How to Make Ukrainian Dumplings (Varenyky)

Varenyky are a national favorite in Ukraine, and come in a range of sweet and savory flavors. Have a read below to make your own Varenyky at home.
Author Headshot
Tom Charman
Dec 19
2 mins
Dec 19
2 mins

Like borsch, varenyky are a national favorite of the Ukrainian people. And the love goes back centuries - at the end of the 19th century, popular Jewish poet Saul Chernikhivskyi loved the dish so much that he devoted a poem to these plump Ukrainian dumplings and named it ‘varenyky’. These moon-shaped dumplings, sometimes referred to as ‘pyrohy’ or later ‘pierogi’ in parts of eastern Europe and Russia, are thought to go back as far as pagan times, but over the centuries have been adapted to suit our changing demands and tastes. Like pampushky, today they’re served both sweet and savory, depending on what they’re filled with, and served with. But either way, you can expect to find a healthy portion of sour cream served alongside these delightful bites of joy. When it comes to Christmas time, varenyky are served traditionally with poppy seeds, to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the coming year. This likely dates back to when they’d be taken along to the fields, as Ukrainian peasants believed varenyky helped bring in a rich harvest.

Here’s everything that you’ll need to make your own varenyky at home:

  • 2 cups (250g) of all-purpose flour
  • 0.5 (2.5g) teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup (235ml) of warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) of sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 1 medium potato, cooked and mashed
  • 0.25 cups (70g) of strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • 0.25 cups (70g) cooked ground beef or pork (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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And to make your own varenyky here are the steps:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg with water oil and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and make a well in the center. Pour in the wet mix from the small bowl into the well. Stir until the dough comes together, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth, and let it sit in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into small balls, about the size of a golf ball.
  5. Roll each ball out into a thin circle, about 4-5 inches in diameter.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the mashed potato, cheese, and cooked ground meat (if using). Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold the dough over the filling to form a half-moon shape, and press the edges together to seal.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully add the varenyky to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, until they float to the surface.
  9. Remove the varenyky from the water with a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels. Serve them hot, with sour cream on the side, if desired. Enjoy!
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