Looking for something new to cook tonight? Here's the recipe for pierogi, a mainstay in the cuisine of Poland.

What is it?

Tasty, cheap and always satisfying, these crescent-shaped doughy delights are a Polish icon found everywhere from church fundraisers to restaurants, with the variety of fillings limited only by the imagination. The recipe given here is for pierogi with the conventional fillings of potato, cheese and onion stuffing – a version of the dish you’ll find in most eateries throughout Poland.

Ingredients (serves 1)

For the dough: 
4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour 
1 tsp salt 
1 egg 
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 cup warm water

For the filling: 
2 large potatoes for mashing 
120g (4oz) twarog cheese (or substitute with quark cheese) 
1 medium onion, finely diced and lightly fried in olive oil

To serve: 
olive oil, for frying 
sour cream, to garnish

A plate of large pierogi stacked on top of one another. Pierogi are boiled, plump, half-circle-shaped dumplings filled with various ingredients.
Pierogi come in various shapes and sizes and can be filled with any number of ingredients © Dar1930 / Shutterstock

How to cook

Step 1: Peel the potatoes and add them to a pot of boiling water. Cook until soft.
Step 2: While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the dough. Sift the flour and salt on to a flat surface and then, with your hands, mix in the egg, oil and half the water.
Step 3: Knead the mixture for approximately 10 minutes, adding the rest of the water a little at a time (you may not need all of it), until you end up with a soft, elastic dough. Wrap the dough in plastic or cover with a damp cloth so it does not dry out while you prepare the filling.
Step 4: Drain the potatoes and push them through a sieve or a potato ricer (aerating rather than mashing them will result in a fluffier filling). Combine the potato with the cheese and half of the fried onion. Season well and set aside.
Step 5: Unwrap the dough and roll it out flat on your workspace to about 3mm (⅛in) thickness. Use a glass tumbler or cup to cut out circular shapes.
Step 6: Put a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each circle. Fold the circle in half into a semicircle and seal the ends by pinching them together with your fingers.
Step 7: To cook, place the pierogi in a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Once they rise to the surface a few minutes later, remove them from the pot.
Step 8: To serve, lightly brown the boiled pierogi for a few minutes in olive oil, then garnish with sour cream and the remainder of the fried onions.

Top tip: Any leftovers can be frozen after simmering, then thawed and lightly fried in a little oil when ready to eat.

An aerial view of the main square in the Polish city of Kraków. People wander around the large open space, which is flanked by buildings and has a small market place operating in it.
Pierogi are eaten throughout Poland, and there's even an annual festival dedicated to them in the city of Kraków © Marcin_Kadziolka / Getty Images

Tasting notes

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of pierogi as a seemingly bland pocket of dough.  The best ones are soft and pillowy, and they come in infinite varieties. No Polish family gathering is complete without the classic potato and cheese, but equally popular is cabbage and sauerkraut. While wandering Poland’s historical market squares, the moreish meat or kielbasa (a garlicky Polish sausage) pierogi will provide all the sustenance you need for the day ahead. In summer, treat yourself to blueberry or strawberry pierogi, served with lashings of cream.

Other recipes to try:

New Mexico breakfast burrito
Hungarian goulash
Turkish lahmacun

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Street Food.

This article was originally published in March 2020 and updated in November 2020. 

This article was first published March 2020 and updated November 2020

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