Pierogi are scrumptious little dumplings filled with either sweet or savory ingredients, and a classic European comfort food. My pierogi recipe is a deliciously savory one, prepared with a filling of my favorite combination of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, then sauteed in a touch of butter and topped with crispy bacon and onion!
Little Dumplings of Deliciousness
While many know pierogi as a delectable Polish “comfort food” dish, these tender-yet-slightly-toothsome dumplings are often prepared in many other Central and Eastern European countries including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and the Ukraine.
While each country has their own unique spelling/pronunciation of “pierogi”, and their own method for preparing these filled dumplings, I'm personally most familiar with the Slovak version because that is what I grew up enjoying.
As a little girl, when I would go visit both of my grandmothers and extended family members in Slovakia during the summer months, I would often see my grandma on my father's side preparing her homemade pierogi in her kitchen, her apron tied around her waist...
I recall Grandma Maria's pierogi (or “pirohi” as we call them in Slovak) as always being of the sweet variety, filled with a thick, rich plum jam filling that had an almost prune-like flavor—so delicious!
For me, they were more of a dessert, as grandma would always fry them up in a little butter (actually, quite a lot of butter!), then sprinkle them generously with powdered sugar and perhaps some sweetened, toasted breadcrumbs.
And while I still adore those plum pierogi as a sweet treat, when I'm craving pierogi as more of a main meal or appetizer, I tend to prefer the savory ones filled with creamy mashed potatoes and sauerkraut for both a rich and slightly sharp flavor, so good with cold beer!
My recipe here for homemade pierogi is for the savory version, one that I truly think Grandma Maria would love.
Unfortunately, I had no written recipe from her to go by for the dough, and had to go based on my own memory as far as the texture was concerned.
I also simply used my own palate when it came to the potato and sauerkraut filling, finishing these pierogi off by sauteing them in a touch of butter, and topping with crispy bacon and onion, my favorite additions.
I guess you could say these are a little cross between Polish and Slovak pierogi, definitely inspired by love! 😉
How to Make Pierogi with a Savory Filling
When I make my pierogi, I start with the pierogi dough.
What I love about pierogi is that they are somehow at once tender yet have a bit of “chew” to them, or some substance. They're not like pasta dough, so if you've never tried them and are planning on trying out this recipe, be aware that they aren't necessarily super silky and light.
Some folks like to use just flour, salt and water for the dough, and others like to add in some eggs. I've found that adding in a single egg to a fairly large amount of flour works well, offering some structure without adding too much protein.
I also use a touch of olive oil in my dough, and then mix the ingredients together first in my bowl, gathering them up, then knead for just a couple of moments on my work surface until the dough comes together and is smooth and soft.
Allowing the pierogi dough to rest for at least an hour is also important, as it has an opportunity to “relax” and become nice and easy to roll out. (This can be done a day ahead, if desired, for convenience.)
For the filling, savory potato and sauerkraut is terrific to use if you happen to have some leftover mashed potatoes on hand.
Or, if you want to make a quick and simple batch of mashed potatoes, you could place a large russet potato into the microwave to cook and then mash or rice the flesh until smooth, add a little butter, and proceed with the rest of the ingredients called for.
I basically mix all of the filling ingredients together in one bowl, then scoop small amounts into the center of the rolled out and cut pierogi circles, and seal.
Here's a glance at my pierogi recipe with a potato and sauerkraut filling: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prepare my pierogi dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, and allow it to rest at room temp for at least an hour. (If preparing the day before, I keep it wrapped and in the fridge, then allow the dough to come to room temp before rolling, etc.)
- While the dough rests, I mix together my filling ingredients in one bowl, and have it ready. If I've already got some mashed potatoes on hand, then great; if I need to make a quick batch, I'll usually just microwave a large russet potato or a couple of medium ones, scoop out the flesh and mash/rice it until smooth, and add a touch of butter and salt. Viola!
- When ready to assemble, I prepare a work surface for rolling out the dough, and also prepare a large baking sheet lined with wax paper, dusted with flour, to place the prepared pierogi on once filled/sealed—it helps them not to stick.
- To roll and fill, I cut my dough ball in half (easier to work with), roll to about ⅛” thickness, and use a 3 ¼” cutter to cut out circles; I add a heaping teaspoon of filling to the center, carefully fold over to create a semi-circle shape and seal, pressing around the edges.
- Once the pierogi are filled and sealed, I bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and then add the pierogi into the boiling water (working in batches), cooking them for roughly 3 to 4 minutes, or until they float to the surface.
- I remove the cooked pierogi from the water with a slotted spoon onto a platter, then fry them in a bit of butter until golden-brown, and top with crispy bacon and/or onion.
Pierogi with Potato and Sauerkraut
by Ingrid Beer
Cuisine: Central European
Yield: 32 pierogi
Nutrition Info: 285 calories (per 4 pierogi)
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Pierogi dough Ingredients:
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for your work surface
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 ¼ cup of room temp water
- 1 egg, whisked
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup prepared mashed potatoes
- 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and patter dry of excess brine
- ¼ cup grated white cheddar cheese (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Pinch white pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Garnish/Optional Topping Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons butter (to be melted in hot skillet)
- Crispy bacon, chopped
- Sauteed/caramelized onion
- To prepare your pierogi dough, add the flour and salt to a large bowl, and whisk to blend; pour in the water as well as the whisked egg and the olive oil, and using a wooden spoon, mix together until a shaggy mass forms; use your hands to then gather up the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then bring it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for a couple of minutes until smooth and soft, sprinkling with a bit of additional flour if too sticky.
- Cut the dough ball in half (for easier rolling) and wrap each half in plastic wrap, and set aside at room temp for at least 1 hour.
- Prepare your filling by combining all of the filling ingredients in a medium-size bowl, seasoning to taste; set aside.
- Prepare a large baking sheet (or two) with wax paper dusted with flour, and have that ready for your assembled pierogi.
- To prepare the pierogi, place one of the dough ball halves on your floured work surface, and roll the dough nice and thin, roughly ⅛” thick; then, using a 3 ¼” cutter, cut as many circles from the dough as you can, discarding the scraps (you can re-roll the scraps and cut them out, but they may yield tougher pierogi.)
- To fill, add a slightly heaping teaspoonful of filling to the center of each dough circle, and seal the pierogi by folding the dough over to create a semi-circle shape; press sealed, and using a fork or your fingers, go around to make sure the dough is pressed closed, creating a little crimp.
- Place the the prepared pierogi onto your prepared flour-dusted wax paper, and repeat with the other half of the dough/filling ingredients.
- Once all the pierogi are filled, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, then working in batches, add some pierogi into the pot; cook the pierogi for roughly 3 to 4 minutes, or until they float for about 1-2 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon to hold on a platter.
- To fry and serve, add about 2 tablespoons of butter to heavy bottom pan, and once hot, add in a batch or pierogi, frying them for a few minutes on both sides until golden, and serve topped with crispy bacon and/or onions, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Pierogi with Potato and Sauerkraut:
- Use your leftover mashed potatoes: If you happen to have some mashed potatoes already on hand, then perfect! You'll really only need about 1 cup worth. If not, simply microwave one or two russet potatoes until tender, scoop out the flesh, mash or rice it, then add a bit of butter and salt to season.
- Drain your sauerkraut well: Be sure to drain your sauerkraut well before adding it into the mashed potato mixture, as you don't want to introduce liquid into the mix. You can even pat it dry a bit, to remove excess vinegar/brine.
- Add a hint of cheese for a rich, savory note: Adding some cheese to the potato mixture is not mandatory, and I only add about ¼ cup worth. I've noticed it offers a nice little note that works well in the savory mixture that is barely noticeable yet somehow adds some depth of flavor.
- Use a wax paper dusted with flour to prevent sticking: I like to line one of my large baking sheets with wax paper that is dusted with flour to place my prepared pierogi on. They can be a bit delicate when raw, and this helps prevent sticking.
- Fry in a bit of butter before serving: Once boiled, I like to heat a heavy-bottom skillet with some butter in it, and once melted, I add in the pierogi and allow them to become golden-brown on each side for a few minutes.
- How to freeze homemade pierogi: Once you assemble the pierogi, you can place them in a single layer on some wax paper dusted with flour into the freezer to freeze; then, place them into ziplock bags, and when ready to enjoy, cook in boiling water and proceed according to instructions.
- Tasty toppings for pierogi: I love a little crispy bacon sprinkled over top of my prepared pierogi, caramelized onions are delicious as well.