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What is a Pierogi?


Piroshky Piroshky Potato and Cheese Pierogies
Piroshky Piroshky Potato and Cheese Pierogies

There’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into piping hot pierogi stuffed with smooth and creamy mashed potatoes and cheese. Pierogi (plural for pierog) are Eastern European dumplings that are the ultimate Old World comfort food. But what exactly is a pierogi?

Read More: What is a Knish?

What is a Pierogi?

Pierogi are crescent-shaped filled dumplings that can trace their origins to Eastern Europe, where they remain very popular. They’re traditionally filled with mashed potato and cheese, braised shredded beef, cabbage, or fruit, and are boiled until pillowy and soft. They’re occasionally browned in a pan with some butter after boiling, and traditional served alongside sour cream and/or butter along with fried onions. Because the dough is usually relatively thick (sometimes twice as thick as ravioli dough), pierogies are usually a filling, hearty meal.

What Makes a Pierogi a Pierogi?

Pierogi are pillows of unleavened dough stuffed with savory or sweet fillings. What makes it a pierogi are the fillings and preparation. Dumplings are defined by their wrappers and preparation. 

It’s likely the Chinese invented dumplings because they have been eaten in China since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Thanks to the Chinese diaspora, nearly every culture has their own version of dumplings. European immigrants brought their own version to North America beginning in the early 20th century, particularly after World War II.

Pierogi are defined by their fillings, like potato and cheese, sauerkraut, and fruit, and their preparation, boiled or fried. They have savory or sweet fillings.

Classic fillings include:

  • Braised beef cheek
  • Cabbage
  • Fried onions
  • Fruit like apple, blueberries, cherries, currants, and plums
  • Potato & cheese
  • Quark (farmer’s cheese)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sauerkraut & mushroom
  • Short rib

Some modern-day creations include bacon, egg & cheese, pulled pork, and spinach & feta.

Kenny & Ziggy's Delicatessen Pierogies
Kenny & Ziggy’s Delicatessen Dozen Pierogies
Baba & Pops Potato and Cheese Pierogies
Baba & Pops Potato & Cheese Pierogis

Are Pierogies Traditionally Boiled or Fried?

Pierogies can be boiled or fried. No matter your preference, they are always cooked in boiled water. Some may prefer to serve them directly from the pot. Others may prefer to sauté these boiled dumplings in a pan with butter. 

Some may prefer to bake or deep fry their pierogies, but boiled and fried are the most popular.

Are Pierogies Polish or Italian?

Pierogies are Polish dumplings, but they are also enjoyed throughout Eastern Europe and beyond. Pronounced puh ROW gee, they get their name from the Polish pieróg (dumpling). They are usually semicircular, but these pillows of dough can also be triangular or rectangular. 

Italian cuisine has some things that are similar to pierogi:

  • Ravioli: square-shaped dough stuffed with fillings like ricotta cheese, meat, or seafood
  • Panzerotti: savory turnovers

How Are Pierogies Eaten?

Pierogies are boiled and, oftentimes, fried in butter. They are served with toppings like:

  • Apple sauce
  • Bacon
  • Fried onions
  • Kielbasa (Polish sausage)
  • Mushroom sauce
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sour Cream

Some, like deep fried pierogies, may be eaten by hand. They are dunked in condiments to enhance their flavor. Most often, these Polish dumplings are too hot to hold, so a knife and fork are used to enjoy them. 

Boiled pierogi either have toppings spooned on top of them or placed on the side for dipping. They are eaten with a fork. 

Pierogies were once peasant food, but now they are enjoyed by all during holidays and every day meals. They may be eaten as an appetizer or a meal with or without stew or soup like borscht (beet soup).

Most Famous Pierogies

Cafes and restaurants across the world serve these delicious dumplings. But why go out when you can enjoy the most famous ones from the comfort of your home?

Michael Symon Signature Pierogies

Michael Symon’s Signature Pierogies

Cleveland’s celebrated chef Michael Symon has been boiling and frying his famous Signature Pierogies for years. It’s a family tradition he continues today. He adds his tasty touch to classics like mashed potato & aged white cheddar, pork & sauerkraut, and beef cheek stewed with tomato and red wine.

Piroshky Piroshky Potato and Cheese Pierogies

Piroshky Piroshky’s Potato and Cheese Pierogies

You don’t have to go all the way to Seattle to enjoy #PiroshkyLove. Since 1992, Piroshky Piroshky has been making its namesake piroshky (pronounced pi-roash-kee) and pierogi in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. While the Russian turnovers are a don’t miss, neither are their Potato and Cheese Pierogies made with Tillamook cheese.

Baba & Pops Pierogi

Baba & Pops’ Handmade in a Food Truck Pierogies

The best Polish dumplings in Denver, Colorado, are on four wheels. Owner Jeremy Yurek and his wife Kathern make pierogies the way his great grandparents, Baba & Pops did. These handmade Baba & Pops Polish dumplings come in classic flavors like potato & cheese, sauerkraut, and creative versions like pulled pork and chile relleno.

Goldbelly and pierogies are a perfect pair-ogi! Get cheesy and order the best Polish dumplings shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!