Ukraine is home to many internationally renowned dishes. It’s incredibly rich and varied — every region in Ukraine has its own popular meals and variations on Ukrainian classics. This cuisine is lesser-known than your usual Chinese and Mexican takeout options, but this food is full of history and delicious flavors that foodies all over will appreciate. If you’re ready to go on a culinary journey like no other, try these 12 must-have traditional Ukrainian dishes.
Prepared in Ukraine on Easter, this sweet bread is generally brought to church on the holiday so it can be blessed. A paska is shaped like a cylinder and made with yeast, milk, butter, sugar, and eggs, topped with creamy frosting and sprinkles. Cheese paska, on the other hand, is made from cottage cheese.
2. Chicken Kyiv
One of the most beloved classics in Ukraine, this breaded butter chicken dish requires a filet of chicken being flattened and wrapped around cold butter. Then, the chicken is coated with parsley, dill, mushrooms, pepper, and grated cheese. It’s dipped in an egg yolk mixture and fried, making a stellar dish that all chicken lovers will enjoy.
Known around the world as pierogi, this is the Ukrainian take on these little savory dumplings from Poland. They’re often filled with hearty potatoes, meat, cabbage, and mushrooms. For dessert, cherry varenyky are not uncommon, with a dollop of sour cream on top
The star of this meal, like many other Eastern European dishes, is sauerkraut. It’s rinsed beforehand and gives Kapusniak its clear color, and is usually cooked in a mushroom or meat broth alongside carrots onions, potatoes, and bay leaves with a side of chopped parsley and sour cream.
If you’re not a fan of cabbage, you just haven’t been eating them right. Holubtsi, or cabbage rolls, are packed with minced meat, but the veggie alternative is buckwheat or plain rice. Boiled cabbage leaves wrap the meat, along with carrots, onions, mushrooms, and rice. They are often served with a dill garnish.
Wondering what Ukrainian comfort food is? These fluffy boat-shaped pastries have both sweet and savory fillings. Whether they’re stuffed with ground meat and mushrooms or sweet apples, these snacks can be baked or fried. The dough is prepped, flattened, and filled. As a final step, it’s pinched around the edges to seal in all that goodness.
A meal adaptable for both carnivores and vegetarians, borscht is a hot or cold beetroot soup that’s made richer in flavor by yogurt or sour cream. In Ukrainian culture, it’s often served with garlic doughnuts. Meat-based borshch is cooked in a stock, while the non-meat version contains only veggies. You can make it vegan with non-dairy sour cream. In springtime, this country has a tradition of making green borshch.
Potato pancakes are popular in Ukrainian cuisine and are one of the most versatile sides or mains, especially on a Sunday. In this country, Deruny, otherwise known as potato pancakes, are often prepped with a sour cream sauce paired with mushrooms and fried onions.
9. Walnut stuffed food
When Ukrainians think back to the carefree days of being a kid, walnut-stuffed prunes are a major nostalgic memory. Often served at birthday parties and other celebrations, this unique and tasty dish of walnut stuffed prunes is often served. Finished off with a pour of sweetened condensed milk, it tastes like heaven.
Sometimes referred to as blinchyky, this is the Ukrainian take on stuffed crepes. They can be filled with cottage cheese and fruit for dessert, or for a savory main dish, filled with meat, salted fish, or caviar. After the crepes are stuffed, they’re either baked in the oven or fried with butter.
Some would argue that this is one of the best traditional Ukrainian dishes you can try, but many tourists are shocked by its strange nature. Still, don’t knock it till you try it! Holodets is a jelly-like dish made of frozen meat broth, containing pieces of meat inside. Most commonly, it is made from pork leg and hooves.