A Texas donut shop staple is getting a homemade upgrade, and it’s going to make your kitchen smell absolutely spectacular. The savory filling for Texas Kolaches may vary, but that fresh-baked, pillowy soft yeast dough encasing them is a must. This is how you make the best kolaches at home — two ways!
Choose between ham and cheese or sausage kolaches, or better yet…make them both!
They’re a freezer-friendly, make-ahead breakfast the kids will love just as much as the adults. If you want to win over any brunch crowd, again, it’s kolaches for the win! Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house.
WHAT IS A KOLACHE?
Kolaches (pronounced “koh-lah-chee) is a Czech pastry made with a soft, yeast dough with a divot in the center.
Similar to the center of a danish, it typically houses some sort of sweetened cream cheese, fruit jam (often apricot or prune), and/or poppy seeds.
However, if you were to ask a Texan what a kolache is, you should ready yourself for an entirely different explanation. Before we get into the Texas Kolache, let’s first cover a little kolache history.
WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Kolaches are a Czech creation and they date back to the 1700s. The name is derived from the word “kola” which translated to wheels. This makes total sense, seeing as how authentic Czech Kolaches are round…like wheels.
CZECHS AND TEXAS
There is a very large Czech population in the state of Texas, mostly due to Pastor Bergmann’s arrival to central Texas in the 1800s.
He published a letter that encouraged struggling farming families in Central Europe to make their way to the Lone Star State, a land full of opportunity. They came…and they came in droves. The area they settled in eventually became known as the Texas Czech Belt.
Today, almost one million Texans report some form of Czech Ancestry. It’s safe to say, there has been a strong Czech influence on Texas food, and this is precisely where the Texas Kolache comes in.
ABOUT TEXAS KOLACHES
So what is a Texas Kolache? Well, it’s actually a Klobasnik (pronounces klo-bah-sneek)…and it’s technically not a kolache. Like, at all.
So where did the confusion come in? The dough.
Klobasniky and Kolaches are made from the same, sweet pastry dough. That’s right: one dough, two separate things. One’s sweet, and the other one is über savory.
Texas Kolaches (as we now know are Klobasniky) are indeed a Texas Czech invention, but they’re not round, they’re cylindrical. The filling isn’t showcased, it’s tucked away and hidden inside, somewhat similar to pigs in a blanket. And the best part, they can come stuffed with any number of savory fillings — sausage, ham and cheese, boudin, and chorizo — just to name a few.
SOOOO, KLOBASNIK OR KOLACHE?
Speaking from a lifetime of experience in the state of Texas, if you asked a Texan if they wanted a klobasnik, you’re more likely to get a tissue and a bless you than a yes or no answer.
In a Texan’s eyes, a kolache is savory and meat-filled. Period. The likelihood of them being ever referred to it as anything else is slim-to-none.
ABOUT KOLACHE DOUGH
Even if it’s housing a savory filling, kolache dough is sweet. Not necessarily donut sweet, but sweet enough that you know there’s sugar in there. It’s a yeast dough that bakes up pillowy soft, fluffy, and completely delicious.
Whether you’re making Kolaches or Texas Kolaches, here’s a crash-course overview on how to make the dough:
HOW TO MAKE KOLACHE DOUGH
- Melt butter and milk together until the milk is warmed through.
- Mix together flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt.
- Add the milk mixture to the dry mix and stir to combine.
- Knead the dough and transfer to a large oiled bowl.
- Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and divide it into 16 even pieces.
- Roll into balls, place on a sheet pan, and allow to rise again.
HOW TO MAKE A TEXAS KOLACHE
To turn a kolache into a Texas Kolache, skip the divot and the sweet filling and grab yourself something savory and meaty to stuff inside. Our top picks (and the ones you’ll find in just about every donut shop in the Lone Star State) are ham and cheese and sausage.
Whatever you stuff it with, you’ll need to make sure the filling is cut down to the right size before you go to work.
You should be able to place your filling in the center of the dough ball and wrap the dough completely around said filling so that it gets tucked in there and stays hidden away.
Then, it goes onto the baking sheet and into a 350°F oven to bake for about 22 to 25 minutes. Once the dough has a beautiful golden sheen to it, pull out the pan and you’re done!
For sausage kolaches, Slovacek’s Bar-B-Que Seasoned Link Sausage is where it’s at.
To cut your sausage down to the perfect size, cut the links into three-inch pieces, and then split each piece lengthwise. Once the sausage is ready, wrap the dough ball around a piece of cut-up sausage until it is fully enclosed and pinch to seal any seams.
HAM AND CHEESE KOLACHES
To make ham and cheese kolaches, you’ll need thinly sliced deli ham and some good, old-fashioned sliced American cheese.
Cut the American cheese slice in half, then wrap a slice of deli ham around it, enclosing it completely. Then, wrap a dough ball around the ham until it is fully enclosed and pinch to seal any seams.
HOW TO STORE THEM
Store baked and cooled kolaches in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will stay good for up to 4 days. If you’d like to enjoy them for any length of time beyond this, freeze them! They reheat beautifully in the microwave.
HOW TO FREEZE THEM
First, allow them to cool to room temperature, then wrap each kolache individually with a small sheet of wax paper, and transfer them to an airtight, freezer-safe container or a freezer-safe zip-top, gallon-sized bag.
If using a container, use one that houses them snugly. If using a zip-top bag, be sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing.
7 MORE TEXAS RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
The best Texas Kolaches Recipe with an easy, pillowy soft yeast dough, plus recipes for both sausage AND ham and cheese fillings!
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoon rapid rise (or instant) yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
- 8 small smoked sausage links, split lengthwise and cut into 3" pieces (we used Slovacek's Bar-B-Que Seasoned Link Sausage)
- 16 thinly sliced pieces of deli ham
- 8 slices of American cheese, halved
Add the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat to melt. Do not allow to brown. As soon as the butter has melted, add the milk and stir until blended. Set aside.
Add the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until combined.
Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and add the milk/butter mixture, as well as the egg and the egg yolk. Mix on low for about 1 minute, then, increase the speed to medium (#6 on Kitchenaid stand mixer) and knead for 8 minutes.
In the meantime, add about 3 cups of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Then, grease a large bowl. You'll also need to arrange your oven racks so that you can fit the saucepan on the floor of the oven with a rack situated above it. Your large bowl will go on top of the rack. The bowl does not need to be oven-safe.
Once the dough has finished kneading (it will soft and somewhat sticky), use floured hands to form it into a ball and transfer it the greased bowl. Place the saucepan of boiling water on the oven floor and the bowl on the rack above it. Close the oven door and allow the dough to proof for 1 - 1 1/2 hour, until it has doubled in size.
Remove the bowl from the oven (leave the saucepan in) and punch down the dough. On a floured work surface, divide it into 4 equal pieces, and then divide each of those pieces into quarters. You should have 16 pieces of dough.
Roll the dough into balls and transfer to 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 2 to 3 inches apart. Close the oven door and allow to proof for 90 minutes.
Remove both pans and the saucepan from the oven and preheat it to 350°F.
Wrap each dough ball around a piece of sausage until it is fully enclosed and pinch to seal any seams.
Place a piece of cheese in the center of a slice of ham and fold over/wrap the ham to enclose the cheese.
Wrap each dough ball around the ham until it is fully enclosed and pinch to seal any seams.
Place seam-side down on the baking sheet and bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden in color. Allow to cool slightly, serve, and enjoy!