With a last name like Kaminski, you can bet Polish foods are in regular rotation at my house. From kolaches to kruschiki to kielbasa, I’ve made my fair share of Polish treats, but my favorite of all…pierogi!
These filled dumplings are Poland’s signature dish, and for good reason. They can hold a whole host of tasty fillings: potato and cheese (my favorite), cabbage, pork, even fruit. Delicious, buttery and stuffed with some favorite ingredients, you’ll definitely want to make these dumplings for yourself.
But there are a few tricks for making a good pierogi. I’ll walk you through the basics of making a classic potato and cheese pierogi. They take a little bit of preparation, but once you get that first cheesy, potato-packed bite, you’ll know it was worth it. Let’s start!
Easy Homemade Pierogi Recipe
For the dough, you’ll need:
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling, you’ll need:
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
You’ll also need a few extra tablespoons of butter and an onion, sliced, for serving. And extra sour cream if you want!
Step 1: Prep your potatoes
The filling for a classic pierogi is essentially mashed potatoes plus a little cheese–yum, right? So to start, prep your potatoes like you would for mashed potatoes: wash, peel and quarter them. I like to use Yukon Golds because they cook up nice and tender, and they have a great smooth consistency once mashed. You can substitute other potatoes if you don’t have Yukons on hand (and we’ve got some tips on how to pick the best potatoes for every recipe).
Once prepped, simply boil your potatoes until tender–the time will vary depending on the size of your spuds. Once cooked through (I like to check mine with a fork after 15 minutes or so), strain and pop into a mixing bowl.
Step 2: Do the mash
With your potatoes still hot, mash with your butter, sour cream and milk until nice and creamy. I use a hand mixer to get a nice smooth consistency, but a regular ol’ potato masher does just fine too. Once mashed, mix in a half cup of cheddar cheese (I won’t judge if you use a little more). Pierogies are traditionally made with farmer cheese, which is essentially a pressed cottage cheese. It lends a mild creaminess to this filling, but I prefer to add cheddar for a more standout flavor.
To finish, add salt and pepper to taste–typically about a teaspoon of each, but definitely use your judgment here. Taste! When finished, set the potatoes aside.
Step 3: Get mixing
Now, on to the dough! Begin by melting your butter and letting it cool off a bit. (You want it to be liquid, but not so hot that it cooks the eggs you’ll be adding to it!) Then simply combine the rest of the ingredients–flour, eggs, sour cream, milk and salt–in a large mixing bowl.
Pro tip: To avoid lumpy dough, sift your flour into the mix.
Give the ingredients a good stir with a spatula to help the ingredients come together to form the beginning of your dough. Don’t worry if it looks a little ugly, the next step will help!
Step 4: You need to knead
Once your dough is roughly mixed, turn it out onto a floured countertop and give it a good knead. New to kneading? Take the mound of dough and press into it with heel of your hand, stretching it out. Then fold it over itself. Give it a quarter turn and repeat, occasionally turning the ball of dough over. This will allow the ingredients to fully combine while also developing the gluten that makes it flexible and stretchy. You’ll want that stretch so you can pack in more potatoes.
If you’re a serious potato-lover like me, you won’t want to miss these recipes.
Step 5: Get rolling
With your dough formed, get ready to roll. This dough is fairly sticky, so make sure to flour your work surface and the dough well. My recommendation: Once you think you’ve got enough flour on your bench, add more–this can be sticky stuff!
Start by rolling out a quarter of the prepared dough. Roll it out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick–you want this to be very thin. As tasty as this dough is, the filling is the star of the show, so the less dough per peroigi, the better. Using a biscuit cutter (three- to four-inch cutters work best), cut out rounds of dough.
Pro tip: Don’t have a biscuit cutter? Use the open side of a similar-sized prep bowl or drinking glass.
Feel free to re-roll your dough scraps to make more pierogi shells. I think that working with the dough the second time around is a little easier (and a little less sticky).
Step 6: Fill ’em up
To fill your pierogi, place a tablespoon of potato filling in the center of each shell. Then, brush a bit of water around the very outer edge of this dough round using a pastry brush (fingers work too!). Fold over, and pinch along the edges to seal. Just like that, you’ve got a pierogi!
If you’re prepping these dumplings ahead of time, you can stop right here. You can store pierogies between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze them for up to four months.
Step 7: Time to cook!
Cooking pierogies is a two-step process. Begin by boiling your pierogies in water for 4-5 minutes–this will heat them through and cook the dough. Some folks stop right here and eat their pierogies boiled. You could do that, but I’m here to tell you that to get the tastiest pierogies, you need to go one step further.
In a frying pan, heat two tablespoons of butter; add half an onion, sliced, and salt and pepper. When the onions are soft (and filling your home with a wonderful smell), toss a few pierogies into the frying pan. Saute until the dough is slightly browned. This will make for a slightly crisp exterior, which makes pierogi so so good! Serve with the sauteed onion and, if you like, a dollop of sour cream.