Kolaches - Gastro Obscura
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This tasty Czech pastry is now a Texan tradition.

Non-Texans may be surprised to learn that the Lone Star State has the largest population of Czech-Americans in the United States. Czech immigrants began coming to Texas in the 19th century, where they settled in farming communities such as tiny Praha, southeast of Austin. They brought with them the kolache, an open-faced pastry traditionally prepared with a sweet filling, which is now beloved across the state.

Just as the Czech koláč became “ko-lah-chee” on the tongues of Texans, kolache fillings have evolved over time. Many Texans first experienced traditional kolache—whose flavors include poppy seed, prune, apricot, and farmer’s cheese—while driving through the Czech Belt, where towns with Czech names and majority Czech-American populations still stretch across the state. As the pastry grew in popularity, bakers developed new flavors, from lemon and pineapple to Philly cheese steak and the distinctly Texan sausage-jalapeño. (Even though no kolache would contain meat in Eastern Europe.)

Today, Texans living expatriate lives in cities such as New York can find themselves missing the popular pastry. A food from Eastern Europe is now, for many Texans, regardless of their ancestry, a taste of home. 

Need to Know

Kolaches are also popular in other American states with a history of Czech immigration, including Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, and traditional versions can be found in the Czech Republic and other parts of Eastern Europe. 

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Susie Armitage Susie Armitage
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