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Ukrainian Food Traditions: Ingredients, Customs and More

The roots of Ukrainian food traditions go back over 7,000 years. Despite influences from other nations, they have survived and stayed distinct in many regions.

Let’s take a closer look at the rituals and traditions surrounding Ukrainian cuisine.

Ukrainian Food Traditions featured image | Girl Meets Food

I already talked about the most popular national dishes in Ukraine. And now, I’d like to shift my attention to the nuances that give Ukrainian cuisine its charm.

Ukrainian Food Traditions

I’d like to start with some key ingredients and methods which distinguish Ukrainian cooking.

🥕Common Ingredients in Ukrainian Recipes

Ukrainian traditional meals on the table | Girl Meets Food

If you look at the array of traditional foods in Ukraine, you’ll see that they use humble ingredients.

Vegetables, legumes, pork, salo (cured pork fat) and grains (like wheat) are staples in Ukrainian dishes. 

Check out this article to discover the most popular Ukrainian vegetables.

You’ll also find many dairy products used in traditional recipes like milk, sour cream and cottage cheese.

Sweet dishes rely on dairy and common fruits growing in Ukraine like berries, apples, cherries etc.

🍳Cooking Methods

The cooking methods are pretty consistent across the country as well. They include boiling, stewing and baking.

Every home, especially in rural areas used to have a pich, traditional firewood oven. It served as a heater, an oven, a stove and even a food dehydrator.

Ukrainian firewood oven (pich) | Girl Meets Food

In traditional Ukrainian homes, the white stove stood tall and proud. It was often adorned with ornamental drawings. The most popular ones were flowers and birds (for example, a cockerel).

Although the appliances have evolved over time, nothing tastes the same as a dish cooked in a pich. Some households still use it for baking bread, cooking cabbage rolls and more.

🍽️Culinary traditions

Finally, I got to the culinary traditions that make Ukrainian cuisine so special.


Handmade breads being cooked in a traditional bread oven | Girl Meets Food

One thing that I have always been told by my grandma is that bread is a sacred food. It means you’re not supposed to play with it or throw it away.

There is even a saying that goes “Bread is at the head of everything” (“Хліб — усьому голова”).

And it is true in the Ukrainian culture. Many of the classic meals include flour as an ingredient, paying homage to bread.

Ukrainians love bread rolls (with garlic or poppy seeds), varenyky (Ukrainian dumplings), pyrizhky (stuffed buns), and mlyntsi (Ukrainian crepes).

Christmas foods

Holiday foods are another major tradition. Ukrainians celebrate Christmas Eve with “Sviata Vecheria” or Holy Supper. This dinner represents the 12 apostles with 12 lean meals.

Kutia (sweet wheat porridge), borshch (beet soup), and varenyky (dumplings) are the most popular dishes for Christmas.

Try out my favourite kutia recipe!

A bowl of kutia on the wooden background | Girl Meets Food
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 cup wheat berries (190 g)
  • ½ cup poppy seeds (60 g)
  • ½ cup honey (170 g)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (60 g)
  • ½ cup raisins (75 g)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups water (480 ml)
  • ½ cup warm milk (for serving) (120 ml)
  • Fresh mint leaves (for garnish)


Prepare Wheat Berries:

  • Rinse and soak wheat berries overnight.
    1 cup wheat berries
  • Cook in 2 cups of water with salt for about 2 hours until tender.
    ¼ tsp salt, 2 cups water

Grind Poppy Seeds:

  • Grind poppy seeds in a food processor or grinder.
    ½ cup poppy seeds

Toast Walnuts:

  • Toast chopped walnuts in a dry skillet until fragrant.
    ½ cup chopped walnuts

Combine Ingredients:

  • Mix cooked wheat berries, ground poppy seeds, honey, walnuts, raisins, and cranberries.
    ½ cup honey, ½ cup raisins, ¼ cup dried cranberries

Chill Kutia:

  • Chill mixture in the fridge for at least 2 hours.


  • Spoon into bowls, drizzle with warm milk.
    ½ cup warm milk
  • Garnish with mint leaves.
    Fresh mint leaves

Easter foods

Paska bread on the table | Girl Meets Food

Another essential custom is cooking Ukrainian Easter bread called paska. This sweet bread is usually topped with egg white and sugar glaze and sprinkles.

Traditional braided dough decorations like crosses, flowers, etc. are also very popular.

Another food that no Easter is complete without is pysanky, decorated eggs.

Traditional wax-resist pysanky are made by drawing intricate designs on eggs with beeswax and dipping them in dye baths.

Sometimes eggs are painted with special dyes. My grandma always boils yellow onion skins in water and soaks the eggs to get an amber color.

Check out my guide to Ukrainian Easter food to know more!

Vegetable and Fruit Preserves

A few jars with pickled cucumbers | Girl Meets Food

Ukrainians have traditionally preserved fruits and vegetables for winter. They’re fermented in barrels or jars to create pickles, sauerkraut, and preserves.

We also love jams and compotes made from berries, cherries, plums and apricots.

Got any questions about Ukrainian food traditions? Ask away! I’ll be happy to help!

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