Best Ukrainian Foods: Traditions and Recipes


If you are interested in getting a Ukrainian spouse, then you must have already studied all the perks of these women. I’m sure that you came across the statement that Ukrainian women are wonderful cooks and Ukraine is famous for its tasty dishes. Perhaps, you’ve already heard such words as borshch or varenyky. If not, you are going to learn these and many more Ukrainian foods.

Ukrainian food recipes

Ukrainian Cuisine among Other Cuisines in the Modern World

When we speak about a particular country, we mention such things as culture, traditions, mentality, values. In order to gain a better understanding of a person, you need to know this person’s background. If you are involved in international dating, it means you accept people of different cultures and you are ready to learn more about them. National cuisine is a part of people’s culture. Ukrainian cuisine is unique as any other national cuisine. It’s closely connected with country’s history, geography, and lifestyle. There is a famous adage that we are what we eat. In the context of this article, eating habits, rituals, and favorite foods can tell much about the citizens of a particular country. Let’s gain insight into Ukrainian cuisine.

Ukraine is famous for its various traditions and customs that have been kept and practiced throughout the centuries. Its food culture formed a long time ago and it has its peculiarities. The variety of tastes and flavors is amazing. Fertile soils and moderate climate facilitate the agricultural variety. Therefore, Ukrainian recipes include different homegrown products. The culture of Ukraine was largely influenced by the lifestyle of peasants, and the village is still believed to be the cradle of Ukrainian culture and the village dwellers – to be the true bearers of the cultural authenticity. If you want to feel the national color, you should visit a Ukrainian village and see everything with your own eyes.

Ukrainian cuisine recipes are quite simple although almost each of them has a long list of ingredients. It’s the combination of products (which sometimes seems unreal) that makes each dish unique.

Ukrainian recipes Being often referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe”, Ukraine lives up to this nickname as various grain crops have been grown here. No wonder, many national dishes are made with flour and bread is the staple food in Ukraine. It comes in different types and shapes, and it is a very much honored product, almost sacred. It is always put first on the table, and it’s forbidden to throw away the leftover pieces and even crumbs. Those should be carefully picked or swept with a napkin into the hand and given to pets or livestock. Of course, nowadays the rules are not so strict, but bread still has a special meaning in a traditional Ukrainian meal.

Pickled vegetables and fruit are a part of the national diet. They are a great substitution of fresh vegetables and fruit during the cold season. It’s almost impossible to imagine a meal without pickled cucumbers and tomatoes in winter. Many pickles are added to different national dishes.

If we look at Ukrainian dishes in a broader context, we’ll see that some of them are similar to some dishes of the neighboring countries (Belarus, Russia, and Poland). The cuisine of the western regions of Ukraine includes some Hungarian dishes. Nevertheless, Ukrainian dishes, even if they are borrowed, are unique since they are made of local products and according to local traditions. Today, some Ukrainian dishes can be found in the restaurants in other countries. However, if you want to experience the real taste of traditional Ukrainian meal, you should do it in a real Ukrainian family or a rural guesthouse.

Traditional and Ceremonial Foods

Some Ukrainian dishes are cooked on holidays and special occasions. Ukraine can be called a religious country and many local traditions are connected with religious feasts. Also, some ceremonies require special menus. Sometimes food has a symbolic meaning. During Ukrainian wedding ceremonies, for example, parents and guests sprinkle the newlyweds with grains and nuts – wishing them wealth and many children.

Korovai (round decorated wheat bread) is Ukrainian wedding bread. It’s a centerpiece at a wedding and it symbolizes the blessing the parents and guests give to the couple. At the end of a ceremony (today, at the end of a wedding party), it is shared among all guests. Apart from weddings, korovai is used during the welcome or bread-and-salt ceremonies.

Kutia, a ritual cereal dish made with wheat or barley grain and ground poppy seeds/raisins/honey, is cooked three times during the Christmas holidays (Sviatky), from 7 to 19 January. It’s a symbol of sacrifice and remembrance.

The week before the Lent is called Masliana in Ukraine. These are the last seven days before the Lent when Orthodox Christians are allowed to eat everything. After that, they must obey the food restrictions (no meat, dairy products, sweets till Easter). Popular dishes during Masliana are mlyntsi (pancakes), nalysnyky (cottage cheese-filled crepes) with sour cream, and varenyky. Many traditions are connected with Easter. It is the most important religious holiday of the year for Orthodox Christians. Many dishes are prepared specifically for this day: paska, Ukrainian Easter bread decorated with religious symbols made of dough, krashanky (colored eggs), kovbasa (sausage), etc.

In August, another important religious holiday is celebrated – Spas, or Transfiguration Day. There is a tradition to eat apples with honey on this day (many kinds of apples ripen by this day).

The main meal for Ukrainians was dinner and all family members gathered around the table to share it. There are many traditions connected with national foods. The Ukrainian food recipes have been passed from generation to generation, and today Ukrainians still cook and enjoy traditional meals.

Top 10 Ukrainian Foods and Meals

Traditional Ukrainian food is various and extremely delicious. It’s quite difficult to single out five or ten best dishes. You must taste all of them. While it’s possible to buy some foods in a Ukrainian food store online, it is better to sample famous Ukrainian food in Ukraine in authentic restaurants, guesthouses, or families. Here is the list of Ukrainian foods and dishes you must try.

1. Borshch

If you want to know the most typical Ukrainian dish, then borshch is definitely the one. It’s traditional beetroot soup. It is served in all Ukrainian homes, and it’s considered to be a duty of every Ukrainian woman to know how to cook it. Borshch is cooked differently across Ukraine. The ingredients are the same but the taste is always different. Basic ingredients include potatoes, red beets, cabbage and other vegetables which are boiled in the beef broth. The best borshch is cooked in northern and western parts of Ukraine.

Ukrainian food recipes 2. Chicken Kyiv

This dish takes its name after the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. It’s a popular dish of boneless chicken breast pounded and rolled around herb-flavored butter, then fried or baked. It’s served in many local restaurants of national cuisine and even abroad.

3. Salo

Sometimes it’s joked that salo is a kind of national drug. This famous Ukrainian food is actually the hard raw fat from the back of a pig. It is eaten raw, boiled, fried, or smoked. It tastes best salted, on a slice of dark bread, and with garlic. This Ukrainian sandwich goes perfectly with borshch.

4. Deruny

Allegedly invented in neighboring Belarus, deruny, or potato pancakes, are an integral dish of Ukrainian cuisine. They are made of grated potatoes, flour, and eggs. Ukrainians often call potato their second bread, because most dishes contain potatoes. Deruny are served with sour cream and sometimes fried onions.

5. Kholodets

Do you want something authentic? Try kholodets, a Ukrainian aspic. This is a cold snack consisting of meat and jelly. It takes quite a while to cook it. First, meat and bones boil in water for 6 hours, then the broth is poured into a separate container and bones are detached from meat. Pure meat with some vegetables is poured with the broth and put into the fridge until it hardens. This traditional Ukrainian food is sometimes frowned at by Ukrainian children and some foreigners. It’s usually served with horseradish.

6. Holubtsi

This is one of the Ukrainian food recipes that have a foreign origin. However, holubtsi have long been a popular Ukrainian dish. They can be described as stuffed cabbage rolls. The filling consists of minced meat, rice, fried onions, and carrots. It is wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves and the rolls are stewed with sauce. Holubtsi are usually served with sour cream.

7. Kovbasa

Kovbasa, homemade sausage, is a traditional Ukrainian Easter food, but it’s also prepared for other occasions. It can’t be compared with sausage we buy in stores. Its flavor is unforgettable and its taste … you must try it. How is it prepared? Thin casings are stuffed with chopped meat, fat, and spices. After that, they are either baked in the oven or fried on a pan.

8. Uzvar

Ukrainian Christmas food is various and plentiful. Uzvar should be among 12 compulsory dishes on Christmas Eve. It’s a traditional Ukrainian drink made of dried fruits, such as apples, pears, apricots. It’s actually a compote but a unique one that you should definitely try.

famous Ukrainian food9. Varenyky

Ukrainian dumplings, varenyky are easy and cheap to cook. The dough is a mix of flour, water, and salt. Stuffing is diverse. It can be mashed potatoes with mushrooms, pickled cabbage, minced meat, cherries, blueberries, etc. Varenyky with potatoes are usually served with fried onions and sweet ones – with sour cream and sugar.

10. Nalysnyky

This is a popular Ukrainian dessert. Nalysnyky, or Ukrainian crepes, can have different fillings, but the most popular one is sweetened cottage cheese, sometimes with raisins. Berries or jams are also possible. If nalysnyky are stuffed with meat, they are great for lunch.

Ukrainian food recipes are numerous and diverse. Ukrainian cuisine is one of a kind and incredibly tasty. In Ukrainian culture, food plays a uniting role. Meals are the occasions when families gather together. Ukrainian holidays and rituals are also connected with food. The fact that lots of traditional dishes are still cooked by contemporary Ukrainians is a proof that food habits are deeply ingrained in their culture and lifestyle. Explore Ukraine, its culture, and its hospitable people.