I believe every cuisine in the world has its quirks, and as a local, I’ve taken it upon myself to be your guide through all the weird Ukrainian food you may encounter.
In this article, I spill the beans (and perhaps some borshch) on unique and unusual dishes from my childhood as well as modern versions of traditional dishes.
Ever wondered what it’s like to munch on meat jelly or treat yourself to a refreshing gelatinous dessert? You’ll find out here!
And if you’re brave enough, you might even try some of these amazing recipes at home!
14 Weird Ukrainian Food Options
For those who aren’t familiar with this traditional Ukrainian treat, salo may seem like an unusual gastronomic oddity.
The main ingredients are slabs of cured pork fatback that are seasoned with salt, and occasionally black pepper.
Rye bread with thin slices of salo, pickles, and mustard is a popular appetizer in Ukraine that I find quite delicious.
The dish kholodets, sometimes called studenets, is bold enough to try something new.
Boiling pork or beef, together with spices and garlic, is used to make this meat jelly.
As it cools, the dish takes on a peculiar and almost acquired flavor as it sets into a jelly-like consistency.
Krovianka, often known as blood sausage, is a kind of Ukrainian sausage that challenges many people’s perceptions of flavor.
Not everyone will enjoy the robust flavor characteristic of this sausage, which is made with pork blood, intestines, fat, and a variety of grains or fillers like cooked buckwheat or rice.
Traditional grilled or boiled krovianka is a popular Ukrainian recipe for those who love unique food experiences.
As your Ukrainian food guide, I recommend it to the daring food lovers out there! You might not like it, but give it a chance (as I once did).
A gelatinous food or drink called kysil is produced with a combination of starch and various ingredients like berries and fruits.
Because of its distinctive preparation and taste, Kysil is a treat worth exploring, whether it is served as a refreshing summer beverage or as a gelatinous dessert.
To discover more sweet recipes, check out my favorite Ukrainian desserts in this article.
Ukrainian crispy pig cracklings, or shkvarky, are a delicious crunch that can be added to a variety of dishes.
These flavorful bits are made from cured pork fat (salo) and are commonly used in the preparation of various dishes, as well as as a topping for varenyky (dumplings), boiled porridge, etc.
Ukrainian dumplings called halushky are unlike any you’ve had before.
There are a variety of methods for making halushky, including using flour, semolina, flour and potato mixtures, or even homemade cheese.
It’s a simple dumpling that can take on surprising shapes accompanied by a big scoop of sour cream or melted butter.
They can also be added to borshch to make a Poltava-style version of the soup (Poltava is a city in Ukraine).
The cheesemaking waste product whey has a special place in Ukrainian cuisine. Ukrainians frequently utilize it for its possible health advantages.
My grandmother, for example, always uses leftover whey to make bread. It’s also used in traditional medicine to treat swelling and improve metabolism.
Shuba, also known as Herring Under a Fur Coat, is a colorful and visually appealing salad from Ukraine.
Typical ingredients in this dish include boiled potatoes, beets, mayonnaise, carrots, and herring.
The reason this salad is so popular and festive during festivities and holidays is because it looks like a layered coat, which is where the name “Fur Coat” comes from.
If you want to know more about festive dishes served during holidays in Ukraine, check out this post about Ukrainian Christmas foods.
Taran’ka (Dried Fish)
An interesting variation on the usual seafood dish is taran’ka, or dried fish. It has a salty and savory flavor.
Whether enjoyed on its own or as a beer snack, taran’ka exemplifies the skill of the Ukrainians in preserving and altering food.
An iconic dish from the Ukrainian capital, Chicken Kyiv packs a taste punch despite the meal’s seeming simplicity.
Boneless chicken breasts are pounded, filled with herb-infused butter, breaded, and then fried to golden perfection.
Each mouthful is enhanced by the explosion of fragrant butter as the dish is cut apart.
One of the most beloved comfort foods in Ukrainian households is Holubtsi—stuffed cabbage rolls.
Savory ground meat, rice, and seasonings are stuffed into cabbage leaves and cooked in a sauce made with tomatoes.
The end product is a filling and delicious Ukrainian dish I really love! I also enjoy holubtsi with potatoes—a vegetarian twist to the classic recipe.
Rosil, or pickle juice, is a beloved drink in Ukrainian culture. This brine is commonly enjoyed on its own or used as a cocktail basis; it is made from pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers.
Pickle juice is a popular hangover cure and is also believed to provide health benefits, such as improved digestion and better hydration.
I really love tomato and cucumber pickles but pickle juice has always been a bit of an oddity to me. So, I recommend you give it a try and form your own judgment!
Known as a summer staple since the time of Kyivan Rus’, kvas is a traditional fermented drink from Ukraine.
The primary ingredients are malt and rye flour or bread. It’s easy to make at home, although it’s more commonly made in factories.
I love kvas for its refreshing taste and incredible aroma. If I had to compare it to something, it would probably be a non-alcoholic beer.
To elevate your culinary experience with more unique drinks, check out my post about Ukrainian drinks.
While not the weirdest food on the list, borshch still deserves mention. It’s a national dish in Ukraine, and it boasts an assortment of regional variations.
This hearty beet soup is made with meat or bone stock and a variety of vegetables, such as cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrots, and beets.
Pampushky, savory puffy buns coated with oil and crushed garlic, and salo are common sides for borshch in Ukraine.
The soup is usually served sprinkled with fresh dill or parsley, and a dollop of sour cream.
14 Weird Ukrainian Food Options (from a Ukrainian)
- Taran’ka (Dried Fish)
- Chicken Kyiv
- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Pickle Juice
- Borshch (Beetroot soup)