I’m going to show you how to make Pierogi, a food that has been a part of me since the very beginning.
Growing up in Detroit, my childhood was filled with many visits to the local bakeries owned by Polish families.
During certain times of the year, you could get fresh kielbasa sausages and these amazing Polish Dumplings.
As a boy, I was lucky because my mom knew how to make pierogi and we didn’t have to wait for the bakery to make them.
My family was pretty traditional, and Polish food was very important to us. For different seasons, we would have different family meals.
At Christmas time, we would have a special type of meat pie. That recipe was handed down from my dad’s side.
At Easter time, we would have Polish stuffed cabbage.
Perhaps more than any other holiday food and during the weeks leading up to Easter, my mom would make this family recipe as a wonderful Lenten treats.
What are Pierogi?
If you are one of the unfortunate folks, who might be asking, “What are pierogi?” Grab a napkin and hold on tight.
Although they are the national dish of Poland, these dumplings are boiled and then lightly fried dumplings are popular in other countries such as Hungry, the Ukraine, Russia and some Baltic countries.
They can be filled with almost anything, but in Poland, the traditional filling is made of a combination of potatoes and farmer’s cheese.
How to Make Pierogi
This is my family recipe and it’s how my mom always makes these and how her mom taught her to make pierogi.
Commonly in our household, my mom would stuff them with a potato and cheese filling.
However, they can also be stuffed with sauerkraut or cabbage, a meat mixture, or even be turned into a sweet treat, by filling them with a plum or prune mixture.
If you were to ask any of my siblings, I am certain that their favorite, as well as mine, would be the potato and cheese filling.
For the pierogi filling, the potatoes are boiled in salt water, and then they are combined and mixed with the other savory ingredients.
It will be hot, and so while it is cooling, you can get starting with making the dough.
You’re going to mix the pierogi dough until it comes together, adding a bit more milk or water if necessary.
Once you have a nice ball of pierogi dough, wrap it up and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for a half-hour or so.
Meanwhile, you can start to roll the pierogi filling into half-inch to 2 inch-size balls.
Things start to turn delicious as this point.
While you are rolling out the pierogi dough, you’re looking for a little elasticity in the dough; you want it to spring back a bit while as you roll it out.
I like to use a drinking glass, maybe three or four inches in diameter, to cut out the pierogi dough. It should be about 3/4 inch thick at this point.
When you place the filling on the dough to make these Polish dumplings, you are going to have to stretch the top edge of the dough to envelop the pierogi filling.
You may need just a bit of water on your finger tips to help seal each pierogi tightly.
Each dumpling will be a semi-circle at this point and using the tines of a fork to seal each pierogi will give it a nicely uniformed appearance.
Scott does a great job of demonstrating and explaining how to make pierogies in the video shown in the recipe card below.
As I started to make them for my family, I played around with the filling recipe.
Then one day, I took a cue from one of my most favorite side dishes, a twice-baked potato.
Thus, I began to add bacon, sauteed onions and sour cream to the potato mixture.
For those of you that have never tasted a Polish pierogi recipe, let me start by saying they are delicious.
The best way I can describe them is a Polish ravioli. Usually, these are served on meatless Fridays during Lent. These can be filled with a wide variety of things.
Let me tell you, once you fill the pierogi dough with this flavorful mixture, and then you fry them up and add a dollop of sour cream; you are in heaven.
For those of you that decide to make this for Lent, simply omit the bacon. You will still have a wonderfully delicious treat.
Pierogi make a great side dish, or even a meal on to their own. When you make these, I would suggest making a large batch.
These dumplings freeze well for a future meal. That said, I can almost guarantee that they probably won’t last that long.
When I make them, the kids go wild. It is not uncommon for each boy to eat 3…4…5. I think the record is 10.
Please give these Polish dumplings a try. Your family will thank you!
FAQ for Making Pierogi
Can I use Leftover Mashed Potatoes to make Pierogi?
- You can use leftover mashed potatoes to make these.
- Chunkier leftover mashed potatoes are the best type for pierogi. If they are too smooth and creamy, the pierogi will fall apart.
- If using leftover mashed potatoes to make pierogi, do not add butter to the filling.
- Be sure that your leftover mashed potatoes are refrigerated before reusing them.
How to Freeze Pierogi
- After the pierogi are filled, pre-freeze them on a flour-dusted cookie sheet, covered in plastic wrap.
- Once they are frozen, you can transfer to a zip lock bag for longer storage.
- Freezing you pierogi in a single layer initially will help to keep them from sticking together.
What can I use for Pieroi Filling?
- You can fill pierogi with savory meats, like bacon, sausage, and chunks of ham.
- Cheeses make a great filling. We prefer cheddar but use your favorite cheese if you like.
- Make dessert pierogi by adding sweet fruit and berries such as blueberry, cherry or a plum filling.
What to Serve with Pierogi
This is a usually a savory comfort food (depending on the filling.)
Therefore, savory side dishes will taste great along with them. Some of our favorite things to serve with pierogi include:
- Fried Cabbage with Bacon
- Creamed Spinach and Parsnips
- Balsamic Garlic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Steamed Kale
Scott shows you in more detail how to make pierogi
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for the Filling
- 2 pounds potatoes
- 8 oz mild Cheddar cheese grated
- 6 slices cooked bacon coarsely chopped
- 1/2 onion chopped and sauteed
- 1/2 stick butter
- 2-3 Tbs sour cream
- 2-3 Tbs cream cheese
- Tbs salt for pot of water for the potatoes
- Peel and dice potatoes, fill a stock pot with water and add potatoes and salt to the water. Boil the potatoes until they are fully cooked, or you can easily puncture them with a fork with no resistance
- While the potatoes are cooking, saute the onions in a fry pan using a little butter and some of the drippings from the bacon. You want the onions to brown and caramelized.
- Drain water from the cooked potatoes and use a potato masher to mash them. Add the cheddar cheese, cream cheese. Then, mix together until the cheese is fully melted and set aside until cooled. Once cooled, form the cheese and potato mixture into 1/2 to 2 inch balls.
- While the potato mixture is cooling begin to make the dough. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, eggs, salt, and sour cream. Using a fork, stir the ingredients together. You will want to use your hands at some point to fully incorporate the ingredients.
- The dough should start to come together. If it does not, add a little more sour cream or a little milk. Once it begins to come together, place on a floured surface and kneed the dough until it comes completely together.
- Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- Next, take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface until the dough is approximately 1/8 of an inch. (Don't get too caught up in the thickness. You want it to be workable and not too thin that the dough will puncture when you are filling it.)
- FYI: Dough should be somewhat elastic while you are rolling it out. This means that it should spring back as you are rolling it out into a circle.
- Use a drinking glass to cut circles out of the dough. Place your filing ball in the center of the dough and Fold the dough over the filling. You will need to stretch the dough over to seal. Using your fingers, pinch the dough closed.
- If the dough does not seal, wet your finger and run your finger on the edge of the dough. This should act as a "glue" to seal your dough. You can also use a back of a fork to help seal your edges. This gives the Pierogi a very nice look.
- Your finished Pierogi will have a semi-circle appearance. Set aside and continue to make the rest of your Pierogi.
- Fill a stock pot with salted water and bring to a boil and then add a few Pierogi at a time. Allow Pierogi to cook in the boiling water until the Pierogi float to the top. This will take a few minutes. Remove from water and place on cooling rack to drain and cool. Continue this process until done with all Pierogi.
- When ready to eat, fry in butter in a pan over medium heat until Pierogi are golden brown on both sides. Serve with sour cream and chopped green onion stems (optional)
Updated from the original post of March 8, 2015