- Food and Cooking
Authentic Polish pierogi - the very best of Polish food
Traditional Polish pierogi recipes
If you were to pick one worldwide famous Polish dish, chances are that you wouldn't hesitate long before saying - pierogi. Those little stuffed dumplings won hearts of people everywhere and no wonder - personally I think it's the most delicious dinner you can have. I've been eating and making pierogi my whole life, both in Poland and abroad and now I'm happy to share with you traditional recipes that I've learned from my mum, that she, in turn, learned from hers.
Photos are mine unless specifically marked otherwise
Pierogi or pierogyes?
The original Polish word is 'pierogi'. It's already plural (single form is 'pierÃ³g, but it's rarely used), so to a Polish eye pierogis or pierogyes (I've even seen pieorgies out there, but I'm assuming it's a typo?) looks quite funny - a bit like if someone said appleses. Having said that - they are delicious whatever you call them, so if you like the sound of pierogyes, stick with it :)
One look, many stuffings - introducing various pierogi recipes
While externally pierogi always look almost the same, they can be stuffed with quite a few different things. Actually, if you are creative, you can think of your own stuffing recipe, and whatever the outcome, if it sticks to the basic dumplingness ( the word is my invention - nice, huh?), it will still be called 'pierogi'. If your recipe is original enough, you can even name it - as in John Smith's pierogi. Who knows, maybe you're THE next big pierogi inventor?
If you want to stick to the tradition, though, there are few basic recipes available for you. I know Polish cuisine inside out, so I'm going to stick to this territory. Here's what you can choose from:
- cheese and potato ('ruskie' in Polish. Funny enough, the name comes from Rus, a region East from Poland)
- meat pierogi
- cabbage pierogi
Sweet pierogi (only the most popular, because here variations are endless)
- strawberry pierogi
- plum pierogi
- prune pierogi
- wild blueberry pierogi
- sweet cheese pierogi
Unfortunately, making pierogi is a time-consuming affair. It's worth it, though.
Have you ever tried pierogi?
I've got some bad news for you - it's highly unlikely that you'll get it right at the first go. Don't worry, your pierogi will still be edible and tasty, just not PERFECT. The reason being - there simply is no precise recipe for pierogi dough. You need to learn to judge if your dough is too dry or too sticky and adjust the amount of water or flour accordingly. It takes time and even... luck - my grandma has been making pierogi all her life and still sometimes her dough works out not as it should (at least that's what she says, because for me her pierogi always taste heavenly...).
Oh, and this is my and my family's version of the dough. I'm aware of other variants existing - for example some people like to add sour cream to theirs - but I think simplicity is the best and always stick to this recipe with great results.
- 1/2 kg of plain flour
- 1 -2 eggs
- Basically, you mix flour and egg, then add as much water as it takes to make your dough flexible, and knead. Knead a lot. I usually ask a man around the house to do this bit, because it is physically exhausing :). Don't run away yet, it's not that bad, I'm just lazy - 10 minutes of intensive kneading should be enough.
- The finished dough needs to be rather hard, but sticky enough for the edges of your dumpling to stay together. If you roll it, it should lightly stick to your surface, but not to your rolling pin. The 'surface' side of the dough will be slightly more sticky (because it won't dry up in the air), and that's the side on which your stuffing should go - the edges will be much more likely to stay together this way.
- Divide the dough into more manageable chunks and roll it until it's about 2-3 mm thick. Cut out little circles - a pint glass is a perfect cookie cutter for this purpose.
- If you want to have a break, cover your dough ball with a bowl or something to keep the air out. Don't leave it for more than few hours, though, as it quickly goes bad.
Alternative pierogi dough recipe
You can substitute little vegetable oil (about 50 ml) for the egg in your dough recipe. This makes softer, more delicate pierogi dough.
Cutting pierogi dough
Take one circle and put a good teaspoon of stuffing in its centre. Fold in half, then stick the edges together as shown on the picture. Make sure the edge holds well, as they easily go apart in cooking.
Another good tip - make sure the stuffing doesn't touch the actual edge of your circle. It will make the edge greasy and it will never hold together.
Oh, and please don't mind my messy kitchen in the background :)
A few gadgets you may find useful when making pierogi
These will give your pierogi a beautigul, wavy edge
OK, you've learnt the hardest part! Now it's time for some authentic stuffing recipes.
'Ruskie' (cheese and potato) pierogi stuffing
This is my very favourite pierogi type. All are good, but I would happily go to hell if you told me there will be plenty of ruskie pierogi there.
- 6 -7 big potatoes
- 1/4 kg quark cheese
- 4 big onions
- 1. Peel, cook and mash potatoes. Wait until cold.
- 2. Fry finely cut onions until golden.
- 3. Mix all the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Easy, yes?
- Fried onion is the secret ingredient of this stuffing. It needs to be chopped really, really finally, and fried slowly on low temperature. Once it starts browning, mix consistently - this is the important bit! It takes some patience, but it will make your pierogi something unforgettable.
- Oh, and you can add as much as you want. 4 is only to start with, you can't have too much onion :)
What cheese is good for pierogi?
You may find cheese used in 'ruskie' stuffing slightly confusing. Depending on your part of the world, you will need to use your local variant. If there's a Polish shop around, you're lucky - just ask for 'bialy ser'. I've heard this type of cheese being also called 'farmer's cheese'.
What you looking for is basically a grain of cottage cheese magnified a hundred times :).
If you cannot find anything else, just drain cottage cheese off the excess whey - it should work well.
I imagine you could try this stuffing with ricotta, but I have to admit it's a long shot and I've never tried it.
The secret ingredient
Onion for pierogi needs to be chopped really, really fine - Here's a device to help you out
You need to chop your onions really, really fine to get the desired effect. It is quite hard to do by hand and usually takes years of practice. My grandma does it the best in the world, her onion bits are nearly 1 mm wide. I've never managed to match her, but hey - who said you cannot cheat a little?
Cabbage pierogi stuffing
There are a few variations of this recipe. According to your taste, you can use raw cabbage, sauercraut or mixture of the two, which is my version of the recipe
- 1/2 cabbage
- 1/2 kg of sauerkraut
- a bit handful of dried wild mushrooms (button mushrooms will do if you have no other)
- 2 big onions
- 1. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in water overnight
- 2. Slice cabbage very finely. Cook until soft (about 1/2 hour)
- 3. Chop sauerkraut into small bits. Cook until soft (about 1/2 hour)
- 4. Cook the mushrooms until soft (about an hour) When ready, mince or chop finely.
- 5. Chop onions very finely, fry until golden.
- 6. Mix all the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Photo source
Cabbage stuffing is just as delicious in crepes or croquettes
Meat pierogi stuffing
- 1/2 kg of lean pork
- 2 onions
- 1. Cook the meat until tender
- 2. Mince meat.
- 3. Chop onions very finely. Fry until golden.
- 4. Add minced meat to the onions and fry another 3-5 minutes
- 5. Season to taste
- It's important to cook the meat before mincing.
- Photo source
More pierogi recipes
- Potato and cheddar pierogi
Heavier than the classic recipe but still delicious!
- Spinach pierogi
If you're looking for the healthier option, spinach pierogi are what you need
- Wild mushroom pierogi
You can substitute garden mushrooms for the wild, but nothing beats the original flavour
- Pierogi with chicken, spinach and feta cheese
Pierogi recipe with a twist
- Buckwheat pierogi
Did you know that buckwheat is the new wonder food?
How to cook pierogi?
Cook your pierogi in boiling, salted water until they float + 3 minutes.
How to serve your pierogi?
Once you have your pierogi cooked, you cannot simply serve them. You have to put SOMETHING on them to make them perfect. That something could be:
- fried onions. You cannot go wrong with fried onions.
- bacon, finely chopped and fried until golden
- mixture of onion and bacon :)
- sour cream
- fried breadcrumbs (on the picture)
- butter (if you really don't have strength for anything else...)
Give me a plateful of those anytime!
Pierogi cookbooks - for even more pierogi recipes
To make sweet fruit pierogi, simply stuff dough circles with few fresh berries/half a plum/a prune/quark cheese mixed with sugar and vanilla. Don't add any salt to water when cooking! Serve with sour cream sprinkled with sugar
Sweet pierogi recipes
- Sweet cheese pierogi
Pierogi with vanilla-flavoured cheese stuffing
- Lemon blueberry pierogi
Fruity pierogi garnished with spiced cream
- Wild blueberry pierogi
My personal favourite among sweet pierogi varieties
- Sour cherry pierogi
A classic when it comes to fruit pierogi
- Strawberry pierogi
Refreshing pierogi for summer afternoons
- Plum pierogi
Plum pierogi with plum sauce
- Apple pierogi
Almost like an apple pie :)
Wild blueberries make best pierogi ever!
Wild blueberry pierogi is one of my fondest memories from childhood. Imagine - you forage in a forest for half a day looking for tiny, tiny blueberries, and are rewarded for your efforts with a plate full of delicious pierogi. Always, always served with sour cream and sugar.
Can you get wild blueberries where you live? They are much smaller than blueberries 'proper', and taste different, too.
When I was growing up in Poland, wild blueberries were the only blueberries I knew. I must have been around 13 when I first tasted proper blueberries - isn't that hard to believe?
Now I miss the taste of the wild.
Plum pierogi? Delicious!
This may not be the best place to say it, but I want to say it officially nevertheless: no one, ever makes better pierogi than my mum. No one. Ever :)
There's more to Polish cuisine than pierogi!
Liked it here? Hated? Have a recipe to share? Comment away!