What is Poppy Seed?

Poppy seeds are tiny, edible, blue-grey (slate-blue) or ivory-coloured kidney shaped seeds from the dried pod (fruit) of the poppy plant (Papaverum somniferum) of the family Papaveraceae.

The seeds are less than 1mm in length and have a pitted surface. There are about 3300 seeds in 1g (3oz) and 1-2 million seeds in 500g (1Ib).

Although the poppy is the source of opium, the seeds lose their narcotic content as they ripen. Mature poppy seeds have a vey low level of opiates.

Poppy seeds have been used for thousands of years in whole or ground form as an ingredient in savoury and sweet foods or as a filling in baked goods and pastries.

The top five producers of poppy seeds in 2016 were Czech Republic (31% world production of 92,610 tonnes), Turkey, Spain, Hungary and France. (Wiki)

Flavour of Poppy Seeds

The primary flavour compound is 2-Pentylfuran. The seeds are nutty with a crunch. White poppy seeds are much sweeter. The black have a slight bitterness.

Culinary Use of Poppy Seeds

The Blue-grey poppy seeds (marketed as black) are more widely used in European cuisine and the Ivory (white) coloured poppy seeds are popular in Indian cuisine for thickening food, adding flavour and improving texture.  A common dish is the “Aloo posto” (potato and poppy seed)

Black Poppy seed are used as a topping, filling or for flavouring baked goods (loaves, pastries, cakes), desserts, biscuits and strudel .

They are also used as a garnish for breads, buns, bagels, Kolache, Cozonac or as an ingredient in muffins, rusk, bagels, cakes etc

Poppy Seed Roll myfavouritepastime.com

To make poppy seed fillings: finely ground poppy seeds are mixed with butter or milk or cream and used as a filling for bread and pastries. The filling can be flavoured with lemon or orange zest, rum, vanilla essence, raisins, cinnamon, almonds or walnuts.

To grind the seeds they must be toasted or broiled, mixed with liquid such as water and ground in a pestle & mortar, coffee grinder or a special poppy seed grinder called Burr Grinder.

Poppy seeds are also used to make candy. The seeds are boiled with sugar or honey.

Ready to Use Poppy Seed Filling

Ready to use poppy seed filling is available commercially in cans . Common ingredients include: sugar, water, emulsifier (soy lecithin) and food preservative.

Common Brand names include American Almond and Solo

Ready to use Solo Poppy Seed filling: is used for cakes, desserts and rolls and is made with the finest European poppy seeds.

Ingredients in solo poppy seed filling: corn syrup, poppy seed, sugar, water, modified corn starch, salt natural flavour, spices and citric acid. (Made in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.Kosher Product of USA)

Poppy seeds can be adulterated with Amaranthus paniculatus seeds.




Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

7 thoughts

    1. The black ones are used in baking, bagels, bread, cake. Are you confusing poppy seeds with sesame seeds? Black poppy seeds are used more than the white ones.
      Have a great weekend!

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