Have you ever tried Ukrainian traditional food? Either way, hear me out!
Among many centuries-old recipes and culinary traditions, Ukrainian cuisine is known for its hearty comfort foods.
If you’re not from Ukraine or Eastern Europe, you may not be familiar with most of these dishes. But that’s where all the fun is—discovering new ideas!
So check out these unique Ukrainian recipes, like borshch, varenyky, salo and more!
Ukrainian Traditional Food: Staple Ingredients
Let’s take a look at the most common ingredients in traditional Ukrainian food:
Grains and Cereals
The essential grains in Ukrainian cuisine are wheat, barley, and buckwheat. You can see how versatile these grains are in staple foods like kutia and in many kinds of bread.
Potatoes and Root Vegetables
A later addition to Ukrainian culinary culture, potatoes are now a staple. Along with other root vegetables such as carrots, beets, and turnips, they make a hearty addition to stews and side dishes.
Dairy holds a special place in Ukrainian meals. Traditional recipes often call for sour cream, cottage cheese, or other forms of rich cheese to bring out their full flavors.
Meat and Poultry
Meats such as pork, chicken, and beef are popular in Ukrainian recipes. These dishes are a real treat for meat eaters.
Fresh Herbs and Spices
Dill, parsley, and garlic are among the herbs in traditional dishes. The use of local herbs adds an aromatic dimension to the cuisine.
13 Ukrainian National Dishes
Now, straight to the most iconic foods you can try at your next Ukrainian food fest or even at home!
A renowned national delicacy, borshch is a colorful soup from Ukraine. The main ingredient, beets, gives this substantial soup its rich red hue.
The meat, usually beef or pork, adds a deep and pleasant flavor to borshch. It’s cooked with a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and onions.
The dish is usually flavored with garlic, and dill, and served with a dollop of sour cream.
Not only is borshch important to Ukrainian culture, but the dish also represents the country’s rich culinary history.
Common accompaniments to borshch in Ukrainian cuisine include salo (cured pork fat) and pampushky (bread rolls topped with oil and minced garlic).
Ukrainian garlic bread buns, called pampushky, are a lovely addition to any bread lover’s repertoire. They use a yeast-based dough, which gives them a light and fluffy feel.
Pampushky are topped with oil, minced garlic and fresh herbs such as dill or parsley.
These are some of my family favorites and I can’t imagine a bowl of borshch served without them!
Everyone, from native Ukrainians to tourists, loves varenyky, the traditional dumplings. They’re made from unleavened dough and filled with everything from savory to sweet ingredients.
Mash potatoes, cottage cheese, or sauerkraut, are typical savory fillings, while fruits or berries are common in sweet varieties.
Ukrainian potato fritters, also known as deruny, are a tasty and filling way to eat potatoes.
The batter for these fritters is made by grating potatoes and adding other ingredients including eggs, flour, and onions. The mixture is then pan-fried until golden brown.
Sour cream is the most popular condiment to serve with these potato pancakes, but it’s also common to find deruny with mushrooms, meat, cheese and other toppings.
I love a mushroom and sour cream sauce on my deruny! You just sauté some onions, then add sliced mushrooms and cook everything for about 10 minutes before adding your sour cream.
Ukrainian cabbage rolls, or holubtsi, are a masterclass in the skillful use of humble ingredients.
These rolls are made by stuffing cabbage leaves with a delicious mixture of rice, minced meat (such as ground pork or beef), onions, and spices.
The filled cabbage leaves are then slowly cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
Salo is an important part of Ukrainian cuisine. It’s essentially cured pork fat, eaten both raw and cooked.
The fat is carefully salted and sometimes seasoned with garlic or other spices, then left to air-dry or age. The end product is a firm, almost see-through slice of fat that has multiple uses.
Ukrainians commonly eat salo thinly sliced and served on a piece of rye bread with garlic and green onions or pickles.
Kulish is a millet dish that is cooked in beef broth or water and then seasoned with onion, garlic, and lard.
No matter where you are, kulish is easy to whip up. This is why it was a favorite dish among the Chumaks, Ukrainian traders and merchants who traveled long distances, and the Cossacks, Ukrainian warriors of the past.
Just imagine it cooked in a cauldron over an open fire! I can practically smell the rich flavors.
Banosh, or banush, is a delicious and filling Ukrainian dish that has its roots in the Carpathian Mountains.
It is made from boiled cornmeal and is usually served with bryndza (a creamy sheep cheese), pork cracklings or mushrooms.
The cornmeal can be cooked in sour cream and milk to make it creamy and rich in flavor.
Nalysnyky, a type of crepe popular in Ukraine, are a great example of how versatile this pancake can be.
These delicate crepes can be filled with anything from cottage cheese to poppy seeds to minced meat.
Fried nalysnyky can be either rolled or folded and often served with a dollop of sour cream.
If you’re looking for some amazing breakfast recipes from Ukraine, nalyskyky is one of the many!
One classic Ukrainian food, kholodets, is a delicious meat jelly made with gelatin. The recipe calls for simmering pork or beef bones, meat, and occasionally cartilage to create a flavorful broth.
Before being boiled in the broth, the meat for kholodets is usually chopped or shredded and combined with garlic, spices, and herbs.
After being allowed to gelatinize, the broth will have a cold, solid consistency similar to jelly.
A lot of people I know don’t like kholodets, but I think it’s a very original recipe! Check out some of these weird and wonderful Ukrainian dishes for more!
Ukrainian kruchenyky, or stuffed meat rolls, are a delicious snack that involves rolling thin slices of meat—usually pork or beef—around a tasty filling.
Depending on the recipe, the filling could have anything from cheese to mushrooms, garlic, onions, or herbs. You can use tools like toothpicks or kitchen twine to keep the rolled meat in place while you grill, fry, or bake it.
The finished product is a juicy, savory roll that has the most amazing combination of flavors and textures.
Shpundra was a common dish in ancient Ukraine. In this traditional recipe, beets and fried pork (either belly or brisket) are simmered in beet kvass.
This dish is just as meaningful as borshch and varenyky, even though it isn’t seen very often nowadays.
Chicken Kyiv is a famous dish from Ukraine that has gained popularity worldwide. The filling of this dish is seasoned butter and herbs, while the exterior is a pounded, boneless chicken breast.
Breading and frying the chicken breast until it turns a golden brown color creates a crispy and flavorful coating. When you cut into the Chicken Kyiv, the melted butter oozes out.
Chicken Kyiv is often served with a side of vegetables or a light salad. I like it most with a side of mashed potatoes or roasted veggies.
I hope you enjoyed exploring popular Ukrainian food! Share your favorite recipe in the comments!
Ukrainian Traditional Food: 13 Dishes You Need to Try
Ukrainian Traditional Food: Staple Ingredients
- Grains and Cereals
- Potatoes and Root Vegetables
- Dairy Products
- Meat and Poultry
- Fresh Herbs and Spices
Ukrainian National Dishes
- Borshch (Beet Soup)
- Pampushky (Garlic Bread Buns)
- Varenyky (Ukrainian Dumplings)
- Deruny (Potato Fritters)
- Holubtsi (Cabbage Rolls)
- Chicken Kyiv