Most people I come across while traveling don’t really know that much about Ukrainian food. In fact, all most people do know about Ukrainian food is that Borsch is from here. Well, hopefully this list of popular Ukrainian recipes can take you on a delicious culinary journey.
The majority of these recipes come from either my mother in law or her mom. Why? Because I live in Ukraine and recipes are usually passed down parent to child. Almost all of these recipes are available throughout Ukraine, however a few are more regional specialties.
- 1. Ukrainian Cheesecake
- 2. Green Borsch
- 3. Carpathian Trout
- 4. Dill Potatoes
- 5. Pampushky
- 6. Liver Cake
- 7. Chebureki
- 8. Syrnyky
- 9. Kotlety (Котлети)
- 10. Potato Zrazy
- 11. Deruny (Ukrainian Potato Pancakes)
- 12. Forshmak
- 13. Beetroot Salad With Bryndza
- 14. Borsch
- 15. Pork Plov
- 16. Carpathian Mushroom Soup
- 17. Cherry Varenyky
- 18. Kompot
- 19. Vatrushka
- 20. Birch Juice
- 21. Sichenyk
- 22. Strawberry Soup
- 23. Bublik
- 24. Village Duck
- 25. Holubtsi (Cabbage Rolls)
One of my favorite Ukrainian recipes is a dessert – Cheesecake! Different from a classic NY Cheesecake, a Ukrainian cheesecake uses farmer’s cheese. This cheese, called syr, is a dry type of quark that you might find in countries like Germany or a frommage blanc from France.
Ukrainian cheesecakes are usually made with nuts or fruit. My favorite of course is with sour cherries.
2. Green Borsch
Did you think Red Borsch was the only color this classic Ukrainian soup could be? Enter green borsch, sometimes called summer borsch due to the use of fresh sorrel leaves instead of beets. This rich yet refreshing herby soup is one of my favorite soups to cook. And another delicious Ukrainian recipe from my fantastic mother-in-law.
Green borsch, sometimes spelled borscht in America, derives it’s distinct flavor from the sorrel leaves. Some say it is bitter, but that goes away when you stir in some smetana (thick sour cream). You end up with a fabulously tasty, herby, and meaty soup.
This is a more regional Ukrainian recipe, specific to the Zakarpattia region of the country. However it is popular in other western regions like Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, and Ternopil as well. The Carpathian mountains are chock full of delicious trout, and that means trout recipes!
A common preparation for Carpathian trout is to bake the fish whole under a shield of sour cream and mushrooms. This is one of the most delicious Ukrainian recipes, and one I make every time I go trout fishing (usually on the way back from skiing in Bukovel).
One of the most popular home style Ukrainian recipes are dill potatoes. They are simply boiled potatoes that are then mixed with salt and pepper, sour cream, and of course freshly chopped dill. I make this dish with caramelized onions and shkvarky, which is pieces of fried pork fat.
Dill Potatoes is sort of like Ukraine’s equivalent to a German potato salad. Both are warm potato dishes with pork fat and herbs. However we don’t really call ours a ‘salad’.
One food almost every visitor to Ukraine tries is Pampushky (пампушки). Why? Because this yeasted garlic bread is the usual accompaniment to borsch. In fact, if I went to a restaurant to get borsch and wasn’t also served either pampushky or rye toasts with garlic and salo, I would probably not go back. That’s how iconic this tasty Ukrainian recipe is in the country.
Pampushky are bread rolls that are usually baked in a group and then broken apart later. The tops of the bread are brushed with a very fresh garlic paste made of minced garlic and butter/oil.
6. Liver Cake
Here’s a throwback! Liver cake is a Ukrainian recipe that was once a very popular dish served at many upscale eateries in Kyiv and beyond. The rich ‘cake’ is actually layers of liver meat crepes with a thin schmear of mayonnaise in between.
Nowadays the dish is more common in home cooking but you can still get it at Ukrainian cafeterias like Puzata Hata or old fashioned theme restaurants that look like you are in Grandma’s kitchen.
This fried dough dish is another Ukrainian regional recipe that actually comes from where my in-laws are from: Crimea! Chebureki are essentially giant empanadas (that plate is 35 cm diameter) made of fried dough stuffed with meat or fruit.
Traditionally Cheburek is a street food usually sold by the shore to beachgoers. I’ve had some amazing ones vacationing on Arabatska Strilka and it really is an ideal snack food in my opinion.
Syrnyky are a very popular Ukrainian recipe both at home and in restaurants. Syrnyky are cheese pancakes that are lightly pan-fried and served with jam or syrup! Simply known as syr in the country, you can use dry quark or even cottage cheese (although you will need to up the flour a bit).
The great thing about syrnyky is that it can also be a dessert. I commonly see them paired with things like caramel sauce or chocolate at some restaurants where they try to make a more modern dessert.
Kotlety are basically the Ukrainian version of a meatball. Now, I know most countries have their own variation of meatballs, from the Italians, to the Swedes, and even the Chinese. But one thing I found unique about Ukrainian meatballs is one of the main ingredients: break soaked in milk.
This is one of those authentic Ukrainian recipes that vary family to family, and region to region. My kotlety are actually my wife’s grandmother’s recipe from Khmelnytsyi region where they moved to from Crimea, and are a staple at all our holiday gatherings.
10. Potato Zrazy
Potato zrazy are a very popular Ukrainian recipe and a great way to use up leftovers! Made by turning mashed potato into a dough and stuffing it with a variety of fillings, you are sure to find these tasty treats at grandma’s house the day after a holiday.
This recipe is usually pairs with some smetana and chopped dill, which helps to brighten up the heaviness of the zrazy. Note: Potato Zrazy are very different than the Polish Zrazy so don’t except a related recipe other than the name.
Did you know that the world famous Latkes actually come from the Jews in Poland and Ukraine during the 19th century? It’s true, and that’s why deruny, or Ukrainian potato pancakes, are still so wildly popular all over the country.
This extremely popular Ukrainian recipe is similar to what you would get at traditional restaurants in the west of the country. I especially love them served in claypot!
If you’ve been to Ukraine there is a very high chance you have tried salo. This salt cured fatback is one of Ukraine’s national dishes and is often a common snack with horilka shots or aside a steaming bowl of borsch.
Forshmak is one of the more popular Ukrainian recipes that uses salo. To make forshmak you mince the fatback with herbs and spices. Forshmak is often spread on rye toast as an appetizer or starter at traditional Ukrainian restaurants.
When most people think of beets, they probably think of the famous Ukrainian borsch soup. However, this purple root vegetable is in plenty of other classic dishes, like this beetroot salad with bryndza cheese.
Bryndza cheese is popular around the Carpathian mountains, so you will most likely find this Ukrainian recipe in Western Ukraine. However it is also available in Romania, Southern Poland, and some other Eastern European countries!
The most famous Ukrainian recipe! Borsch is a meat and beetroot based soup with a startling red color. It is savory, filling, and altogether satisfying, especially on those cold winter nights.
The best borsch recipe is the one your babusya makes for you, but the second best might just be mine. Who knows, give it a shot and see for yourself!
15. Pork Plov
Plov is the Ukrainian take on the central Asian pilaf, and this pork plov is one of my favorite recipes for a hearty meal. Made by cooking everything in one large pot, this recipe is great to make when serving lots of people – not to mention the very easy cleanup.
As you might be able to tell by now, Carpathian recipes are some of my favorite Ukrainian regional cuisines. One of the staples is a classic Carpathian mushroom soup that I learned to make at a guesthouse after hiking Hoverla, the tallest mountain in Ukraine.
The soup primarily uses porcini mushrooms, and in this case, ones that I foraged myself. These tasty and earthy white ‘shrooms are some of the most flavorful you can use, which is why many chefs say they are their favorite fungus.
17. Cherry Varenyky
Varenyky are Ukraine’s most popular dumpling, and these sour cherry varenyky are a much loved summertime variant. While the most common version is the basic potato filled dumpling, cherry varenyky are also eaten with sour cream or smetana.
Since all the Ukrainian recipes use a similar dough wrapper, you can actually get creative with your fillings. I make one fancy varenyky that uses black dough and a pike filling! In fact, varenyky are very similar to the Polish pierogi, except they usually have different fillings and the latter are often fried.
Did you think this list of popular Ukrainian recipes was going to be without any drinks? Of course, you need something to wash down all this delicious food. Kompot is an anytime drink of different fruits, water, and sugar.
Vatrushka are yeasted buns filled with sweet cheese. They are often topped with fresh fruit based on the season. You can pretty much find this pastry at any bakery, but the best ones come from Western Ukraine. (in my opinion).
Vatrushka are said to have originated in the area around western Ukraine and Eastern Poland before spreading throughout the Slavic world. You can see the similarities when looking at a Drożdżówka, one of the best Polish pastries.
20. Birch Juice
One of the oldest Ukrainian things on this entire list is actually birch juice. This drink dates back to pre-Kyivan Rus times and was primarily drank during pagan festivals. Nowadays birch juice is popular year round, but especially late winter/early spring when it is harvested fresh.
Similar to the kotlety mentioned above, sichenyk are another Ukrainian dish that dates back centuries. This is most commonly a fish meatball which is then breaded and fried. It is said to have originated around the Dnipro river, where farmers and fisherman would cook this dish to use up less desirable parts of a fish.
These days it is common to see sichenyk at traditional Ukrainian restaurants, often served with mashed potatoes or mushrooms. It is traditionally shaped like an oval, or American football, however when making them at home you can do whatever is most comfortable.
22. Strawberry Soup
Strawberry soup is one of the most popular Ukrainian recipes in the Trans-carpathia region during Summer. This is a cold soup but trust me, after hiking in the mountains on a hot day this is one of the most refreshing dishes you can have.
Does this look familiar? If you think it looks like a bagel then you’re right. Bublik ARE bagels and come from the Jewish people who lived around Western Ukraine/Eastern Poland over 100 years ago. In fact, it was these very same Jews who emigrated to NYC and showed America the modern NY Bagel which is so loved by many.
24. Village Duck
This delicious braised village duck recipe comes from the Carpathian region and is one of the more popular dishes in Western Ukrainian home cooking. While traditionally a whole duck is used, I tend to only use legs as I save the breasts for fancier duck breast recipes.
This is an easy dish to make so if you are looking for a simple duck recipe then why not give this a try. It’s nearly impossible to mess up…as is the case with plenty of homestyle foods.
Holubtsi are a very popular Ukrainian home-style dish and something many people all over the world are familiar with. Due to a shared history, Ukrainian holubtsi, Polish golabki, and Jewish diaspora holishkes are essentially the same dish. What is great about stuffed cabbage rolls is just how customizable they are. This recipe is a pretty standard Western Ukrainian version, with a filling made primarily of rice and pork, but feel free to get creative and have it suit your style!