Buttery cookies speckled with black poppy seeds and flavored with orange zest, poppy seed cookies are easy to make. Perfect with a cup of tea!

Poppy seed cookies with orange zest and a chocolate chip.

Melt in your mouth buttery, not too sweet, subtly flavored with orange, topped by a single chocolate chip, these poppy seed cookies are a family favorite. My mom treats us with these cookies every Christmas. Since poppy seed cookies aren’t really a traditional Dutch Christmas cookie, I asked why she always includes them on her Christmas cookie platter.

Her reason was simple and practical: she always whips up cinnamon meringues at Christmas, using two egg whites. What to do with the leftover egg yolks? Look through her cookbooks and find a recipe for cookies which call for exactly two egg yolks. I guess that’s how traditions are born.

Reminds me of the story of the bride cutting off both ends of the ham before baking it. When her curious husband asked why she cut the ends off, she said her mother always cooked hams that way. Turns out her mother simply had a roasting pan that was a bit too small for the ham. 

Cookies flecked with poppy seeds and orange zest on a white plate. Each cookie is topped with a chocolate chip.

I did a bit of research and found that poppy seed cookies are a traditional “old fashioned” cookie originally made by Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, according to Wikipedia. You might know them as Mohn kichel, or Mun or Munn cookies, or even “Moon” cookies. “Mohn” is German for poppy.

So brew a cup of tea or better yet, orange hot chocolate, and enjoy a poppy seed cookie! Maybe they’ll become a tradition in your family, too!

Overhead view of orange and poppy seed cookies.

About these orange poppy seed cookies:

There’s nothing fancy or tricky about making these easy cookies. Simply cream together softened butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, poppy seeds, and orange zest. You can do it by hand, a mixer isn’t necessary.

Form the dough into balls, flatten slightly, and place one chocolate chip in the center. Bake until just lightly browned. So easy!

Cookies on a decorative white plate.

What’s in poppy seed cookies?

  • Butter
  • Sugar (only a half cup!)
  • Flour
  • Poppy seeds
  • Grated orange zest
  • Vanilla 
  • Pinch of salt
  • Chocolate chips (just one for each cookie)

Are poppy seeds good for you?

Poppy seeds have long been a traditional remedy for a variety of ailments. Research shows that poppy seeds contain nutrients and antioxidants and may have pain-relieving properties (Healthline).

A note about storing poppy seeds: Because they have natural oils like most seeds and nuts, they will go rancid after a while. Store them in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh. There’s no need to thaw them before using. 

Close up of cookies on a white plate.

How to make these cookies your own:

  • Substitute lemon zest for the orange.
  • Roll the cookie dough into logs, refrigerate until firm, and cut slices to bake, or try these lemon poppyseed slice and bakes.
  • Omit the chocolate chip on each cookie, if desired. Right before serving, top the cookies with jam, just a dab, any kind you like.
  • Substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.
  • Try this non-dairy poppy seed cookie made with oil instead of butter, by The Spruce Eats, as an alternative.

Cookies on a decorative white plate with an orange half in the background.

Storage Tips

Cool completely and store in a tightly covered container for up to two weeks. Poppy seed cookies freeze beautifully. Simply wrap them well and freeze for up to a couple of months. 

Old Fashioned Cookies

I love paging through the stained pages of well-used school or church cookbooks or hearing about Grandma’s wonderful cookies. Here’s a few recipes I’d like to share:

 

I’d love to hear about cookie traditions in your family!

Close up of an orange and poppyseed cookie, with a chocolate chip in the center.

Poppy Seed Cookies with Orange

Yield: 40 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Buttery cookies speckled with black poppy seeds and flavored with orange zest, poppy seed cookies are easy to make. Perfect with a cup of tea!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cream butter, salt, vanilla, and sugar. Add egg yolks. Blend in flour, poppy seeds, and orange zest..
  3. Form one inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press one chocolate chip in the middle of each cookie. Flatten each ball slightly with spatula. 
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until very lightly browned. 
  5. Cool slightly, remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • If desired, use lemon zest instead of orange zest.
  • Substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 104Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 33mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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