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Kolache Recipe

Homemade kolaches make for an impressive and delicious breakfast, dessert, or snack. While they may look intimidating to make, this kolache recipe is a cinch and great for cooks looking to try a new spin on classic pastries!

overhead view of 12 baked kolache in blueberry cheese and raspberry on black plate o

What Exactly Are Kolaches?

Pronounced “koh-lah-shee,” the word kolache is derived from the Czech word, kola, meaning “wheels” or “rounds,” referring to the shape of the pastry. A staple of Czech culture, kolaches gained popularity in the United States in the 1880s when thousands of Czech people immigrated to Texas. 

Kolaches were traditionally made in the homes of Czech families with a sweetened yeast dough that was hollowed out in the center and filled with fresh or frozen fruit as a common afternoon snack. Fillings were typically made from apricots, poppy seeds, prunes, and cherries — all of which are common and available in Eastern Europe.

I first heard of kolaches when I decided to make them myself. I was intrigued by the similarity in appearance to danish, but they are very different. These are make from a yeast-based dough, and when baked, they taste like a filled sweetened bread.

So, Aren’t They Just Donuts?

The short answer is … no!

The long answer is that while they do resemble donuts and even danishes, kolaches have mistakingly become synonymous with donuts and donut shops. In fact, they feature several differences from their delectable dessert counterparts, including:

  • Kolaches are baked, not fried.
  • They don’t contain much added sugar or a sweetened glaze, like many jelly-filled donuts and danishes.
  • The fruit fillings are made from fresh fruit compotes instead of preservatives like jellies or jams.
  • Traditionally, they were served as an afternoon snack and even reserved for celebrations like weddings in Czechoslovakia, as opposed to donuts which are a typical American breakfast item. (Although there’s no wrong time to eat a kolache, in my opinion!)

Key Ingredients for Homemade Kolaches

dough ingredients for kolache all measured out
Kolache dough ingredients (top left, clockwise): egg yolks plus whole egg; melted butter; flour; yeast; sugar; salt; whole milk
  • Whole Milk: You’ll use a cup in this recipe to help activate the yeast and yield a fluffy pastry dough.
  • Butter: Ten tablespoons total. That’s right; 10! This gives the dough a rich, velvety, buttery flavor that perfectly compliments the light sweetness and the fillings.
  • One Large Egg + Two Yolks: The egg white helps bind everything together and the yolks give the dough rich flavor and a yellow color, as well as help it rise.
  • All-Purpose Flour: You’ll use between three and a half and four cups for this recipe.
  • Sugar: White granulated sugar is best for this kolache recipe because it doesn’t discolor the dough. Plus, you only need one-third cup. Trust me!
  • Instant Yeast: This is a fast-acting rising agent that will result in the fluffiest pastry dough.
  • Salt: Just half of a teaspoon helps balance out the richness from the whole milk, eggs, and butter and the sweetness from the sugar.
  • Bonus Ingredient: Sprinkle a streusel topping over the kolaches to add a sweet, crunchy element to every bite! Simply mix 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (chilled and cut into eight pieces) in a small bowl with your fingers until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

How To Make Kolache Dough

kolache dough in mixing bowl
Kolache dough just mixed, in bowl, is a very soft and slightly sticky dough
  • Combine wet ingredients — milk, butter, and eggs — in measuring cup (It will be lumpy; don’t over-mix.)
  • Combine dry ingredients — flour, sugar, yeast, and salt — in the bowl of a standing mixer, then add milk mixture and knead for two minutes on low speed. (We don’t want splashing!)
  • Increase speed to medium and continue kneading for 8-12 minutes until dough no longer sticks to side of bowl.
  • Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise in warm place for 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight in a covered bowl.

TIP: Brush the kolache dough rounds with an egg wash made of egg and milk 

How to Make the Fruit and Sweetened Cheese Fillings

kolache filling ingredients for fruit or cheese filling in bowls on wood background
Filling ingredients from top, clockwise: blueberries with sugar and cornstarch; cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, and ricotta; raspberries, strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch.

For this kolache recipe, we made three versions — a blueberry filling, a mixed berry filling (raspberry and strawberry in mine) (mixed berry makes me think of my favorite pie) and a sweetened cheese filling. The blueberry filling was the winner in our house. It was just the perfect sweetness and thickness. Easy too! Just combine 3 ingredients and microwave!

But that’s not to say the cheese version was bad. Quite the contrary! It was rich, decadent, and delicious. If you’re a fan of cheese danishes, you’ll love these cheese kolaches!

Ingredients for the Sweetened Cheese Filling and How to Make:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest grated
  • 6 ounces ricotta cheese (3/4 cup)
  • Combine all ingredients except for ricotta and mix well for about 1 minute. Add ricotta and mix for another 30 seconds. Cover and refrigerate until needed. (Makes enough for 16 kolaches.)
sweetened cream cheese filling in white bowl with spoon on wooden background

Ingredients for the Fruit Filling and How to Make:

  • 10 ounces fruit
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Combine all ingredients in microwave safe bowl, and microwave for about 8 minutes (stop after 2 to 3 minutes to mix very well).
fruit filling in microwave ready to be cookies

How to Fill and Bake the Kolache:

  • Divide dough equally into 16 pieces.
  • Form the pieces into balls.
  • Create a circular indentation or well in the center of each dough ball by flattening with a small cup or glass.
  • Brush the sides of the kolache with egg wash, then fill with the cheese or fruit and sprinkle the sides with the streusel topping.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (do not over bake – you want them very pale in color) and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve warm, and enjoy!

How To Store, Freeze, and Reheat Kolaches

  • To Store: Keep leftover baked kolaches in an airtight container on your counter at room temperature for 2-3 days. (Consider storing sweetened cheese versions in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before eating since their filling contains dairy.)
  • To Freeze: Freeze pastry dough in an airtight container or Ziplock bag for up to three months. You can also make the fillings ahead of time and freeze them for up to six months. Allow them to thaw completely overnight in the fridge and then come to room temperature before filling your pastries. We did not test freezing baked and filled kolaches, but like most pastries they should be kept in an airtight, freezer safe container for several weeks. They likely won’t be as good after thawing from frozen as they were fresh.
  • To Reheat: Leftover kolaches are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven or at room temperature. If refrigerating leftovers, allow them to come to room temperature before serving. But trust me, you aren’t likely to have leftovers!
close up view of fruit and cheese kolache on black plate

More Dessert Recipes To Try

If you liked these homemade kolaches, then you’ll love these dessert recipes:

📖 Recipe

close up view of fruit and cheese kolache on black plate

Homemade Kolache Recipe

This is an easy homemade kolache recipe with your choice of fruit or sweetened cheese filling. Fresh out of the oven, your family will swoon over these pastries!
4.99 from 51 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 288 kcal

Ingredients
 

For the dough:

  • 1 cup (236.59 g) whole milk
  • 10 tablespoons (147.87 g) butter , melted
  • 1 large (1 large ) egg
  • 2 large (2 large ) egg yolks
  • 3.5 cups (437.5 g) all purpose flour (17.5 ounces)* (up to 4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup (66.67 g) sugar (2.3 ounces)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 teaspoon) salt

For the cheese filling:

  • 6 ounces (170.1 g) cream cheese , softened
  • 3 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) sugar**
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest grated
  • 6 ounces (170.1 g) ricotta cheese (3/4 cup)

For the fruit filling

  • 10 ounces (283.5 g) pineapple , blueberries, cherries, or other berries (fresh or frozen)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

For the streusel topping:

  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces and chilled

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

Instructions
 

For the dough (makes 16 kolaches):

  • Combine milk, butter and eggs together in measuring cup (will be lumpy)
  • Combine dry ingredients (ie, flour, sugar, yeast, salt) in the bowl of a standing mixer then add milk mixture from step 1 and knead for 2 minutes on low speed
  • Increase speed to medium and continue kneading for 8 to 12 minutes until dough no longer sticks to side of bowl
  • Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise in warm place for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight in a covered bowl

For the cheese filling (enough for 16):

  • Combine all ingredients except for ricotta and mix well for about 1 minute. Add ricotta and mix for another 30 seconds. Cover and refrigerate until needed

For the streusal:

  • Combine all ingredients and mix together with fingers. Cover and refrigerate until needed

For the fruit filling (enough for 16):

  • Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and mix well. Microwave on high for about 6 to 8 minutes and stir halfway through cooking.

To assemble and bake

  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Divide dough into 16 equal size portions and form balls
  • Arrange on prepared pans, cover with plastic and allow to rest in warm place for 1.5 hours
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease and flour the bottom of a 1/3 cup dry measure or a glass with a 2 1/4 inch diameter and use to make deep indents on top of each ball until bottom of measure touches baking sheet (see photo)
  • Fill each indentation with about 1.5 tablespoons of filling (if you are making both cheese and fruit filling, you will need only half of each filling recipe)
  • Brush tops of each pastry with egg wash, and then sprinkle sides with streusel
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (do not over bake – you want them very pale in color) and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve warm

Video

Notes

  • I use King Arthur brand flour, which is 4.25 oz per cup. Other all purpose flour have slightly different weights. Start with 3.5 cups and add a bit more if too sticky
  • I thought the cheese filling wasn’t sweet enough. Try the filling with the recommended sugar (3 tablespoons) but add another tablespoon or two to sweeten if needed.
  • Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
  • Nutrition facts below estimated for cheese filled kolache. 

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 7gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 196mgPotassium: 102mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 518IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 2mg
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79 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made these. Came out awesome. Dough was easy to work with and baked up light and fluffy. Fillings were fine without adding additional sugar. Thx for the recipe.

  2. If I wanted to use different fruit fillings for each cookie how would I divide the ingredients? lets say 4 different fruit fillings..

    1. I would estimate that making 1/4 of the filling in each flavor would work. To help, you can use the “0.5” button on the recipe card, which cuts the recipe in half but then use half of that – does that make sense? Hope that helps!

  3. Has anyone tried a little of the cream cheese filling with a dab of the fruit? Just thinking you could have the best of both worlds.

    1. I have made these with two fillings on each kolache from a recipe in a Viennese cookbook. I’m going to try this recipe which is slightly different and looks delicioius.

  4. I have to insist that anyone making this whisk dry ingredients together before adding the liquid and mixing. When I went to move my dough to the oiled bowl, all my yeast was gummed up in the bottom. It was a huge disaster to say the least.

  5. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I used jarred jam, and they turned out great! Did take advice and baked for less time. Definitely making them again!

  6. I’m excited to try these! Can I just use jarred preserves for the middle instead of making my own, or will it be too runny? Thanks for sharing!

    1. It’s worth a try – it might be slightly less thick than the recipe here. Sorry, I can’t say for sure since I’ve never tried, but if you do try, let us know. That said, the microwave method is super quick to make the fruit fillings.

      1. Great, thank you! I’ll report back how it goes if I decide to try it that way! I really appreciate your response, and thanks again for sharing the recipe! Can’t wait to make it!

  7. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Bake time is off though. For a traditional koloche, bake at 460 for 4-6 minutes. Makes for a softer and chewier texture.

    Love the different fillings!

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