Buns Pampushky - Ukrainian garlic bread. Bread rolls with garlic and parsley
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Ukrainian Dishes Americans Will Love

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Classic Russian dessert dry bagels with jam on the wooden table. Selective focus. Shallow depth of field.
Mindstyle/istockphoto

Food Heritage

Ukrainian food is the result of centuries of interconnection between cultures, as in all of Eastern Europe. Its fertile land and wheat production has earned it the nickname of “Europe's bread basket,” which has unfortunately made it a target for invasion throughout history — including now. But while the history of some Ukrainian foods may be shared with Russia, Poland, and other neighboring countries, Ukraine's most popular dishes still define the country's national identity and heritage. 


Related: Did You Know These Celebrities Have Ukrainian Roots?


Russian bortscht
lenazap/istockphoto

Borscht

Though it's popular throughout the region, borscht is the national dish of Ukraine. While it's hard to pin down a dish so widespread, borscht is thought to have origins in the area of what's now Ukraine before the ninth century. Every family, cook, and restaurant has their own recipe, though it may be surprising to know that the now ubiquitous red beets we most associate with the soup probably didn't enter the equation until the late 1600s. Now it's usually made with a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, plus vinegar for sourness and a dollop of sour cream on top.


Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen


Related: Iconic Foods to Try From 40 Countries Around the World


Mashed potato stuffed dumplings with cream
Rouzes/istockphoto

Varenyky

Poland has pierogi, Russia has pelmeni, and Ukraine has varenyky. It's the country's answer to filled, boiled dumplings. (They can be fried too.) Like their cousins, they can be filled with anything under the sun, though traditionally that means potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, or meat. There are also sweet varenyky that are filled with a sweet fresh cheese similar to cottage cheese, or with cherries. Whether sweet or savory, they're usually served with sour cream.


Recipe: Lena's Kitchen


Related: Delicious Dumplings from Around the World


Sliced salted pork lard (salo)
DredK/istockphoto

Salo

Borscht may be Ukraine's national dish, but salo is just as beloved — maybe more so. The cured pork has been called a national obsession, and there are even two annual festivals dedicated to it. The pork fatback that's cured with spices is sliced thinly and often eaten atop rye bread with onions and pickles to cut through the richness, or used as an ingredient in recipes such as borscht. It's become a symbol of wealth and hospitality and is often served with vodka.


Recipe: The Food Hog


Pot of stuffed cabbage rolls
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Holubtsi

Holubtsi is Ukraine's version of stuffed cabbage, similar to sarma and golabki in other countries. Whole cabbage leaves softened by boiling or pickling are wrapped around a filling typically made with ground meat, vegetables, and rice. Bacon or salo and other grains such as cornmeal or buckwheat are commonly used as well. The rolls are usually braised in a tomato sauce and sometimes topped with sour cream and dill. 


Recipe: Tasting Table

Fresh cottage cheese or ricotta  pancakes (syrniki,fritters) on a blue plate with fresh berries and jam.
VIKTORIIA DROBOT/istockphoto

Syrniki

Eaten most frequently for breakfast or as a dessert, syrniki are little pancakes you can find in most cafes in Ukraine. They're made with quark, a type of fresh cheese, or similar curds such as cottage cheese or ricotta. The soft dough is shaped into small rounds and griddled like pancakes, then served with fresh fruit, jam, butter, and cream. They're almost always sweet and have a light and airy texture that melts in the mouth.


Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen


Easter cakes, ukrainian paska.
tomch/istockphoto

Paska

Paska is the word for Easter, and paska also refers to a sweet bread eaten for Easter in many countries where the Eastern Orthodox religion is predominant, including Ukraine. The bread is baked in a cylindrical shape and made with a yeasted dough enriched with butter, eggs, and sugar, then often topped with white icing. It's traditionally placed in Easter baskets with ornately decorated Easter eggs, then blessed in church on Easter Sunday before being eaten.


Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen


Related: 20 Easter Recipes From Around the World


Potato fritters fried in a large frying pan
Nadiya Senko/istockphoto

Deruny

Potatoes grow very well in the northern parts of Ukraine, which is where deruny are most popular. They're potato pancakes made from finely shredded potatoes mixed with egg, flour, and seasonings before being fried in oil to a crispy golden brown. Onions are often included in the mix, and it's not uncommon to find mushrooms or meat stuffed inside. As usual, they're served with a hefty dollop of sour cream.


Recipe: Olga in the Kitchen


Classic Russian dessert dry bagels with jam on the wooden table. Selective focus. Shallow depth of field.
Mindstyle/istockphoto

Bublik

If you like bagels, you'll love bublik. Like bagels, they're a ring-shaped bread that's first boiled for a chewy texture before baking, and often topped with poppyseeds or sesame. But in Ukraine, they're usually made with sweet dough and eaten more like a pastry with coffee or tea instead of at breakfast. They're a bit larger than bagels, and with a bigger hole; they get strung by the dozen on strings, which is how they're sold. For savory versions, a bit of grated onion is usually added to the dough.


Recipe: 196 Flavors


Healthy homemade soup with mushroom.
Gulcin Ragiboglu/istockphoto

Zelenyj Borscht

Borscht doesn't have to be red at all, and this Ukrainian zelenyj borscht literally translates to “green borscht.” Like all borscht, it's a soup with a sour element, and what makes this version green and slightly sour is sorrel, a vegetable readily available in Ukraine. If sorrel isn't available, greens such as spinach, chard, or nettle can be used. Potatoes, carrots, and hard-boiled eggs are typical additions to this summertime soup.


Recipe: Lavender & Macarons


Traditional Christmas sweet meal
kalasek/istockphoto

Kutia

Traditionally served at the start of an elaborate 12-course Christmas Eve feast, kutia is a sweet, porridge-like dish made with grains and dried fruit. Its origins probably go back millennia, and it's still used in religious ceremonies and rituals. It's most commonly made with wheat berries, though spelt or barley are sometimes used, along with ground poppy seeds, nuts, raisins or other dried fruit, and a sweetener such as honey. 


Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen


Related: Traditional Holiday Dishes From Around the World


Dates and prunes stuffed with almond paste Raisins Nuts  Dessert buffet
nobtis/istockphoto

Walnut Stuffed Prunes

Though it doesn't have a special name, walnut stuffed prunes are a common and beloved Ukrainian dessert thanks to the ubiquity of plums and walnuts. The prunes are soaked in water to plump them up, then stuffed with a toasted walnut. They're covered in sweetened cream and sometimes sprinkled with grated chocolate or more chopped walnuts. It's especially popular in summer.


Recipe: Golden Lucy Crafts


Chicken Kiev
AlexPro9500/istockphoto

Chicken Kiev

Despite its origins that are decidedly not Ukrainian — and the fact that its name hasn't been updated to the preferred spelling of Kyiv — chicken Kiev is still a popular Ukrainian dish. It's nostalgic for Ukrainians as it is for Americans, with pools of liquid butter spilling out of perfectly shaped chicken cutlets. It was probably invented in France, though this isn’t known for sure, and has been embraced by Ukrainians nonetheless, landing in freezers, school cafeterias, and on restaurant menus around the country. 


Recipe: Food & Wine


Buns Pampushky - Ukrainian garlic bread. Bread rolls with garlic and parsley
freeskyline/istockphoto

Pampushky

Often described as Ukrainian garlic bread, pampushky is a favorite side dish to dip into borscht. The small, yeasted bread rolls are soft and pillowy and usually baked nestled together in pans. They're most often topped with a garlic and herb oil, making them irresistible, but there are also sweet varieties made like doughnuts, filled with cheese or jam, and dusted with powdered sugar.


Recipe: Tara's Multicultural Table


Related: Babka to Yorkshire Pudding: 25 International Baked Goods to Try at Home


Flourless cheesecake of ukrainian cottage cheese
from_my_point_of_view/istockphoto

Lviv Syrnyk

Lviv syrnyk is a cheesecake popular in the western part of Ukraine, especially around Lviv, a large city famous for its coffee, chocolate … and this dessert. It's made with fresh farmer's cheese, similar to cottage cheese in the United States, and it's got a light and fluffy texture compared to New York-style cheesecake. It's often flavored with raisins, vanilla, and citrus zest, and sometimes coated in chocolate. 


Recipe: Cozy Recipe


Discover more great recipes from around the world right here.