Fried varenyky with pork belly and onion is one of the most popular Ukrainian comfort foods. The filling here is the traditional mashed potato with onion, and if you don’t want to make fresh dumplings don’t worry – you can easily use store bought frozen varenyky instead!
Probably the most popular Ukrainian food after borshch is varenyky. These are just dumplings quite similar to the Polish pierogi, and usually filled with potato and onion. However there is also a dessert version that is filled with cherries or sometimes blueberries. Traditionally they are just boiled, but I like them more when they are fried. Thus, my fried varenyky with pork belly and onion is a perfect hearty meal.
For this recipe I am using store bought frozen varenyky instead of homemade. Partly because I am too lazy to make it myself, but mostly because here in Ukraine it is about $3 per kg. If you are in America you can most likely find them at your Polish/Ukrainian market. Although nowadays it seems like many major grocery stores carry them as well. If you do want to make them yourself you can use a mold which helps with the shaping.
What Are Varenyky?
Varenyky are a traditional Ukrainian style dumpling. The most popular filling is mashed potato and onion, although in summer you’ll often find them filled with fresh fruit. Due to a long shared history, varenyky and pierogi (Polish dumplings) are virtually indistinguishable, although Poland tends to use more meat fillings whereas Ukraine pretty much sticks to potato and onion.
These days there are restaurants and popups that specialize in making high end or creative varenyky as a way to revive and promote Ukraine’s millennia of culture and history. I even have one on this site that is black varenyky stuffed with pike fish meat.
This entire fried varenyky is super easy. Just saute the pork belly pieces (I cut them bite size) with some chopped onion and then set aside. Fried pork belly, or more traditionally ‘salo‘ is called shkvarky in Ukrainian – aka little bits of fried goodness. While you are doing that you should be boiling the varenyky in salted water for about 6 minutes. If you buy them frozen you can boil them directly from frozen and it will not be a problem.
Making Fried Varenyky
Into the same pan I sauteed the pork belly in onion I add a little sunflower oil. I don’t clean the pan because there is still all that delicious rendered pork fat. Get it up to a fairly high temperature and then just lay the varenyky down for a sort of shallow fry.
I end up frying them for about 2 minutes per side, or until the skin blisters and pops. My end goal is a deep golden brown that is quite crispy on the outside.
After all the fried varenyky is done I add them to a large bowl along with the pork belly and onion and mix everything up. Of course, you can season them with some salt after they are done frying, and you have to serve it with some good sour cream!
Want More Delicious Ukrainian Recipes?
There are so many great Ukrainian recipes on this site you can learn and love. Here are a few of my favorites:
Fried Varenyky With Pork Belly And Onion
- 500 grams Varenyky potato filled, from frozen or homemade
- 1 large Onion yellow, chopped
- 200 grams Pork Belly cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Sunflower Oil for shallow frying
- 3 tbsp Sour Cream optional, for serving
- Salt to taste
- Set a pot of salted water on a boil. In a pan on another burner add some olive oil and the pork belly and onion. Put the frozen varenyky in the pot of boiling water and put the pork belly and onion in the pan.
- Salt and saute the pork belly and onion on medium high until both are fully cooked. It should take about 6 minutes, which is the same amount of time the varenyky needs to boil.
- Remove the contents of the pan and set in a separate bowl. Add some sunflower oil to the pan and bring up the heat. Drain the water from the pot of varenyky.
- When the pan is hot add the varenyky one by one making sure they are not touching each other. I fry them on each side for about 2 minutes, or until they become deep golden brown. When they are finished set them in a colander or strainer, salt them, and let the excess oil drip off.
- Add the fried varenyky to the pot/bowl with the pork belly and onion. Mix everything up and serve with a side of thick sour cream. Enjoy.