VarenykyOne of the most popular dishes in Eastern European cooking is Filled Dumplings, known as: Varenyky,  in Ukrainian (also very often referred to, incorrectly, as “Pyrohy” ), or Pierogi in Polish.  They are made from homemade pasta dough, and filled with variety of fillings, but potato and cheese filling being the most popular.

It is definitely “labor of love” for those who make them from scratch, as it requires several hours of preparation time, but it is so well worth it.  The store bought “Pierogies” just do not measure up to the homemade version!!!  I was so proud of my daughter when she made these for the first time, without asking me for assistance.

These dumplings were made for generations, but if you ask your mom of grandma for a recipe, you get a very vague list of ingredients, and even less detailed preparation instructions.  The first time I made Varenyky, I also played by ear with measuring the ingredients, but with some luck, they turned out quite well.

Currently, thanks to Internet, you can find any recipe you can think of, but I will share my own ingredients, directions and pictures, so if you have the will power, you can give it a try, and enjoy homemade Varenyky/Pierogi made by YOU.  The filling needs to be prepared ahead of time, before the dough, so it has time to cool down.

Ingredients for dough:

  • 4 cups flour (all purpose – King Arthur or Pillsbury)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Measure 4 cups of flour and place it on your counter top in a mound, making a well in the middle.
  2. Add the egg, salt and sour cream into the well.

Flour mound with a well

  1. Using a spoon, start incorporating the flour from the inside of the well, into the wet ingredients, forming soft dough.
  2. Keep on adding the milk slowly into the mixture in the well, until all used up.
  3. Continue to mix in the remaining flour until soft dough is formed.  You might have some left over flour, depending on how dry the flour is that day.  You might have to leave some of the flour, or add some more milk to the dough.

Step 2 - working in the flour

  1. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding a little bit of flour so it does not stick to the countertop, but not too much so the dough does not become to dense.  It should feel like fresh pizza dough, or slightly softer.
  2. Place your dough on a floured part of a countertop, cover with a tea towel, and let it rest for 15 minute

Step 3 - completed dough, ready to rest

  1. Clean you work area of the countertop, sprinkle generously with flour, cut the dough in half, place one half on the floured work area, leave the rest covered for later use.
  2. Flatten the dough, and using a rolling pin, keep on rolling it up and down and side to side, until it is uniformly thin to about 1/8 inch.

Rolling out the dough

  1. Using a donuts cutter, or a rim of a glass, cut out circles from the rolled out dough, until all is used up.

Step 4 - cutting out circles

  1. Place the circles on a floured tea towel, and cover with another towel to keep them from drying out.

Step 5 - dough circles placed on a floured kitchen towels

  1. Form a new dough ball from the remaining dough left from the cut outs, and repeat the above rolling/cutting out process.
  2. Once the dough starts to get too thick, do not use it for Varenyky, but you may make it into pasta or just discard it.
  3. Repeat the process with the second half of the dough, which was resting during this time, until all used up.
  4. Now you are ready to fill your dumplings with your favorite filling, which needed to be prepared ahead of time, so it had a chance to cool off.
  5. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of a dough circle.

Step 6 - ready to wrap the  filling

  1. Fold in half, and pinch sides together well enough so they do not open up.  If you do not seal them well, the filling will boil out during cooking time.

Step 7 - fold the dough circle in half around the filling Step 9 - completed raw productStep 8 - Pinch the sides together from one end to the other

  1. Repeat the filling/pinching process until all circles are filled.

Step 10 - completed varenyky ready to coook

  1. Keep the finished product covered with a tea towel, until ready to cook.
  2. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to boil.
  3. Drop slowly 8-12 Varenyky into the boiling water; keep close to the surface of the water to avoid splashing hot water on you.
  4. Stir gently, with a wooden spoon, to prevent Varenyky from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  5. The Varenyky will float to the top of the water.  Do not cover the pot.
  6. Bring back to boiling point, and boil for 2 minutes.
  7. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a strainer placed over a bowl.
  8. Bring it over the kitchen sink, fill the bowl with cold water and place the Varenyky in it for a couple of minutes, then pour out into the strainer again to let the water drain off.  Then pour them out onto a large plate to cool off.
  9. By this time your water is boiling again, so repeat the cooking process until all Varenyky are cooked.

Potato filled Varenyky are best served warm, with onions sautéed in lots of butter, accompanied by a dollop of sour cream. YUMMY!!!!!

They also freeze very well. You need to make sure they are cold and tossed with some oil, to prevent sticking, before freezing them. I use a zip lock bag, and freeze one dozen at a time.

Potato/cheese Filling:

  • 8 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold, Red, or Idaho)
  • 1/4 lb Yellow American Cheese
  • ¼ lb White American Cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 large onion, chopped and sautéed in ¼ cup butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel and quarter potatoes.
  2. Fill a medium size pot with water, add potatoes and bring to boil.
  3. Cook until done.
  4. Sauté onions in butter, until golden.
  5. Drain water from cooked potatoes.
  6. Add sautéed onions, sour cream, cheeses, salt and pepper.
  7. Mash well.
  8. Cool before using.
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17 Responses

  1. Diana

    November 16th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    1

    I love Pierogi! These look so good…I havent had them in a while either. Maybe Ill pick some up from the store today! :)

  2. Suburban Grandma

    November 17th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    2

    Some of the store bought are better than others…you just have to try different brands until you find the one you like the best. Also, there are many Polish and Ukrainian churches selling them, around Christmas and during lent. Those are as good as homemade.

  3. Kitchen Sinks

    March 8th, 2011 at 6:21 am

    3

    Wow yummy and great recipe.. My mouth is full of water..

  4. Suburban Grandma

    March 8th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    4

    If you like the store bought kind, you will definitely like the homemade ones so much more.
    Thank you for stopping by, and for your comments.

  5. Natalie

    April 22nd, 2011 at 9:32 am

    5

    Hi again,

    what is white & yellow American cheese? Can I use tasty its our only yellow cheese and white cheese is greek fetta as I live in Australia?

    Thanks

  6. Suburban Grandma

    April 22nd, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    6

    If you like Feta cheese, it will be fine as well. My mom only had white farmer’s cheese and it tasted fine as well. Some people use cottage cheese. Please let me know how you liked them with the Feta cheese.
    Yellow or White American cheese, is a firm block of cheese, ususlly sliced, and mostly used on sandwiches, or for grilled cheese sandwiches. It is milder in flavor than Cheddar cheese. When you break up the slices into hot, cooked potatoes, it melts and blends nicely into the potatoes, enriching their flavor and giving them a rich golden color.

  7. Natalie

    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:25 am

    7

    I am going to make these yummy Varenyky this weekend!
    It’s great they freeze well, sorry silly question but do I need to cook them as per your instructions then let them cool down then I freeze them in a zip lock bag? Also when I want to eat these do I just defrost these Varenyky and then do I reheat/boil them in warm water again?
    Thanks

  8. Suburban Grandma

    May 3rd, 2011 at 6:37 am

    8

    I am so excited that you will be cooking some Varenyky. I cook them for as long as posted, since we eat most of them fresh, and freeze any leftovers. Also, I do not cook them again after freezing. Important thing is to make sure you cool them completely before freezing. I coat them with some canola oil, once they cool off slightly, so they don’t stick, then I let them cool completely, but make sure you keep them covered so they don’t dry up on you. Once totally cooled, I lay them flat, one dozen at a time, in a freezer ziplock bag, and freeze them. I thaw them in the same bag in the refrigerator, for at least 24 hours, then just warm them up on a pan, or microwave. My husband likes them fried, so I fry them with some butter or oil.

  9. Natalie

    May 3rd, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    9

    Great thanks for getting back to me! I can’t wait to cook these…. yumo!

  10. Suburban Grandma

    May 3rd, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    10

    As always, you are most welcome.
    My kids also love blueberry filled varenyky. I will have to post all the different fillings for verenyky…

  11. Natalie

    May 3rd, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    11

    Yes please post more fillings for verenyky, that would be wonderful. Yummy blueberry filling…ahhh delicious.
    My baba used to make a cherry filling too that was delicious, we never wrote down any of her recipes actually it was hard to get a recipe out of her as she always said it was a pinch of this a pinch of that and mum doesn’t cook ukee food much so I am keen to learn myself.
    Great recipes!!!!

  12. Suburban Grandma

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    12

    I need to work on that post….will do, for sure.
    Yes, European cooks had their recipes memorized, and I think always altered them as needed, that is why they could not provide a precise account of the ingredients. Actually, after a while, we all cook that way. Don’t you agree. With baking though, it needs to be quite specific, to be successful.

  13. Natalie

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    13

    Thanks, I look forward to your posts!!!
    I totally agree, after you make your favourite recipes over and over again you can alter them as you know them off by heart and you are confident to make any changes and know they will work.
    Yes and baking needs to be spot on to work for sure.

  14. Michelle

    August 9th, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    14

    Something else you can do which will save you a lot of time is to lay the vereneky on a parchment lined cookie sheet after you pinch them and put them straight into the freezer. You can even do more than 1 layer on the sheet as long as they are separated with parchment. No cooking required at this point. As long as they are not touching, once frozen, you put them into freezer bags and of course there is no sticking and you can take out however many you need at one time. To cook you pop them straight from frozen into boiling water. Just make sure not to put too many in at one time as it drops the water temperature very quickly.

  15. Suburban Grandma

    August 9th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    15

    I totally agree with your suggestion. I have tried this before, and it does make it very convenient to take out only few at a time, to cook as needed. I usually cook them all, cool them, butter them, or oil them, then pack them in freezer bags for future use. These are best slowly defrosted in the fridge then warmed up in the microwave, or fried in a pan. Lots of people love these fried, to get that crunchy outer layer with the soft, tasty middle…yum.
    Thank you very much for stopping by, and leaving such a helpful suggestion.
    Please stop by again.

  16. ANN

    August 17th, 2012 at 10:55 am

    16

    Dear Suburban Grandma,

    might you have a recipe for Varenyky dough that does not have any wheat in it? we love eating varenyky only to feel ill afterwards we all have a wheat allergy. I was wondering about Quinoa flour; can it just be substituted for the wheat flour? should it be blended with rice flour? we have tried spelt flour with poor results. do you have any suggestions for a recipe?

    love visiting your site

  17. Suburban Grandma

    August 17th, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    17

    So sorry to hear about your wheat allergies.
    I have never used any other flour than all-purpose white, to whole wheat, so I don’t really have a good answer for you.
    I will take your question as a challenge for my next batch of varenyky, and post the results. I will try different flours for small batches, as a wonderful experiment. Thank you for the suggestion, and for your comment. Please keep on visiting my site, and one day (hopefully soon), you will find an answer to your question.


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