Poppy seeds are mentioned in 1550 BC’s Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text.
These tiny kidney-shaped seeds originate from dried opium poppies (Papaver somniferum).
It’s the same poppy that is the key ingredient in making opium. But the seed has no such effects of the dangerous drug. It is a healthy diet option when taken in moderate amount. 
Poppy seeds have a mild but distinct flavor and aroma. There are many medicinal benefits of poppy seeds. 
Only the seeds are edible as for the rest of the plant; it is poisonous. Poppy plant is a biennial plant of East Mediterranean and Asia Minor.
It grows in the US and Europe too. There are many strict laws regarding the cultivation of poppy. So not every place allows it. 
When Do You need to Look For Substitutes for Poppy Seeds?
Poppy seeds are likely safe for oral consumption. A beverage or yogurt containing 35-250gms of poppy seeds can be safe. It is not a bad idea to have poppy seeds in your plate once in a while.
So when to replace:
- You may have an allergic reaction due to poppy which is very unlikely.
- People allergic to poppy seeds can also be allergic to hazelnut, kiwi, sesame, or buckwheat.
- Before any drug test, as poppy seeds can give the false positive result.
- It is not wise to continue eating poppy seed or anything for long. Have a break.
- You may not have access to poppy seeds all the time. You may run out of it so does the nearest stores.
- Poppy tea can be unsafe and may be lethal. For proper queries study poppy seeds tea side effects and benefits.
Read More: 4 Gluten-Free Substitutes for Malt Vinegar
What Else Can You Use in The Place Of Poppy Seeds?
Here are few substitutes for poppy seeds that you can use in your recipe. No. 2 is the best out of all. The closest one.
1. Chia Seeds
Can you replace poppy seeds with chia seeds? Yes, you can.
Chia seeds are already famous for its health benefits, so it is already in the mainstream food line. These incredible seeds also have an incredible resemblance with poppy seeds. Both taste and look wise.
Just like seeds of poppy chia seeds are dark colored, very small and give a nice crunch in the bite. This is best for topping muffins or bread.
But one drawback is that chia seeds absorb in moisture due to its fiber content and expand thereby. Also, it creates a gel-like a mixture that can work as a good binder, even can substitute eggs. That is why use it for replacing dry application of poppy seeds.
The same amount can be the replacement. Chia seeds can support healthy skin, promote digestive health, and improve heart health. It can also balance blood sugar, boost energy, build stronger bones, aid in weight loss, fight cancer growth, and enhance oral health. [6,7]
Chia seed is a great poppy seed substitute. It can fight cancer, help in weight loss, boost energy. It can also promote healthy skin, digestive, and heart health, and keep your sugar level balanced.
2. Sesame Seeds
This is by far considered as the best bet. Sesame seeds too have a light nutty flavor that resemblances poppy seeds. It too looks like poppy seeds.
You only have to toast it before adding it to your recipe. By heating, sesame seeds look more like poppy seeds. White gives milder taste whereas black has a stronger flavor.
The flavor is more likely that of poppy seeds. That’s why it complements those recipes that need poppy seeds. Sesame seeds are very popular and liked as toppings in various bakery good. It adds in a little crunch.
Poppy seeds are available in black and white so are sesame seeds. There is not much difference in taste or appearance. Chose the look you prefer- white or black. The proper amount of replacing sesame seeds with poppy seeds is 1:1. Equal-equal
Sesame seeds are a healthy replacement too it rich in essential nutrients. It can lower cholesterol levels, keep heart healthy, improve bone health, and reduce blood pressure. 
The seeds can also balance hormone levels, fight cancer cell growth, boost fat-burning, and enhance nutrient absorption.
Note that, If you’re allergic to poppy seeds, you may have allergy on sesame seeds as well.
It can be a great alternative if you don’t want to continue poppy seeds for long. Sesame seeds are rich in nutrients. They can also improve heart health, bone health, blood pressure, etc.
3. Nigella Seeds
Nigella seeds look very much like poppy seeds. They are tiny in size and blue-black in color. These seeds go well in savory dishes and are most famous in Indian cuisine. One kind of bread in Indian cuisine called Naan use this as a topping.
Nigella seed can be a replacement for caraway seeds in rye bread as well. For substituting poppy seeds in recipe take an equal amount of nigella seeds. It will add in the crunch and look the same. The taste will vary though. It has some onion-like flavors in it.
Nigella, Kalonji or Kalo zeera has health beneficiary properties. It can help with acne, headaches, excess weight, joint pain, asthma, diabetes, sperm function, and mastalgia (breast pain), etc. [9, 10]
A good choice in savory dishes, especially in Indian cuisine. With the great number of health benefits, it can be a good substitute for poppy seeds.
4. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a close call but not precisely the same. It is not as dense or as dark as poppy seeds. To get the same texture you can try to grind the seeds before using it. Both of their taste is nutty though. It goes well in savory dishes and desserts that ask for poppy seeds. Toast them a bit before using.
Hemp seeds are quite healthy, a source of plant protein and rich in GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid). They have been around the civilization for a long time now. It can reduce heart disease risk, fight skin disorders, relieve arthritis and joint pain. 
It may also ward off PMS and menopause syndrome, help in digestion, etc.
Hemp seeds are great to use in desserts that need poppy seeds.
5. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds too do not have the same texture or appearance as poppy. Their texture and flavor are kind of same, crunchy and nutty and pleasant.
Flaxseeds can replace poppy seeds in desserts and dishes that are bit savory. Flax seeds abound in Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber.
Flaxseed can be effective against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. It’s useful for patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has more to offer than we can count now. [12, 13]
Flax seeds are a healthy alternative that contains Omega-3 fatty acids. It can fight a variety of cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease.
Properties Of Poppy Seeds
Derivation: From dry fruits or pods of poppy plants.
Size: Each poppy fruit head or capsule is 4 – 6 cm in length and 3 – 4 cm in diameter. Each contains many tiny, kidney/bean-shaped seeds.
Color: Varies. White, light to dark gray, blue to black or solid black.
Taste: Mild, pleasant nutty taste.
Smell: Poppies smell a bit earthy. As for the seeds, it is very distinct, bitter-sweet, smoky, nutty, acrid smell.
Uses: In cooking for cakes, pastries, filling, glaze, or porridge. In manufacturing, for making soap, paint, and varnish. It has medicinal use too.
Longevity: When stored in a cool, dry, dark place, in airtight containers they will stay fresh for up to six months.
Poppy seeds can give you relief from pain. But its latex can create a life taking drug. Just like two sides of coins.
Except for these seeds, there are many other substitutes for poppy seeds.
Anise and fennel give out a licorice taste. Ajwain is like thyme, and fenugreek fits well is spicy sauce and curries.
Celery, dill, and caraway go well in bread and creamy dressings.