Poppy Seed Filling for Hamantaschen

The most traditional filling for Hamantaschen cookies is poppy seed (known in Yiddish as mohn). Some people believe this tradition finds its roots in a pun. In Yiddish, Hamantaschen literally translates to “Haman’s pockets.” A slight variation of the word, ha-mohn-taschen, literally translates to “the poppy seed pockets.”

Whatever the reason, poppy seed is the most popular of all Hamantachen fillings. Here is my favorite recipe for poppy seed filling.

To make this filling pareve (dairy free), I’ve recommended some specific substitutes below. I really like this filling better dairy, but you can get a descent pareve result using the recommended substitutions.

Need a delicious and foolproof hamantaschen dough recipe? For my Dairy Free Hamantaschen dough, click here. For my Buttery Hamantaschen dough, click here.

Note: I have improved this recipe since originally posting… I am always working to make my recipes the best that they can be. Enjoy!

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Mohn - Poppy Seed Filling for Hamantaschen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (8 oz.) poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (see cooking instructions for pareve subs)
  • 1 cup milk (see cooking instructions for pareve subs)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: About 2 1/4 cups of filling
Kosher Key: Dairy (Pareve with recommended substitutions)
  • Grind the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder in batches for about 15-20 seconds per batch, till they are ground soft and powdery.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the milk, sugar, and honey. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, till the sugar dissolves and the honey melts.
  • Pour about 1 cup of the hot liquid into a cup.
  • Immediately but gradually being drizzling the hot liquid into the beaten eggs. Whisk briskly and constantly till all of the hot liquid is integrated into the eggs. Do not pour too quickly, or you'll scramble your eggs. It should take about a minute to drizzle all of the liquid.
  • Slowly pour the heated, tempered egg mixture back into the hot liquid in the saucepan, whisking constantly.
  • Continue to whisk and cook for 3-5 more minutes over medium heat till the mixture thickens and turns light yellow. It is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon.
  • Remove the saucepan from heat. Whisk the ground poppy seeds into the buttery liquid and stir well to blend all ingredients.
  • Allow filling to cool to room temperature before using. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  • To make this filling pareve (dairy free), you will need to use a substitute for the milk and the butter. For the milk, I like SoDelicious coconut creamer, which gives it a creamy, very faint coconut taste (vegan, but produced on dairy equipment for those who are strictly kosher). You can also use regular coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk or soy milk as a sub. For the butter sub, I don't like to use margarine very often, but in this case I'd recommend Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. They have no hydrogenated fat, and in small amounts they make a passable substitute for butter. They do have salt, so I would recommend cutting the 1/4 tsp of salt in the recipe if using this product. If you are comfortable using unsalted margarine, feel free.


Comments (59)Post a Comment

  1. On a side note, I was just told that only goyem put apricot or raspberry filling in their rugalach. True? I was crushed…

    p.s. LOVE your blog. Not Jewish, nor am I married to one, but I love the food culture, as well as all my fab Jewish friends. Also, just learned to play mah jongg!!

  2. Hey Dawn! Jewish food is constantly evolving, every family has their own way of doing things. New food traditions are created all the time. For example, in yesterday’s blog I shared a Rabbi’s recipe for a cream cheese and chocolate Hamantaschen filling… it’s certainly not traditional, but it’s really tasty! When it comes to cooking, follow your heart and your tastebuds; you can never go wrong. ;)

  3. I am a goya who was given a book, “Jewish Cooking for Dummies.” The more things I tried the better I got and the more I learned about things right under my nose. Now I want to make Hamantashen with Poppy Seed filling. I tried dried fruit, jelly, peanut butter, prunes and raisins for fillings but the best I am told is poppy seeds. Friday when I go to a dance I am taking several dozen home made” hamantaschen with poppy seed filling for my friends to try. I squeeked by with some edible rugelach last Friday. No frowns. However, this is the true test, and although my gentile friends will not complain, my Jewish friends are liable to say, “this is not like my mother made.” Wish me luck!! “Oi vai”. I would much rather visit the dentist.

  4. For use in Hamantaschen, what can I use instead of shortening, butter or margarine? Can you recommend substitute without saturated fat or low fat? Can I use applesauce, yogourt, ricotta cheese or sour cream?

  5. Hi Stella, that’s a tough one. Have you tried Earth Balance Natural Shortening? The Earth Balance has saturated fat, but it’s non-hydrogenated as well as trans-fat free and cholesterol free. I wouldn’t recommend the other subs you suggested, only because they’ll dramatically change the texture of the cookie. The shortening won’t taste as good as butter, but it makes a healthier end product that is dairy-free. Use pastry flour for a lighter texture and increase the sugar a bit for more crispness. I’ll be releasing a hamantaschen recipe soon that is made with canola oil instead of butter or shortening, which might be right up your alley. Stay tuned! :)

  6. Last I checked I wasn’t a goy, and I adore both apricot and raspberry filling. I also like poppy seed filing, although I’m less likely to use it, being a stressed out college student.

    My typical hamentaschen fillings are nutella, seedless raspberry jam, and apricot jam, and I often put the nutella and raspberry jam in the same cookie. It’s truly divine, and the jam provides moisture that is lacking with just nutella. Any time you’re using nutella you can also mix in some chocolate chips, and that mixture is, as far as I’m concerned, the holy grail of chocolate hamentaschen. I suspect the chocolate cream spread found all over Israel would also be good in the same places nutella is, but it’s harder to find, and probably only worth the extra trouble for someone who doesn’t like hazelnut.

    I think that hamentaschen filling is essentially whatever the baker feels like at the moment. That’s certainly how I do it. :)

  7. hi, after reading your blog and tasty recipe I came across this explanation for why poppy seeds are eaten and I wanted to share it with you… “Why eat poppy seeds for Purim? This tradition honors Queen Esther. When she moved into the king’s palace, in order to avoid eating non-kosher food, she ate only seeds and legumes. In other words, she became a vegetarian. This gave rise to the custom of including poppy seeds in Purim sweets and of making use of beans and chickpeas in Purim menus.” (from Jpost)

  8. Hi,
    My husband is Jewish and I planning to bake this cookies tomorrow.
    At what time I should add the honey?
    Thanks and I really like your blog. Congrats!

    1. Hi Pilar! So happy you’re going to try this one, it’s super yummy. Add the honey at the same time you add the sugar and milk. I’ve corrected the instructions in the recipe. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. :)

  9. I made Mohn and Lekvar – both were delicious. I used extra Mohn in a strudel like my gramma used to make.

  10. Hi Tori
    Your website is a godsend being married to an Israeli living in Sydney it is difficult to find recipes for food he ate when growing up on the Kibbutz. Especially food made to celebrate a holiday.
    We love your poppy seed filling for Hamantaschen but also use it to flavour left over pastry of any shape or size. Can you please advise if you can successfully freeze leftover poppyseed filling?
    Look forward to your reply and thank you again for your wonderful recipes – Cheese Borekas is also another one of our favs!

    1. Hi Jodie! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the site. I’ve never frozen the poppyseed filling, so I can’t help you there… wish I could! If you try it and it works out, can you please report back and let us know? Thank you!

  11. Hi! About how many cookies does the 2 cups of filling make? I’d like to make a variety, so I’m wondering if the recipe will half well or if the filling can be frozen for future use. . .

  12. I was born in Israel during Purim, but never learned to bake my own “oznei haman” (hamman’s ears…) Cannot wait to try and feed my Arkansas friends this delight.
    Thanks for the recipe. You start with a 1 and 1/2 poppys and then add (8 oz). In cooking lingo 8 oz IS a cup. Should I use the 8 oz or a measuring cup and a half???
    Ariela

  13. I am going to go ahead and add the salt into the sugar/milk mixture, but you might want to add that instruction for the benefit of others.

  14. Hi. The reCipe looks great and I’m so excited to try it. Does it have to stay in the fridge for 5 days before I mke the hamentashen or it’s good for 4-5 days?

  15. Thanks so much for the details on poppy seed filling. I love mohn filling, but when I asked my mom how to make it, she said “You go to Kaplan’s and buy it.” Unfortunately, I live in a city without a Jewish bakery or deli, so I’ll be making it myself when my sons’s Hebrew school class comes to our house next week for hamentaschen baking.

  16. You can also make milk from the poppy seeds…just soak the seeds with some hot water for at least 20 minutes then put them all into a blender, buzz for about 2 minutes then strain. Repeat this process at least one more time. You will get some delicious poppy seed milk.

    1. Add more of the ground seeds till it has thickened to the consistency you like. Did you make any subs? Many readers have written me to say they love this recipe, so I’d like to help you troubleshoot and find out why the filling turned out so runny. Refrigeration should help, too.

  17. No substitutions made, but I ended up adding a little flour and putting it back on the stove to thicken and it instantly solved the problem. Now I need a recipe for what to do with all the leftover filling!

    1. Great Netalia! So glad you found a solution. Stir the extra filling into your favorite muffin or quick bread/cake batter, or use it as a filling for strudel. There are many possibilities. Enjoy!

  18. My daughter-in-law is Romanian and they use poppy seeds a lot in their sweet breads. I was wondering, do I have to grind the seeds? What if I didn’t? Thanks…I’ll make these later today.

  19. Thanks for starting your knowledge with us. Question: can I place additional whole poppy seeds to the top of the filling just prior to baking? I think it would make a nice texture contrasts, that and I love poppy seeds.

  20. Hello! I made the muhn filling and it tastes good, but not like Grandma’s. I added a handful of raisins and some lemon zest, mixed them in and it is closer. Also, we didn’t do the side over side thing like you show with the dough but instead quickly squeeze the two sides together and leave just a little opening on top so you can see what filling you are getting. :). Also we paint the whole outside with egg wash so they come out shiny and brown.

    1. Hi Lauren, glad you enjoyed the filling and found a way to modify it to be more like your Grandma’s recipe. Grandma’s way is always the best way. :) I fold the hamantachen this way to help them stay together, since many people have trouble with the cookies separating in the oven folding them the way you described. You can still see the filling, just not as much as you would folding it another way. However, you should use whatever method works for you!

  21. My Husband is Jewish and I love your website. While we’re using an old family recipe from his family for the dough, we’re always wanting to use different fillings. This year we’re going to use a lovely cherry compote and he wants to do the Mohn/poppyseed filling. But he’s egg intolerant (even just the whites are not good for him, or anyone else, sadly), and I was just wondering what, if anything, you may have heard of for substituting eggs in this? We use Chia seed soaked in water for egg replacement in baked items, but that doesn’t cook well in a custard like preparation.

    1. Hi Caradwen, other than chia/flax I wouldn’t be sure what to recommend here. Perhaps a little vanilla pudding mix? Sorry I’m not much help here!

  22. Hi! Thanks for the recipe. I have a question, though when it says “cool in fridge for 4-5 days”, is that needed before use in cooking or is that just how long it keeps? Because I’ve got my dough chilling in the fridge right now and I was planning on baking these tonight!

  23. Thank you! :) I made it and I’ve taste tested it once or twice… or many times, haha. Much better than what I used out of a can last year. Just one problem, it doesn’t seem to be thickening like it should – and I’ve run out of poppy seeds! I didn’t grind them, is that why? And will it be okay?

    1. Hi Zandra, try cooking the filling a little longer to reduce the liquid. If it still doesn’t seem to be thickening, add 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water, stir into the filling and cook till it thickens to desired texture. Repeat as needed. Or you can do what another reader did and stir in flour to the mixture as it cooks on the stovetop. Remember it will continue to thicken as it cools.

    2. And yes, it’s because you didn’t grind the poppy seeds. Grinding them makes them more powdery which helps them to soak up the liquid and thicken.

    3. Another traditional thickener for mohn is cake crumb – I use ground up Madelines left over night.

  24. Baking right now, muhn and apricot. Everything looks and smells great. If your dough opens up you can just brush a little egg wash around each circle of dough before dropping lump of filling in center. Then pinch each seam closed with a series of fast small pinches. Thanks for your clear recipes!

  25. I live in Israel, but a million years ago did a brief stint at a car wash in Portland. One day a fancy car pulls in, and I glance at the license plates. “Shiksa”. I do a double take and turn to the blond driving the car. Shiksa?, says I? She told me her husband chose the plates, and she hates it.
    Never liked my poppy filling, so giving yours a try. Thanks.

  26. hey Tori — as a fellow shiksa, I love your Web site. Silly me — I tried to follow your hamantaschen recipe but I put 1-1/4 cups of flour instead of 2-1/4 cups! The cookies taste fine but because of the butter-flour ratio, they did not retain their triangular shape at all. Oh well! There’s always next year. But I do have a question of this mohn recipe: I cut the recipe in half and it still made A LOT. I have quite a bit leftover and am wondering if you know of any recipes that use mohn? Otherwise, I will have to throw it away. I am not going to try making hamantschens again until next Purim. By the way, I love the taste of the mohn on the cookies. It reminded a little of halva.

    1. Hi Becky– you can use the leftover to fill any kind of pastry or cookie, not just hamantaschen. You could also try mixing into pancake or waffle batter for a breakfast treat!

  27. I’ve had trouble grinding poppy seeds in a coffee grinder in the past: they just seem to whirl around and never get pulverized. I’m curious what brand model coffee grinder you happened to use. Or, if you don’t want to say, was it a burr grinder or does it grind with a blade (like a blender).

  28. The one in the recipe photo appears to have an open top and a square base with a drawer for collecting the ground up seeds. I’ve used a grinder similar to the one you are suggesting and it didn’t do much. How long does it take to run a batch through to get them ground enough to get good results?

    1. 30-40 seconds per batch, but I do it in small batches– putting in too many seeds at once can be problematic. The actual grinder I use is a Cuisinart, but it doesn’t get great reviews which is why I suggested the other one (which runs in a similar way but has better reviews overall). Here is the Cuisinart if you’re interested, I only use it for grinding spices since we’re not big coffee drinkers and it’s always done the trick for us: link to theshiksa.com

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