Homemade Poppy Seed Filling

Homemade poppy seed filling is actually simple to make and is so much better than store bought. The texture and flavor is superior in every way.

Homemade Poppy Seed Filling

In our Soviet culture, we bake with poppy seeds a lot, so making homemade poppy seed filling makes sense. I was really surprised how easy it is to make yourself with this simple method. Since poppy seed filling isn’t always available in stores, sometimes I have no choice but to make it at home. Often even if you can find it, it doesn’t taste very fresh because not a lot of people bake with it.  

The homemade version is perfectly creamy, very easy to work with and spread out in your baking and tastes so good. It’s wonderful to use it in pastries, yeast breads and cookies. My favorite are Poppy Seed Rugelach and Poppy Seed Rolls. You can also be make it in advance and store it in your refrigerator. It even freezes perfectly for longer storage. Your baking will taste so much better when you use homemade poppy seed filling.


(Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the printable recipe with measurements.)

  • poppy seeds
    • I like to buy poppy seeds in bulk. They are much more budget friendly and taste much fresher than the tiny spice bottles in most grocery stores. You can look in your local bulk food stores or order them online like I do. (I have ordered them from nuts.com for many years.)
  • whole milk
    • I recommend using whole milk because it will have a richer, creamier texture than reduced fat or skim milk.
    • You can most likely use other milk options instead of cow’s milk, but I haven’t personally tried it.
  • butter
  • granulated sugar
  • salt
  • egg yolks
    • egg yolks will help thicken up the custard for the poppy seed filling. Using only egg yolks not the egg whites is important because the egg whites is the part that makes things taste “eggy”
Ingredients for poppy seed filling

The Best Way to Prep the Poppy Seeds

You do need a coffee grinder for this recipe. Trust me, I tried it in the food processor, blender, mashing it by hand, grinding it with my teeth (just kidding). It just doesn’t work. The seeds are too tiny for anything besides a coffee grinder. I have heard that others use a meat grinder for this, but I haven’t tried that.

whole poppy seeds and ground poppy seeds for baking and to make poppy seed filling

Here’s the coffee grinder that we have now (it’s currently not available on Amazon, but here’s the one that we had before that you can purchase now. We used it for years and it worked really well for this too. (I also use it once in a while to grind spices.)

How To Make Homemade Poppy Seed Filling

  1. Use a coffee grinder to process the poppy seeds. 
    • You will need to do this in several batches.
  2. Meanwhile heat the milk, butter, salt and sugar on medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk is frothy. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Take some of the hot milk mixture and slowly pour in a some of it into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time.
    • This is called tempering, which prevents the eggs from scrambling.  
    • When you’ve added about half of the milk to the eggs, pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan, whisking to combine.
  4. Cook on medium-low heat until the mixture thickens, just like making pudding. It should thicken up.
  5. Add the poppy seeds and mix to combine.
    • The filling will look thin, but don’t worry, it will thicken up as it cools. Pour the filling into a glass mason jar or a storage container. Cool, then store the filling in the refrigerator, for about a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
How to make poppy seed filling tutorial.

Poppy Seed Filling Recipes


Homemade Poppy Seed Filling

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5 from 3 reviews

Homemade poppy seed filling is actually simple to make and is so much better than store bought. The texture and flavor is superior.

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Miscellaneous


  • 8 oz. poppy seeds (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (or 4 Tablespoons) butter
  • 3/41 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten


  1. Use a coffee grinder to process the poppy seeds. You will need to do this in several batches.
  2. Meanwhile heat the milk, butter, salt, and sugar on medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk is frothy.
  3. Slowly pour in a small amount of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking vigorously with the other hand. This is called tempering, which prevents the eggs from scrambling. When you’ve added about half of the milk to the eggs, pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until the mixture thickens, just like making pudding.
  4. Add the poppy seeds, mixing to combine. Cool. The filling will thicken up as it cools. Store the filling in the refrigerator for up to a week and freeze for up to 3 months.

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  • Inna Sysa

    Wow! Just what i needed. I usually use the ready one, but someone gave me some dry poppy seed and i just had no idea how to make it tasty. Thank you again for the great tip. 🙂

  • olivehealth

    I just recently found your blog (through Krystyna’s blog;) and am so glad I did! Your recipes look delicious! I can’t wait to try them out.

    • olgak7

      Hi Alina,
      I’ve never frozen the poppy seed filling. It keeps very well in the refrigerator, and I don’t like freezing food for too long anyway. Try it out. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work.

  • olessa

    Hi Olga. Love your food blog. Great recipes. Quick question : how does the poppy seed filling get thick. Mine is so watery/liquidy…per instructions you wrote to add half the milk mixture to the eggs then let cool and add the poppy seeds. My concern is what happened to the other half of the milk mixture? I added the entire milk mixture to poppy seeds and am unsure where I messed up. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • olgak7

      Hi Olessa!
      Pour part of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking vigorously, so the eggs don’t scramble.
      Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, WITH THE REST OF THE MILK MIXTURE, and cook until the mixture thickens. Then add the poppy seeds.
      I think that you didn’t cook the mixture long enough. Hope that helps.

      • olessa

        Thanks Olga, appreciate your response! that’s the part where I messed up – it didn’t thicken. assumed when the butter will get cold, the mixture will get stiff. but it didn’t so thank you and will try to do it again.

  • Natasha

    Hi Olga,
    Do you think that a food processor would work instead of the coffee grinder. I just don’t have a coffee grinder at home. thank you!

    • olgak7

      No, Natasha. The food processor won’t work. I’ve tried it and many other options. The only option that worked was the coffee grinder. Because the poppy seeds are so tiny, you need something that will grind it really fine. The poppy seeds will remain whole if you use the food processor.

  • dhurga

    Hi Olga!
    Hands down one of the best poppy fillings ever!!!!!!!So tasty!
    My boyfriend is Slovak and he loves anything and everything poppy!!i can just feel it!!!!This is going to be a hit!!!!!!!!

  • Natasha

    Hi Olga! Do you know how long I can keep it in the refrigerator until it turns bad? Also, would the poppy seed become bad if I grind them and use them like 3 mouths later?

    • olgak7

      Hi Natasha.
      I’ve never had it in the refrigerator for more than a month, so I’m not sure how long it will last.
      As for grinding the poppy seeds 3 months later, it depends on how fresh your poppy seeds are in the first place. They should be fine, but I would keep checking on them every few weeks just in case.

  • Lena S.

    FYI: for anyone grinding the poppy seeds in the coffee grinder, not all coffee grinders are the same. I grinded my poppy seeds in a Cuisinart coffee grinder and ruined my coffee grinder. My coffee grinder was fairly new and not cheap but the motor got plugged up by poppy seed residue and stopped working from grinding the poppy seeds. Taking it apart and cleaning it didn’t help fix it. After the fact, I read on the manual that nothing except coffee should be grinded in it. So this is just some information for people to consider before using their coffee grinder to grind poppy seeds.

    • olgak7

      Thank you so much for writing, Lena. That is definitely something to keep in mind. I’ve never heard of poppy seeds ruining a coffee grinder. I’ll have to put in a picture of my coffee grinder, so others will know which one is safe to use.

      • love cooking

        My mom tried in a coffee grinder and the motor just stopped working.
        Can u tell what brand is your grinder and how many watts is it ???
        Thank you

        • olgak7

          I will try to add a picture of the coffee grinder that I use.
          I heard many other chefs who recommend using a coffee grinder to grind up spices and poppy seeds, so I know I’m not the only one. The brand that I bought was the cheapest one at Walmart, for like $15 or so.

  • Mary Jo Matey

    The amount of poppy seed is confusing .. says 8 oz and then ( about 1 1/2 cups ) 8oz is only 1 cup .. what do u mean by the 2 different amounts ???

    Want to be sure of amounts .. cant wait to make this 🙂

    Thank you ~~~
    MAry Jo

    • olgak7

      I try to include the cup measurements for people who don’t have a scale, Mary Jo.
      8 oz of poppy seeds is equal to 1 1/2 cups. 1 cup of poppy seeds would actually be about 5 oz.
      Even though 1 cup is usually equal to 8 oz, that is not always the case. 1 cup = 8 oz is only true for liquid ingredients. Some dry ingredients are lighter or heavier than others.
      For example, 1 cup of dry mushrooms would barely weigh 1 oz, and 1 cup of long grain rice is about 7 oz.

  • Cherie Fasbinder

    Wanted to make my granddaughter some hamantaschen. I’ve only used canned mund (poppyseed filling) before… but she has bad corn allergies and the canned has both corn syrup & corn starch. Did some research and found your recipe… made today with huge success!!! Came out fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing! I made a double batch and now I’m going to try your rugelach too!!

  • lillian

    Ohmygosh! I am Romanian and I grew up on poppy seed desserts too! I am so happy to have found this recipe , finding eastern European recipes is really hard so I am so thankful for your blog! I plan on using this to make cozonac cu mac.

  • Pam

    Thanks for recipe. I am making makowiec for the first time for our family’s traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner (my husband is Polish – he cooks everything else :). I had a recipe that called for 1c milk-1c sugar-1 lb poppy seeds. Yours is half the poppy seeds for volume of milk/sugar. So I still used 1lb poppy seeds and added 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c milk. Plus the egg – nice addition! Also grated lemon rind and vanillla. The filling tastes great, now for the dough and final product.

    • olgak7

      Adding lemon zest and vanilla is such a good idea, Pam. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the filling. I hope your makowiec turns out great too. I’d love to see a picture of it once you bake it. If you post it on Facebook or Instagram, tag me please:).

  • Kathleen

    we purchased a seed grinder which works great…. hand crank but very easy


    • olgak7

      I don’t know for sure, Alina, since I usually make the filling when I am making something with it, so I’ve never had in in the refrigerator for more than a week. I think it would last longer, but I don’t know for sure.

  • Ulrike

    I was on the search for a good poppy seed filling . Finally found some in a larger package than 8 ounces Online and am eager to get some decent Poppy seed cake with Streusel Topping on the Table .i just want to add some information regarding grinding the seeds .The best way to grind the poppy seeds is with a poppy seed grinder which is available on Amazon . I brought mine – a manual one – from Europe years ago ( before Amazon ) . Another option is to buy a mortar. Many European Websites point out not to use a coffee grinder since it affects the quality of the seeds . The grinders are not cheap but if you use poppy seeds or other seeds and grains it is worth the investment . Thank you very much for posting this recipe . This is a keeper !

  • Kira Schofield

    I have used professional 900 watts personal Ninja, the kind that makes one smoothie at a time by turning the cup upside down and pressing on it, and it did a great job grinding poppy seeds, all 8 oz at once. It took less than a minute of continuous pressure to have them ground. I used Red Mill poppy seeds, they come in 8 oz bag: very convenient!
    Will try it tomorrow in poppyseed rolls.

  • Donna

    I’ve had poppyseed filling in the refrigerator in a tight lidded jar for one year. I tasted it, it tastes fine, but I am wondering if it is OK to use now for baking. I saw you’ve never kept it for more than a month refrigerated and you think it could be OK longer, but one year? Thinking I might try to make something small with it and see how it goes. I just made new poppyseed filling for baking now. I don’t taste anything off in the one that has been refrigerated, so wondering if OK to use. The filling I have refrigerated did not have egg in it, only soaked in some hot milk, sugar, maybe butter.

    • olgak7

      I, personally, wouldn’t use it. If I don’t use up the poppy seed filling in more than a week, I freeze it. That way, it will stay fresh much longer, up to a few months. I’d rather be safe than sorry:).

  • Monica

    Hi Olgak
    Love your kindness with your recipes so easy to follow, I made a baked poppy seed cheesecake, thank you so much for the delicious poppyseed filling recipe, I’m now looking for you yeast poppyseed scrolls but cannot find it? If you could please assist. Regards Monica

  • Alena

    Hi, for some reason my mixture always gets curdy at the end from the eggs. It will look smooth while it is on stove, but as soon as I take it off and keep whisking mixture it starts to curdle from the eggs. How do I avoid this or is it supposed to be like this? It makes my poppyseed filling have little curdles in it. Still tastes great but please let me know how to avoid the curdles. Am I possibly getting it too hot and heating it for too long? Please let me know, thank you!

  • Nik

    Very excited to make your poppy seed roulette. Маковый рулет is by far my favorite dessert, but I like some raisins in the filling. What volume of raisins would you suggest adding to this recipe?

    And thanks for this great website of Russian recipes. It’s truly a treasure.

    • olgak7

      Add however many raisins as you like, Nik. It’s completely up to you. I’m happy to hear that you enjoy the recipes on my website. Thank you for taking the time to write.

  • Victoria

    Hi Olga,

    Can I ask when you refer to 1/2 stick of butter how many grams is that? The standard block of butter I get from the shops is 250grams.
    Many thanks – I cant wait to make this for the roulette!!!

  • Sema Demirel

    Hi Olga,
    thank you so much for the delicious poppyseed filling recipe. I just confused , what do you mean 3/4-1 cup sugar ? Equal how much gram of sugar ?
    Thanks in Advance .

    • olgak7

      3/4 – 1 cup means that you can adjust the sweetness according to your taste preference, 3/4 cup if you want it to be less sweet, 1 cup if you want it to be sweeter. 1 cup of sugar is about 200 grams.

  • Gail Neduzak

    hi olga..i have a recipe that i do like and use a poppyseed grinder..but i mix and simmer everything first then grind then add honey,..I see you grind the seeds first (dry)..just want to be sure..and would like to try with the sugar..also how long will the fillg last in fridge and can it be frozen?..i did freeze the other i make and it was fine even after 6mos…ty for reply..

    • olgak7

      I grind the dry poppy seeds first. In my opinion, it works better this way and the poppy seeds are much smoother.
      I don’t keep it longer than a week in the refrigerator and you can freeze for up to 3 months as long as you seal it really well.

      • Gail Neduzak

        ty so much for getting back to me Olga..i am going to try your way..sis is giving me a coffee grinder ..will let you know huggzz

  • MARY Russell

    Did you answer Nik’s concern above..? I have exactly the same concern.. the curdling after it looking so smooth and nice? Is it supposed to do that?.Any feedback would be appreciated..Thankyou..

  • Cheryl Taylor

    I was wondering if it is possible to put the poppy seed in jars to can it for later use. If so, can you let me know how long it takes and how long it will last?

  • Melody

    Little bit more labor-intensive, and another one I have, but it is definitely worth the effort. However, word of warning, wash your poppyseeds before you grind them. You’ll notice the poppyseeds, have a light dusting on them as a part of the harvesting. If you don’t rinse this off, your poppyseeds will taste bitter in your recipe.

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