Ukrainian National Food and Cuisine

Ukrainian Cuisine - Overview

Ukrainian cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking, practice and traditions associated with Ukrainian culture, culinary art in Ukraine. A lot of food products are subjected to a complex heat processing - at first they are fried or boiled, and then stewed or baked. This is the most distinctive feature of Ukrainian cuisine.

This complex heat processing allows to preserve the aroma of the dishes and gives them juiciness. Especially tasty and healthy are the dishes of meat and vegetables - cabbage rolls with meat, Volynian krucheniki, beef larded with beets, etc.

Ukrainian dishes are known for their variety and high taste qualities. Ukrainian cuisine includes hundreds of recipes: borscht and pampushki, flat cakes and dumplings, mushroom sauce, banosh, vareniki and sausages, drinks from fruits and honey, etc. Some dishes have a centuries-old history, for example, Ukrainian borscht.

Traditional Ukrainian Meal

Traditional Ukrainian meal

A lot of features of Ukrainian cuisine were determined by the way of life of the people, the vast majority of whom were engaged in heavy agricultural labor. Ukrainian cuisine is characterized by dishes rich in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. For most dishes, a complex set of components is characteristic (for example, in borscht there are up to 20 components).

In the 19th century, potatoes became widely spread in Ukraine and used to make first and second courses and side dishes for fish and meat dishes. This vegetable became the “second bread” in Ukraine - practically all the first dishes were cooked with potatoes replacing such traditional vegetables as parsnip and turnip.

Dishes of Ukrainian cuisine, especially potato dishes, have much in common with dishes of Belarusian cuisine. A lot of Ukrainian dishes by name and composition have much in common with dishes of Western Slavs. Each of the ethnographic regions of Ukraine has its own peculiarities of cuisine depending on historical events and traditions.

Main Features of Ukrainian Cuisine

  • Significant consumption of dishes from flour and cereals, in particular dishes made from rye and wheat flour, pies, dumplings, pancakes, bread with poppy and honey.

  • Predominance of boiling and stewing over frying, salting over smoking.

  • Complex heat processing of products for cooking second courses (boil then stew or fry, or slightly fry then stew).

  • Special non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages of Ukrainian cuisine are mead, kvass, sbiten, compote.

  • Sliced vegetables rather than a crushed mixture in salads, vinaigrettes. Salads and vinaigrettes were brought from Western Europe in the 19th century.

  • Variety of tastes is achieved by combining different types of heat processing, using different fats and local traditional spices such as onions, garlic, horseradish, dill, parsley, cumin, thyme, and others. Black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon appeared in the 16th-17th centuries.

  • Daily consumption of liquid hot and cold first courses based mainly on vegetables: borscht, okroshka, other soups.

  • Wide use of pork and fat, sour cream, sunflower oil, eggs.

Ukrainian dinner is served

Ukrainian dinner is served

Main Dishes and Components of Ukrainian Cuisine

Borscht and Other Soups

One of the main traditional first dishes is borscht - a soup based on beets, which gives it a distinctive red color. Borscht is cooked of fresh vegetables (cabbage, beet, tomato), pounded lard, garlic, parsley. The combination of all these groceries give the borscht its piquancy, aroma and unforgettable taste.

There are a lot of borscht recipes: Poltava, Volyn, Chernihiv, Galician, Lviv, peasant, Dnieper, etc. Such soups as cabbage soup, rassolnik, green borscht, solyanka, and ukha (fish soup) are also popular in Ukraine.


Ukrainian borscht

Ukha (Fish Soup)

Ukha (fish soup)




Salo, consisting of cured slabs of fatback, is usually used as a separate dish, mainly in raw, baked form, in the form of different seasonings, and a fat base of various dishes. Salo was one of the most important products of long-term storage, and also one that was used in travels and during lunch on a working day as a source of energy - bread, salo, and onions was enough for a whole day of hard work.


Ukrainian national cuisine - Salo

Smetana (Sour Cream)

Smetana (sour cream) is both a sauce and an important component of many dishes in Ukrainian cuisine. Sour cream is used not only in sweet and flour dishes (vareniki, cheese cakes, pancakes, etc.), but also in the first and second dishes - borscht (red and green), other soups, cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers, potatoes, etc.

Meat and Fish

Of meat products, pork is used primarily, then beef and poultry. Meat is consumed in various forms, most often fried and stewed. The most popular dishes are cabbage rolls, Ukrainian cutlets (bitki), cold-boiled pork stuffed with garlic and salo, pork, bigos, krucheniki, stuffed poultry.

Ukraine meat dishes cooked in traditional clay pots are especially delicious. Wide use of meat for cooking both the first and second dishes is typical for Ukrainian cuisine.

Fish also occupies an important place in Ukrainian cuisine. There are such dishes as crucian carp baked in sour cream, pike stewed with horseradish, carp stewed with onion in sour cream, pike-perch baked with mushrooms and crawfish, fish krucheniki, carp stuffed with mushrooms and buckwheat porridge, etc.


Ukrainian cuisine afters - Cutlets


Ukrainian cuisine afters - Krucheniki

Flour Dishes

Ukrainian cuisine is known for its varied flour dishes: vareniki, galushki (dumplings), pancakes, draniki, palyushki (croquettes). Also there is a large number of recipes for pies with different fillings: porridge, poppy seeds, meat, cabbage, cheese, etc. Such components as fruit, honey, poppy seeds, nuts are widely used in Ukrainian sweet dishes.

Vareniki along with borscht is one of the most famous and typical Ukrainian national dish: a boiled unleavened dough with different fillings (potatoes, meat, mushrooms, vegetables, fruits, berries, and cheese). Vareniki with cheese in sour cream, vareniki with poppy seeds, cherries, and blueberries sprinkled with honey are especially tasty. A simpler version is called “lazy” vareniki. They are made from a dough mixed with the filling.


Ukrainian vareniki


Ukrainian cuisine afters - Vareniki

Deruny (potato pancakes)

Ukrainian cuisine afters - Deruny

Pirog (pie) with cabbage

Ukrainian national cuisine - pirog with cabbage

Whortleberry pie

Ukrainian cuisine - Whortleberry pie

Non-Alcoholic and Alcoholic Beverages

Milk drinks are typical for Ukrainian cuisine. Melted milk, prostokvasha (soured milk) and ryazhenka (fermented milk product) are especially popular. Compote, a drink made of dried fruits, fresh fruits, berries, as well as kvass are also very popular. Tea and coffee are usual everyday drinks throughout Ukraine.

For many centuries mead remained the only alcoholic beverage of the Eastern Slavs. With the development of trade and food technologies, such alcoholic beverages as various vodka, cognacs, wines became a cultural attribute of the festive feast.

Ukrainian honey vodka with pepper deserves a special mention. It is known for its combination of conflicting tastes - bitterness of pepper, honey taste and fragrant aroma of wild herbs. In several regions of Ukraine there are favorable natural conditions for winemaking. Today, there is a variety of Crimean and Odessa wines. Transcarpathian cognacs are also becoming more popular.

Dried Fruits Compote

Ukrainian uzvar

The questions of our visitors

peace asks: Do Ukranians eat rice?
Expert's answer:
Yes, rice is used as a side dish to meat, in such dishes as pilaf, rice porridge and others.

The comments of our visitors

Dried Fruits Compote is also called Uzvar, thank you for attention. :)

This is very tasty food! I am from Ukraine originaly and I am often cooking ukrainian meals for my non-ukrainian friends and family. They just adore it :)

Clutz Cloete
Ukrainian visit
I have been doing some homework on the traditions, customs, etiquette and so on about Ukraine and to be honest I have found it so interesting and it's great to have found a website like this. Plenty of useful info and again very very interesting... Well done. Regards Clutz (South Africa)

this is good lookin food

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