Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my mom working in the kitchen preparing pierogies. She learned the recipe from my grandmother who learned it from her mother. It is a traditional Ukrainian recipe and easily one of my favorite foods to eat. Taking a bite of these homemade pierogies brings me back to those childhood days. My mom would work away in the kitchen making probably 100 or more of these wonderful Ukrainian dumplings filled with potato and cheese. The tables and kitchen counters would be filled with row upon row of the pierogies. They took a while to make (partially because she would make so many!), but it was a labour of love for my mom. One that she would do for her family.

Homemade Ukrainian Pierogies

For me, it is great to learn how to make pierogies the very same way and to carry on the tradition of our family in this way. On top of that, these are the best tasting pierogies around and WAY better than anything you will buy frozen in a store!

There are many different spellings of this little dumpling including pierogi, pirohy, pyrohy, perogy, varenyky, vareniki and more.

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Pierogies are best served with fried pork fat or bacon. The little crispy chunks go perfect with the soft chew of the pierogies. We also traditionally serve them with sour cream.

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The filling is so simple to make: boil potatoes, drain, but set aside, the water. Add cubed cheese and cover with the lid.

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The potatoes should still be very hot and they will cause the cheese to melt after about 5-10 minutes.

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Blend the filling using a hand blender or a hand potato masher.

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The dough can be made by hand, but a food processor does it far easier and more quickly.

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Add the flour, salt and egg to the food processor bowl. Turn it on and slowly pour in the cooled potato water. Stop adding water when the dough forms a ball, as seen in the photo above.

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Knead the dough on a floured surface and roll it out to 1/8 inch thick.

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Make rounds with a biscuit cutter or a round glass.

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The round of dough should be 3 – 3 1/2 inch in diameter.

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Place the round of dough in your hand and spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough.

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Pull the dough over the filling and pinch it together at the edge.

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Make sure you pinch firmly so that the pierogi stays sealed during the boiling.

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The pierogi is done. Check along the edge to make sure there are no open spots and the seal seems solid.

Pierogies

The above instructions are how we traditionally make pierogies. There are pierogi machines available that can make the process a little simpler. We tried out one and it worked out very well. Check out our review of it here: Norpro Pierogi Maker Review.

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The pierogies take a while to make and the first ones will dry out before you are done if left out in the open. We lay them on a towel. Sprinkle a little flour on the towel and place the pierogies on the towel. Cover with another towel and keep adding more while you make them.

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Boil them in water for about 8-10 minutes. They will rise to the surface when they are fully cooked.

4.6 from 11 reviews
Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 200g (1/2 pound) medium cheddar cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups of flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup potato water at room temperature
  • diced bacon or pork fat
Instructions
  1. To make the filling, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain water into a bowl. Set aside for later. Place cubed cheese on top of the cooked potatoes and cover with a lid. Let rest for about 5 minutes so that the cheese will melt. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and mash the potatoes and cheese with a hand blender, potato masher. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. To make the dough, add the flour, egg and ½ tsp salt to a food processor bowl. Turn on the food processor. Slowly pour in the potato water until the dough forms a ball and then turn off the food processor.
  3. Place the dough on a floured surface. Knead with floured hands. The dough should have the feel of pizza dough, elastic but not wet. Work in a little extra flour if the dough is too moist.
  4. Divide the dough in 3. Roll out one ball of dough to ⅛ inch thickness. Use a pierogi press to make pierogies or use the instructions below to make them by hand.
  5. Use a biscuit cutter or glass. Dredge the rim of a 3 to 3½ inch glass in flour, then press the glass into the rolled out dough to cut a circle of dough. Place the dough round in your hand and spoon about a heaping tablespoon of potato and cheese filling into the middle of the dough. Pull the dough over the filling and pinch the edges. If the dough is dry, moisten a finger in water to help seal the edge.
  6. Place the pierogi on a towel sprinkled with flour. Cover with another towel so the pierogi does not dry out. Continue to make the remaining pierogies.
  7. To cook the pierogies, place them in boiling for about 8-10 minutes. The pierogies should rise to the surface of the water when they are finished cooking.
  8. While the pierogies are boiling, fry the bacon or pork fat, until browned and crisp.
  9. Toss the cooked pierogies in bacon, and bacon grease or the pork fat.
  10. Serve with sour cream.
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42 comments

  1. This looks wonderful! I always wanted to know how to do this. Thanks!

  2. Those look delicious Steve. Great job with the step by step instructions and pictures.

  3. I ate these in Lviv in Ukraine but my friend called them varenyky. I loved them and could have eaten the whole pot but there was so much other stuff to eat. Yours are perfect!!

    • I have never called the verenky, i dont’ think that we’re from that part of the country.

      nor have my mother or baba ever used a food procecor

      they would do it the old fashioned way, on a board, and then make a well out of the flour and mix the dough that way.

      susan

  4. My family loves pierogies.. and I must admit.. I only have bought the frozen kind before. These look great. I have been meaning to make a pierogie knock off with some flavors I tried at costco.. Now I want your fresh ones. :)

    • i have tried a few frozen kinds, yeah they’re ok, but home made is best

      didnt’ know they had them at costco though, i’m not a member

      susan

  5. Nice photos and recipe, but ahem, if they’re traditional, they’re called varenyky or pyrohy. In Polish, they are called “pierogi”, rather than “pierogies”. (Pierogi-plural, pieróg-singular).

  6. I was looking for a pierogi stamp when I saw this site. This is how I remember making them with my grandma as a little girl. We would boil them and then fry them in butter or a little bacon grease to give a little bit of a crunch and then toss with bits of bacon or butter as shown above. I am so excited to share this childhood tradition with my kids now! Great tutorial for those who have never made them before!

  7. Those look so tasty! The only homemade pierogies I have ever had are the ones we get from the farmer’s market.

  8. Years ago I made pierogi at least 4 or 5 times a month. The last 35 years with the kids all gone, married etc, and my moving, I did not make them anymore at all.

    When I lately tried it again, I realized had forgotten how to make the dough,.. result a thick chewy dough.

    So happy I found this sight, and am back in the Pierogi enjoyment for my friends.

    Thanks.

  9. I just made pierogies with this dough recipe and they turned out FABULOUS!! So much better then all the sour cream recipes I have tried elsewhere!! Thank you!!!

  10. So glad I found your recipe! Growing up on the Canadian prairies we had lots of Ukranian food, I knew my Grandma used potato water as the secret, but didn’t know how much or where to start, thanks!

  11. I want to have a dinner party with this recipe. Can you make this recipe the day before?

    • Tossing the pierogies in bacon grease or pork fat helps them not to stick together. We love them the next day as leftovers so they would be great made the day before. To reheat them, we fry them in a skillet on medium heat. They brown a bit and get a little crispy – they are amazing!!!

  12. Nice recipe, thank you! I read it, took a leap of faith and made a triple batch, taking a whole afternoon, and freezing what I didn’t reserve for that evening’s supper. They were exactly as I had hoped–yipee! I did gather the dough scraps and re-roll them a couple of times, and it might have been my imagination but some of pierogi seemed a bit chewy! I wondered whether you do this or discard the dough scraps.

  13. My baba and mom made this same recipe for three generations of our rural prairie family, with help of each new round of kids to pinch pinch pinch, often taking more time than without the extra help. Made with love, this humble perogie has no equal.

  14. Can’t imagine using a food processor or hand blender on potatoes without making a gummy mess. A potato ricer would do a much better job.

  15. I love the idea of the potato water. I have to make them for a dinner at the VFW next month and will use that hint. I have a hint if my own that it use. When the potato mixture cools take your tablespoons of filling and roll into individual balls and flatten slightly. Lay them on a sheet pan covered with waxed paper or parchment paper. This keeps the filling off your fingers to make the seal on the dough easier. Hope this helps.

  16. About how many does this recipe make? I’ve got my taters boiling as I type! Really looking forward to sharing these with my family tonight.
    -Emma

  17. If I want to freeze some do I freeze after boiling?

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Oh the memories!! This is truly a great recipe!! Thank you so much. I remember making these with my Baba on days when we did not have to be at school, such as a snow day!! I recall sitting on a high stool at the counter, cutting out the circles with a glass, watching the snow fly out in the backyard and woods!! Thank you, something my sister and I can pass on to our kids, as my Baba’s recipe was lost sometime along the way.

  19. I also make home made pierogies however instead of medium cheese I use the block of velveeta chesse. absolutely yummy.

  20. each person has their own method of how they mash, or whatever, why would the rating be taken, away, that’s just being picky as all ge out

    susan

  21. Please can someone help me with converting 1 cup of flour to ounces. Thank you kindly in advance.
    Our family recipe uses White Stilton and onion … try it out!

    • when I loo at a measuring cup, it always says 8 ounces….so that’s what I believe the conversion is, 8 oz….

      I’m not good at this, so if anyone else, says differently, the go ahead….but that’s what I see when I look at a measuring cup

      susan

  22. I have an old family recipe that I want to try SO badly, but it’s all in ukrainian and I cannot read it :( I won’t be able to carry on my baba’s pyrohy, but hope that this one will be a crowd pleaser for our ukrainian family this Christmas! Thank you for the detailed instructions and pictures :) awesome!

    • Perhaps you could get it translated….either online or using the library?? Would be a shame to not know what it says……and then once you have it in English, get the Ukrainian version printed on a tea towel or something so you can keep it in case something happens to the paper. Just a thought….wish I had some recipes from my grandmothers! :)

      • Misty, that is SUCH an awesome idea! Thank you for the suggestion! How brilliant, I love the tea towel idea. What a great Christmas gift that would be for the rest of my family! :)

        • You’re quite welcome! I’m not terribly crafty but I have seen where people have copied hand written recipes and the like on cloth items to be kept or gifted. Lots of tutorials online. Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas!!

  23. Great recipe! Should I want to freeze a large batch, what are your suggestions? Boil first and then freeze? Please let me know what you’ve found to work best. Thanks!!

    • I do not boil them prior to freezing. I lay them on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, I then bag them up and they don’t stick together in the freezer that way. To cook, I throw them in boiling water while frozen, just like you would store-bought. They turn out great this way!

    • I always boil all of them first. Cool and package in plastic bages in a single layer. I take them out of the freezer, put some butter in the pan, some thin sliced onions and the still frozen pierogi. Put a lid on and sauté on low till thawed. Remove the lid and turn up the heat and cook till browned on both sides. You only have the mess from boiling once. I usually make 10-15 Dzn. at a time and have never had a problem with freezing them cooked. Hope this helps.

    • my mom doesn’t do anymore, we might one day, but, still..

      but when we did, you can boil frozen ones……that’s what we do with the store bought ones….just take them out of the bag and boil them..

      or ones that you’ve made

      susan

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