Array of the most typical dishes of Ukrainian cuisine

Typical Foods and Drinks of Ukrainian Cuisine

Last Updated on May 2, 2023

Every country has its culture and cuisine, and Ukraine is not an exception. Ukrainian cuisine is famous for its diversity, high nutritional value and delicious taste. This is due to an excellent geographical location (namely, a uniquely fertile black soil), climatic conditions suitable for growing grain and various plants, and partial culinary influence from other surrounding countries. The following is a list of typical foods and drinks of Ukrainian cuisine. Read on to learn more about them and remember that, in your next visit, you are more than welcome to try them.

TAKEAWAY: If you are a foreigner traveling to Ukraine or other Eastern European countries, you may think of one question after eating there for a few days: why do Ukrainians put sour cream on every dish? The use of Smetana (the local name for sour cream) is a long tradition, from when most people didn’t have access to many different or big amounts of food. Sour cream was so easy to make, it filled their stomachs when the food was scarce, and it paired with any dish, sweet or savory.

Ukrainian appetizers


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Borsch is the flagship of Ukrainian cuisine, widely known abroad. It is a vegetable soup with beets at the heart of the dish which give it its characteristic color. It can be served either hot or cold. When hot, it resembles a stew, and it may include some meats. On the other hand, when served cold is a soup that is normally accompanied by sour cream as the perfect seasoning. Being such a well-known dish there are many recipes for making borsch, almost to the point of each household having its own.

Kapusnyak is cabbage soup, and, as the name suggests, cabbage or sauerkraut is the main ingredient. It can be fresh or pickled, depends on the acidity the cook wants in the taste of the dish. It includes several more vegetables and is usually prepared with pork stock.

Rassolnik is a meat or fish soup with pickled cucumbers which give the soup a distinctive tart flavor. This dish can also include offal, cereals or vegetables. Rassolnik is believed to be a great hangover cure.

Ukrainian main courses


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Varenyky is the name for Ukranian dumplings, and it’s also one of the most popular national dishes next to borsch. You can find dumplings filled with cherries or cheese, or even with potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage or meat. With a sweet filling, they can even become a dessert dish. Varenyky are also a typical Christmas meal in Ukraine.

Baked ham is a typical Easter meal in Ukraine. The whole piece of meat, usually pork hip, is baked with sauce or butter. It goes as a snack or even a separate hearty dish, often served with bread.

Zrazy is a meat roulade. The slices of meat are rolled and stuffed with rice, buckwheat, mashed potatoes, etc. While zrazy is originally a Lithuanian food, Ukraine has its own version of the dish, called potato zrazy. This variant uses a potato mash instead of meat for the outer layer. Therefore, it’s a potato bun filled with vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, etc.

Ukrainian desserts


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Nalysnyky are thin pancakes rolled and stuffed with meat or cottage cheese. Nonetheless, they can also be stuffed with sweet fillings and are served with sour cream, fruits, honey or jam.

Kyiv Cake is one of the most popular desserts and a symbol of Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev. It’s a layered cake which includes airy pastry, crunchy hazelnut meringue, jam and a topping of buttered cream. A proper kyiv cake is finished with some colored buttercream flowers on top that make it recognizable.

Syrnyky are what you could call Ukrainian cheesecakes. They are small pancakes or fritters made of a dough to which cheese has been added. Although they can be sour or sweet, they are normally served sweet with honey or jam for breakfast or dessert.

Ukrainian drinks


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Good drinks in Ukraine are greatly appreciated. Most popular drinks are usually those obtained due to fermentation such as mead (an alcoholic drink made of a fermented mix of honey, water, and yeast), nalyvka (a homemade wine made of fermented cherries and several types of berries) or kefir (fermented milk, similar to yogurt). Uzvar and other compotes are also loved here.

Vodka as a kind of national drink turned out only in the XIV century, but a vast number of tinctures are made using it as a basis, especially several liqueurs made from berries, fruits, even dried fruits. One of the most famous Ukrainian alcoholic drinks based on vodka is Varenukha. It consists of mixing vodka with dried fruits, honey, and spices. It is served hot, after cooking it without bringing it to a boil.

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