10 Traditional Ukrainian Dishes to Delight You

Updated on June 24, 2019
Ronald Piper profile image

Food is one of the best ways to connect with other cultures, and tasting the foods of a foreign country is a beautiful experience.

Wine and fruit car in Kiev
Wine and fruit car in Kiev

Trying the local food is a goal many travelers have when visiting a foreign country. Food is the universal language of human beings, and a country's cuisine reveals a lot about its culture.

Traditional Ukrainian food is generally hearty; it evolved over centuries as hard-working men and women needed food to sustain them. Neighboring countries have influenced traditional Ukrainian dishes, as well, which adds to the richness and variety of the food.

Ukranian cuisine encompasses hundreds of dishes, and depending on the cook they may taste quite different (though always delicious, of course). Here are 10 traditional Ukrainian dishes you should try.

1. Deruny

These potato pancakes go by many names: deruny, draniki, latkas or raggmunk. Made from finely grated or ground potatoes, flour, egg, salt and oil to fry. When served with a hefty dose of sour cream, you have a meal fit for breakfast or lunch. If served with dinner, it is usually the non-meat side dish. Then depending on what type of oil you use, it will change the flavor of the deruny as they tend to absorb the oil. Either way, you will have a delicious, crispy golden pancake that tastes like heaven.

Delictable deruny
Delictable deruny

2. Varenyky

With origins in Central and Eastern Europe, varenyky is a potato dumpling made from unleavened dough and cooked in boiling water. Meat, mushrooms, fruits, cheese, etc., are the other varieties of fillings. Typically served with melted butter, fried onions, fried salo bits or sour cream, these dumplings make a wonderfully delicious meal.

Flavorful varenyky
Flavorful varenyky

3. Okroshka

A summer favorite in Ukraine is a chilled soup called okroshka, which is made from an assortment of raw vegetables, potatoes, and sometimes cooked meat. Traditionally, okroshka is made with kvass, a fermented rye beverage as the soup base—but milk kefir is also traditional though less common. Both kvass and kefir have a light, sour taste that mixes well with the sweetness of the cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, and radishes in the soup. Once you tried this soup, you will certainly want more.

Flavorful okroshka
Flavorful okroshka | Source

4. Borscht

When Westerners think of borscht, they picture a hearty beetroot broth and cabbage soup. This is just one version of borscht; there are actually many different recipes for this classic dish. There is also a green borscht made with sorrel, which is just as delicious as its well-known counterpart.

Ukrainian Borscht can be hot or cold. Hot borscht is made with pork or beef broth and generally made with a combination of beet, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, and cabbage in various combinations. Cold borscht is cooked without the meat broth. It is made primarily with vegetables, parsley or dill, and occasionally chopped hard-boiled eggs. Do not forget to add a large portion of sour cream for a perfect flavor.

Rich and hearty borscht
Rich and hearty borscht

5. Salo

The origins of salo can be traced back to Italy over 3,000 years ago. Salo is white pork fat that has little or no meat in the fat. On the pig, it is fatback or the layer of fat under the skin of the back. Fried pork rinds come from the same part of the pig that salo is made from. Salo is browned on all sides and cut into strips and served on a slice of bread. It is rich in nutrients and high in calories but full of wonderful flavor.

Delicious salo
Delicious salo

6. Golubtsi

Comfort food of Ukraine, golubtsi has its roots in the ancient middle east. There are many different recipes for this dish, depending on the part of the world you are in, but these stuffed cabbage rolls are delightful. The main ingredients are cabbage, ground beef, rice carrots, eggs, and onions. There are many ways to cook golubtsi after the cabbage rolls are ready, but each is equally satisfying and tasty. You can cover your golubtsi with a podliva sauce or a vegetable stock with tomatoes and paprika.

Mouth-watering golubtsi
Mouth-watering golubtsi | Source

7. Syrniki

If you are looking for a tasty treat, try syrniki. It is more than another version of a pancake—it is so much more! The syrniki has its origins in Eastern Europe and was well liked by the population in poorer villages because of the simple ingredients. Syniki are fried quark cheese pancake. These pancakes are firmer than ordinary pancakes but not as hard as a cheesecake. If you do not have quark cheese, you can use cottage cheese, flour and eggs to make your own version These pancakes are topped with jams and/or sour cream and are deliciously sweet.

Appetizingly syrniki
Appetizingly syrniki

8. Nalysnyky

Cheese filled crepes, nalysniyky, should be in everyone’s recipe book. If not, you need to give them a try. The cheese filling differs from recipe to recipe, but no matter what cheese filling is used, it will be creamy. The toppings for this will also vary according to a person’s tastes. They can be flavored with dill, butter, and a topping of sumptuous caviar; or simply topped with berries or a berry sauce. No matter how you like them, they are mouthwateringly good.

Sweet and creamy nalysnyky
Sweet and creamy nalysnyky

9. Kholodets

Kholodets is a meat gelatin dish that is traditionally part of festive winter holiday meals. It is made by boiling meat broth and sometimes with carrots and onions to add to the flavor. When the meat broth is ready, you remove the bone from the broth and pour the soup into a mold to be chilled in the refrigerator. The broth gels to make a terrifically tasty dish.

Savory kholodets
Savory kholodets | Source

10. Piroshki

Piroshki is a simple meat-filled bun that is common in Eastern Europe. The bread is light, fluffy and buttery, and the meat is savory. They are a mouthful of heaven on earth, and it's hard to eat just one. These little wonders are made as sweet pies that use jams, fruit or berries as a filling; or vegetables like carrots, peas, sorrel, cabbage, and turnips; or a meat pie filling using chopped up pieces of meat or fish. No matter how these buns are made, they are amazing.

Heavenly piroshki
Heavenly piroshki | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Ronald Piper


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      • Ronald Piper profile imageAUTHOR

        Ronald Piper 

        2 months ago

        Thanks, Liz! I think the only thing that has changed is the atmosphere in the restaurants. It is more European than Soviet nowadays.

      • Ronald Piper profile imageAUTHOR

        Ronald Piper 

        2 months ago

        There are delicious. I have not made any of them myself but I look forward to trying.

        Thank you for your comment!

      • Ronald Piper profile imageAUTHOR

        Ronald Piper 

        2 months ago

        I agree! I love the pancakes and crepes too in the article. My favorites are okroshka and poroshki. Thanks for your comment!

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        Some of these look vaguely familiar from my visit to Kiev 35 years ago. Your illustrations of this interesting article are great.

      • prasetio30 profile image


        2 months ago from malang-indonesia

        It looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Trying food from a different culture or country can be great fun. Many of the dishes that you've described sound delicious. I love the look of the pancakes and crepes!


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