If you’re looking for some good substitutes for poppy seeds you may have several options such as chia seeds, sesame seeds, nigella seeds, hemp seeds, etc.

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 as the dangerous drug. It is a healthy diet option when taken in moderate amounts. [1]

Poppy seeds have a mild but distinct flavor and aroma. There are many medicinal benefits of poppy seeds. [2]

Only the seeds are edible to the rest of the plant; are poisonous. The 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 poppies. So not every place allows it. [3]

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 on 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, poppy seeds can give false-positive results.
  • It is not wise to continue eating poppy seeds 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.

These could be some of the reasons for replacing poppy seeds. But who says it has to be a reason just do it.

Try new experiments and give a change to your taste once in a while. (4, 5)

Read More: 4 Gluten-Free Substitutes for Malt Vinegar

What Else Can You Use in The Place Of Poppy Seeds?

Here are a few substitutes for poppy seeds that you can use in your recipe. No. 2 is the best of all. The closest one.

1. Chia SeedsChia Seeds

Can you replace poppy seeds with chia seeds? Yes, you can.

Chia seeds are already famous for their health benefits, so it is already in the mainstream food line. These incredible seeds also have an incredible resemblance to 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 moisture due to their fiber content and expand thereby. Also, it creates a gel-like mixture that can work as a good binder and even can substitute eggs. That is why use it for replacing the dry application of poppy seeds.

The same amount can be a 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]

Key Takeaway:

Chia seed is a great poppy seed substitute. It can fight cancer, help in weight loss, and boost energy. It can also promote healthy skin, digestive, and heart health, and keep your sugar level balanced.

2. Sesame SeedsSesame Seeds

This is by far considered the best bet. Sesame seeds too have a light nutty flavor that resembles 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 a 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 are liked as toppings in various bakery goods. 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 are rich in essential nutrients. It can lower cholesterol levels, keep the heart healthy, improve bone health, and reduce blood pressure. [8]

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 an allergy to sesame seeds as well.

Key Takeaway:

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.

Read More: 7 Coriander Seed Substitutes That You Need to Know!

3. Nigella SeedsNigella 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 uses this as a topping.

Nigella seed can be a replacement for caraway seeds in rye bread as well. Substituting poppy seeds in the recipe takes 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 jeera have health beneficiary properties. It can help with acne, headaches, excess weight, joint pain, asthma, diabetes, sperm function, mastalgia (breast pain), etc. [9, 10]

Key Takeaway:

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 SeedsHemp 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 them.

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 them.

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, and relieve arthritis and joint pain. [11]

It may also ward off PMS and menopause syndrome, help indigestion, etc.

Key Takeaway:

Hemp seeds are great to use in desserts that need poppy seeds.

5. Flax SeedsFlax Seeds

Flax seeds too do not have the same texture or appearance as poppy. Their texture and flavor are kind of the same, crunchy and nutty and pleasant.

Flaxseeds can replace poppy seeds in desserts and dishes that are a 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]

Key Takeaway:

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.

Shape: Kidney-shaped.

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 a 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.

Bottom Line

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 in spicy sauce and curries.

Celery, dill, and caraway go well in bread and creamy dressings.

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