The Eastern European cookie, kolacky, kolaczi or kolache, is an easy cookie to make. I forgot all about this recipe until speaking with my mother on the morning of July 4th.
Living so far from family, I was missing out on holiday festivities. She mentioned she was bringing her beloved kolacky recipe to a party that day.
My grandmother made kolacky with poppy seed, prune, apricot and strawberry fillings. As a kid, I remember liking the “red ones” the best. I had organic strawberry preserves in my refrigerator that I thought would do just perfectly. I’m guessing my ancestors used canned fruit filling.
To bring a bit of tradition to my family of four as we spent the holiday at home, I livened up our holiday with kolaches. As soon as my mom and I hung up the phone, I pulled out the ingredients and set the butter to soften on the counter.
This kolacky recipe is an easy cookie to make for your family and for entertaining.
For best results, kolacky dough needs to chill for at least two hours. Plan accordingly, and use these steps to make your own kolacky cookies.
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These are simple and delightful cookies. It shocks me how many people have never had kolacky before because I grew up eating them. They are colorful, pretty, and really liven up a dessert table.
I remember going to a restaurant when I was a child and the server bringing plates with different flavors of kolacky at the end of the meal. Everyone passed them around, choosing their favorites. I’m sure I was thinking, “Wow! I’ve never been to a place that brings you cookies!”
You can use apricot preserves, strawberry preserves or any types of jam and jelly you already have at home. I like using fruit preserves because they have real pieces of fruit in them, and I always have them in my refrigerator. Use several different kolacky fillings if you want various flavors.
This kolacky recipe uses easy-to-find ingredients. Hopefully like me, you’ll already have them in your kitchen.
Ingredients to Make Kolacky
- All-Purpose Flour – I use gluten free flour from Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour to make gluten free kolacky.
- Butter (salted or unsalted)
- Eggs – use organic if possible
- Sour Cream
- Fruit Preserves – for the kolacky filling
- Confectioners Sugar – optional for sprinkling on top
Use organic ingredients if your budget permits.
How to Make Kolacky
I make this kolacky recipe gluten free but use whatever flour you usually use for baking.
- As soon as you decide to make kolaczki, set the butter out on the counter. I simply unfold the paper it’s in and pull down the sides so it can soften on the paper it came in. Make the sure butter softens before using it.
In a large bowl, add flour, sugar and the salt. Mix.
Add the softened butter, eggs, and sour cream.
Use your hands to mix and knead everything together well. Do this for 10 minutes or so. You can work the dough in the bowl or on the parchment paper. Continue working so the kolacky dough isn’t sticking to your fingers. Work the dough into a ball.
It’s chill time… literally! Put a light dusting of flour on the dough and put it in the bowl you mixed it in. Cover it securely and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Do not skip this step. See Kolacky Recipe Tips below.
After the dough chills, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough on the parchment paper. Use the top of a small glass to cut the dough into circles. After you make the circles, scrap up the remaining dough, form in a ball and roll out flat again to cut more cookie circles.
With your thumb, make a depression in the center of each cookie. Spoon a bit of the strawberry preserves, or other types of kolacky filling, into the middle. It will be about a teaspoon worth of filling.
Bake 12 – 15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
Leave kolackys on baking tray or put them on cooling rack.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Kolacky Recipe Tips
- If dough is sticky, add flour and continue.
- If it’s too dry or crumbly, add a bit of milk. (To make these palm oil free, be sure to use whole milk without Vitamin A Palmitate.)
- Parchment paper is useful to keep the cookies from sticking, keeping your pan cleaner, and as a surface to work and roll out the dough.
- If you are chilling the dough overnight in the refrigerator, you can make it into a big ball.
- If you will be making the kolackys later that day, mound it so it’s not as thick. You need to chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
- Dust the dough with flour before chilling.
- Be sure to seal the kolacky dough completely do it doesn’t dry out. You can use silicone lids, plastic wrap, or put a plate on top of the bowl.
- Try to keep the kolacky dough the same thickness so the cookies bake evenly.
- Space the cookie dough circles so there is at least an inch between cookies. I usually make two pans worth — about 30 cookies. I use gluten free flour, and they don’t expand too much.
These are sometimes called jam cookies or jelly filled cookies. My preference is to use preserves instead of jam or jelly filling. The bits of fruit make kolachy cookies really good. But you can use whatever you have.
Make raspberry kolacky, strawberry kolacky, and some apricot and blueberry. Use as many flavors of preserves, jam or jelly you have to make a colorful and flavorful display. I just learned to make orange marmalade and will put it on kolackys next time.
Powdered Sugar on Top
Before serving, sift powdered sugar on top. Doing this adds a nice finishing touch and is very easy to do.
I put powdered sugar on the cookies when they weren’t completely cool because we couldn’t wait to eat them, and they were amazing.
If you put confectioners sugar on all of them and you don’t eat them, it will set into the cookies. While they will be more sugary and delicious, you’ll want to sprinkle them with more sugar so they look better. There’s nothing like a fresh dusting of icing sugar!
You don’t need a powdered sugar / confectioner sugar sifter (I found mine in the drawer after we ate them all!) but it helps. If you don’t have one, just lightly sprinkle it on top. If it clumps, it doesn’t matter. These taste great!
While this kolacky recipe uses sour cream, you’ll find there are others with cream cheese. You can also substitute plain yogurt on a 1-to-1 ratio with sour cream.
When I made these on a whim, I had sour cream. I knew it was palm oil free and safe for my son who can’t have palm oil.
If you want to use cream cheese instead, you can use the same amount.
To make gluten free kolackys, simply replace regular flour with gluten free flour. I like Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour. I get it at Target and at the grocery store.
I used to be someone who bought premade cookies from the grocery store in the cookie aisle or the bakery department.
However, since we figured out my son has a palm oil allergy and intolerance, we are not able to buy pre-made desserts.
Cookies and desserts are all packaged and processed with so many palm oil ingredients in order to preserve their shelf life.
Once I started reading ingredient labels before buying anything, it was shocking to see Every Single Cookie in the grocery store bakery contained palm oil ingredients. (Exceptions are sometimes biscotti and pizzelles if you can find them.)
I never baked anything homemade before learning he gets sick from palm oil. Now I bake everything from scratch. I’ve made cookies, including these kolacky. Once you build your confidence and start to have ingredients on hand already, it’s really simple.
Just knowing there aren’t all the chemicals in these cookies, makes me feel better about giving them to my kids, even if they still are sugary dessert.
Yum! I hope you enjoyed making and eating this Eastern European cookie (sometimes called a Polish cookie or Czech cookie) just like my grandma used to make. They are simple to make and delicious.
If you make this kolacky cookies recipe, please let me know in the Comments below. I hope they turned out great!
P.S. I asked my mother today how she spells kolacky (kolache or kolaczki or kolacky) because I didn’t know. I saw it spelled lots of ways on the internet. She wasn’t sure!
- 2 cups flour
- 2 sticks butter (one cup)
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 pinch of salt
- ¾ cup of preserves
- confectioners sugar optional for sprinkling on top
- As soon as you decide to make kolaczki, set the butter out to soften.
- In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, and salt. Mix.
- Add the softened butter, eggs, and sour cream.
- Knead kolacky dough and add more flour so it's not sticky.
- Knead dough with your hands for 10 minutes or so. Work the dough in the bowl or on the parchment paper. Continue kneading so the kolacky dough doesn't stick to your fingers. Work dough into a ball.
- Note: If it's sticky, add flour. If it's dry and crumbly, add a bit of whole milk.
- Put a light dusting of flour on the dough and put it in the bowl. Cover it securely and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- After the dough chills, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough (or pound and flatten it) on the parchment paper. Use the top of a small glass to cut the dough into circles.
- Keep the kolacky dough the same thickness so the cookies bake the same. Scrape up the remaining dough and roll out flat to cut more cookie circles.
- Make a depression in the center of each cookie with your thumb. Spoon a bit of the strawberry preserves or other types of kolacky filling into the middle. It will be about a teaspoon worth of filling.
- Bake 12 - 15 minutes. They done when they are golden brown at the edges. Leave kolackys on the baking tray or put them on a cooling rack to cool.
- Dust dough with flour before chilling.
- If you have time to chill overnight, shape it into a big ball.
- If you're making kolackys later that day, mound it so it's flatter and not as thick.
- Seal kolacky dough completely so it doesn't dry out.