Polish Poppy Seed Filling

Polish-style poppy seed filling (or masa makowa) for tarts, rolls, strudels and cakes. Flavorful and rich filling with no eggs and butter. Gluten free and vegetarian.

Polish style poppy seed filling with milk, raisins, walnuts, cacao and lemon and orange peel

Today I’m sharing with you my favorite recipe for poppy seed filling I often make for various cakes and rolls at home. Poppy seed filling is quite typical in many European cuisines. It is particularly common in Central and Eastern Europe, although you can see it in many recipes down south as well.

FUN FACTS: Polish poppy seed filling, known as makowiec filling, is a rich and aromatic blend of finely ground poppy seeds, honey or sugar, and milk or butter, often enhanced with raisins, nuts, and a touch of citrus zest. The mixture is cooked until thick and creamy, creating a smooth, flavorful paste. This traditional filling is commonly used in pastries like the poppy seed roll, a beloved treat in Polish cuisine, especially during holidays.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  1. Poppy seeds – fresh raw poppy seeds.
  2. Brown sugar
  3. Milk
  4. Raisins – or other types of dried fruits, like cranberries or chopped apricots
  5. Walnuts
  6. Cacao powder
  7. Orange peels – or lemon peels. Use fresh peels from organic fruits for best taste
  8. Spices: cinnamon, vanilla extract, orange oil extract ( I use this one), nutmeg

How to cook Polish Poppy Seed Filling?

1st: Grind the raw poppy seeds in blender/coffee grinder. Combine with milk and orange/lemon peel and let simmer until milk evaporates.

2nd: Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Use when cooled down, refrigerate or freeze.

What to use Poppy seed filling for?

Poppy seed filling is mainly used for various desserts and yeast based breakfast/brunch recipes. Depending on the country in Europe, there are a few traditional uses of poppy seed filling:

  • Poland: Poppy seed filling is widely used in traditional pastries such as makowiec, a poppy seed roll.
  • Germany: Mohnkuchen, or poppy seed cake, is a popular treat.
  • Hungary: Beigli, a rolled pastry filled with poppy seeds or walnuts, is a staple, especially around Christmas and Easter.
  • Czech Republic and Slovakia: Koláče and buchty often feature poppy seed fillings.
  • Austria: Mohnstrudel, a strudel filled with poppy seeds, is well-loved.
Polish style poppy seed filling with milk, raisins, walnuts, cacao and lemon and orange peel
Polish style poppy seed filling with milk, raisins, walnuts, cacao and lemon and orange peel

Polish Poppy Seed Filling

The European Dish
Polish-style poppy seed filling for all sorts of baked rolls, croissants or tarts.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine European, Polish
Servings 1 poppy seed filling


  • 1 cup (150g) poppy seeds, fresh
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (150g) raisins
  • 6 tbsp. (100g) walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon, heaping
  • 2 drops orange/lemon oil extract
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • pinch nutmeg
  • peels from 1/2 orange or lemon, preferably organic
  • 2 tbsp. cacao powder, preferably organic


  • In a food processor grind raw fresh poppy seeds for a few minutes. Or use coffee grinder instead.
  • Then, in a small pot add milk, sugar and lemon/orange peels. Let sugar dissolve on medium heat. Then, add poppy seeds and raisins. Let simmer until milk has evaporated. Stir frequently as needed.
  • Next, remove from stove top and add all remaining ingredients (spices, walnuts, vanilla and orange oil extract). Mix well and set aside to cool down.
  • Use to make rolls, tarts, cookies, etc.. Alternatively, preserve up to 48h in airtight container in the fridge.


  • 1 cup = 250 ml
  • Milk can be substituted with fresh orange juice 
  • Make sure poppy seeds are fresh, otherwise the filling will taste bad
  • FREEZE – you can freeze this filling in freezer bags for future use too
Keyword easy and quick, gluten-free, vegetarian
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1 Comment

  1. Magda
    July 15, 2024 / 7:53 am

    5 stars
    Perfect, I added dried apricots and plums.

5 from 1 vote

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