Poppy Seed Substitute – 5 Nutty And Crunchy Alternatives

Poppy seeds, also known as Khas Khas or maw seeds, are tiny dried seeds of the opium poppy used as food, flavoring, and a source of poppy seed oil. Contrary to the common suspicion, this seed has no narcotic properties.

Poppy seeds in your recipes render a nutty flavor and visually striking appearance.

It’s popularly used in many diverse recipes in Indian and European cooking. Poppy seed is a wonderful addition to cakes, pastries, smoothies, filling, porridge, or glaze.

Poppy Seed Substitute

To make fragrant yeast bread or for a fruit salad dressing, you may love to have poppy seed. However, finding a replacement for poppy seeds may become necessary when you don’t have it.

Fortunately, there are a couple of other good ingredients that have a similar appearance, crunch, and flavor profile like poppy seeds. Try one of these substitutes below.

1. Black Sesame Seeds

Black Sesame Seeds

Black sesame seeds have a nutty flavor and appearance almost identical to poppy seeds.

Roasting makes a big difference to seeds; in the case of black sesame seeds, it upsurges the nutty flavor. Therefore, use the roasted sesame seeds in fewer quantities in place of black or white poppy seeds.

Sesame seeds are slightly larger than poppy seeds but they have a pleasant type of grittiness and a more noticeable crunch.

Use sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds in baked goods, sweet pastries and bread, salads, and savory dishes.

2. Chia seeds

Chia Seeds

I’m sure that you’ll love to have chia seeds not only for their wonderful taste but also for their several health benefits. Certainly, it’s a good substitute you can think of for poppy seeds.

All the more, they almost look like the black poppy seeds and provide the same grittiness and crunch. Add in a teaspoon of chia seeds to muffins and as toppings on bread or pastries. Chia seeds work just like poppy seeds.

For some recipes, chia seeds may not work well as they will absorb water and expand due to their fiber content. So you might miss its crunchiness in moist dishes, unlike the poppy seeds. On the safer side, use chia seeds in dry dishes that call for poppy seeds.

3. Nigella seeds

Nigella Seeds

Nigella seed, also known as black cumin, nigella or by its scientific name Nigella sativa, kalonji, belongs to the buttercup family of flowering plants.

The kalonji seeds are small and blue-black in color, similar to black poppy seeds. It tastes like a mixture of poppy seeds and onion.

Though not so common, yet you can find many Indian dishes that include nigella seeds. Use it in curries, topping on bread and naan, and savory dishes.

Replace poppy seeds with nigella seeds in measure for measure. This replacement works best in curries and savory dishes that call for poppy seeds.

4. Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor similar to poppy seeds despite the differences in appearance.

Hemp seeds are small, brown seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. They have a nutty flavor similar to poppy seeds though they don’t look alike.

As a suggestion, if you use roasted and crushed hemp seeds then they produce a texture similar to poppy seeds. Usually, the roasted hemp seeds have a stronger flavor as well.

You can substitute poppy seeds with hemp seeds in savory dishes and most other recipes that call for poppy seeds.

5. Flax seeds

Flax Seed
Flax seeds, both nutritious and tasty, are a good replacement for poppy seeds in most dishes.

Flax has a pleasant, nutty taste. It’s a fine alternative to poppy seeds though it lacks the appearance and texture. Whole flaxseeds are crunchy and crispy as well.

Flax seeds are highly versatile and go well with both sweet and savory dishes. There won’t be a problem in using any recipes to replace poppy seeds.


Can you replace chia seeds for poppy seeds?

Chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds are said to be the best replacements for hemp seeds. However, you’ll not find they all have significant differences in flavor but basically, all of them are nutty. They all have similar uses in cooking especially in making savory or sweet baked goods.

Are Chia and poppy seeds the same?

No. Chia and poppy are very different seeds but they are similar in size and similar application in cooking. Also, they come from the mint family of plants. The color of the chia seeds can vary such as black, brown, or white. Both these seeds are rich in several important nutrients including rare fatty acids like Omega 3.

Are poppy and sesame seeds the same?

They aren’t the same but both these seeds are rich sources of similar nutrients including amino acids. Black sesame seeds look like poppy seeds but can be stronger, so you have to reduce the black sesame seeds versus poppy seeds to balance the flavor. Sesame is a bit lower in fiber than poppies, about just over a gram per tablespoon.

Are poppy seeds the same as basil seeds?

Basil seeds aren’t as nutritious as the poppy seeds and they also differ in flavor and they come from different species of plants. Basil seeds are traditionally used for their medicinal value for their strong antiviral properties in them. Often, both these seeds are used together in different beverages like flavored soft drinks, smoothies, juices, and more.

Are poppy seeds OK for humans?

When consumed in small amounts (about 15 grams per day), poppy seeds are safe and beneficial for health. It’s better to consume soaked or baked poppy seeds because the consumption of raw seeds has the risk of addiction and health hazards. Unfortunately, poppy seeds may produce a positive drug test.

The Bottom Line

So what is the best substitute for poppy seeds? Black sesame seed is the numero uno choice to replace poppy seeds. The second best poppy seed substitute is chia seeds which are quite similar in appearance, crunch, and nutritional profile. Other possible replacements for poppy seeds are flax seeds, nigella seeds, and hemp seeds.