Croatian Cooking: Makovnjača – Poppy Seed Roll

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Post author Vedran

Written by our local expert Vedran

Vedran is a total food lover from Croatia. He creates recipes from his kitchen in Zagreb using fresh produce from his garden.

Makovnjača or poppyseed roll is actually a traditional Croatian dessert that doesn’t have an actual historical story. There is no specific time when this dessert has become “Croatian” or where it was made for the first time.

A few countries in central and eastern Europe claim the poppyseed roll as their own national dessert. Regardless we Croatians love it.

In Croatia, Makovnjača is considered to be a Christmas time dessert, although we do eat it during the entire year in many households across Croatia as well as in many restaurants.

There are also similar desserts that look like makovnjača, though these are instead filled with walnuts, cacao powder, different types of jam, hazelnuts, or also with carob. There are no limits to what flavors you can make, so get creative and try one for yourself.

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Croatian Makovnjača Recipe (Poppy Seed Roll)

Here is an easy Makovnjača recipe. This poppyseed roll is actually a traditional Croatian dessert that doesn’t have an exact historical story, but tastes oh-so-good!


Poppy Seed Roll

  • 600 g all-purpose flour (4 cups)
  • 40 g cube of fresh yeast (2 1/3 tablespoons)
  • 100 g sugar (0.5 cup)
  • 120 g butter, softened at room temperature (8.5 Tbls)
  • 250 ml milk (1 1/8 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt

The filling:

  • 200 g poppy seeds (1 1/2 cups)
  • 70 g sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 200 ml hot milk (3/4 cup)


  • Butter for coating the dough
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Mix the yeast with half of warm milk and sugar. Let it rise a little
  2. In a separate large bowl add the flour, sugar, salt, softened butter and eggs. Mix well and then add the rest of the warm milk and the yeast mixture
  3. Knead it by hand for a few minutes until you get a smooth and soft dough
  4. Cover the dough with a towel, and set it aside to rest in a warm place for a one hour or until it doubles in size
  5. Roll out the dough in a square shape, approx 1 cm (0.4 inches) thick
  6. For the filling, take a medium bowl, and mix together the poppy seeds and sugar and cover them with heated milk. When I say heated, I mean like really hot milk. Mix it well
  7. Spread out the poppyseed filling evenly onto the rolled out dough, and then roll the dough into a loaf, starting from the wider side (refer to the step-by-step photos)
  8. Brush the roll with melted butter and place to a pre-heated oven at 180°C (350°F) for 40 minutes
  9. Once cooled, dust the roll with powdered sugar and serve with a cup of Croatian coffee

More Tasty Croatian Recipes From Vedran

Comments (14)

  1. I feel really stupid asking this, but would you know how to change this from metric. I never said I was the sharpest crayon in the box when it comes to math. I’m afraid to even try, I don’t want to ruin it. Plus, you pictures are so nice I really want a slice of that poppyseed roll. Thanks ????

    1. Funny you ask – as so many others have also. We are working this week to convert them all to the American measures (oh why do have to use different one huh!). Stay tuned. Until then you just google grams to cup and loads of sites tell you how.

  2. You really should grind the poppy seeds. That is the traditional method and it looks “right” and there is absolutely NO crunch to this roll. I told my Croatian family (husband and mother in law) about not grinding the poppy seeds and they laughed pretty heartily. “Maybe” you get the seeds soft enough with your method, but even with grinding them, my family recipe still has them using HOT poppy seed filling. I found a poppy seed grinder in a local import store long ago, but I’m sure they can be bought too.

    1. I am laughing heartily that you took the time to write this comment. There are like 98659285697254825 versions of this recipe. Make yours how you please, and dobar tek.

    2. That’s rude! You aren’t even Croatian! Leave the woman and her recipe alone and stop being so condescending! Maybe your husband and in laws don’t know what they’re talking about!

    3. My deceased husband is the one who told me about Poppyseed Rolls.
      Hiis great aunt use to make them and he said they had a German background.
      I made them a time or two back in the 1970’s and I also grinded the seeds!
      There truly are so many recipes and actually most that I’ve seen also call for ground seeds.
      Regardless it is a delicious roll I’m sure.

    1. Yes, that is what it says. In Croatia, we have 40-gram cubes, but I know in the USA you don’t use grams..and I don’t know what size the yeast is.

  3. Just wondering what might make this even better, like tasted chopped walnuts? Maybe it might be too much. I am not sure, but seems like I have had this before with walnuts. Maybe you can tell me if I should try it.

  4. I followed your recipe exact and my loaf turned out massive. And Not quite enough poppy seed mixture. So my loaf had more dough then poppy seed unlike your photos. Not sure what I did wrong! But I weighed everything in grams and then measured it in cups or tbsp etc and it all worked out. I guess I could double the poppyseed recipe and then split the dough into 2 loaves? I also found that my dough wasnt soft enough. Should the butter for the dough be melted instead of softened? I am bound and determined to learn how to make this – being Croatian and all 🤣

  5. i have been searching high and low for a single roll poppy seed recipe. finally found one! i thought the same as some of the other about grinding but i read hot milk should soften so i will try it. cant wait to give it a try

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