017

      Hi Alina, you could easily store this filling up to a week in the refrigerator. Yes, you can store the rolls with poppyseed filling. We do this all the time. If you freeze them once they reach room temperature, when you thaw them they will taste pretty close to the way they did when they were right out of the oven. The fresher they are when they go into the freezer, the fresher they will come out. I hope you love the recipes! Reply

      • Alina
        December 14, 2017

        Ok great. Thank u so much. Yea I love this recipe. I thought I would never do filling myself but it’s actually easy and yummy. Thanks again- just make rolls- so so good- using ur recipe
        And planning on making rogaliki and freezing some 🙂 Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          December 14, 2017

          My pleasure Alina! Reply

  • Sue
    December 13, 2017

    Hi Natasha! I so want to try making my own poppyseed filling, but I only have a blender and a Magic Bullet. Do you think either of these will do the trick? Thanks so much!! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 13, 2017

      Sue, to be honest, I haven’t tried it in my blender. I know for sure it doesn’t work in a a cheaper blender, but I think it would be worth a shot. If it doesn’t work; you could always scrape it out and use another method. The seeds need to be split or crushed. If you try your Magic Bullet, please report back and let me know how it went. Reply

  • Katie
    November 27, 2017

    Hi Natasha!

    I just have to send you a huge thanks! Every year around Christmas, I make makowiec (my husband is Polish) and I can’t tell you how many coffee grinders I’ve gone through. I was looking for something better than a coffee grinder, but less expensive than a real poppy seed grinder…and I found this post where you used a KA food grinder. My search is over! Thanks a million. Also, I really enjoy the recipes you have here.

    Have a wonderful Christmas! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 28, 2017

      My pleasure Katie! I’m glad you found the post so helpful. Merry Christmas to you! Reply

  • Kal Biro
    November 16, 2017

    Natasha,

    You were asking about poppy seed grinders earlier in this thread. You can get them from California. These are specifically for poppy seeds.
    http://www.hungariandeli.com/Cookware.htm

    Cheers,

    Kal Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 16, 2017

      Thanks for sharing Kal! Reply

  • Grace
    June 19, 2017

    Hi there! I didn’t have a grinder, so I added my cooked poppy seeds and the condensed milk to my Vitamix and blended them together for a few minutes. It came together pretty well in a pinch! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 19, 2017

      Great suggestion Grace! Thanks for sharing your tip with other readers! Reply

  • Natalie
    May 1, 2017

    Just made this- used a coffee/spice grinder from Amazon, it’s on sale now and worked great. Made with 2 cups of seeds and 14 oz of condensed milk. I am like you, I love it and would like to add those extra 6 oz of milk, but I am afraid the mixture will become too runny.. Love the taste of this poppy seed filling! Making piroshki tomorrow! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      May 1, 2017

      I just love it too. I could sit and eat it with a spoon! 🙂 Reply

  • surati Ivey
    April 24, 2017

    My Czech Grandmother made Kolachy frequently, and I especially loved the beautiful golden oval buns filled with poppy seeds. They were never too sweet and had a great sponge plus the slight taste of the yeast was great _ BUT, the best part were the filling. I have a Czech poppy seed grinder, just had to brag. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 25, 2017

      Oh how neat! What does a Czech poppy seed grinder look like and are they only available out of the country? Reply

  • Alina
    March 20, 2017

    Would the texture be okay if the poppy seeds aren’t ground? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 20, 2017

      Hi Alina, it won’t work if they aren’t ground. The mixture won’t stay together and it will just be wet poppy seeds rather than the mixture coming together if they are ground. Reply

      • Mike
        December 3, 2017

        I have been too lazy to grind and it works. But I do add finely ground walnuts, so that helps keep the goo together. I will try to work this method into my Kolach experiments. Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          December 3, 2017

          Thank you for sharing! I’ll have to try that with ground walnuts 🙂 Reply

    • December 3, 2017

      Crushing poppy seeds releases their oil and therefore wonderful flavor. At my church (https://saindy.com/bake-goods/) we make hundreds of poppy seed rolls throughout the year. Since 2008 we’ve been using this grinder : https://pleasanthillgrain.com/grain-mill-kitchenaid-mixer
      I highly recommend it. Consider adding some lemon juice and/or zest to your recipe. Reply

  • Stephanie D
    March 4, 2017

    I come from a Slovak family which uses poppyseeds for a lot of recipes. One of which is Kolachky. My great-grandmother always made her own poppyseed filling. In addition to your ingredients, she would add just a pinch of ground cinnamon, honey to sweeten & ground raisins. I’ve used Bakers poppyseed filling in a jar (not the canned stuff) & it isn’t bad, but, nothing beats homemade. My Slovak cookbook calls for reg milk rather than sweetened condensed, but I like the sound of the your recipe. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 4, 2017

      Thank you for sharing your Grandmother’s add-ins! I love to hear how different people make theirs and those sound really nice! 🙂 Reply

  • Greg
    December 12, 2016

    Have you ever heard of anyone using a Vitamix whole grains grinder for the grinding step with the poppy seeds? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 12, 2016

      I haven’t heard of anyone trying that and I have no experience with that attachment so I can’t say for sure. If you try it out, let me know how it works. I have used a coffee grinder and a meat grinder and they both work well. Reply

      • Joanna Anderson
        March 12, 2017

        I just used the dry Vitamix container and it looks like it worked really well in just a few seconds. Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          March 13, 2017

          That’s awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂 Reply

  • Alina
    October 31, 2016

    How long can u keep this filing in the fridge before using it?
    Thank you Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 1, 2016

      I usually use it pretty soon after it is made but I think it would be fine for about a week or so covered and refrigerated. Reply

  • Lisa
    April 5, 2016

    If you have a grinder that’s strong enough to grind the seeds, do you still need to cook them first? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 5, 2016

      Hi Lisa, yes you do need to cook them since they need to soften to become sweeter and tastier. What exactly do you use that is strong enough to grind the seeds? I’ve never been successful with anything just grinding them raw. I’m curious! Reply

      • DENNIS GARBACZ
        May 31, 2016

        i have a grain grinder for my stand mixer which i bought just to grind poppy seeds and it does work. grinder is costly but will last 10 lifetimes, maybe moreL Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          May 31, 2016

          That is good to know, I should look in to that 😀. Reply

      • Lynn
        August 17, 2016

        I use a small Krups coffee grinder to grind them when they’re raw for German poppyseed cake. Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          August 17, 2016

          We’ve been using our coffee grinder for smaller batches as well but after 3 rounds, my coffee grinder starts to get hot. It is really fast and convenient to use the coffee grinder. I love it! 🙂 Reply

      • Michael
        September 17, 2017

        I use a Capresso Coffee/Spice grinder and it works well for grinding raw/uncooked poppy seeds. Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          September 17, 2017

          Great tip Michael! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Reply

  • March 31, 2016

    Natasha! I love that you added the sgushyunka 🙂 So much better than plain sugar! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 31, 2016

      I agree! Thanks Mila 🙂 Reply

  • Irene
    January 25, 2016

    Hi
    With Vitimix its so much easier
    but you have to be careful because this machine is very strong
    first time I made it and I have over beaten my poppy seeds and people who tried it didn’t really like it
    so next time I did it again
    I just went for shorter time and it was really nice Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 25, 2016

      That’s great to know! thank you so much for sharing that! Reply

    • Suzy
      October 27, 2017

      Hi , how many minutes did you grind with the vitamix. Thanks Reply

  • Gloria Katnick
    January 21, 2016

    Natasha I have purchased pre-ground poppy seeds from my deli. Should I still cook them or what do you suggest for making the filling? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 21, 2016

      Hi Gloria, I’ve never purchased pre-ground poppy seeds. Do you mean they are already turned into a filling i.e. ground and sweetened? If they are already ground, I don’t think you should cook them or you’ll never be able to strain them properly. Are they pre-cooked? Reply

  • kalena
    December 16, 2015

    I dont have any kind of grinder….is there an economical one i can buy ?? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 16, 2015

      I use the meat grinder attachment on my kitchenaid. Without doing alot of price comparison shopping, I can’t really say for certain. I would recommend going by the Amazon reviews. I do alot of my shopping that way :). Do you have a good coffee grinder? You can put small batches in a coffee grinder just be careful that it doesn’t get overheated. Reply

  • Pat Robo
    September 14, 2015

    How long can I store poppyseed that’s been prepared in the refrigerator? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 15, 2015

      Pat, I never tested max amount of time, but imagine it would be good for up to a week, maybe longer :). Reply

  • Oksana
    July 29, 2015

    Hi Natasha,
    I love the recipes you post!! Only problem for me is that recently I started a vegan diet and really wanted to make this recipe, is there anything you can recommend for substituting the condensed milk? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 29, 2015

      To be honest I haven’t tried any substitutes for the condensed milk… I guess you could omit it and use a little almond milk or coconut milk and honey for sweetness?? I haven’t tested those combinations yet, but if you do, let me know how it goes and don’t add too much liquid so it doesn’t become watery. Reply

  • Clandestine
    January 27, 2015

    Very nice recipe. Where do you get you’re dried poppy pods? Thank you in advance. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 27, 2015

      My mom had them growing in her yard several years ago and she just saved these and dried them she keeps them in an artificial flower arrangement that looks pretty cool. I borrowed them from her. 🙂 if you could if you plant a few poppies in your yard, you can dry them and do the same thing Reply

  • Poppy Prince
    January 27, 2015

    lol you drained the goodies 😀 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 28, 2015

      What are you referring to? 🙂 Reply

  • Adriana
    October 1, 2014

    Hello Natasha, thanks so much for the recipe! I have a question regarding the grinding: if I decide to use a coffee grinder, wouldn’t be easier to grind the dry poppy seeds first and then cook them in milk or even watter until I get a paste? I’m afraid the wet, boilded composition will not go well in coffee grinder. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 1, 2014

      As long as you drain the poppyseeds well, it should be fine in the coffee grinder. The seeds should no longer be hot when they go into the grinder and you will have to do it in batches. Not all coffee grinders are created equal, so if your coffee grinder starts feeling too warm, take a break and finish up after the coffee grinder cools down a bit. I hope that helps. I haven’t tried doing it the other way. I think you really need to cook the seeds in order to be able to grind them. The cooking process softens them up. Reply

      • Adriana
        October 1, 2014

        Thank you Natasha! There is a Hungarian similar recipe called : “Beigli” where the poppy seeds are first grinded and then boiled in milk to make a paste, cool and fill the roll.Same idea with with walnut. I’ll try cooking the poppy seeds powder in condensed milk. Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          October 1, 2014

          Oh now I’m intrigued! How do you grind the poppy seeds initially? Do you use a meat grinder? Reply

          • Adriana
            October 2, 2014

            I ussualy grind it using a coffee grinder, like I’m doing with caster sugar or spices. You get a fine powder and cook it in a little bit of milk, sugar and vanilla until it’s loke a paste. Cool it and fill the beigli roll.

          • Natasha
            natashaskitchen
            October 2, 2014

            That sounds very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your method!

  • September 27, 2014

    So how come you don’t boil the poppy seeds? Is there something behind keeping below the boiling point? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 27, 2014

      I’m not sure of the science behind it, but the goal is not to “cook” the poppyseed, but to soften it. I think you possibly might lose the natural oils from the poppyseeds when boiling them too long. Reply

  • Irina
    September 24, 2014

    This is totally off the subject of poppyseeds. you should do a recipe on how to smoke fish. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 24, 2014

      I don’t have a recipe. My parents always do the fish smoking in our family and they built their own smoker. It would be a good tutorial to do one day, but unfortunately I don’t have one posted. Sorry 🙁 Reply

  • DeNise
    September 23, 2014

    What do you think about using a VitaMix instead of food grinder? I have both, but the VitaMix is much easier to get to.
    Thank You Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 24, 2014

      You know, to be honest, I haven’t tried it in my Blendtec. I know for sure it doesn’t work in a a cheaper blender, but I think it would be worth a shot. If it doesn’t work; you could always scrape it out and use another method. The seeds need to be split or crushed and I know a food processor doesn’t cut it (even a really good one!). If you try your VitaMix, please report back and let me know how it went. Thanks DeNise 🙂 Reply

  • alana
    September 23, 2014

    where do u buy poppy seeds? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 23, 2014

      I detailed it in the first paragraph 🙂 Reply

      • Alana
        September 23, 2014

        Sorry sweetie didn’t catch that. I rushed down to get the recipe:)thanks can’t wait to make roulettik!!!!!! Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          September 23, 2014

          No problem. Hope it’s helpful 🙂 Reply

  • Alyona
    September 23, 2014

    Hey Nstasha, I have a question I am too lazy to make yeast dough. Have you ever tried to make mini roulades with russian store bought puff pastry and this yummy filling? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 23, 2014

      I haven’t tried it with poppyseed filling. It might be a good experiment, but I just haven’t see it done or tried it myself. You’d end up with something completely different from the traditional roulade. Reply

  • Inna
    September 23, 2014

    Natasha, for how long can it be stored in the refrigerator? Also do you think I could freeze it and just defrost when I need to use it? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 23, 2014

      I think it would work to freeze it. I’ve kept it in the fridge up to a week. I haven’t tested it longer than that so I can’t say with certainty. Reply

  • Natasha
    September 22, 2014

    My favorite filling, going to try! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 23, 2014

      Enjoy! My husbands favorite too. He inhaled the pirohi I made with this filling 🙂 Reply

  • September 22, 2014

    Just two ingredients? That’s perfect!!! Your mom grows poppy seeds? I like the poppy seed heads. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 23, 2014

      Don’t you love that?! She grew them a few years back and kept some of the poppyseed heads for decoration. She is going to plant them again next year. I am so excited about that! Reply

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