Sweet Poppy Seed Pasta Recipe


Making this sweet poppy seed pasta is probably the easiest and quickest way to enjoy poppy seeds. Taking no more than 20 minutes and eight ingredients, this dish is easy to put together. 

It might sound like an unusual combination, but trust me, it’s delicious! 

I grew up eating a simpler version of this dish and used to request it from my dad to make every now and then. I thought that it was time that I learned how to make it myself. In the process, I made a couple of alterations to make it my won. I also wanted to share this family recipe with you so you can enjoy it as much as I do!

Simple ingredients

The eight ingredients in this recipe are:

  • Pasta of choice
  • Ground poppy seeds
  • Coconut sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Oil
  • Orange zest

Poppy seeds are known to be used in many European desserts such as poppy seed rolls, Slovenian Prekmorska Gibanica (I’ll be sharing a recipe for that one soon), babka, strudel, and so many others! 

It’s also known to be used in other baked goods like cakes, loaves, cookies, bagels and muffins, which are more known to the American audience. 

Poppy seeds are a great addition to many wonderful dishes!

Poppy seeds whole (above image on the left) on their own don’t have much flavour. The important thing is to grind them (above image on the right), to break their walls.

This helps to release their natural oils and aromas. This is where the flavour comes from in poppy seeds.

Sweet Poppy Seed Pasta

A few tips for preparing and using poppy seeds

  • They’re naturally very high in oil so keep that in mind when grinding them not to overdo it as they’ill turn into a paste and will be tricky to get out of your coffee grinder. We’re not trying to make a paste out of them. 
  • If you don’t have a coffee grinder, you can also buy pre-ground poppy seeds in some stores. In Europe, it’s a product that is readily available to buy frozen. You can buy them in some European style delis in other parts of the world. They are kept frozen once ground so that they don’t go rancid. 
  • If you are freshly grinding them but not using them straight away, make sure to add the coconut sugar (¼ cup to every cup of ground poppy seeds) before freezing. The sugar will absorb the natural oils and keep them fresher for longer. When you want to use them, all you have to do is measure out 1 ¼ cup of sugared poppy seeds, and you’re good to go!
  • The poppy seeds must be ground for this dish, otherwise, there won’t be any flavour. It’s really the oils in the poppy seeds that give them that distinct, beautiful taste. It would also be super dry!

Sweet Poppy Seed Pasta

There’re a couple of different ways you can grind poppy seeds. 

You can do it the old fashioned way by using a poppy seed mill grinder, which is what my parents have. Being of Yugoslav heritage, I’m pretty sure most older generational families from that part of the world would have one at home. Probably in the basement or garage!

And as mentioned previously, you can do it in a coffee grinder. Better use of a multi-purpose machine!

Sweet Poppy Seed Pasta

Variations of this sweet poppy seed pasta dish

The thing that I love most about this sweet poppy seed pasta dish is that it’s so versatile! You can have it in many different ways. Some other options are:

  • If you don’t have orange zest, you can use lemon. I have tried both, and they’re both delicious. 
  • No citrus of any kind on hand? That’s completely fine; it’ll still taste fabulous without it.
  • If you’d like a bit of extra crunch, you can add walnuts pieces. 
  • Have almond extract on hand, add around ½ tsp, the flavour will be magical.
  • Regular organic raw sugar will also work well. 
  • I have had this dish with many varieties of pasta. The spirals are my favourite as they create little pockets for the poppy seed mixture to go into. You can, of course, use any pasta of choice. I would recommend a smaller variety. No larger than penne. 

If you try this recipe, let me know! I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram, or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest. Or Pin It for later!


  • 400g pasta of choice (I used fusilli)
  • 1 cup (110g) ground poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (good-quality)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • Zest of one large orange (preferably organic)


  1. Cook pasta as per packet instruction, however, cook for 1 minute less than directed. For example, my pasta was meant to cook for 9 minutes, I cooked it for 8 minutes.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, in a small pan or pot on medium heat, add the ground poppy seeds for a few minutes until you start to faintly hear the crackle of the oils coming from the seeds. This should take about 5 minutes. Once you can hear and smell them, stir and continue cooking for a further two minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add in the ¼ cup of coconut sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Once pasta is cooked, drain and place back in the pot. Stir in the 2 tbsp of coconut sugar and oil and put the lid on for 1 minute. Let it sit so that the sugar absorbs into the pasta and the oil helps the pasta from sticking.
  5. Add the poppy seed mixture to the pasta and stir well.
  6. Add in the salt, maple syrup and orange zest and stir.
  7. Serve while warm. It can also be eaten cold, however, it has more flavour while it’s still warm.


* Serves 3 for breakfast or 4 for a snack or dessert.

Did you make this recipe?

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Other recipes you’ll love:

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  3. Vegan Semolina Cake with Lemon Syrup
  4. 5-Ingredient Vegan Baklava
  5. Creamy Rice Pudding With Rosewater and Pistachios

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