This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. Betty was a fabulous cook. The sort of cook who always brought homemade tarts and jars of borscht whenever she came to visit. I hope you enjoy her recipe.
A Rainy Day Activity
Making vareniki does require most of an afternoon. It is the perfect activity for a rainy weekend, especially if you make a double or triple batch!
Here are a few reasons why we love to make these dumplings by hand:
- Homemade pierogi are so much tastier than store-bought frozen pierogies. You can stuff them with rich, full-flavored fillings.
- They are the perfect winter comfort food. Mmm, cheesy potatoes and buttery goodness.
- It’s a great way to enjoy homemade sour cream and sauerkraut.
- Vareniki freeze really well. They are a delicious and wholesome “instant” meal for those busy weeknight dinners.
How to form vareniki
It’s really easy to form vareniki. My kids have been doing it since they were toddlers!
Here are a few pieces of advice if it’s your first time:
- Stick with mashed potato fillings as it is the easiest filling. Not only is the filling dense, but it also won’t leak out if you accidentally make a hole in the pierogi. (Mushrooms are the most difficult filling.)
- Cut a 4-inch circle. Place 1 Tbsp of filling in the center of the circle and fold the circle in half.
- Pinch the dough around the edge together sealing in the filling. Brad likes to make fancy scalloped edges, but it’s not necessary.
- I like to form vareniki in the palm of my hand, but Brad works directly on the table. Try a few to see what works for you!
Homemade frozen pierogies
We always make a triple batch, then freeze the extras for quick weeknight meals.
Here’s how to freeze pierogies:
- Place the freshly formed pierogies on a non-stick cookie sheet or floured cutting board.
- Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2 to 4 hours, until the pierogi are frozen solid. (This is definitely easiest with a deep freezer, but I’ve done it in a tiny freezer too).
- Seal the frozen pierogies in a zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Cook from frozen in boiling water as described in the recipe. Or use them for a super simple sheet pan dinner.
Homemade Vareniki (Pierogi)
Vareniki are an Eastern European version of pierogi. They can be stuffed with a wide variety of delicious fillings, ranging from traditional potato and cheese to fresh berries! They also freeze well for a homemade “instant” meal.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
- Yield: 24 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: Russian
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 egg (see notes for a vegan option)
- 1/2 cup milk (+ 2 Tbsp if needed)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add in the egg, milk, and oil. If the dough seems overly dry add an additional 1-2 Tbsp of milk. The amount of liquid required will depend on the type of flour.
- Knead for 5 minutes until you get a nice smooth dough. Cover with a damp towel, and allow the dough to rest while you prepare your fillings.
- Fillings can include cottage cheese, sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, or fresh berries! We make so many different fillings that I decided they needed their post. Here are my 10 favorite pierogi fillings.
- To form the vareniki, roll out your dough to 1/4″ thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a large drinking glass, cut out 4-inch circles. Put 1 Tbsp of filling in the center of each circle. Fold the circle in half to make a semi-circle and seal the edges. See the section above for tips and tricks on forming vareniki and freezing them for storage.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop 4 to 8 vareniki into the water. Avoid crowding them or they might stick together. Boil until they float (about 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen).
- Scoop the boiled vareniki out of the water with a slotted spoon. Place them in a small bowl to drain, then move them to a casserole dish after a minute or two. Drizzle the vareniki with oil or butter to prevent them from sticking together.
- Either keep the vareniki warm in the oven or pan-fry with onions.
- Serve fresh and hot with sour cream.
- Vegan option: Homemade vareniki can easily be made without eggs or milk. Just use water instead of milk, and don’t worry about replacing the egg in the dough, just add a little extra water as needed. The vegan option works best with white flour as the gluten content makes up for the lack of egg. (I’ve made the vegan version with spelt, the results weren’t awful, but they had trouble holding in the filling).
- Normally white flour is used for vareniki, but I’ve made this recipe with wholewheat and spelt flour. However, it won’t work with gluten-free flour. Use my gluten-free pierogi recipe instead.
- For a rich-tasting dough, replace the milk with whey. It’s traditional to use the whey from homemade dry curd cottage cheese… and it’s definitely the way our baba made them!
Keywords: cottage cheese, potato, mushroom, garlic, onion, freezer meal, perogi, pierogi, fall, winter