What you should eat when you’re in Texas

    Not barbecue.

    That stuff is everywhere in the South. I’m talking about something that only Texas has. Something a little sweet, a little pillowy, a little chewy, a little cheesy, a little meaty. Something that after you eat one, you just have to get another. Something that 99.91% of the time is chosen over donuts (I made up the stats, but I’ve never met anyone who picks a donut when they’re given this). My Texas friends, I miss the kolaches.

    If you haven’t had it, you’re gonna say “That’s a pig-in-the-blanket, Whole Foods has loads.” No, it is far from a pig-in-the-blanket. I repeat, kolaches is NOT pig-in-the-blanket (PitB).

    The difference is in the bread. PitB bread is plain, flare it up with poppy seeds and oily butter or not, it’s plain and must not be eaten without the sausage. Kolaches bread is sweet, like a Hawaiian roll*. PitB bread is dry and flaky. Kolaches bread is pillowy, slightly chewy and moist. The sausage is there for protein surplus and does not really add fireworks to the flavor. If you insist on an either-or, I’d choose the bread and toss the sausage every time. Donut shops in Houston would ask if you want the kind with cheese, say yes. The very thin inner lining of cheese makes its salty-sweet.

    Then you’re gonna laugh at me and try to crumble my Texan pride, “It’s a Czech thing, not a Texas thing” and tell me to read Wikipedia.  Well, look again, the Czech kolache (pronounced |koh-lash|) is a sweet pastry with fruit jam on top. The Texan kolaches (pronounced |koh-lah-chee|) is savory with a little sausage link inside. The Texas kolaches isn’t any more Czech than the hamburger is from Hamburg.

    Originally, it is a variety of the Czech kolache, referred to as “klobasnek” or “klobasnik,” which comes from “klobasek,” Czech for “sausage,” similar to “kielbasa“. But the Czechs consider the Texas kolaches a joke too far removed from their fruit-topped dessert pastries, for it has cheap cocktail sausage links instead of the huge Polish dogs. The misnomer “kolache” is perhaps due to the Houstonian Kolache Factory‘s successful advertisement of this savory breakfast on the go.

    Black sheep to the Czechs or not, the Texas kolaches are extremely popular in Texas. Most donut shops have them, usually twice or three times more expensive than donuts, and all are sold out before noon. Sometimes 9 am. No kolaches left behind.

    But you won’t be able to find it outside the Lone Star State. You probably will not even hear about it outside the Lone Star State. People just will not know what you’re talking about when you say “kolaches” (pronounced |koh-lah-chee|), unless they’re from Texas. Believe me, I asked my students here, in Berkeley-San Francisco, they gave me the confused eyes and directed me to Whole Foods for pigs-in-the-blanket. I’ve searched every donut shop in town, no luck. I’ve used Google Maps, AM Kolaches in Hayward is the only hit, but it’s the Czech version with fruits and cream cheese.

    O Texas Kolaches, how I miss thee!

    *Notes on the Hawaiian rolls: Get them! They make awesome sandwiches. Or spread pâté in the middle.

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    33 comments to What you should eat when you’re in Texas

    • Kyo

      mmm! I love kolaches! I think you’re right– I’ve never seen them outside of Texas. And the donut shops definitely sell out by 9 am. It’s crazy but oh-so-good. I’m going to try to replicate them soon.

    • Mai

      I know right? The rest of the country is so missing out on this little thing! 😀 And I’m eager to read about your kolaches 😉

    • Kolaches: one of the many reasons I decided to go to A&M for grad school.

    • Mai

      Excellent decision, Pauline! 😉

    • faby

      i love your article! so right on!! i moved to nc and OMG how i miss!! my kolaches. ppl that try them here when i make them love them! but its quite the process so i only bake them once or twice a year but they are so amazing! i love Texas with all my heart! and i am a SUPER PROUD TEXAN!

    • Mai

      Thank you Faby! You make your own kolaches??!! That’s awesome!!! Yes Texas is lovely, my parents are there now and they’ve decided that they will not live anywhere else. Yay us Texans! 😉

    • Gayle

      There’s no place like Texas!!! There’s no place like Texas!! There’s no place like Texas! Yum!

    • Dianna

      POPS Doughnuts here in CenterPoint , Alabama has them.

    • Mai

      Yay for CenterPoint, Alabama 😀

    • Ani

      I’m a Texas girl that just moved to Tennessee for grad school…and I was devastated to learn that no one here knows what a kolache is. I miss them fiercely.

    • Yeah, every time I go home in Houston, my mom always buys a bunch for me because she knows I can’t get them anywhere else. 🙂

    • Justin

      They’ve been selling them in donut shops in Baton Rouge, LA for as long as I can remember. They’re the same mass produced ones you get in Texas. I like them, but I think they taste exactly like pigs in a blanket. I don’t find them sweet at all, that’s why I get them when the family wants donuts.

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    • laura

      i’m so glad to have found this! my mom made these growing up and everyone always looked at me like i was crazy when i would try and describe them… “you mean piggy’s in a blanket right?” no! anyhow, the recipe for the dough calls for jello american custard mix which is almost impossible to find these days, even on the internet. i finally gave up and tried flan custard mix for the dough (the only custard mix i can find at the store) and it came out pretty close! next time i think i’ll add a bit of sugar since the dough was not quite as sweet as i remember it being. anyways, thanks again for this post! i’m so glad i can finally explain the origins of this tasty snack.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed my post. That’s really interesting that the flan custard mix would go into the dough, but it makes sense; I would like to try making it too!

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    • Jason

      A kolache has fruit in it. These are pigs in a blanket. They are not a “Texas” thing. They are a Czech thing.

    • Id

      Jason is wrong, he obviously isn’t from texas. the Kolache IS, in fact. a texas thing. Did you even read the article before posting? It addresses the confusion you have.

      ~Long live Kolaches

    • Kalbiloven808

      I never knew people outside of Hawaii at these!! Lulu can get these from the Manapua truck and some of the convienece store downtown Honolulu… I loved graving one before catching the bus home

    • Carl

      Moved from the St. Louis area to Dallas and am hooked on Kolaches. Sure, they are little fat bombs but are soooo delicious. Some of the bakeries put either a jalapeno sausage or jalapeno in the kolache.

      Yum, yum, yum!!

    • I’m a Brit who used to travel to Texas alot to visit an expat friend of mine, these were always a great remedy for ‘the morning after’ We used to get them from a place in Plano and the bread was a little different to this, kind of like Croissant pastry, and they also had cream cheese in them. I sometimes make an approximation of them myself with ingredients that are available over here: Just-Rol croissant pastry, hotdogs( I use jumbo hotdogs cut in half) and Philidelphia cream cheese. Take a triangle of the pastry, slather it with the cheese then roll the hotdog in the pastry and crimp the ends together with your fingers so that the entire dog is encased, then cook the lot in the oven according to the temp \ time on the pastry packet. Serve up with some mustard on the side (American obviously, English mustard would just be dangerous at breakfast time).

    • Oompaw

      It’s still a pig in a blanket but just in sweet bread.

    • Christen Skotnicki

      Sorry but a sausage kolache is not a “Texas kolache”, and is technically not even a kolache. It a Czech food and is called a klobasnek. I was born and raised in Texas, had family in West, and I am Czech and Polish.

    • Herman

      They (kolaches) aren’t just in TX anymore, there’s a store in St. Louis called St. Louis Kolaches that sell them. But I had I had been eating them for years even before I moved to HEB in TX back in early the 2000’s.

    • Michal

      Coming from a Czech, this sounds and looks delicious! While czechs wouldn’t call it a kolac (here kolac is sweet), I would love to try one.
      And as the article points out, this kind of kolache is its own thing, just like a hamburger.

      There is a crazier version to kolace – it is always sweet (sometimes made strictly from, or a combination of fruit jams, poppy seed filling, sour cream), called Frgal. It is a giant version of a kolac, with almost no dough border.

      Usually it is as big as a small piza:)


      But it is more of a local specialty, made in a certain part of Czech Republic (Valassko). It is quite amazing, and best eaten when freshly baked!

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