I'm going to show you a simple recipe for Polish dumplings. This homemade pierogi recipe is a Polish food that has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. Traditionally an Easter recipe, we make these Polish dumplings all year round.
Growing up in inner-city Detroit, my childhood was filled with many visits to the local bakeries owned by Polish friends and families. During certain times of the year, you could get all sorts of polish cuisine, from fresh kielbasa sausages to these amazing Polish dumplings.
As a boy, I was lucky because my mom knew how to make Polish dumplings and we didn't have to depend on the bakery. My family was pretty traditional, and Polish food was very important to us. For different seasons, we would have different family meals from our Polish heritage made in the traditional way.
In keeping with the Polish Christmas tradition, 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 of Polish pierogi, for a wonderful Lenten treat.
What are pierogi?
Sadly, most Americans know this ethnic food as "Mrs. T's Pierogies." Although I have nothing against Mrs. T, (I've never met her,) I'm here to tell you that you can do much better with homemade pierogi from Mrs. (or Mr.) X. (Use the first letter of your last name.)
The best way I can describe them is as a Polish ravioli. Usually, Polish dumplings are served on meatless Fridays during Lent. These homemade ravioli can be filled with a wide variety of things. Kielbasa (Polish sausage) is this recipe's go-to side dish partner.
Although pierogi are the national dish of Poland, these boiled and then lightly fried Polish dumplings are popular in other countries in eastern Europe such as Hungry, Ukraine, Russia and some Baltic countries. Depending on which country you are in, they are known by many different names and spellings, including:
They can be filled with almost anything, but in Polish homes, the traditional filling combines potatoes and farmer's cheese.
How to make these
This is my family recipe for homemade pierogi. It is how my mom always makes these and how her mom taught her to make them. My mom often stuffed them with a potato and cheese filling while growing up.
However, there are plenty of Polish pierogi recipes. They can also be stuffed with sauerkraut or cabbage, a mixture of roasted meats, 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 Polish dumplings, as well as mine, would be the potato and cheese filling.
As I started to make these homemade pierogi for my family, I played around with the filling recipe. Then one day, I took a cue from one of my 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 decide to make this for Lent, omit the bacon bits. You will still have a wonderfully delicious batch of Polish dumplings.
Let me tell you, once you fill the pierogi dough with this flavorful mixture, and then fry them up and add a dollop of sour cream, you are in heaven.
Filling for Homemade Pierogi
- Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
I'm hoping this savory list of ingredients has caught your attention. Now, let's get started making these pierogi! (The full recipe, including ingredients and amounts, is found at the end of his post.)
1. Start by peeling and dicing some potatoes. We prefer russet potatoes as their starchy composition gives you a light and fluffy yield.
Can I use leftover Mashed Potatoes?
- You can use leftover potatoes but do not add butter to them.
- You don't want to use overly creamy mashed potatoes because they will cause the filling to break apart while cooking.
- Do not use instant mashed potatoes for this recipe!
2. Fill a stockpot with saltwater and boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, you can saute the onions. Reserve a little of the bacon grease to use for extra flavor. You'll want to sautee them slow and low until they have a nice brown color from caramelization.
4. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to incorporate the rest of the filling ingredients. Allow the mixture of filling to cool
5. When the dumpling filling mixture has cooled, you can roll it up into little balls, ½ to 2 inches in size. While you are waiting for the filling mixture to cool, you can start making the dumpling dough.
Ingredients for Pierogi Dumpling Dough
- All purpose Flour
- Sour Cream
6. Combine all of the dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
7. Mix the ingredients together, starting with a fork and eventually using your hands. The dough should come together and it should be stretchy. Add small amounts of milk or sour cream to get the right consistency.
8. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it all comes together.
9. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ⅛" thickness.
The next step is fun!!
10. Use a large-rimmed drinking glass (about 4 inches in diameter) to cut the dumpling dough. Place a ball of filling in the centre of each circle and fold it over.
11. Seal each pierogi tightly with wet fingertips and crimp the edges with a fork.
12. Boil the pierogi in a stockpot of salted water. They are finished cooking when they rise to the top.
13. Lightly sautee each portion in a frying pan with hot melted butter.
Peirogi make a great side dish or even a main dish on their own. When you make these, I would suggest making a large batch.
These Polish 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 pierogi. I think the record is 10, held by our son Isaiah.
Please give these Polish dumplings a try. Your family will thank you!
Yes. Chunkier leftover 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.
After they are filled, pre-freeze the uncooked dumplings on a flour-dusted baking sheet covered in plastic wrap.
Once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a zip lock bag for longer storage.
Top Tip for Freezing these Polish Dumplings: Freezing them in a single layer will help keep them from sticking together!
You can fill pierogi with savory meats like bacon, sausage, and chunks of ham. Cheeses make a great filing as well. We prefer cheddar but use whatever cheese tastes good to you.
Make a dessert pierogi by adding sweet fruit and berries such as blueberry, cherry, or plum filling.
What to serve with Polish dumplings
Polish dumplings are always served around Easter in our family.This is usually a savory comfort food (depending on the filling.)
Therefore, savory side dishes with the pierogi as a main course will taste great. Some of our favorite things to serve with Polish dumplings include:
- Fried Cabbage with Bacon
- Creamed Spinach and Parsnips
- Balsamic Garlic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Steamed Kale
- 15 Savory Side Dishes to go with Pierogi
- Make a filling using a mixture of mashed potatoes and cheese.
- Make the dough, using flour, egg, salt, and some sour cream.
- Roll the pierogi dough out and fill and seal each portion with the filling.
- Boil each dumpling in some salted water.
- Drain the batch when they are completely cooked.
- Use a pan to brown the finished pierogi and serve with sour cream.
Scott Shows You How to Make Polish Dumplings in More Detail
Other Polish recipes
If you're making these pierogies for Easter, you may want to take a look at our Pizza Rustica (Italian Easter Pie.) It is another classic Easter recipe that is out-of-this-world delicious!
If you have made these Polish dumplings or any other recipe on Platter Talk, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see what we have cooking!
Homemade Polish Dumplings (Pierogi)
for the Filling
- 2 pounds potatoes
- 8 oz mild Cheddar cheese grated
- 6 slices bacon coarsely chopped, fried, and drained.
- ½ onion chopped and sauteed
- ½ 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 ½ 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 ⅛ 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 a 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)
- If using leftover mashed potatoes to make pierogi, do not add butter to the filling.
- 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 you roll it out.
- 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 fingertips to help seal each pierogi tightly.
These are so fun, I love the filling! And they’re pretty.
I can't wait to try these. I wonder if you have ever made them with Ricotta Cheese? And if so, what other ingrediencies you would add to the cheese?
Dan from Platter Talk
I would add some chopped spinach and onion if I used ricotta cheese. Thanks for the question!
My mom made these with different fillings but as kids we loved the cheese the best. Her recipe is this:
1 1/2 cups farmer cheese, ricotta cheese or pot cheese(? If available)
I seem to remember ricotta works best)
3 Tbls sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Press the cheese through a sieve into a bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. You just want to make sure the filling isn’t too wet.
Hope this helps😊
Oops! I accidentally omitted the egg,
Add one egg, beaten to the filling!
Hello as a person who grew up on Polish food. You can put what ever you want inside. In the Summer we added fruit to ours. Strawberries, Blueberries, etc. Just make sure that the fruit isn't to watery. If don't want fresh fruit use a Jelly or Jam you of your choice.
As for the cheese use whatever you like. I know this because I'm 50% Polish on my Mom's side. Her Mom parents owned a Polish Store that's still open today. It's Owned and operated by my cousins. I'm in Philadelphia it has a large following & even have been featured on Food Network a few times. It's called Czerw's. They are on FB CzerwKielbasa Instagram Czerw_Kielbasa & website http://www.KielbasyBoys.com
Dan from Platter Talk
Preach it Sandy! Thanks for your input!
Holy smokes this was so good!! I made a double batch and played around with fillings. This is a keeper for sure! Thank You!
Dan from Platter Talk
Tiffany, we're so happy you enjoyed this recipe for pierogi! Thanks for the comments and I hope you will try more of our eats!
Would have been great to not have to wade thru the pop ups to read this! On my I-pad I had about 1/4 of the screen to read it!!! The recipe looks great, and I will definitely try it... but please!! Help out with the visibility!!!
Dan from Platter Talk
Thanks for the feedback, Marilyn, and enjoy this recipe!
Beautiful post, mouthwatering!
This looks so great!! This is one of my favorite dishes but I've never actually made it myself. Thanks for sharing!
Dan from Platter Talk
Miranda, our whole family loves this recipe and we hope you try it soon!
Michael Elizalde Vazquez
Making this tomorrow. I’m using white cheddar bacon cheese instead of regular mild cheddar. The dough recipie is what caught my eye! Will leave a comment after complete. Making 8x the recipe. Wish me luck
Dan from Platter Talk
Sounds like an incredible idea for a cheese. Please let us know how they turn out. This recipe is our oldest son's favorite!