The Best Slovak Bobalky :: From Our Family to Yours

Disclosure :: our Holiday Recipe series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary and Whole Foods Market.

My Slovak Heritage

To put it simply (and in the most lovingly way possible), I am an American mutt. Don’t get me wrong–I pride myself in being third generation American on my dad’s side and 1/umpteenth percentage Navajo on my mother’s side. Family tradition has always intrigued me, but now that I am a mother, I am more interested in keeping family traditions alive for my son’s sake. I want him to know about his family history. I want to create new traditions with my family while preserving the traditions my grandparents hold dear.

My Slovak heritage stems from my paternal grandpa. His parents came from Slovakia (NOT Czech–visions of him saying this with a stern finger wag come to mind). They opened a restaurant/tavern in Buffalo, New York where they raised their family upstairs while running the business downstairs. I am sure this is where my love of cooking comes from.

Slovak Bobalky: What is it?

Basically, bobalky is a bread ball covered in honey and poppy seeds. There are variations to the recipe, but the only one I’ve tried is the honey/poppy seed version. It is sticky, sweet, and borderline addictive. Seriously. You can pop these things in your mouth like candy. Now that I think of it, they could be a relative to the doughnut hole. Traditionally the bobalky is prepared and served with the Christmas Eve dinner.  slovakbobalky

Christmas Eve is a pretty big deal for my family. The main entry always includes fish because Christmas Eve is a day of abstinence from meat. My grandpa told me that his mom’s fish fry was well known in the area where they lived, and patrons would fill the restaurant on Friday evenings. She used a tempura type batter (no breadcrumbs) and fried it in oil. My great-grandmother prepared this same fish for Christmas Eve. I attempted this once and failed semi-miserably. Side note: One day I will master this recipe and prepare it for my family on Christmas Eve.

Traditional Bobalky Recipe

{approximate amounts}

  • Plain white bread dough (your preference)
  • 1/2 cup ground poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Roll the dough into a small cylinder an cut into 3/4″ pieces. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden in color. Cool completely.
  2. Place bread rolls in a colander. Pour boiling water evenly over the bread rolls–this will soften them a bit. Put newly softened rolls in a bowl.
  3. In a saucepan over low heat, warm honey and ground poppy seeds. Pour over softened rolls and toss.
  4. Enjoy!

What I love most about this recipe is the fact that it is emblematic of my family’s heritage. Bobalky, along with most Slovak recipes, is very simple. It serves as a reminder of my family’s humble and hardworking beginnings–something I hope to carry onward.

What family heritage recipes do you plan to pass on to your children?

Jaime Mackey
Originally from Florida, Jaime has lived in Southern Louisiana for most of her life (so, that makes her a local, right?). She currently resides on the Northshore with her husband and son and teaches high school English. An enneagram 5, you'll most likely find her doing hot yoga solo, on her phone researching a random topic or sitting in the comfort of her home with coffee and a book within an arm's reach.


  1. Thank You for this receipe. I recently loss both my parents and Xmas times is hard without their presence. I miss the tradition of making the bobalky and can remember how both parent worked together for this Xmas Eve feast. I needed so badly to feel their presence because I just turned 70 and life without them is hard. By having this receipe, all the parts of making bolbalky comes back into my memory and life continues to go on with myself and my 34 year old twins. I know my twins will enjoy it because they remembered how proud their grandparents were making it.


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