There is more to Ukrainian cuisine than meets the eye. While many people think of Ukrainian food as heavy, there are many light and healthy dishes.
Most importantly, Ukrainian food will be some of the best-tasting food you have ever had.
In this post, we will dive deep into famous Ukrainian dishes and cover everything: Ukrainian starters, soups, main courses, sweets, and even a couple of typical Ukrainian drinks.
You can check Butterypan Cuisine Section for more great foods from all around the world!
Ukrainian starters can not be missed. They are extremely tasty, light and pair well with many other dishes.
In many cases, you will see starters being eaten at the same time as the Ukrainian main courses. They just combine so well!
Salo – Cured Pork, Traditional Ukrainian Food
Salo is a traditional Ukrainian dish made from cured pork fat. It is cured with salt, garlic, and spices, then typically sun-dried or smoked.
Salo is usually eaten raw, either in thin slices as an appetizer or diced and added to other dishes such as borscht. It is also great when frozen.
Keep in mind that you are not eating raw meat. It was heavily cured – so there are no health risks involved.
Holodets – Meat in Jelly
Holodets, or “meat jelly”, is a traditional Ukrainian dish typically made with pork or beef.
The meat is simmered in broth until it is very tender. Then it is removed from the bone, cut into small pieces, and returned to the broth. Frequently, additional spices like garlic or dill may be added.
The broth is then cooled in the fridge until it transforms into jelly. Once set, the holodets is sliced and served cold, often with horseradish or mustard.
The cold nature of the food is right in its name – Holod translates as cold!
While it may sound like an unusual dish, holodets is quite delicious – and it makes for a great starter or appetizer.
Olivye – Potato salad
Olivye is made with potatoes, peas, carrots, eggs, and pickles, and it is usually dressed with mayonnaise. Olivye is a popular dish for special occasions, but it is also easy to make at home.
The key to making a good olivye is to cook the potatoes and vegetables until they are tender but not mushy. Once everything is cooked, it is simply a matter of mixing everything together and adding the dressing.
Olivye can be eaten cold or at room temperature, and it can be made ahead of time, making it an ideal dish for busy weeknights or a holiday feast.
Pampushki – Garlic Bread
Pampushki are small, round buns. They are typically made with wheat flour, salt, water, and yeast, and they can be either boiled or baked.
Pampushki are often served as a starter or appetizer, and they are usually topped with garlic butter, sour cream, or cheese.
Pampushki are typically made in a small size, but they can also be made larger for the main course.
Cured Herring – Marinated Fish
Herring is a type of small, oily fish popular in many parts of the world. In Ukraine, herring is often served as a starter dish.
It is typically cured in vinegar and spices and then served with bread or potatoes. It retains its nice fish flavor while, at the same time, the marination gives it a salty taste that combines with the fat inside the fish.
Smoked Fish – Smoky Fish
Smoked fish is a popular delicacy in Ukraine, and there are many different methods of preparation.
Fish can be smoked over an open fire, in a smoker, or even in an oven.
It is great by itself, or it can pair extremely well with bread or some of the soups below.
You may have heard of borscht, but there is much more to Ukrainian soup culture than just that.
There are dozens of soups popular in Ukraine, each with its unique flavor and ingredients.
Let’s have a look at the most popular ones!
Okroshka – Cold Soup
Okroshka is a refreshing cold soup. It’s typically made with kvas, a fermented bread drink, but can also be made with kefir or buttermilk.
The soup is mixed with boiled vegetables and eggs and served chilled with sour cream on top.
While it may sound heavy, okroshka is light and flavorful, making it the perfect summertime meal.
Borscht – Beet Soup, Traditional Ukrainian Food
Borscht is a soup typically made with beets, cabbage, and potatoes.
It is believed to have originated in Ukraine, and it is now popular in many Eastern European countries.
Borscht can be served hot or cold, and it is often garnished with sour cream or dill.
The soup gets its characteristic red color from the beets, and the flavors of the other ingredients meld together to create a delicious and hearty soup.
While borscht is traditionally made with meat, it can also be made as a vegetarian dish.
Zelenyj Borcht – Sorrel Soup
Zelenyj Borcht, also known as Ukrainian green borscht, is similar to borscht (duh) with a small twist.
Zelenyj Borcht gets its vibrant green color from the addition of sorrel, a sour leafy green.
The soup is also often made with beets, which give it a beautiful pink hue.
Solyanka – Sweet and Sour
Solyanka is a delicious soup that is both sweet and sour. It is typically made with beef or pork, vegetables, and various fruit juices.
The soup gets its unique flavor from the addition of pickled cucumbers, lemons, and olives. Solyanka is typically served with sour cream, which helps balance out the soup’s sweetness.
While it is traditionally a winter dish, solyanka can be enjoyed year-round.
Kapusniak – Sauerkraut Soup
Kapusniak is a traditional Ukrainian soup made from pork, sauerkraut, and vegetables.
It is usually served with boiled potatoes or dumplings and often garnished with sour cream.
Kapusniak is a hearty and comforting dish that is perfect for wintertime. The combination of salty pork, tart sauerkraut, and sweet vegetables makes for a delicious and well-balanced soup.
Plus, it’s easy to make and can be easily scaled up or down depending on how many people you serve.
Ukrainian Main Courses
Now we are moving towards the middle of our Ukrainian feast, so let’s look at some of the most popular main courses that Ukraine has to offer!
Kotleta po kyivsky – Chicken Kiev
Kotleta po kyivsky is a popular dish from Ukraine that consists of chicken breasts pounded thin, stuffed with butter and herbs, then breaded and fried.
The result is a crispy, flavorful cutlet that pairs well with mashed potatoes or rice. While the dish may seem complicated, it is quite simple to make at home.
The key is to pound the chicken breasts thin enough to cook evenly but not so thin that they fall apart during frying.
Once you have your chicken prepared, the rest of the dish comes together quickly. Simply stuff the chicken with butter and herbs, then bread and fry it until golden brown.
Once you cut the cutlet, the butter with herbs flows out… a beautiful thing to witness! 🙂
Holubtsi – Meat and Cabbage Roll
Holubtsi, also known as cabbage rolls, are a traditional Ukrainian dish of minced meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves.
They are typically served with a dollop of sour cream on top. The key to making them perfect is to cook the cabbage leaves until they are soft but not mushy to be rolled without breaking.
The filling should also be well-seasoned, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs and spices.
While it sounds very simple, the dish is tasty, filling, and leaves a sauce that is perfect for some bread dipping.
Deruny – Ukranian Hashbrown
Deruny are a type of Ukrainian hash brown that is made from grated potatoes that are mixed with flour, eggs, and salt and then fried until they are golden brown.
They are often served with sour cream or yogurt and can also be topped with grilled onions or mushrooms.
Deruny are a popular breakfast food but can also be eaten as a side dish or snack. While they are traditionally made with potatoes, you can also find them made with sweet potatoes, squash, or even carrots.
Varenyky – Filled Dumplings
Varenyky is a type of dumpling made by wrapping dough around a filling and boiling it in water.
The dough is usually made from flour, water, and salt, and the filling can be potatoes, strawberries, meat, or mushrooms (all separately, of course!)
Varenyky are traditionally served with sour cream, but they can also be paired with other sauces or simply eaten on their own.
Lenivye Varenyky – Empty Dumplings
This is a more lazy take on the Varenyky from the previous section. It is the same thing, but the filling is on the outside…
The dough is shaped into cubes or ovals, and it is boiled. The toppings are served on top of the boiled dough.
This is a great time-saver. While the taste is pretty much the same, you do not have to wrap each varenyk individually. On the other hand… the texture is slightly different.
Banush – Cornmeal and Cheese
While Banush may not be originally from Ukraine, it is quite popular. The base of Banush is cornmeal and is usually topped with mushrooms, bacon, bryndza and other salty toppings.
Banush is liked for its simplicity and versatility as it can also be sweet.
Polenta – Ground Cornmeal
Polenta is a dish that originated in ancient times but is very popular in Ukraine.
The word “polenta” comes from the Latin word for “fine flour,” which originally referred to a coarse, ground cornmeal.
Today, polenta can be made from a variety of different grains, including wheat, rice, and barley.
It is typically boiled in water or broth and then served hot with cheese or other savory toppings. Polenta is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a main course or side dish, and it makes a great addition to any meal.
Pirozhki – Filled Pastries
Pirozhki is a pastry that is traditionally filled with meat or vegetables.
They can be baked or fried, and they are often served as a snack or appetizer.
Pirozhki are believed to have originated in the medieval era, and they were originally made with unleavened dough.
Today, pirozhki are typically made with yeast-based dough, and the fillings can vary widely. Common fillings include potatoes, cabbage, mushrooms, and ground beef.
Pirozhki are usually served with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and they can be accompanied by a variety of dipping sauces.
Grechka – Buckwheat
If you’re looking for a delicious, healthy grain to eat when experimenting with Ukrainian cooking, look no further than grechka.
Also known as buckwheat, this hearty grain has a nutty flavor that pairs well with savory or sweet dishes.
Despite its name, grechka is not related to wheat and is gluten-free. It is also a good source of fiber and minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
Whether you choose to cook it like rice or use it in place of oats for breakfast, you’re sure to enjoy the unique flavor.
Mlyntsi – Buckwheat Pancakes
There’s nothing quite like a stack of freshly-made pancakes, and Ukrainian pancakes, or mlyntsi, are some of the best.
These thin crepes are usually made with wheat or buckwheat flour, and they can be served sweet or savory.
Sweet mlyntsi are often filled with fruit jam or cheese, while savory versions are typically egg-based.
No matter how you enjoy them, Ukrainian pancakes are a delicious way to start your day. Plus, they’re easy to make at home – all you need is a little practice and a good non-stick pan.
Nalysniki are a traditional Ukrainian dish consisting of delicate crepes filled with potatoes, cheese, and onions.
The key to making the perfect nalysniki is to get the crepes thin and crispy. Once you’ve mastered that, the filling is up to you.
The most popular options are potato and cheese, sauerkraut and mushroom, or ground meat. However, you can use any combination of ingredients that you like.
Nalysniki are best served fresh and hot, straight from the pan. But if you have leftovers, they also make a great cold snack.
Moving towards the end of our list, the time has come for some of the greatest sweets you will ever taste!
Bublik is quite similar to a bagel. It is traditionally made with flour, water, and salt, and it is boiled before it is baked.
Bublik is often served with butter or sour cream, and it can even be filled with various savory or sweet fillings.
There are also varieties of bublik:
- Baranka – a smaller bublik, dryer, and denser.
- Sushki – a very small bublik, crunchy.
Kutia – Ukrainian Christmas Food
Kutia is a dish that is traditionally served during Christmas in Ukraine. It is made with wheat, honey, and fruits and often includes poppy seeds.
The dish is thought to represent the star that guided the wise men to Jesus.
Kutia is typically served as a dessert, but it can also be eaten as a breakfast cereal or a side dish. While the ingredients may vary depending on region and family tradition, kutia is always a festive and delicious way to celebrate the holidays.
The Cake Kiev is a popular cake from Ukraine made with layers of buttercream and chocolate.
It is a rich and moist cake with a fluffy buttercream filling that is sandwiched between layers of moist chocolate cake.
The Cake Kiev is often decorated with chocolate shavings or icing (lots of icing) and is served with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
A Korovai is a traditional Ukrainian wedding cake that is both stunning to look at and delicious to eat.
The cake is usually round or oval-shaped and decorated with elaborate designs made from dough, flowers, and other decorations.
In addition to being a beautiful centerpiece for the wedding feast, the Korovai also has a symbolic meaning.
It is said to represent the never-ending love between the bride and groom, as well as their families and friends.
When cut, the cake is shared with all guests, signifying the sharing of joy on this special day.
Paska is a traditional Ukrainian Easter bread often sweetened with raisins and decorated with icing.
While there are many different ways to make paska, the basic ingredients are flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. Paska is often made in a large round loaf, then cut into smaller pieces and served as part of the Easter feast.
The sweetness of the bread pairs well with the savory meats and cheeses that are typically served on Easter Sunday.
Paska is also a popular breakfast food, and many families enjoy it sliced and spread with butter or jam.
Syrniki are a type of Ukrainian cheese pancake. They are made with quark cheese, a type of fresh cheese made from curdled milk, and they are usually served with sour cream, fruits, or jam.
Syrniki can be either sweet or savory, and they are typically fried in butter or oil. As for the looks, imagine a small fat pancake – this is how the syrniks are typically shaped.
Lviv syrnyk is very similar to the syrnyk that we discussed above. So, the basics are the same – quark cheese mixed with a bit of flour, egg, and sugar.
While the basic syrnyk is quite flat, the Lviv syrnyk is higher. So imagine more of a cheesecake size than pancake size (which the basic syrnyk is).
Walnut Stuffed Prunes
Walnut stuffed prunes may be nothing new, but they are one of the more popular Ukrainian sweets. They are served in restaurants or sold in shops – frequently covered in dark chocolate.
These little bites are the perfect mix of sweet and savory. The prunes are plump and soft, while the walnuts provide a satisfying crunch.
My favorites are the ones with the chocolate cover. It just ties everything together.
It can not be a great traditional feast without some traditional Ukrainian drinks!
Horilka is a traditional alcoholic beverage from Ukraine.
It is made from distilled wheat or rye and typically has a high alcohol content. Horilka is often Flavored with honey, pepper, or other spices, and it is traditionally drunk neat.
While horilka is not as well-known as vodka, it is a popular drink in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe.
Ryazhenka is fermented milk. It’s made by heating milk and then allowing it to cool and ferment.
This process gives Ryazhenka its characteristic thick, creamy texture and mildly sour taste.
Ryazhenka is a traditional food in Ukraine and other Slavic countries, and it’s often consumed as a snack or breakfast food.
These days, Ryazhenka is also becoming popular in the West as a delicious and probiotic-rich alternative to yogurt.
Kvass is a refreshing fermented beverage traditionally made from sourdough bread or rye.
The fermentation process gives kvass its distinctive tangy flavor, as well as a slight effervescence.
Kvass is rich in probiotics and antioxidants, and it is thought to have numerous health benefits.
Some people drink kvass to help with digestive problems, while others find that it boosts their energy levels.
But most drink it because it is delicious and refreshing!
What is Ukraine famous food?
One of the traditional Ukrainian dishes is borscht, a hearty soup made with beets, potatoes, cabbage, and beef.
Another popular dish is varenyky, similar to pierogis or dumplings, and can be filled with potato, cheese, or meat.
No Ukrainian meal would be complete without some sort of bread; pampushky, small round loaves often laced with garlic, are a traditional accompaniment to borscht.
Last but not least – salo! This is cured pork fat – popular snack food in Ukraine, often eaten with bread and onions.
What is a typical Ukrainian breakfast?
A typical Ukrainian breakfast consists of porridge, such as oatmeal or buckwheat kasha, eggs, and slices of meat or cheese.
The porridge is usually served with milk and honey, and the eggs are usually fried or scrambled. The meat and cheese are typically eaten on their own or with some bread.
This type of breakfast is filling and provides the body with energy to start the day. It is also relatively simple to prepare, ideal for busy mornings.
Is Ukrainian food healthy?
When it comes to Ukrainian food, there are a few things you need to know.
First off, Ukrainian cuisine is heavy on carbs. There’s a lot of bread and potatoes involved. That being said – Ukrainians do typically eat many vegetables as well.
So while their diet may not be the healthiest in terms of being low-carb, it does have its merits in terms of being balanced.
Another thing to note about Ukrainian food is that it often contains a lot of fat. This is because Ukrainians use a lot of butter and cream in their cooking.
However, they also tend to use a lot of healthy fats like olive oil.
While Ukrainian food may not be the healthiest cuisine, it is still fairly nutritious and balanced.
Ultimately, it all depends on you. If you each borsht and grechka with beef – it is all good and healthy.
But if you decide to devour the whole cake Kyiv, layer it with salo and pour with gorilka – this is, of course, as far from healthy as possible.
Everything is good in moderation, particularly when it comes to food.
Is Ukrainian food the same as Russian food?
It’s a common misconception that Ukrainian and Russian food are the same. While there are some similarities, there are also plenty of differences.
For starters, Ukrainian cuisine tends to be more hearty and filling, while Russian cuisine is often lighter and more delicate.
Ukrainian dishes also tend to use more garlic and onions, giving them a stronger flavor.
In addition, Ukrainian food often features plenty of fresh vegetables, while Russian food typically contains more meat and dairy products.
So while there may be some overlap between these two cuisines, they are not the same.
What does the average Ukrainian eat?
The average Ukrainian diet consists of a lot of grains and starchy vegetables, as well as dairy and meat.
However, the exact composition of the diet will vary depending on the region.
For example, in the West of the country, where there is a lot of farmland, the diet is heavier on foods like potatoes and beets. In the east, which is more industrial, the diet includes more processed foods.
There are also regional differences in what kinds of dairy and meat are consumed. In general, Ukrainians tend to eat a lot of chicken and pork, but beef and lamb are also popular in some parts.
What is the national drink of Ukraine?
The national drink of Ukraine is called gorilka or horilka, and it is a traditional alcoholic beverage made from grain.
Gorilka is usually distilled twice, and it can range in alcohol content from 30% to 60%.
The drink is typically served neat or with ice, and it is often used as a toast on special occasions.
How do Ukrainians celebrate Easter?
Ukrainians celebrate Easter with a special bread called paska, often decorated with religious symbols.
Paska is usually eaten with butter and cheese, and it is a traditional food for Easter Sunday.
Is beef eaten in Ukraine?
Yes, beef is eaten in Ukraine. Beef is one of the most popular meats in the country.
Ukrainians often enjoy beef stroganoff, a dish made with thin strips of beef and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce.
Beef goulash, another popular dish, is a thick stew made with beef, vegetables, and spices.
And, of course, Ukraine is home to some great steak houses.
What kind of tea do they drink in Ukraine?
In Ukraine, the most popular type of tea is black tea.
Green tea is also popular in Ukraine, especially in the summer months. This refreshing tea is often drunk plain, but it can also be flavored with lemon or mint.
Fruit teas are also widely consumed in Ukraine, and these can be made with fresh or dried fruits.
Is borscht Russian or Ukrainian?
While it is typically associated with Russian cuisine, borscht has Ukrainian roots.
This soup, made with beets, cabbage, and other vegetables, was once a staple of Ukrainian peasant diets.
Today, it is enjoyed by people of all social classes in Ukraine and is one of the country’s most recognizable dishes.
What food do Ukrainians eat on Christmas?
One of the most popular dishes is kutia, a sweet grain pudding often made with wheat, honey, and nuts.
Kutia is typically served as part of the twelve-course meal that is traditional on Christmas Eve, which is known as Svyat Vechir.
Other popular dishes include borscht, a soup made with beets and vegetables; holubtsi, cabbage rolls filled with rice and meat; and varenyky, dumplings filled with potatoes or cheese.
It is not very common to have a 12-course meal 🙂 so most Ukrainian will have a classic dinner will several more festive dishes.
So there you have it! A list of some of the tastiest Ukraine food!
There are other dishes, but they might not be so wide-known, and I think that this list will give you enough inspiration for cooking for quite some time!