From gorgeous UNESCO Heritage sites to exciting city life, Ukraine has it all. The country is vast and full of natural and cultural wonders alike, but nothing compares to the wonders of Ukrainian food!
The delicious food in Ukraine and the traditions behind the foods have been lovingly built by local chefs for centuries. The delectable flavors here must be tasted to be believed, so come on a culinary journey to discover all the best Ukrainian food!
What Is Special About Ukrainian Food
Ukraine is technically a very young nation, yet its culture of cuisine dates back centuries! The agriculture and size of the country have had a profound influence on food in Ukraine. There are regional dishes and popular food that prevail throughout the large country.
The cuisine in Ukraine has evolved and includes influences from Russia, France, and the Mediterranean. The local cuisine of today has bits of traditional technique married with modern style.
Most Famous Food In Ukraine
Delicious borscht is the most iconic food in Ukraine and maybe in all of Eastern Europe! This amazing sour soup is so well-loved that it can be found served in homes and restaurants throughout Ukraine.
The key to this classic Ukrainian food is beets. The beets give the soup an enticing red color. Pickled umbels and other flavors are added to balance the earthy sweetness of the beets, making for a delectably smooth sip of Ukrainian soup!
Red borscht is enjoyed both cold and hot and can be found in a range of textures. Some like their borscht as a smooth sip, whereas, others enjoy a heartier take. No matter how you take it, borscht is a cannot-miss Ukrainian food that will surprise and delight your senses!
Traditional Ukrainian Food
Paska (Easter Sweet Bread)
The grains in Ukraine are some of the best in all of Europe so it is no wonder that their bakers are masterful craftsmen as well. The ultimate symbol of Ukrainian baking is Paska. This beautiful bread is an Easter treat that became so popular you can find it all year round.
Paska is an enriched sweet bread. Recipes often include sour cream or fresh cheese as well as raisins so you get a tasty medley of sweet and creamy flavors in the bread as well as pleasant fruity crunch. Traditionally Ukrainians bake this bread for Easter, but it’s so popular most bakeries have a year-round rendition.
Almost as iconic as borscht, varenyky is a delicious dumpling-style dish from Ukraine. This yummy Ukrainian food is so beloved that some locals enjoy it more than once a week!
Varenyky is made with simple flour and egg dough, similar to pasta dough, and then filled with a vast range of scrumptious flavors. They are boiled or in some cases pan-fried.
The fillings are often regional; in Chernihiv, they love to add bacon to the dumplings, and in Zakarpattia, they love cheesy varenyky. Anyway, regardless which filling you choose, the comforting taste of these little pillows will leave you wanting more! There is a good reason why they are so famous in Ukraine.
Holodetz (Meat Jelly)
Adventurous eaters and meat lovers will love this Ukrainian food! Although it can sound peculiar, this traditional Ukrainian dish is basically a meat jelly.
Holodetz is a classic food made to make use of the whole animal. It uses less wanted parts of the animal and the animal fat to create a molded jelly that can be sliced and enjoyed on toast, crackers, and more.
Dumplings are a very popular food in Ukraine and there are several delicious dumpling-style dishes that must be tried here. One such dish is halušky; it is an amazing soft noodle-style dumpling dish that has been enjoyed by locals for centuries.
Halušky is made from flour and egg dough. The dough is cut into tiny pillows and then boiled. These petite flour dumplings are unfilled and treated more like gnocchi than their culinary cousin varenyky. After boiling they are tossed with bacon, onions, mushrooms, and butter to make a sensational savory meal.
Korovai (Wedding Bread)
If you fall in love in Ukraine then you might need a Korovai. This elaborately decorated bread is also known as wedding bread because it is such a tradition to use this food in Ukrainian wedding ceremonies.
Korovai is made with local wheat and decorated with beautiful symbols of the couple and their families. Sharing this lovable bread with your guests is a symbol of your love for each other, your family, and Ukrainian traditions.
Typical Breakfast Dishes In Ukrainian Food
Nalysnyky (Cheese Crepe)
When you want a little savory indulgence in the morning then there is only one Ukrainian breakfast for you and that’s nalysnyky! Nalysnyky are savory crepes that are just too good to pass up!
This traditional Ukrainian food is made of crepes that are filled with cottage cheese or other fresh cheese mixed with savory herbs, especially dill. The crepes are rolled and bathed in butter before baking them into a melty, cheesy delight!
A great thing about Ukrainian cuisine is that it comprises so many delicious regions with their own amazing dishes to offer. One wonderful regional Ukrainian food is Banosh. This porridge originates in the Southeastern Hutsul region, but its flavor has inspired its spread across the country.
Banosh is made of a creamy corn porridge that is fortified with plenty of sour cream and cheese. It is traditionally served with pork crackling or bacon and mushrooms. It’s a wonderfully rich and satisfying way to feed your hunger on beautiful Ukrainian mornings!
Hrechanyky (Buckwheat And Meat Patties)
Ukraine enjoys the highs and lows of the seasons, but when the winter hits you will want a hearty Ukrainian breakfast to hold you over. Try the amazing local specialty of hrechanyky. This common breakfast food in Ukraine is made of ground buckwheat and minced meat.
The tasty mince for hrechanyky is formed into patties or balls and then pan-fried. It gives them a wonderfully crunchy and filling texture. Enjoy this food in Ukraine as a savory breakfast with eggs or yogurt or try hrechanyky as a light lunch.
Tasty Ukrainian Food For Lunch and Snacks
Ukraine is one of the world’s top potato growers. They are the fifth top producer of spuds worldwide, so many of their dishes include pretty and palatable potatoes. Deruni is a local Ukrainian favorite with a wonderfully crispy potato texture that will leave you wanting more!
Deruni is Ukraine’s take on potato pancakes. This traditional Ukrainian food is incredibly popular with home cooks and families, but can also be found in many restaurants throughout the country. They are made with riced potatoes, onions, and seasonings and then pan-fried. Deruni are served with sour cream or butter as a snack, lunch, or side dish.
Olivye (Potato Salad)
Olivye is a delectable cold salad that is popular throughout Ukraine. This wonderfully creamy cold salad makes an amazing appetizer, snack, or even a light dinner!
Olivye is made of cooked potatoes, carrots, and dill pickles then dressed with mayonnaise and seasonings. It can even be upgraded with cooked sausages or diced ham to make it even more filling. This tasty medley of Ukrainian flavors has all the right notes of saltiness, sweetness, and great texture.
Perepichka (Sausage Bun)
There is a rich culture of street food in Ukraine and one popular street snack is perepichka. It’s a savory treat you can find from vendors in all the major cities and one bite will have you wanting more!
This Ukrainian snack is composed of a yeasted dough filled with a juicy sausage and then fried. The sausage stays nice and juicy inside the soft flavorful bread exterior. You cannot visit Kyiv without experiencing this tasty textural treat!
Pampushka (Bread Balls)
Ukrainian cuisine is full of great soups and stews, which is why you will want Pampushka. This amazing side dish is the much-needed bite of bread you need when you’re enjoying rich Ukrainian soups. They are a sort of donut that can be enjoyed as a side or snack.
Pampushka comes in two varieties, savory and sweet. Both versions feature a yeasted dough made with wheat or buckwheat flour. The savory version is unfilled, whereas the sweet take is filled with jams and jellies.
The savory version is typically topped with butter and served with borscht or other soups and the sweet take is topped with powdered sugar and enjoyed like donuts.
Bublik (Ukrainian Bagel)
If you love bagels then you will love Bublik! This awesome snack food in Ukraine can be found served by street vendors and bakeries and it makes a great savory treat.
Bublik resembles a bagel in shape and has a similar flavor. It is made of a yeasted dough that is enriched with butter, milk, and a hint of sugar. The dough is shaped into rings, boiled, and garnished with seeds before baking to golden perfection.
Locals love this Ukrainian food served with tea, they will even dunk the bublik in the tea!
Komes (Potato Balls)
The local chefs are masters of elevating the potato and this traditional Ukrainian dish is the proof! Komes are amazingly crispy and delicious potato balls that residents enjoy as a side dish or snack.
These are made with perfectly mashed potatoes with onions and salty chunks of pork or bacon. Fried to crackling perfection, they are great as a complement to salads or cuts of meat.
Shkvarky (Pork Cracklings)
Everyone loves bacon but in Ukraine, shkvarky is even better than bacon! Shkvarky are mouthwatering bits of fried fatty bacon that are used both as an ingredient and a snack.
Fatback bacon is used so the pork renders into luscious yet crispy cracklings. Shkvarky is often used to make traditional Ukrainian foods like banosh and komes, but you can also snack on these cracklings with your favorite Ukrainian beer!
Vinehret (Beet Salad)
The freshness and flavor of this classic Ukrainian food is the perfect medley of vegetable flavors for a light lunch or side dish. Vinehret is a wonderful mixture of diced beets, potatoes, carrots, and peas. It is dressed with olive oil and sometimes a touch of pickle brine.
Vinehret is often made by home chefs and shared at parties and lunches; although, you will also find it on the menu at many fine restaurants. This delectable side has the right balance of vegetable freshness to make Ukrainian afternoons sparkle!
Nachynka (Cornmeal Stuffing)
If you are familiar with Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing, then this dish will be an instant hit! Nachynka is the Ukrainian take on cornmeal stuffing. This humble dish is the epitome of a simple yet welcoming local flavor.
The dish is made with cornmeal polenta that is mixed with eggs, onions, and bacon before baking into a tender and crumbly casserole. This deliciously simple Ukrainian dish is often served at holidays, get-togethers, and even weddings.
Popular Dinner Dishes In Ukrainian Food
If you grew up on Ukrainian foods then you know there is nothing as comforting or flavorful as Holubtsi. This dish is made of delectable stuffed cabbage. It is iconic local food with a welcoming flavor that is universally loved.
Holbusti is made by restaurants and home cooks alike in Ukraine and everyone has their own rendition of this classic meal. These varying recipes are a great excuse to try the same dishes multiple times from different places.
Holubtsi is made by rolling cabbage leaves around a mixture of ground meat, vegetables, and spices. The rolls are baked with a sweet and savory tomato-based sauce until every bite is wonderfully tender and filling.
Few Ukrainian foods are as recognizable as chicken Kyiv. It’s an awesome chicken dish that has been an international hit since the mid-century. This juicy chicken dish put Ukrainian foods on the map in the 1950s but it is still enjoyed today.
Chicken Kyiv is a luscious and juicy treat that might require a bib, but it’s well worth the mess! It is made of a chicken filet that is pounded to make it extra thin and then rolled around a decadent stuffing of butter and herbs.
The exterior is breaded and then fried or baked so you get every texture from crunchy to tender to amazingly juicy.
Shchavel Borsch (Sorrel Soup)
Shchavel borsch, or sorrel soup, is a beautiful Ukrainian food for visiting vegetarians to try! It is made with the wonderfully leafy and fresh flavor of sorrels. Often, this traditional Ukrainian soup is made without meat so everyone can try a bite!
Sorrel is an herb that grows abundantly throughout Ukraine; therefore, this common dish is prepared by both high-end chefs and foragers alike. The leafy and bright flavor of the sorrel is matched by a thin broth that will keep you sipping! It is served warm with sour cream in restaurants and homes throughout Ukraine.
Kruchenyky (Meat Rolls)
Many traditional dishes in Ukraine feature comforting and hearty flavors, like the local favorite, kruchenyky. This dish is a culinary adventure full of savory surprises. It is made up of a thin cut of pork wrapped around a succulent medley of mushrooms, onions, and sour cream.
Eating this classic Ukrainian dish is an experience full of familiar and comforting flavors that speak volumes about the nature of the people and land here. Try this meaty main dish with mashed potatoes or pasta to make it into a complete meal.
Machanka (Pork And Mushroom Soup)
Ukrainian soups and stews are known around the globe for their rich and filling flavors, but few are as creamy or indulgent as machanka! This amazing hot soup is a local favorite with so much creamy and earthy flavor that it’s hard to put your spoon down!
Machanka is a cream-based soup made with pork or ham and thickened with flour. It is flavored with mushrooms, onions, and dill to enhance the wonderfully rich flavor of the meat and cream. Traditionally, this heart soup is served with savory crepes that are made to be dipped in the soup and savored!
White Mushrooms à la Hutsul
Although this traditional Ukrainian food has its roots in the western region of this large country, it is so popular that you can find it served in homes and restaurants throughout Ukraine! It is a delectable vegetarian dish featuring the natural spoils of Ukraine.
This gorgeous Ukrainian dish begins with slow-cooked onions and mushrooms. The veggie mixture is served in a clay pot doused in a luscious cream sauce that is fortified with cheese and seasonings. This traditional local dish can be enjoyed as a meatless main dish or an irresistible warm vegetable side.
Desserts In Ukrainian Food
Kutia (Wheatberry Pudding)
The celebration of Christmas is a huge deal in Ukraine and it has led to the invention of some truly delicious local dishes to honor the event, including kutia.
This classic dessert consists of a hearty wheat pudding fortified with dried fruits, spices, honey, and sometimes condensed milk. It has a lovely rice pudding-like texture that warms the soul on cold Ukrainian winter days.
This wonderful holiday dessert is a must-have at Ukrainian Christmas celebrations, but you can also find it on some high-end dessert menus during the holiday season.
Syrniki (Cheesy Pancakes)
If you love cheesy desserts then you must try this classic local sweet treat! Syrniki is a delectable cheese-filled pancake that is enjoyed throughout Ukraine and beyond!
This gorgeous dessert begins with a traditional pancake batter, but local chefs take the cakes to a new level by swirling quark cheese into the airy batter. Quark is a sour cheese product with a texture similar to cottage cheese but a flavor more akin to sour cream or yogurt.
The cheesy batter is pan-fried so the outside becomes golden while the inside is lusciously cheesy. These Ukrainian cakes are served with powdered sugar, jam, or honey as the perfect local dessert!
Gamula (Baked Applesauce)
Some of the most irresistible treats in the world come from the most humble of recipes and that is true of gamula. It is a soft apple dessert that will feel familiar no matter where you call home.
This is a waste-not-treat designed by home cooks centuries ago to make use of their harvests. The apples are cooked down and mashed into a puree that is mixed with flour and honey before baking. The end result is a soft and fruity pudding-like treat that makes autumn even sweeter!
Kyivski Torte (Kyiv Cake)
The bakers in Ukraine have been putting the country on the map for decades with their inventive and appetizing treats. One of the most recognizable Ukrainian desserts is Kyiv Cake. It’s a nutty fusion of textures and flavors that will entice your sweet tooth to no end!
Kyiv cake consists of layers of soft and tender sponge cake, soft meringue, hazelnuts, and buttercream. One of the things that set this Ukrainian food apart from other cakes is its lovely cross-section.
Traditionally, this cake only has two layers of sponge sandwiching tons of creamy, sugary, and nutty filling. The exterior of the cake is finished with buttercream and crushed hazelnuts as a delectable nod to the wonders that lie inside!
Verhuny (Fried Cookie)
If you have ever had to choose between a fried dessert and a cookie then you know it can be a struggle. For anyone who has faced this tough decision, there is delicious verhuny. This treat is an awesome cross between a fried favorite and a crisp cookie.
Verhuny begins with an unleavened dough that is enriched with cream and flavored with alcohol. Commonly wine, brandy, and sometimes whisky are used to add flavor to the yummy cookies.
The dough is cut into twist-like shapes and fried to crunchy perfection. The final touch is a little powdered sugar to make the perfect bite of sweet Ukrainian dessert!
Aracia Mahshia-Bil-Goz (Walnut Stuffed Prunes)
This Ukrainian food is evidence that simple comforting food beats out fancy food every time! Walnut-stuffed prunes are a common dessert option in Ukraine. It’s a really simple yet elegant, sweet, and delightful dessert!
For this delicious Ukrainian food, chefs stuff rehydrated prunes with tasty walnuts, and sometimes chocolate and spices. A bowl of these tasty prunes is served with condensed milk or cream and you pour the cream over the dish before eating.
When the prunes and cream come together the flavor becomes sweet, luscious, fruity, and nutty. It’s a great healthy dessert in Ukraine!
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Food In Ukraine
The best way to get to know a nation is around the table; there you can communicate, share, and learn, so mealtime is really about so much more.
Compassion and creativity reign on the plate in Ukraine, making for a truly exciting culinary experience. Pull up a chair and dig into the welcoming flavor of Ukrainian cuisine and while you do enjoy some friendly conversation with the locals.
There is no better way to get to know a culture and people than around a full table! You will learn so many interesting facts about Ukraine alongside legendary stories.