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Authentic Hungarian Walnut Rolls

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

These traditional Hungarian Walnut Rolls are technically a Christmas cookie but I like to think of them as a Make-Any-Day-Better cookie. These Hungarian specialties are another one of my Husband’s favorite cookies from childhood. They utilize the same cream cheese dough as the Hungarian Apricot Kolaches but they taste remarkably different.

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

When I first tasted them this Christmas, I knew these Walnut Rolls (or, as they are also called, Nut Horns) should not be restricted to Christmas to compete with the Gingerbread Boys, Snowballs, or Molasses Spice Cookies. No, no. They are waaay too special for that.

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

This week when I found out that a friend, and lover of Hungarian treats, needed a good old-fashioned sugar pick me up, I jumped at the opportunity to bake him something close to his heart. These Hungarian Walnut Rolls have a delicately flakey yet rich crust, and an incredibly sweet, irresistible walnut filling! The outside of the roll in generously coated in sugar, which creates a sumptuous caramelized crust on the bottom and a crunchy, sugary sweet coating on top.

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

These cookies are so delicious; my Husband braved the Atlanta snowstorm (on foot) to buy the cream cheese for the crust!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

They are like little bites of Heaven!

It took several tries around Christmastime to recreate these Walnut Rolls the way that my Husband remembers his Grandmother’s tasting, but I am happy to report that I have finally nailed it. Do not be deterred by the length of the instructions. They are really quite simple but I wanted to make sure you could recreate these magical cookies the first time!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

Aren’t they adorable?!

Like her Apricot Kolaches, my Husband’s Grandmother rolled her walnut rolls out in sugar and then sprinkled extra on top, because Grandma Szabo knew that more sugar is always better!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

Grandmother Szabo’s Walnut Rolls were apparently MUCH larger than these. She used a generous tablespoon of filling into the thinnest pastry imaginable. They taste equally amazing large or small.

I also threw a few of these Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies into the package because chocolate never hurts and they are irresistible!

I hear that they were gone in under 12 hours. I know mine were…

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Authentic Hungarian Walnut Rolls


  • Yield: 64 Cookies 1x

Description

These traditional Hungarian cookies have a sweet, nutty filling inside a flakey, rich pastry! While they are traditionally made at Christmastime, they are outstanding any time of year!


Scale

Ingredients

For the Pastry:

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar for rolling

For the Walnut Filling:

  • ½ pound freshly ground walnuts (finely)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup of boiled milk
  • 1/8 cup melted butter

Instructions

To make the Walnut Filling:

  1. Mix filling in a medium bowl using only ¼ cup of the boiled milk. The mixture should be thick.
  2. If the filling is not spreadable, use the rest of the milk. I used all of it. It will thicken as it sits.
  3. Note: You can make the filling ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Just thaw at room temperature when you are ready to use.

For the Pastry Dough:

  1. Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until completely incorporated and creamy (3-5 minutes).
  3. Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add in the flour. I used 5 additions and completely mixed in the flour each time. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and flatten each to ¾” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, at least 2 hours.

Assembling the Walnut Rolls:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Move the oven rack one setting higher than the center.
  2. Take one of the disks of dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour both sides. Spread granulated sugar on your pastry board or work surface. Place the dough on top and roll out pastry to 1/16” thick or as thin as possible. Most recipes say 1/8” but my Husband remembered them being thinner. Thinner is better. If you roll them too thick, the bottom will burn before the inside has a chance to fully cook and puff up. They still taste good but they taste so much better when properly rolled. Promise. Just trust me here.
  3. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, trim the dough into a square and then cut the square into 16 smaller squares. My dough never rolled out into a perfect circle so I would just cut as many 1 1/2 “ squares a possible, saving the scraps for later.
  4. Place a dollop of filling in one corner of each square. I used ½ teaspoon.
  5. Starting in the corner with the filling, roll the dough around the filling from corner to corner, gently pressing down as you roll. Grab the roll on both sides and pinch as you bend the roll to create a crescent shape. Gently move it to a parchment covered baking sheet, placing the Rolls no closer than 1” apart.
  6. Repeat with all remaining squares.
  7. Sprinkle the middles of the Rolls with just a touch of granulated sugar.
  8. Bake 12-14 minutes or until the bottom edges are a golden and you can smell them. They should puff up slightly in the middle. With experience you can see when the dough is cooked. Let cool slightly on the pan on a wire rack and then move them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Repeat with all remaining dough. Refrigerate and re-roll your scraps. Amazing.
  10. For a more traditional cookie, you can omit the granulated sugar and dust the final, cooled cookie with powdered sugar. I will warn you that it won’t be as divine.

Notes

Note: Recipe from June Meyer’s Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes Cookbook. The Walnut Filling recipe can also be found on her website. You can look forward to more Hungarian heirloom delicacies. I’m borderline obsessed!

The most difficult part about these cookies is storing them so that they don’t get soft. They will still taste yummy but the crispy flakey crust with the caramelized bottom is really sensational. I found that layering them between sheets of wax paper and then wrapping the stack loosely in foil will keep them as crisp as possible.

You don’t want to cut a corner and not re-roll your scraps. They make the best cookies because they have been rolled out twice in sugar!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

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208 Comments

  • Phillip
    February 3, 2014 at 11:17 am

    These are beautiful – a work of art!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Thanks, Phillip! You’re too sweet!

      Reply
      • Nancy Trainer
        December 18, 2016 at 1:35 pm

        I love to read over the recipes also do some of them,but why do we have to scroll down six or more pictures of the same products, one picture and directions. should be fine.. Just wondering.. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Lindsey
          December 20, 2016 at 7:42 pm

          Hi Nancy, because that’s how this blog is. It’s my little piece of the internet and I like it that way 🙂 Happy baking! I hope you do try the recipes.

          Reply
          • Ellen Martell
            December 15, 2019 at 7:06 pm

            This is a new slant on an old family favorite. I like pecans actually rather than walnuts and I brush the cookies with egg white and sprinkled cinnamon sugar before baking for even more crunch. I always used a round cookie cutter and like your idea of little squares with decorative edges. Am trying that this year thanks Lindsey and Merry Christmas!!

          • Claudia B Ioanes
            December 9, 2020 at 11:43 pm

            You tell em Nancy

        • Marcelle
          January 18, 2018 at 7:07 pm

          I wondered that also Nancy. Why so many duplicate pictures.

          Reply
          • Marion
            June 30, 2019 at 3:20 pm

            I am looking forward to making these cookies. Years ago I use to make something like these. We also used a ravioli cutter to cut them. It was a perfect square and had the pretty edges. Thank you for this recipe.

          • Lindsey
            August 3, 2019 at 9:51 am

            Thats a great idea!

      • Elizabeth
        December 15, 2020 at 12:12 am

        I’ve tried these for first time
        I could hardly get the dough 1/2 rolled before it got way too soft. Does that mean I needed more flour? I followed ingredients to the tea
        Thanks

        Reply
    • Sissy
      November 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Does the 1/2 pound of ground walnuts equal to 2 cups after grinding? Thank you

      Reply
      • Jenn
        December 16, 2017 at 11:04 am

        That’s such a good question – I was wondering same thing! Did you ever get an answer?

        Reply
        • Lindsey
          December 26, 2017 at 1:33 pm

          Hi Jenn, When I originally made this recipe I just used an 8oz bag of walnuts but my notes from work say that 2 cups ground walnuts = 225g = 7.9 oz, so I would say using 2 cups ground walnuts is a good substitute for weighing them. Happy baking!

          Reply
          • Linda
            March 14, 2018 at 11:39 pm

            I’ve made Tyra cookies for like 44+ years. I was taught by my husband’s grandmother who was Czechoslovakian how to make them and still make them every Christmas. Have become a family tradition! Also like her recipe for Czech fruit dumplings
            Truly Linda Seidl

          • Lindsey
            March 20, 2018 at 1:51 pm

            What wonderful memories to cherish, Linda! I’ll have to try the fruit dumplings!

      • Michele
        December 17, 2017 at 6:44 pm

        3.3 cups equals one pound

        Reply
      • Jeanne Adam
        December 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

        Right off the bat, I do not like walnuts in pounds, I LIKE cups!

        Reply
      • Lindsey
        December 26, 2017 at 1:31 pm

        Hi Sissy, That is a great question. I don’t think that I measured them in cups after. I just used a bag that was 8oz walnuts. My notes from work say that 2 cups of walnuts are 225g, which is 7.9oz.

        Reply
    • EUGENE JONAS
      December 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      my fathers mother came from hungry,when I was6 yrs old I used to watch her make those cookies,she taught my mother how to make,also my mother taught me to make them,as I used to help make them,grandma ,had a glack coal stove,in the 40
      ies,when I was 45 yrs old I made them for my motherthat would be in the mid 70 years always loved them,gene ej2TWCNY.RR.COM ALSOloved nut kolach and poppseed rolls

      Reply
      • Lindsey
        December 26, 2017 at 1:15 pm

        Thank you so much for taking the time to share your memories Eugene! I hope you try these and they remind you of your grandmother. Happy baking!

        Reply
  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    February 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    awwwww they make me miss Christmas!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      February 4, 2014 at 8:36 am

      I know, right!

      Reply
  • dina
    February 4, 2014 at 12:20 am

    i love traditional cookies. these look amazing!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      February 4, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Thanks, dina!

      Reply
      • leanne
        December 9, 2014 at 10:07 am

        I would like to make these tomorrow….why the boiled milk and how long to boil?? Thanks

        Reply
        • AmericanCooking22
          December 9, 2014 at 10:21 am

          Hi leanne, Lots of old recipes call for boiled milk but now it isn’t important because our milk is pasteurized; however, in this recipe you do still want it to be hot. If memory serves, I heated mine up in the microwave. You don’t need to boil it down or boil it for any length of time – it’s just a gauge of temperature. If it isn’t hot enough the ingredients won’t incorporate. Hope that helps!

          Reply
          • Kim
            December 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm

            What is the name of your china pattern? It’s the pattern I picked out in 1985 but ended up registering for another. I can’t remember the name!

          • AmericanCooking22
            December 12, 2014 at 2:08 am

            I’m not sure, Kim! I got a few pieces at an estate sale 8 years ago! It is Vignaud Limoges, but as for the particular pattern, I’ve never been able to find it!

          • Liz
            January 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm

            My mom did hers totally different. She just had the walnuts, sugar, and egg whites. That’s all she did, nothing about boiled milk.

          • AmericanCooking22
            January 16, 2015 at 10:45 am

            Hi, Liz! I am sure there are many variations out there. I’ll have to give your mom’s a try! Sounds delicious!

        • Pat
          March 27, 2019 at 3:42 am

          U really only need to get the milk warm because it makes mixing the nut filling ingredients a little easier to mix well. The Walnuts absorb the milk as they sit. I usually make my nut filling night before the then in morning bring back out frig till almost room temp.

          Reply
  • Hungarian Chicken Paprikas with Homemade Spaetzle
    September 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

    […] maybe one bite of each dish and a cookie or three. Fair […]

    Reply
  • Kyla
    December 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Do these freeze well after they are made?

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      December 18, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      I have never tried to freeze them whole. I have frozen the filling and used it months later to make more, which worked very well! I do think they would freeze well. My great-grandmothers pecan tassies, that have a similar crust, freeze perfectly stacked with wax paper or parchment in between in a ziplock freezer bag or sealed container.

      Reply
      • Rae Solomon
        December 18, 2016 at 11:34 am

        they do freeze very well. Freeze them plain on top, sprinkle with the sugar when ready to bake

        Reply
  • sandra maria
    December 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Oh my gosh! I remember these as a little girl, helping my mom bake them.she’s gone now but these are wonderful memories.god bless.

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      December 20, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Your comment made me smile! Have a blessed holiday! My husband and his brother also have very fond memories around these walnut rolls, so these and the apricot kolaches have a special place in our household! I hope you give them a try!

      Reply
      • Linda
        May 18, 2017 at 2:48 am

        The Limoges Vignaud bone china plate you used is the yellow floral pattern. So pretty

        Reply
        • Lindsey
          May 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm

          Hi Linda! Isn’t it just gorgeous!? I picked that one and a few tea cups up at an estate sale many years ago. I live for a good vintage find!

          Reply
  • jim
    December 23, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    My mother fixed these for me every christmas…when she died a year ago so did the receipt…now i can pass it on thanks to you..

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      December 24, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Such a lovely memory, Jim! Thank you so much for sharing! I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we have.

      Reply
  • Nikki @ Tikkido
    December 26, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    This recipe is absolutely exceptional!! Rolling out dough in sugar is totally worth the extra mess and difficulty. That crisp, caramelized bottom really is everything you said and more. I am going to make these every year without fail, and my ancestors will undoubtedly speak of these cookies in hushed, reverent tones. They’re that good. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      December 28, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Your comment totally made my day, Nikki! And it seriously cracked me up! I hope my ancestors will speak about these cookies in hushed, reverent tones! Thanks for trying them and stopping back to let me know!

      Reply
      • Alice
        July 14, 2018 at 5:08 pm

        Your ancestors will not! Your descendants might tho. 🙂

        Reply
    • kath
      March 16, 2017 at 9:47 am

      I roll mine in confection sugar. Get very good.

      Reply
  • Janie
    January 3, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    they are freezable if you follow her instructions for freezing the pecan tarts which I freeze the same way. I do the wax paper/ziplock and a freezer – safe container. I get sent both treats every holiday season by relatives. I try to make them last through the year 🙂

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      January 4, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      How do you try to make them last throughout the year!?!? You are a stronger woman than I, Janie!

      Reply
  • Sande
    February 21, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I have fond memories of helping my grandmother makes these every Christmas. She would makes hundreds of them to share with family and friends. My mother made them a few times but felt it was way too time consuming for her. Sadly both of them passed without me getting a copy of the recipe. My grandmothers was in head and she never measured anything, so it was a couple handfuls of this and a couple dashes of that. I attempted many times over the years to duplicate the recipe or find it somewhere but never had much luck.

    Your recipe is very similar to what I remember with the only difference being the walnuts and boiled milk. She used black walnuts and canned evaporated milk. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      February 23, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Sande! The best recipes are the ones that you know by heart! But that is definitely the risk of not writing it down. I couldn’t find black walnuts – I think you can only get them in season around here. But I can see evaporated milk working well. I hope you try them! If you do let me know how they compare!

      Reply
    • Dana Cinque
      May 10, 2017 at 8:33 am

      Absolutely one of my favorite recipes. I made them on Sunday and they were gone by Monday!

      Reply
      • Lindsey
        May 10, 2017 at 7:03 pm

        I am so happy to hear that Dana!!! Happy baking!

        Reply
  • Ilona lenart
    October 8, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    My mother, Irene made this walnut roll every Christmas. And she made about 100. She made them for us at home and her friends at Shoprite in Clark nj. Even I took some to work to treat my friends. Everyone who tried it wanted the recepi right away. And I always think of my mother, Irene when I make them. She passed in 2007. She was all Hungarian. We continue to cook and bake like she did. Everything Hungarian. Anyways, she made the best walnut rolls ever. And it was called Dios Kifli. Everyone should try to make it. They will love it!!!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 18, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      100!!! These are the kind of cookies that you want to bake in large batches – just begging to be shared! I love Hungarian cooking – I’m not Hungarian but it is such comfort food. I would love to try any of your mother’s recipes if you are willing to share! Feel free to email me at americanheritagecooking@gmail.com

      Reply
    • Jennifer
      August 24, 2020 at 11:57 pm

      My Grandmother was also from Clark NJ and shopped at Shoprite. She made these every year for Christmas along with prune and apricot fillings. I loved them! I wonder if they knew each other since Clark was a small town. My grandmother was Josephine Laskowski.

      Reply
  • JL
    December 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Grandma and her sisters were straight from Hungary, and this recipe is nothing like theirs. How can you possibly call this Hungarian?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      December 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      There is never just one recipe for any particular dessert, so, obviously, it is normal that your grandmother’s recipe is different than this one. It doesn’t make mine or yours wrong – just different.

      Reply
      • JoAnn Beres Hertzig
        September 26, 2018 at 2:17 am

        There are as many variations of Kifli as there are bakers! I love my Hungarian church cookbooks. The variations are endless. But I have to wonder when cream cheese came in to existence. We never used it for Kifli and my recipe came over on the boat with my grandmother who was born in the 1800’s and the recipe came from HER mother. Just curious about the addition of cream cheese. Sorry if that doesn’t sound authentic, albeit still delicious.

        Reply
        • Lindsey
          October 4, 2018 at 5:18 pm

          Thats a totally valid question. My guess is that they probably used whatever version of cottege cheese they had available. There are other old world cheeses that are like cream cheese (Robiola for example) and its possible they used that. My ex-husband’s grandmother was off the boat and used cream cheese.

          Reply
          • Bob Hosh
            February 22, 2019 at 11:42 am

            Cream cheese is an American invention and played no role in authentic Hungarian food. Kifli recipes from the 19th and 20th century did not contain cheese, but some added sour cream. I would call this an authentic American-Hungarian recipe. I’ve had similar and they are delicious.!

          • Joy Andrea Weaver
            November 26, 2019 at 12:29 pm

            My hungarian nagymama off the boat also used cream cheese!

  • Terry
    December 11, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    My Mother, myself and now my two daughters make Hungarian Cookies every year at Christmas. The only thing different is that we use:

    2 lbs. flour
    2 lbs. cottage cheese
    2 lbs. butter

    We also fill them with anyone of the following: Walnut mixture – Poppy Seed mixture or jams. We also sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately after taking out of the oven! Yummy. Really enjoyed your recipe and how well others enjoyed these traditional cookies as much as my family does! Merry Christmas!

    Reply