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A plateful of pierogi topped with fried onions
Alternate name(s) Perogi
Perogy (North America)
Pirogen (Ashkenazi Jewish)
Pirohi (Slovak, Rusyn)
Pirohy (Slovak, Czech)
Pyrohy (Canadian Ukrainian)
Piruhi (Turkish) [1]
Region or state Eastern and Central Europe
Dish details
Course served Appetizer, main, dessert
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredient(s) Unleavened dough with savory or sweet filling
Variations Multiple

Pierogi are a dish consisting of boiled or baked dumplings of unleavened dough stuffed with varying ingredients. They are usually semicircular, but are square in some cuisines.


Origin and name variants

In English, the word pierogi and its variants (perogi, perogie, pierogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, pierogy, pirohy, pyrohy) are pronounced with a stress on the letter "o".

The origins of pierogi are difficult to trace. While dumplings as such are found throughout Eurasia, the specific name pierogi, with its Proto-Slavic root "pir" (festivity) and its various cognates in the West and East Slavic languages, shows the name's common Slavic origins, predating the modern nation states and their standardized languages, although in most of these languages the word means pie. The East Slavic Belarusians, Russians and Ukranians, the West Slavic Poles and Slovaks, and the Baltic Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians all consume this dish, although sometimes under a different name (e.g., kalduny in Belarus, and koldūnai[2] in Lithuania).

In some East European languages, variants of this dish are known by names derived from the root of the word "to boil" (Russian: варить, varit', Ukrainian: варити, varyty), see "vareniki".

There is a definite similarity to Italian ravioli and tortellini or Ashkenazi kreplach. In Turkey, Transcaucasus, and Central Asia round pockets of dough with a meat filling are called manti, khinkali, or chuchvara. In East Asia, similar foods are served, such as Chinese wonton and jiaozi, Japanese gyoza, Mongolian buuz, Nepalese/Tibetan momo, Afghani mantu, and Korean mandu.

Singular and plural

Pierogi are small enough to be served several or many at a time, so the plural form of the word is usually used when referring to this dish. In Polish pierogi is actually the plural, pierog being singular. In Czech and Slovak pirohy is also the plural, piroh is singular. In English, the plural is often written in an anglicized manner as pierogies.

Recipe variation

Pierogi frying


Pierogi or vareniki are half circular dumplings of unleavened dough, stuffed (singularly or in various combinations) with mashed potatoes, cheese, cabbage, sauerkraut, meat, mushrooms, or other ingredients depending on the cook's personal preferences.[3] Dessert versions of the dumpling can be stuffed with a fresh fruit filling, such as cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, peach, plum, or apple; stoned prunes are sometimes used.

Mashed potatoes mixed with farmer's cheese and fried onions is a popular filling in Poland and Ukraine. In Poland this variety is called Ruskie pierogi.[4] A popular filling for pierogi in Canada is mashed potatoes mixed with grated Cheddar cheese.


The dough is rolled flat and then cut into circles using a cup or drinking glass.[3] The filling is placed in the middle and the dough folded over to form a half circle. The pierogi or vareniki are boiled until they float, drained, and sometimes fried or baked in butter before serving. They can be served with melted butter, sour cream, or garnished with small pieces of fried bacon, onions, and also mushrooms. [5][6] Dessert varieties may be topped with apple sauce. Some Polish families in North America serve them with maple syrup.

Pierogi in various nations, regions, and ethnicities

Slovak bryndzové pirohy


In Hungarian cuisine, the equivalent of pierogi is derelye, pasta pockets filled with jam or sometimes meat.[7] Derelye is consumed primarily as a festive food for special occasions such as weddings.[citation needed]


A traditional dish in Slovak cuisine is bryndzové pirohy, crescent-shaped dumplings filled with salty bryndza cheese, or more often with unripe curd cheese (sk:Tvaroh, Quark (cheese))


Pierogi are served in a variety of forms and tastes (ranging from sweet to salty to spicy) in Polish cuisine. Pierogi were traditionally peasant food, but eventually spread in popularity throughout all social classes, including nobles. They are served at many festivals, playing an important role as a cultural Polish dish. At the 2007 Pierogi Festival in Kraków, 30,000 pierogi were consumed daily. Polish pierogi are often filled with fresh white cheese (curd), potatoes, and fried onions; in this form, they are called pierogi ruskie (Rusyn or Ruthenian pierogi), which is the most popular variety in North America. In Poland more popular are pierogi filled with ground meat, mushrooms and cabbage, or for dessert an assortment of fruits(various berries, with either strawberries or blueberries being most common). Pierogi are usually served with melted butter and sour cream, or melted butter and bacon bits. Poles traditionally serve two types of pierogi for Christmas Eve supper. One kind is filled with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms, another – small uszka filled only with dried wild mushrooms – are served in clear borscht. Leniwe pierogi ("lazy pierogi") are a different type of food, similar to lazy vareniki, kopytka, or halušky.


Ukrainian perohy are usually boiled. They are most often filled with potatoes and cheese, or cabbage, and are sometimes called vareniky. If meat filled, they're called pelmeni. They can be topped with fried onions and bacon, or butter, and served with sour cream.


The Jewish Ashkenazi version is called pirogen, which are usually boiled and fried before serving.[8] A related Jewish dish are the kreplach, which are ring shaped dumplings (which look like tortellini) boiled and served as a side dish or in clear soup.

North America

Pierogi are widespread in Canada and the United States, having been popularized primarily by Slavic immigrants. They are particularly common in areas with large Slavic-derived populations, such as Buffalo, Chicago, western Massachusetts, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, western and northeastern Pennsylvania, the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Pierogi at first were a family food among immigrants as well as being served in ethnic restaurants. In the post-World War II era, freshly cooked pierogi became a staple of fundraisers by ethnic churches.

By the 1960s, pierogi were a common supermarket item in the frozen food aisles in many parts of the United States and Canada. Pierogi maintain their place in the grocery aisles to this day.

Numerous towns with Polish or Ukrainian heritage celebrate the pierogi. The city of Whiting, Indiana celebrates the food at its annual Pierogi Fest every July.[9] Pierogi are also commonly associated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There is even a "pierogi race" at every home Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, where four runners wearing pierogi costumes race toward a finish line. The word pierogi is also a feature of the local vocabulary of the Pittsburghese dialect. The village of Glendon in Alberta, Canada erected in 1993 a roadside tribute to this culinary treat: a 25-foot (7.6 m) fibreglass perogy (preferred local spelling), complete with fork.[10]


Pierogi special at a fast-food stall in St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

The Canadian Prairies, in particular, have a large Ukrainian population, and their pyrohy or perogy (plural: "perogies", pronounced /pɨˈroʊɡi/) are very common. Since Canada also has immigrants from many other perogy-making people (not least Poles, Jews, and Mennonites), a wide diversity of recipes are used. The Canadian market for perogies is second only to that of the U.S. market, the latter having been the destination of choice for the majority of Eastern European immigrants prior to, and during, World War II.

Packed frozen perogies can be found everywhere Eastern European immigrant communities exist and are generally ubiquitous across Canada, even in big chain stores. Typically frozen flavours include potato with either Cheddar, bacon, or cottage cheese.

Home-made versions are typically filled with one of the following: mashed potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper (and frequently Cheddar cheese), sauerkraut, or fruit. These are then boiled, and either served immediately, put in ovens and kept warm, or fried in oil or butter. Popular fruit varieties include strawberry, blueberry, and saskatoon berry. Potato and cheese or sauerkraut versions are usually served with some or all the following: butter or oil, sour cream (typical), fried onions, fried bacon bits or kielbasa (sausage), and a creamy mushroom sauce (less common).

National chain restaurants also feature the dish or variations. Boston Pizza has a sandwich and a pizza flavoured to taste like perogi, while Smitty's serves theirs as an appetizer deep-fried with salsa. Some Chinese cafés in the Canadian Prairies have taken to billing their potstickers (jiaozi) as “Chinese perogies”.

Speakers of the local Canadian Ukrainian dialect call them pyrohy, which can be misheard pedaheh or pudaheh by Anglophones unaccustomed to the fast rolled-r sound, or alveolar trill. They are known as varenyky in standard Ukrainian, and pyrohy there refers to a different dish, which is often a source of confusion.

United States

In the United States, the term pierogi or pierogies is commonly taken to mean Polish pierogi. The United States enjoys the most developed pierogi market because of its having the largest Eastern European immigrant population in North America (Canada being second). Unlike other countries with newer populations of Eastern European immigrants, the modern pierogi is found in a wide selection of flavors throughout grocery stores in the U.S.

Many of these grocery-brand pierogi contain non-traditional ingredients to appeal to general American tastes, including spinach, jalapeño peppers and chicken.

Pierogi enjoyed a brief popularity as a sports food when Paula Newby-Fraser adopted them as her food of choice[citation needed] for the biking portion of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. For more than a decade thereafter, Mrs. T's (the largest American pierogi manufacturer) sponsored triathlons,[11] some professional triathletes and "fun runs" around the country. For many triathletes, pierogi represented a tasty alternative to simple pasta as a way to boost their carbohydrate intakes.[citation needed]

Pierogi consumption in the United States is largely concentrated in a geographical region dubbed the "Pierogi Pocket", an area including New York state, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, parts of the northern Midwest and southern New England. This region accounts for 68 percent of annual US pierogi consumption. Every July, in Indiana, there is a festival that is celebrated that has a pierogi theme, and, consequently, it is called the "Pierogi Fest."[12] Mrs. T's, based in Shenandoah, PA, names an annual pierogi capital of this region;[13] the 2009 capital is Binghamton, NY.[14]

Notes and references

See also


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