Ukrainian Foods to Eat in Ukraine

Ukrainian cuisine is a delightful fusion of bold flavors and rich cultural history. From hearty soups to scrumptious dumplings, these dishes are deeply ingrained in the country’s history and traditions. In this article, we’re exploring 10 must-try Ukrainian foods to eat in Ukraine that will make your taste buds dance with joy.

The cuisine is also particularly special to me, as I have Eastern European blood and grew up eating many of these dishes. Visiting the country in 2021 took me back to my childhood. It’s one of the reasons why I have a passion for food. It has the power to transport us to any place at any time. So, buckle up and join me on a culinary journey through Ukraine!

Introduction to Ukrainian Cuisine

The country’s cuisine is a delicious blend of culinary influences from its neighboring countries and its own rich history. It is characterized by its use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and simple yet diverse cooking techniques.

From the Tatar and Turkish influences in the Crimean peninsula to the Polish and Hungarian flavors in the western part of the country, Ukrainian cuisine is a fascinating blend of diverse culinary styles.

Ukrainian seafood in Odessa | David's Been Here

The hospitality of the Ukrainian people is legendary, and this is evident in their cuisine. Sharing a meal is an essential part of Ukrainian culture, and guests are always welcomed with a hearty spread. As you explore the rich flavors of the top Ukrainian foods to eat, you’ll also experience the warmth and hospitality of the Ukrainian people.

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Borscht: Ukraine’s Famous Beet Soup

Borscht is undoubtedly one of the most iconic Ukrainian foods, and a trip to Ukraine would be incomplete without tasting this delicious beet soup. This vibrant, ruby-red soup is made with a variety of vegetables, namely beets.

Borscht, arguably one of the most famous Ukrainian foods to eat in Ukraine | David's Been Here

Cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes join the beets in a rich broth seasoned with herbs and spices. Great borscht has a delicate balance of sweet, sour, and savory flavors, bolstered by a dollop of sour cream.

Vareniki: Delightful Dumplings with Various Fillings

Vareniki are tender, crescent-shaped dumplings. They’re are a staple in Ukrainian cuisine and are made with a simple dough and a variety of sweet and savory ingredients.

Vareniki, a type of Ukrainian dumpling, with cherry sauce | David's Been Here

Popular fillings include potatoes, cheese, mushrooms, cherries, and even poppy seeds. Vareniki are usually boiled and come with a generous dollop of sour cream. Others serve melted butter or caramelized onions on the side. I ate vareniki in nearly every city I visited in Ukraine. They are easily one of my favorite Ukrainian foods to eat!

Holubtsi: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Holubtsi, or stuffed cabbage rolls, are yet another delicious and hearty Ukrainian dish that you must try in country. These rolls are essentially a savory filling of minced meat, rice, and onions, wrapped inside tender cabbage leaves. 

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Holubtsi, stuffed Ukrainian cabbage rolls in Kyiv | David's Been Here

The rolls then simmer in a rich tomato sauce. The result is a flavorful and satisfying dish that is perfect for a family dinner or a festive celebration. I tried it in Kyiv and couldn’t get enough of it. It’s another of my top Ukrainian foods to eat!

Deruny: Crispy Potato Pancakes

Deruny, or Ukrainian potato pancakes, are a simple yet delicious dish that is perfect for breakfast or as a side dish. These crispy pancakes consist of shredded raw potatoes and onions. The cooks then mix the shreds with flour and eggs.

Deruny, a popular Ukrainian food to eat that's similar to latkes | David's Been Here

After that, the cooks form the potato-and-onion mixture into patties and fry them until golden brown. The result is a crispy, savory pancake that pairs perfectly with sour cream or applesauce.

Syrniki: Sweet Cheese Pancakes

Syrniki are a delightful Ukrainian dessert that is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. These sweet cheesy pancakes contain cottage cheese mixed with flour, eggs, and sugar. 

Syrniki, one of the best Ukrainian foods to eat in Ukraine | David's Been Here

The cook then fries them until golden brown, like a traditional pancake. Syrniki often come with sour cream, honey, or jam, and are a popular breakfast or snack.

Kozak Kulish

Kozak Kulish is a hearty Ukrainian porridge that is perfect for a cold winter day. This dish contains buckwheat groats, chicken or pork broth, onions, and garlic. Sometimes it comes with a dollop of sour cream on the side.

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Kozak Kulish, a hearty Ukrainian porridge with vegetables | David's Been Here

Kozak Kulish is a filling and nourishing carb-rich dish that is perfect for giving you energy. It’s real stick-to-your-ribs food, and is incredibly hearty. It’s one of the best Ukrainian foods to eat on a cold day!

Salo

Salo is a traditional but often-misunderstood Ukrainian dish that is a staple in the country. It’s essentially cured pork fat, often served raw or cooked. It’s a staple of Ukrainian cuisine and is a common sight in the country’s markets. Salo is a versatile ingredient that’s common in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, and sandwiches. 

Salo, a type of cured pork fat, that's extremely popular in Ukraine | David's Been Here

It can add flavor to other dishes, but is also great by itself or with bread and crackers! On more than one occasion, vendors fed me several types of salo so I could try them all. It’s among the fantastic Ukrainian foods you must eat and will blow you away!

Banush

Banush is another of the traditional Ukrainian foods you must eat. This dish consists of cornmeal cooked in milk. Sour cream and fried bacon often accompany it on the side.

Banush is a simple yet delicious dish that is perfect for a comforting meal. Other popular toppings include roasted vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, and cheese.

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Banush, one of my favorite Ukrainian foods to eat | David's Been Here

I tried it in Lviv and the country’s Transcapathia Region near the Hungarian and Slovakian borders. It’s like hearty, meaty grits with an Eastern European twist, and is one of my favorite Ukrainian foods to eat.

Chicken Kyiv

Chicken Kyiv is a classic Ukrainian dish that’s famous around the world. It consists of a chicken breast stuffed with butter and herbs. After coating it in breadcrumbs, the cook fries it until golden brown.

Chicken Kyiv, arguably one of the most popular Ukrainian foods to eat around the world | David's Been Here

Garlic and thyme are also common ingredients as well. Chicken Kyiv is a flavor-packed dish that’s crispy, buttery, a bit salty, and comforting. It’s a must on any list of Ukrainian foods to eat in Ukraine!

Try the top Ukrainian foods to eat in Ukraine

Ukrainian cuisine is a delightful fusion of diverse flavors and rich cultural history, offering a unique culinary experience to food lovers. From the iconic borscht to the sweet syrniki, Ukrainian food has something for everyone.

A variety of vareniki | David's Been Here

As you explore the rich flavors of Ukrainian food, you’ll not only savor the taste but also experience the warmth and hospitality that are synonymous with Ukraine and its people. So, take a trip to Eastern Europe and savor the incredible Ukrainian foods to eat in Ukraine!

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