Nana’s Authentic Ukrainian Pierogies Recipe (aka Pedaha)

When I think about my sweet Ukrainian Nana, the first two things I think about are love…

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Baby Eric!

And FOOD! When I was growing up, she was constantly making something. Canned everything, jams, birthday cakes with coins inside and buttercream icing, shortbread CHRISTMAS COOKIES!!!

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Banana splits every time I stayed overnight, Easter dinners, homemade pizza, lasagne, cabbage rolls, and of course, pierogies.

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Looooved her pierogies. She used to make batches of them and send them along to us. It was always such a treat. Those pierogies remind me of childhood. In my family, we always called the pierogies pedaha. I think it is a Ukrainian thing.

My Nana turned 100 a couple weeks ago, so for her birthday celebration we made some of her favourite dishes. My cousin sent me Nanny’s pierogi recipe, and I was on pierogi duty.

The pierogies are not overly difficult to make, but they are definitely time consuming. I made them over two evenings, after work. Along with wine, which I always recommend when cooking.

Filling ingredients:

  • 6-8 large potatoes (I actually used 10 because I didn’t want to run out, and I had a bit of mashed potato leftover)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (so I used a pre-shredded bag of cheddar and mozzarella, and I definitely noticed a difference between my filling and my Nana’s. Hers was more yellow in colour and just a bit tastier. Nana is adamant about the sharp cheddar cheese)
  • Salt to taste (Nana uses a lot, always. Salt in everything)

Dough ingredients:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 1/2 lb butter (one cup) 
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp sour cream (secret weapon!)
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Yield – 55-60 pierogies

Filling directions:

As my cousin tells me, our Nana used to boil the potatoes with the skins on, and then peel them after they were soft. As you can imagine, trying to peel boiling hot potatoes is not a fun time. We think Nanners did this to add more flavour to the potatoes, but I’m sure it isn’t necessary. My cousin Chrissy has made these a bunch of times, and she followed Nanny’s directions to a T and finally she was all “Why am I trying to peel these boiling hot potatoes?!” so, yeah. Peel the potatoes and then chop them up prior to boiling. Much more boiling-friendly. Add chopped onion to the peeled, chopped potatoes.

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You can do this the night before and leave in the fridge if it’s easier (I did, but not necessary).

Once the potatoes are boiled and soft, you can remove the onion or keep it in the filling. I chose to keep the onion in, because I LOVE ONION.

Add cheese and more salt if you like (Nana likes!), and mash those puppies up.

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Dough directions:

Nanny suggests that you boil the water and add the butter, and then wait for the butter to melt and the water to cool. My cousin assumes this was because when Nana was first making her pierogies there were no microwaves. This is silly. Melt the butter in the microwave. Use lukewarm water, add the butter, eggs, and sour cream. Mix together, and then add the liquid to the flour.

You can use an electric mixer if you like, but I know our Nana is all about using her hands. This is how she inserted her love into everything she made (and love makes things taste better). So make sure your hands are nice and clean, and then mix that dough up. Knead it until it is smooth with no floury bits.

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It doesn’t look like much, but it goes a long way.

You can also make the dough the night before and use chilled dough the next day, but I actually found that warm dough worked best for me. It is the opposite of Nana’s shortbread Christmas cookies. In that case the dough is easier to work with when chilled because when it’s warm it sticks to evvvvverything! But with the pierogi dough I found the stickiness to be manageable. I also use parchment paper with my Nana’s Christmas cookies, and roll the dough between it, but for the pierogies I did not because I found using parchment paper was actually more of a hinderance. I know my Nana likes to feel that dough with her fingers!

Get a good handful of dough, and put it on a well-floured surface (the flour is KEY for no stickiness).

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Also put flour on top of the dough. Roll the dough into 1/8 in thickness.

Use a cookie cutter or a cup to cut in 2″ circles. Add a spoonful of filling in the middle.

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Seal by pressing the edges together. If the edges are not sealing, dampen them with water. Create your semicircle of pierogi deliciousness.

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After cutting your circles in the dough, put your leftover dough scraps back in your bowl of dough to be re-rolled.

Repeat until you have all the amazing pierogies.

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Place in a singler layer on a baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth, and then freeze the pierogies. Once frozen, lightly flour, put them in freezer bags, and back into the freezer. This stops them from sticking to each other (for the most part, I find it is almost unavoidable to have a little stickage once you cook them, even with Nana’s pierogies – I remember them being a bit sticky).

To cook the pierogies, boil water, salt, and some butter, and throw in 10-15 pierogies at a time. Once they rise to the top they are ready!

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These ones were boiled and then buttered by the staff at Willows Estate, I just brought them in frozen.

You can fry them afterwards if you like, but our Nanny never did, so I have always liked them just soft and doughy like she used to make them.

Eat them with lots and lots of sour cream! (and salt!!!)

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Nanny loved her own pierogies when I made them for her birthday!

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Did I mention she’s 100?!

So go forth and make your pierogies and enjoy them with your family!!!

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Photo source – quite the article written about our Nans on her birthday 😀

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48 responses to “Nana’s Authentic Ukrainian Pierogies Recipe (aka Pedaha)

  1. That doesnt seem so hard! Pirogies, here I come!! PS- I think if you drop the boiled potatoes in cold water the skin slides right off? I think I saw a lifehack or youtube video about this

    • How are you so knowledgeable about all the random things? The origin of internet troll, boiled potato skins…I am impressed. Anyway if that is true about the skins my Nana was before her time!!! Imagine all the life hacks she knows.

  2. These sound AWESOME!!!

  3. Oh no no no! There is no cheese and no onion in my gram’s pierogies. Admittedly, everything else seems like a bastardization to me. But, maybe it’s just that my grandfather liked plain food?? I’ve never known her to make anything but plain potato filling. Weird! So amazing she shared the recipe with you. That.is.PRICELESS!!

    • Hahaha, I can completely understand that. If anyone made my Nana’s pierogies differently I’d so be the same. That’s funny though about your grandfather, maybe she adapted her pierogies and now that is your family recipe 🙂
      My cousin has Nanny’s original in her handwriting!

  4. Sour cream in the dough is def. the secret weapon! I tell people this all the time and they look at me like I am nuts. It makes such a tender dough!

  5. This is the exact recipe that I use for pierogies except I but bacon in the cooked chopped bacon in the filling because bacon makes everything better!

  6. Love how you added that Nanny’s hands add love into each dish she makes for us !! SOOOOO true ! Loved seeing you the other week and Loved your Perogies !!

  7. I so love pedaha. I’m not Ukrainian but my stepdad is so I got to indulge in all the Ukrainian trimmings at the holidays. Pedaha, cabbage rolls, borscht, cabbage buns (pyrizhky pronounced pereshkay with your r sort of rolled and sounding like a d, hehe). So funny because if someone said “how many potatoes do you need to make 55 – 60 pierogies?” I would have guessed 12 – 15.

    • Borscht! My cousin scanned our Nana’s original borscht recipe and just sent it to me. I’m going to have to try to make it. Mmmmm I love all the Ukrainian foods. My mouth is watering.
      I thought 6-8 did not sound like enough in the potato department, so I upped it but I think 8 would have been fine. And I really jammed that filling in! Those pierogies were full!

  8. Oh man these look amazing! I happened to have pierogis for dinner last night, but they were the silly frozen ones 🙁 Since I can’t find ones with bacon inside (like the person above), I add it on top with the sour cream.

  9. Oh man…can you come to Australia and make these for me? They look/sound so delicious!!!

  10. I made these over the weekend and they are delicious!! Seeing this post in my inbox was perfect timing, too. My hometown hosted their annual pierogi fest last weekend, and I was super bummed out that I couldn’t make it as I live several states away. Luckily, I was able to make my own :). Thanks a lot!

  11. Jillian Derlycia

    pedaha is an old term that is no longer used, I use to speak Ukrainian with my great grandfather and have been told the dialect I use was obsolete now. Regardless of what they are called, they are delicious! The trick is to get the dough just right and you can fill them with whatever you wish. Personally I grew up with the potato filling but have discovered farm sweet cheese and fruit ones and all sorts of variations on the types of fillings are just as yummy. Thank you for sharing this!

  12. This post makes my heart so warm. I laughed as I read it growing up in a Ukrainian family. My Nanny always made the best pierogies (and kapusta! yum!!) I’m glad to know that sour cream is the Ukie condiment of choice, and it isn’t just my crazy family that seems to drown everything in it 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  13. Hi. In the dough you ask for 1/2 pound of butter. But then in brackets you say (half a stick). A stick of butter is 1/4 of a pound.

    Just want to confirm: is it half a pound – or half a stick which would in turn be 1/8th of a pound.

  14. its baba not nanny, and sour cream in the dough is too rich…..hurts the stomach………….

  15. My grandmother too made Pedaha, I still recall her wood cook stove warming the kitchen. She would bake them in an old white porcelain pan then coat with butter and toss it the hot pan while holding with only her apron. God she was a tough old bird, all 5 feet of her.

  16. How anyone can eat a non fried pierogi is beyond me. Fries to golden crispy goodness with onion, served with sour cream is the only way to eat a Pierogi. Not fried is like something one would get off a roach coach.

  17. Yours are one of the VERY FEW Authentic recipe for dough and filling that I’ve seen on the internet! YEAH! PERFECT! I did a search and I would see ‘authentic pierogies’.. then they would say… ‘ this is my nana’s recipe they was handed down generations, but I changed it up a bit…’ – I found myself holding my breath.. THEN ITS NOT your nana’s recipe and judging your ingredients its not an authentic recipe! I saw the additions of cream cheese (I am not sure poor ppl in the old country had cream cheese to add to pierogy.. but I’ve never heard of it).. and so many other ‘strange ingredients like garlic. Authentic dough had salt, flour, water and oil/lard., filing was mashed potatoes, farmers cheese and sometimes onlon. SO happy you shared this.

  18. Pedaha!!! Haven’t heard that in years but I still use that word, don’t hear many ukrainians use it anymore. I didn’t know what cheese potato perogies were until I was in my teens. My mom always made with cottage cheese, or onion/dill.

    • Diane Armstrong Kane

      When I have been to Ukraine no one knows the word Pedaha. We called it
      Perhair. Haha. My cousins who live there would tell me this is an unknown word. Is there a region in Ukraine where Pedaha is more specific?

      • When I was a kid I thought it was “pettah hair” haha. I have no idea where it came from, my Nana just called it pedaha so we picked it up from her. I have another Ukrainian friend whose family also calls it pedaha, but it’s definitely not widely used.

  19. my gramma made pedaha as well as she was Ukrainian. She added to the mash potato filling, sauerkraut, fried diced salt pork and bacon, no cheddar cheese. then she would place the cooked pedaha in a large bowl and toss the cooked pedaha with onions which had been sauteed in butter, fried salt pork pieces and crumbled bacon. then top it with sour cream…delicious!!!

  20. Hi
    Im just wondering as you also call it pedaha like my Granny (Baba)…did your Nana ever bake something called baked pedaha? My Granny would make this! Have been looking for recipe! It was little buns filled with rice & cittage cheese or dessert ones like blueberries! She would bake & then for ounches she would warm up very slow in a pot on top of stove….mmmm! They were to die for…you put butter & whatever other topping inside once you cut the petite bun in half…omg! The absolute best!!! 🙂 It must be like a doughnut dough cuz I always remember with the left over dough she would make little doughnuts! 🙂 Like cake doighnut kind of…the actual buns were soft, quite light almost similar to a flaky bun…if you have a similar recipe…would absolutely love the share!!! 🙂 Been searchibg for years! 🙁

    • I wish my nana made that, it sounds delicious!!! But no, we’ve only had the traditional pedaha. But if you find that recipe please come back here and let me know because that sounds amazing and I want to try it!

  21. Can’t wait to make them for my family😁

  22. Lorie howard

    Very beautiful nana her pierogies look delicious I will try to make them thanks lorie😍😍

  23. I’m making these this saturday! What kind of potatoes do you use? Russet?

  24. Ray Thibaudeau

    My mother was Ukrainian and always made perogies when I was young. We all loved them. I am 62 now and mama has been gone more than 25 years. Anytime I had asked her for her recipe she would laugh and tell me ‘just add a few handfuls of flour, a couple of eggs and a pinch of salt and some shortening’. I think she really didn’t want to give out her recipe. I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters and none of us have her recipe. We always craved her perogies. One thing she added to some of her pierogis, but not all, was sauerkraut. She would add some sauerkraut to the mashed potatoes. WOW! Those were so delicious, but I have never seen anyone mentioned that they used sauerkraut in theirs. We always loved to eat them as soon as they came out of the boiling water, but we loved them even more the next day when she would fry them and pour sautéed onions and butter on top. Yum! My mother never used cheese or sour cream either, but it sounds delicious. I am planning on trying to make this recipe tonight. Hopefully, it comes out as delicious as hers. I will keep you posted.

  25. My late mother in law used a similar recipe for the dough and I was attempting to find the recipe as my husband doesn’t like any other. This is it. Dough is soft and tasty, yet very easy to work.

  26. First of all, I really appreciate you sharing this recipe. However, I am currently concerned that I just wasted a lot of time and resources making three batches of dough because you had the butter wrong. I used half a stick, as you mention, but did not realize it was incorrect until I looked at the comments. Could you please fix this so that no one else runs into the same problem? I am really hoping I did not just ruin all of this dough. Thanks!

    • Oh man, I’m sorry, I meant to fix that. It is one half pound or one cup. Hopefully your dough turns out okay. You may want to try adding extra butter into it and mixing, it’s pretty forgiving! Thanks for the reminder, I’ll fix it.

      • I have made these for years on Christmas; half filled with a potato & onion and half with sour kraut (YUM!). I recently moved and discovered my cookbooks are in storage so was tickled to find your recipe. Thank you so much! Merry Christmas!

  27. My husband’s Nana made these using some of the water from boiling the potatoes to make the dough. She used farmer’s cheese in her potato ones. Nana also made sauerkraut ones: Squeeze the liquid from the ‘kraut, add onions chopped onion sauteed in butter & a pinch of salt for the filling. She called both types varenyky or pyrohy (pronounced pier-row-hay). When I make them, I make a third type, more Polish or Russian} with browned ground beef or lamb mixed with the potatoes & cheese. Thank you for sharing your recipe and your photos and story about your Nana. She’s lovely.