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What is Poppy Seed Spice?

Poppy Seed Spice


Poppy seed spice is a culinary seasoning appearing as tiny black crunchy seeds, this seasoning is most commonly used to garnish the tops of baked products.

What do they taste like?

The flavor of poppy seed spice as well as the aroma is mildly nutty and fruity.

Poppy Seed Spice Uses

In baking, poppy seeds are popularly used to top pastries and breads, and throughout Europe poppy seeds are ground or boiled to produce a poppy seed paste. 

This paste is then baked into desserts and used to thicken sweet sauces. 

In Indian cooking, poppy seeds are used for thickening and flavoring savory dishes as well as in milkshakes and chilled drinks. 

Poppy Seed Spice Substitutes 

  • Sesame seed: best used in dessert and baked recipes, sesame seeds are similar in appearance with a stronger nutty flavor.
  • Chia seeds: visually similar chia seeds will give a crunch when topped onto baked products and breads.
  • Nigella seeds: a small black seed that is similar in flavor and can be used for sweet or savory dishes.

Compliments and Pairings 

The seeds are suitably paired with ingredients including dough, orange, lemon, rum, vanilla, raisin, cream, cinnamon, nuts, potato, rice, onion, poultry, fish, and shellfish. 

Expiration and Storage 

  • Seeds: store white and black seeds in an airtight container away from direct light and moisture for up to three months. 
  • Oil: poppy seeds are pressed to produce poppy seed oil for cooking and manufacturing.

Fun Facts

  • Poppy seeds are a popular bird seed and sold labeled as maw seeds.
  • Due to their association with opium, poppy seeds are banned in Singapore, Taiwan, China, and Saudi Arabia.

Where do they come from?

The tiny black seeds harvested from the opium poppy or papaver somniferum are native to Greece and Asia. Variations of the seed come in blue, white, and black with black being the most common. More details about the scientific background of the spice can be found on wikipedia.

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Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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