From the sandy beaches of Odesa to the bustling city life of Kyiv, there is something in Ukraine to fulfill every traveler’s dreams. It is a country with a big imagination and a powerful sense of pride. Nowhere can you see those qualities more clearly than in Ukrainian desserts and cuisine.
Local chefs have created a culinary tradition that is masterfully inspired and truly sweet! Taste Ukrainian creativity firsthand with some delectable treats and desserts in Ukraine.
What Is Special About Ukrainian Desserts
There is so much that makes the local cuisine here spectacular, but some of the most notable contributions from local chefs have been to the world of desserts.
Ukrainian pastries and desserts have style and comforting flavors that are common across all their areas of cuisine. Their sweet focus is on simple yet special flavor and texture combinations that will delight with their familiarity.
Ukraine is also a major producer of grains, which has led local chefs to craft some truly one-of-a-kind desserts and pastries.
In addition to being influenced by agriculture, Ukrainian bakers build on centuries of culinary traditions and pull influence from other European countries and beyond. All of these fun facts of Ukraine come together to make truly astounding sweet cuisine!
Most Famous Dessert In Ukraine
Kyiv Torte (Kiev Cake)
Kyiv torte or Kyiv Cake, has been a bakery staple and an international favorite since the mid-1950s. This nutty yet creamy cake has everything dessert lovers dream of. It is full of varying textures and satisfying sugary flavors that will have you head over heels with just one bite.
This classic Ukrainian cake is made with an airy sponge cake that is topped with a light ring of meringue and then filled with jam and hazelnuts before finally being capped with one more sponge.
The entire cake is frosted with silky buttercream, decorated with crushed hazelnuts, and sometimes dusted with cocoa powder. It is the perfect marriage of texture and flavor and it tastes great with tea or coffee on a nice afternoon!
Traditional Ukrainian Desserts
Syrnyk (Sweet Cheese Pancake)
Syrnyk is a popular dessert throughout Ukraine due to its complex sweet and cheesy flavor! These fluffy cakes are made with soft cheese. They resemble an extra-thick pancake but with so many more interesting flavors.
The rich batter that forms the foundation has quark cheese mixed in. Quark is a young soft cheese with a uniquely sour flavor that makes every bite sing with bright, sweet, and cheesy flavors.
Syrnyk is commonly served topped with powdered sugar, honey, or jam. They make an unbelievable dessert, but locals occasionally like to eat this cheesy indulgence for breakfast in Ukraine as well.
Varenyky (Sweet Dumplings)
Varenyky is instantly recognizable to any local. They are delectable local dumplings that are prepared in homes and restaurants throughout the country. Many people know the savory rendition of varenyky with its lovely cheesy or potato fillings, but sweet varenyky is the real star.
Sweet-filled varenyky are made with light flour and egg dough that is pressed into lovely sheets and then filled and sealed. Their filling is made with bright sour cherries or sometimes blueberries. The varenyky are boiled or pan-fried and served with a syrupy fruit sauce to create some of the most special Ukrainian desserts.
What some people from North America may consider a typical breakfast many Europeans like to enjoy for dessert; which is true of sinfully sweet Nalysnyky. This amazing Ukrainian dessert is a baked delight made with creamy cheese-filled crepes.
For this traditional treat, wheat crepes are filled with cottage cheese or quark cheese and then arranged in a baked dish. Some variations may add savory herbs to the cheese, but the best takes are the sugary ones!
Nalysnyky is served with browned butter, cream, honey, or jam. They make a great Ukrainian breakfast or an unforgettable dessert!
Paska (Easter Sweet Bread)
Paska is a beautiful Ukrainian bread that is made to celebrate Easter and no visit to Ukraine in the springtime is complete without this treat! It is a wonderful sweet bread made with an airy yeasted dough that is enriched with egg and butter.
The dough is braided into a gorgeous knot of sweet bread. Often embellishments, like crosses and leaves, are added to enhance the lovely appearance of this local bread.
Unlike its springtime cousin the babka, this bread is not commonly glazed. This Ukrainian dessert bread is served at local holiday celebrations as part of the festive dessert spread.
Kutia (Wheat Pudding)
For many locals, the Christmas holiday celebration would not be complete without this dessert.
Kutia is a traditional Ukrainian dessert with a ton of symbolic significance. It is a Christmas Eve treat that is prepared to honor loved ones past and commemorate their hopes for the coming year.
Kutia is made with wheat berries, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and honey. Some variations swap some or all of the wheat berries for pearl barley.
Pecheni Yabluka (Baked Apples)
Ukraine is known for its abundance of apples and in the autumn, apple treats rule the dessert scene!
Pecheni yabluka is one of these deceptively simple yet incredibly tasty Ukrainian desserts. Made from freshly picked apples, they take full advantage of the agricultural blessings in this country.
The apples are hollowed out and filled with a tantalizing blend of walnuts, oats, flour, and brown sugar. They are then baked until the filling is nectarous and the apples are tender.
The result is a medley of crunchy, soft, sweet, and fruity elements that will make your mouth water!
Ukrainian Cakes For Dessert
Yabluchnyk (Apple Cake)
Yabluchnyk is a fruity Ukrainian dessert that is absolutely incomparable! This comforting treat instantly makes you feel at home in this beautiful country. Yabluchnyk is a traditional apple cake that is popular among both commercial bakeries and home bakers; it is that classic!
This Ukrainian cake is made with wheat flour, eggs, butter, and of course delectable fresh apples. The apples are arranged on top of the unbaked cake and it is topped with a crumbly cinnamon streusel topping. The cake bakes into a soft, cinnamon and apple-infused wonder that makes fall days even fresher!
Perekladanets (Ukrainian Christmas Cake)
Fortunately for sweet lovers, the Christmas baking season sticks around all year in Ukraine in the form of this delightful layered cake! Perekladanets are small Ukrainian cakes traditionally baked to celebrate the winter holiday season. However, this treat has become so popular that it is now available all year long.
‘Perekladanet’ translates to ‘to layer’ which is appropriate because these lovely cakes are made on delicious layers of yeasted cake and filling. The cake portion of the treat is leavened with yeast and flavored with cream and citrus zest.
Popular fillings for the cake include poppy seeds, dates, and walnuts. Each layer has a distinct color and texture making every slice of this great cake into a work of art!
Zapekanka (Farmer’s Cheese Cake)
One of the most simple yet luxurious cakes in Ukraine is Zapekanka. It is a comforting, sweet, and creamy cake with a dense texture that makes it perfect for afternoon tea or an extra-sweet breakfast. It is superb when enjoyed plain or topped with fruity sauces, and zapekanka pairs wonderfully with a hot cup of tea!
Zapekanka is made with fresh farmer’s cheese, which is a soft, curdy cheese with a bright and creamy taste. The cheese makes the cake nice and tangy but it also gives the treat a nice dense texture that is similar to North American cheesecake. Some versions of the treat even include raisins or cherries folded into the batter for extra excitement.
Medivnyk (Honey Cake)
If you cannot get enough of the syrupy sweet taste of honey then you need to try these sensational Ukrainian sweets! Medivnyk are dense and sugary honey cakes that satisfy as a sweet dessert in Ukraine or even a fun breakfast.
The heart of this tremendous cake is a mixture of buckwheat honey, nuts, and spices. It is a wonderfully dense and sweet cake that is considered an essential piece of Ukrainian culinary history.
Vafelʹnyy Tort (Ukrainian Waffle Cake)
Ukrainian waffle cake is a show-stopping dessert with color, style, and oh-so-much flavor! This traditional torte is made of gorgeous layers of colorful wafers filled with dulce de leche.
Since these Ukrainian desserts are so simple, they are very well-loved by home cooks. Many kids grow up knowing the familiar flavor of Vafelʹnyy Tort as a sweet afternoon treat. That nostalgia certainly adds to its status as a timeless classic dessert in Ukraine.
Traditional Ukrainian cakes are known around the globe for their style and flavor. One excellent example of a Ukrainian cake baker’s skills is the indulgent local treat of walnut torte.
This is a gorgeous layered cake made with the amazing flavor of walnuts in every bite! It is filled with coffee cream and iced with a light coffee-infused buttercream.
You can find walnut torte at just about every bakery in Ukraine and it is best when enjoyed with a warm cup of tea or coffee.
Ukrainian Pastries And Bread
Ukrainian babka is a traditional Easter bread similar to paska. Babka is a familiar bread around the world but what sets the local rendition of this sweet bread apart from others is its unique tall and cylindrical shape.
It’s made with a decadent dough that is enriched with butter, cream, eggs, and a hint of citrus. Some renditions include dried fruit and glazing the finished babka is up to the baker’s preference.
This tasty Ukrainian bread is served at Easter celebrations and sold at bakeries to celebrate the sweet occasion.
Makivnyk (Ukrainian Poppy Seed Roll)
Local bakers have a delicious way with yeasted doughs. The yeast-leavened cakes and breads made here are second to none.
One truly terrific example of this is makivnyk, a wonderful poppy seed sweet roll. It is made with a luscious buttery dough that is filled with a mix of poppy seeds, honey, and dried fruits. The whole dough is rolled into a spiraled log of flakey, buttery, and sweet pastry.
Makivnyk tastes wonderful when enjoyed at celebrations or just to celebrate any beautiful day in Ukraine.
Pampushky (Ukrainian Doughnuts)
You could travel around the world and never find a doughnut as soft, pillowy, or delicious as this tremendous Ukrainian dessert! Pampushky are the local take doughnuts and they are some of the best doughnuts you will ever try! You can find these sweets at street vendors and restaurants all over Ukraine.
This airy dessert starts with a yeasted wheat dough that is fortified with butter and cream. The dough is cut into circles and wrapped around a filling of sweetened poppy seeds and fruit. The tasty pockets of poppy seed are then fried to golden perfection.
Pampushky has two classic renditions, a savory and a sweet, but the sweet take really takes the cake!
Trubochki (Rolled Filled Pastry)
Many Ukrainian desserts are influenced by their time in the Soviet Union, so they share some commonalities with Russian sweets. One such Ukrainian dessert is Trubochki. These sweet-filled pastries are common in Ukraine, Russia, and other post-Soviet nations, and it’s clear why they’re so popular; they taste amazing!
Trubochki is made with thin wafer-like pastries that are filled with luscious condensed milk cream. These crunchy and creamy desserts are a must-have for holiday celebrations but they’re also a great way to turn any day in Ukraine into a party!
Vatrushka (Cheese Buns)
Soft, tender and totally cheesy vatrushka is an instant hit with anyone who likes their treats with extra delicious cheese flavor. Vatrushka is a local cheese-filled pastry or bun that has satisfying notes of sweetness, tanginess, and wonderful airy texture.
They are made with a fluffy yeasted dough and in the center, they are filled with so much luscious sweet cheese your mouth will water from the sight of them! Their creamy filling is made from a blend of farmer’s cheese, sugar, and cream.
This Ukrainian treat is great for dessert, sweet snacking, or even an indulgent sweet breakfast!
Ukrainian Sweets And Cookies
Sochniki (Farmer’s Cheese Cookies)
Ukrainians have a true knack for everything dairy and many desserts in Ukraine celebrate this talent, including Sochniki. These cheese-infused desserts have been tantalizing locals for decades and it only takes one bite to see why!
Sochniki is light, crispy, and cheesy cookies. They are made with a thin sweet dough that is stuffed with fresh farmer’s cheese and then baked. The cookies come out with a lovely crispy shell and a soft sweet and tangy cheese center. It’s the ideal balance of textures and flavors and they’re not too sweet to eat more than one!
Kartoshka (Potato Candy)
You might shudder to think of eating potatoes for dessert, but don’t worry Kartoshka are not root vegetables at all, but rather a delicious chocolate sweet!
Kartoshka means potato and these sweets are named after spuds due to their appearance and not their flavor. They are decadent cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles that bear a slight resemblance to dirt-caked potatoes, hence the name.
When you bite into these yummy potatoes all you will get is a mouth full of soft, luscious chocolatey flavor! These Ukrainian sweets are great on their own or with a hot cup of coffee!
Horishky (Walnut Cookies)
If you are nuts about sweet treats then you need to try this deliciously nutty Ukrainian dessert! Horishky is an amazing bite-sized cookie with the shape of a walnut and a surprisingly sweet filling.
The crispy cookie shell is sweet and flaky but inside is the real treat. When you crack into these sweet nuts, you will find a luscious dulce de leche center.
This local treat is commonly served at celebrations and sweet snack times, but fair warning – good luck eating just one of these nutty delights! It’s one of those “once you pop, you can’t stop” kind of desserts in Ukraine.
Kiflyky (Half Moon Cookies)
Kiflyky has an origin that is up for debate, but one thing is certain, Ukrainians have been preparing them for decades and they are downright delicious! Kiflyky are crescent-shaped cookies with a sensationally sweet and crumbly texture.
Ukrainian fiflyky are made with a short cream-infused dough that is studded with chopped-up bits of dried fruits like currants or raisins. The cookies are baked into lovely little moon shapes and dusted with powdered sugar to give them a delectably festive look.
Meat Grinder Cookies
Meat grinder cookies are Ukraine’s answer to the spritz or butter cookie. They are wonderfully buttery and sandy with a sweetness that cannot be compared!
The somewhat intimidating name comes from the method with which the cookies are shaped. The buttery short dough is pressed through a meat grinder to give it a distinctly ridged shape.
These traditional Ukrainian sweets are often served dusted with powdered sugar and fruity jams.
Pechyvo Snihova Shapka (Snowcap Cookies)
If you cannot get enough sugary sweet meringue in your life, then you will adore these sugary Ukrainian cookies.
Snowcap cookies are named for their mountainous appearance, but these peaks are made of sweet meringue studded with walnuts and coconut. The meringue sits atop a shortbread cookie that melts in your mouth transporting you to your own sugar mountain paradise!
Hrybochky (Mushroom Cookies)
Imagine wandering through a magical forest full of sweets and that is what you will get from this unforgettable Ukrainian dessert! Hrybochky is a traditional holiday sweet made in the eye-catching shape of a mushroom.
This earth-inspired treat has a flavor that is nothing like the shape might imply. They are made of a wonderfully sandy and light shortbread dough that is flavored with sour cream and walnuts.
To enhance their already lovely appearance the cookies are brushed with a milky glaze to give them a dewy sheen. This treat is a common inclusion in holiday celebrations but they also make a great sweet snack!
Discovering Traditional Desserts In Ukraine
Life in Ukraine is full of sweet moments enjoying the seasons and good times with the warm local people. It is made even sweeter by the luscious, stylish, and flavorful desserts here to discover across this vast country.
Treat your sweet tooth to a little indulgence and learn just how delicious life in Ukraine can be! Just remember to save some room in bags to bring the delectable taste of Ukrainian desserts home to your favorite people!