Perogies were one of my go-to comfort foods in high school. My parents would keep a supply of frozen savory dumplings in the freezer at all times, enabling me to quickly heat up a plate when I needed a midnight snack or something to tide me over in the afternoon. As I became more comfortable in the kitchen, however, I came to realize that the store-bought perogies simple could not compare to the dumplings I could make at home by myself.
This shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine. Perogies (sometimes spelled perogees or perrogies or quite often pierogies) are a versatile dish with lots of room for creativity, but they’re also quite simple. A basic recipe calls for very few ingredients: a simple dough of flour, salt, eggs, oil, and water, a filling of potatoes, onions, cheese, and a pinch of spices. By keeping these ingredients fresh, you can make vibrant dumplings that taste vibrant and earthy with just a few minutes of prep time.
That said, perogies are not for everyone. Making these dumplings right is a somewhat involved process that requires a bit of practice before you can bang out a batch without thinking. In order to get you started, here’s everything I know about making perogies.
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How To Make Perogies
Perogies are made of two parts: dough and filling. The best way to make them is to boil water while you start your dough and then boil your potatoes while the dough rests. This enables you to assemble a large batch of perogies in well under an hour from start to finish.
Many people make perogies in very large batches and freeze the unused dumplings before cooking them. This is a great way to achieve the convenience of store-bought perogies while giving yourself the increased health benefits and better taste of your homemade dumplings. We’ll assume you’re making a batch that’s big enough to freeze but small enough to eat all at once if you’ve got some dinner guests.
If you want to know how to bake perogies, the answer is that you don’t.
By definition, perogies are boiled. If you insist on cooking them in the oven, try cooking at 400 F for about 10 minutes, flipping your perogies over, and cooking them for 10 more minutes or until they’re golden brown.
In order to save time, bring a large pot of water to a boil while you start this dough.
4 cups flour, all-purpose
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
Perogy Dough Directions:
First, sift your flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and stir well to combine. It’s totally normal for your dough to be clumpy here.
Next, add the sour cream and your softened butter. Work this mixture together until you get a ball of sticky dough that you can knead. Next, use your fingertips to knead the dough until it’s much less sticky. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency of your dough, cover it carefully with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge while you cook the potatoes (or for at least 20 minutes).
You’ll find some perogy recipes that call for water instead of sour cream. This reflects a slightly different style of dumpling. In these recipes, you tend to see additional ingredients added to the filling, including cream cheese, to add a bit of flavor back in. If you’d like to have a more neutral dough in order to better showcase your extra flavorful filling, try replacing the sour cream with about 3/4 of a cup of water. Add a bit less to start and adjust as needed while you knead!
In general, I find it much easier and more forgiving to work with a sour cream dough than a water dough. We don’t use sour cream in perogies because of some modern cooking technique. Instead, it’s a way of making easy, consistent dough that’s been passed along by European families for many generations. I’ll trust the time-tested traditions of thousands of Polish and Ukranian grandmothers and stick to sour cream for my dough for now.
Perogy Filling Recipe
Okay, now it’s time for the fun stuff! While your dough rests, you’ll want to cook several potatoes until they’re quite soft, then mash them with cheese, onions, and a few additions like salt, onions, and spices. Here’s a basic recipe for an extra simple perogy filling that you can adjust as you get more comfortable.
Perogy Filling Ingredients
about 4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheese (start with cheddar for basic perogies)
salt and pepper
Perogy Filling Directions
To start, add your potatoes to the pot of boiling water you started earlier. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fairly tender. If you’re adding onions to your perogies, sautee the onions in a bit of butter while you wait for your potatoes to be done. You usually want to cook off a bit of the raw onion taste without caramelizing the onions, so keep your heat low and pull them off the heat once they start to get fairly soft.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can substitute other aromatics for the onions or even add them to the mix. I’ve had wonderful perogies that used garlic, jalapenos, and shallots in the filling. Take a bit of time to experiment and come up with a recipe that works for you!
Once your potatoes are tender, drain them and let them sit for a couple minutes to let the steam evaporate so you can mash them safely. Either mash them with a fork or push them through a strainer. Stir the cheese, onions, and butter together with your potatoes as well as any salt, pepper, or spices you’d like to add. Some recipes will also add some cream cheese or another processed cheese sauce to change the texture of their filling, but I find that this distracts from the natural flavors I’m trying to bring out.
I like to let my dough rest in a covered bowl on the counter while I lay out my dough in the next step.
How To Assemble Perogies
Now that you’ve got your dough and filling all ready, it’s time to put things together. This is the best stage of cooking to freeze your perogies at. You can simply throw them into boiling water to finish cooking them whenever you’re ready. If this is what you’re going for, place your assembled perogies on a cookie sheet and throw the whole sheet in the freezer, then transfer the perogies to a plastic bag once they’re frozen. Otherwise, you can simply put them on a cutting board until you’re ready to cook a batch in boiling water.
To make perogies, lay out about a quarter of your dough. Roll it until it’s 1/8″ thick and cut out 2″ circles or squares. Any scraps can be added to soups that you make later or simply cooked alongside the perogies and served with them. You’ll repeat this process with the remaining 3/4 of the dough in a moment.
Spoon a heaping teaspoon of filling into the middle of each dough square or circle. Fold the dough over gently and form a pocket around the potato and cheese mixture. Firmly pinch around the edges of the pocket to seal the dumpling. If you want a fancy appearance, you can then press the edges of your dumpling with a fork.
If you’re freezing your perogies, you’re all done for now — just transfer your newly made dumplings to a cookie sheet to be frozen. If not, I like to assemble my perogies in batches of eight or so to be cooked. Too many perogies and you crowd the pot. Too few, and cooking takes forever since you have to cook so many batches. Be sure you have a slotted spoon and a container for your cooked perogies ready before you start.
Your assembled perogies should be boiled in a large pot of salted water. Simply drop them in and boil them, uncovered, until they float up to the surface. As soon as they float, they’re all done! Remove them with a slotted spoon and let them dry out for a little bit before proceeding to the next step. This process will be much faster if your perogies are fresh, not frozen.
In any case, many perogy recipes call for the perogies to be lightly sauteed in butter along with onions or shallots before they’re served. If you’re a fan of this style of preparation, simply add the perogies to a frying pan along with a little bit of butter and some chopped onion (or shallots). Sautee until the perogies get slightly brown and crispy.
Some perogy recipes don’t stop there. If you’ve got a deep fryer, consider par-cooking your perogies in the water and then finishing them in the fryer. Simply dunk them in boiling water until you think they’re about half cooked and then fry them until they’re a bit crispy. This method of preparation is enjoyed in both America and Eastern Europe.
Perogies are often served with melting butter, sour cream, or even fruit jams to use as a dipping sauce. Some families like to add things like bacon, peppers, or mushrooms to the top of their perogies before serving them. Again, there’s no limit to what you want to add to your perogies! Experiment with your favorite foods and make the recipe your own.
Alternate Filling Ideas for Perogies
If you’re after something a bit more adventurous than the basic perogies recipe above, here are some ideas for things you can change to really amp things up.
1. Vary the Cheese
While cheddar cheese is an American staple, it gets old after a while. Try using different cheeses and see what happens! I find that mild cheese like mozzarella ensure that my guests scarf down perogies with lightning speed, while more interesting and strong cheeses ensure that they savor each bite to enjoy the unique flavor.
2. Add A Fruit Filling
Instead of cheese and potatoes, try including the sorts of things you’d add to a pie. Half of a fresh strawberry and a bit of strawberry jam will satisfy any sweet tooth. Cook the perogies as above in salted boiling water, then lightly fry in butter and dust with powdered sugar. Consider adding a bit of ricotta to the filling or even using it as a garnish.
3. Spice Things Up
I’m a sucker for spicy food. Try sauteeing some hot peppers and adding them to your perogy dough or using them as a garnish at the end. You’ll get a little kick to your perogies that will help you savor each delicious bite. If you want spicier perogies, use spicier peppers or cook them less before adding them to the filling.
4. You’re Bacon Me Crazy
Adding bacon to recipes is pretty much cheating. In this case, it gives a wonderful subtle pork flavor to your perogies that can really set them apart. You can add a bit of cooked, chopped bacon to the filling, toss some bacon on your perogies as a garnish, or use bacon grease instead of butter when you’re cooking onions at either stage of the above recipe.
5. Stuff With Meat
Instead of simple potatoes and cheese, consider using a filling based around minced meat. Traditional Eastern European perogies are often filled with beef, poultry, or liver. You can simply cook ground beef with your favorite aromatics, add a dash of sauce, and spoon this cooked meat mixture into your perogies instead of your normal potatoes and cheese filling. You can even mix the two or combine various ideas. Try meat and cheese or meat and potatoes for different combinations of flavor and texture.
Sauerkraut is very much an acquired taste for some people, but if you’re one of the folks that like it, try stuffing your perogies with the stuff. Perogies in this style are a big part of Eastern European cuisine. You could even add a bit of corned beef to make Reuben perogies!
To be clear, you probably don’t want to just spoon sauerkraut into your dumplings and cook them straight. Instead, one authentic recipe suggests that you rinse your sauerkraut thoroughly under cool water, then sautee it in a saucepan with butter, garlic, and a pinch of sugar and caraway seeds. Simmer over low heat until the sauerkraut is quite brown, at least forty minutes. Rinse and drain overnight in cheesecloth.
Perogies Around The World
While you might be most familiar with cheese and potato filled perogies, in many parts of the world the term simply refers to a dumpling cooked in boiling water. Perogies are quite popular in many Eastern and Central European countries including Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and both Baltic and Slavic countries. They’re also quite popular in the US and Canada, although North American perogies often are prepared a bit differently than their European counterparts.
In Europe, perogies are enjoyed with many types of fillings. They’re often filled with sweetened fruit and served as a dessert or stuffed with a mix of meat, mushrooms, and cabbage in order to have all of the components of a complete meal in a single dumpling. Many Europeans enjoy perogies that are stuffed with things like sauerkraut, eggs, mushy peas, or even buckwheat.
One of the more interesting differences between different cultures’ perogies is the cheese that’s used. Savory Polish perogies often use a type of farmer’s cheese called quark, while sweet Polish perogies usually use sour cream as a sauce. Slovakian perogies are usually served with sour cream even when they’re savory, however, and Hungarian perogies are often filled with cottage cheese.
In American and Canada, all bets are off. The United States has historically been a cultural melting pot, meaning that Hungarian and Polish immigrants might have shared their favorite perogy recipes and incorporated some ideas from their neighbors from all around the world. While the traditional American perogy might be made with a basic filling of potatoes and cheese, you can find perogies with fillings inspired by basically every culinary culture you can think of. This means you can find perogies with salsa, Chinese mother sauce, or even poutine inside of the dumplings.
How Do Homemade Perogies Compare With Frozen Ones?
I’m a firm believer that perogies you make yourself will taste a lot better than anything you buy at the supermarket. Here’s why:
1. Ingredient Control
The companies that make frozen perogies sometimes cut corners to save some money on ingredients. They’ll also use ingredients that will store well instead of ones that taste the best. This means that you’ll often enjoy your homemade perogies much more, even if you’re not doing anything fancy with the recipe.
Perogies keep for a decently long time in the freezer, but they taste best when they’re fresher. Perogies that you made a few days ago and froze yourself will taste pretty good, while store-bought perogies often have been shipped across the country before sitting in the freezer aisle for a week, and that’s before you even take them home.
You know what you like. If you make perogies yourself, you get to buy fresh local ingredients that you love to eat and use them in either the filling or the topping. This might mean fruit perogies filled with local strawberries, potato and cheese perogies made with your favorite cheese, or even a decadent celebration of bacon with extra pork at every step. You might be able to buy a frozen perogy variety that comes close to what you want, but you can’t modify it to fit your whims.
Perogies are really, really cheap to make. Your basic ingredients are flour, potatoes, eggs, and cheese. These are not expensive in the slightest. While making perogies can take an hour or so, it also can save you quite a lot of money. If you make a big batch and freeze part of it, you can enjoy many homemade perogies for a small fraction of the cost of buying a big box of frozen ones.
5. Ingredients You Have
You don’t have to go to the store to get more homemade perogies. Chances are, you probably have all of the ingredients you need at home already. The incredibly basic set of ingredients enables you to whip up a batch of perogies without leaving the house. Even if you’re out of a common filling ingredient, you can simply substitute pretty much anything you enjoy eating and make a different kind of perogy instead!
6. Equal Convenience
It doesn’t take very long to make a big batch of perogies and freeze them yourself. This means that you can do an hour of work on Sunday and enjoy fresh, homemade perogies for the rest of the week. In other words, you can basically match the convenience of a box of store-bought frozen perogies.
Serving Leftover Perogies
If you don’t freeze your perogies immediately, don’t worry! In Europe, it’s actually incredibly common to save leftover perogies and then fry them in a bit of butter. Savory perogies are usually fried alongside onions, while sweet ones are often dusted with sugar before being served. While you can fry fresh perogies in the same way (and many people do), this frying process really helps add a bit of life to an otherwise lackluster leftover dumpling.
Garnishing Fresh Perogies
As I mentioned earlier, many cultures serve their perogies with a multitude of condiments, cheeses, sauces, and other additions. Here are some ideas for things to put on top of your perogies to help keep things exciting.
This timeless classic can be added to a perogy at any stage. Simply toss some bacon bits on top of your savory perogies to add a bit of complex meaty flavors.
Green onions are bursting with a unique flavor that goes wonderfully with most savory perogies. Chop up some of these and sprinkle them on top to add a bit of color and plenty of taste.
3. Sour Cream
In Europe, sour cream is served alongside both sweet and savory perogies. If your perogies are sweet, consider mixing the sour cream with a bit of sugar to create a more appropriate dipping sauce. Otherwise, consider mixing in other suggestions, like scallions or bacon.
4. Fruit Glaze
A simple mixture of fruit juice and sugar makes a brilliant addition to any sweet perogy. You can match it with the filling or use a complementary flavor to up the complexity of your dish. Either way, the glaze or syrup is a great way to add color to a plate of plain brown perogies.
5. Fried Onions
If you’re frying the perogies themselves, you probably added some onions to flavor the frying oil. Throw them on top to add a little bit of extra onion flavor to your savory dumplings.
Perogies aren’t quite pancakes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t liven up a stack of perogies with plenty of butter. You can have a dish of melted golden goodness for your guests to dip their perogies into or simply drizzle a small amount on top.
7. Maple Syrup
Fruit perogies go wonderfully with this thick, sweet syrup. It’s an especially good pairing for Canadian-style fruit perogies.
8. Cottage Cheese
While it’s not necessarily as dipping-friendly as cream cheese, cottage cheese goes incredibly well with some types of perogies. Its texture can add a unique layer to the perogy experience!
There’s a famous Canadian dish that involves potatoes, cheese, and gravy. Perogies often involve two of these things already. Add a third to create a kind of poutine dumpling!
Are Perogies A Christmas Food?
Many cultures enjoy perogies year-round, but they’re part of important seasonal celebrations in a handful of countries. Polish Christmas traditions often involve munching on perogies in a variety of different styles during a family gathering. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy a perogy during any month of the year. Instead, they’re like turkeys in the US — a turkey dinner doesn’t necessarily mean it’s Thanksgiving, but a Thanksgiving dinner will almost certainly have Turkey.
Perogies: A Cheap, Easy Dish
Perogies aren’t simple, but they’re pretty easy. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make a pretty big batch of these dumplings in about an hour that you can cook immediately or freeze for a week or two. Your homemade pierogies will be better tasting, cheaper, and infinitely more customizable than the stuff you get at the store. It’s a great way to flex your cooking muscles while saving money and ensuring that you’re eating healthy meals.
Even if you don’t see yourself becoming a pierogi regular, try making a batch or two yourself for the experience. You’ll add a valuable recipe to your arsenal that you can break out whenever you’re down to just flour, cheese, and potatoes. Perogies are one of the mainstays of my kitchen that help ensure I always have a meal I can prepare, even if I’m out of many other ingredients.