Every Russian and Ukrainian household has grown up eating Vareniki dumplings. They are an Eastern European staple, known in many countries by many different names. There are so many different ways to stuff them, from the Americanized Potatoes and Cheddar Perogies, fruit filled, to these Tvorog or Farmer's Cheese Vareniki (Вареники с Творогом). They are similar to Russian Pelmeni Meat Dumplings.
There are many Farmer's Cheese Vareniki that are made slightly sweetened and served with fruit, but not this recipe. We grew up eating these savory dumplings, slathered with homemade sour cream. You can even add fresh chopped dill into the Farmer's Cheese mixture. I love fresh dill, most Russians eat it by the truckload!
Who invented Vareniki?
This is always a fun question when politics collide with food. Slavic Dumplings are known by many different names in many countries. In Poland, they are known as Pierogi, in Slovakia as Pirohy, in Hungary as Derelye, in Ukraine and Russia as Vareniki.
It's considered that Vareniki originated in modern day Ukraine, but are also considered by Russians are part of their shared food cultures. One thousand years ago, Kievan Rus was a federation of Eastern Slavic tribes, with power mostly consolidated in Kiev. Slavs from the Kiev region colonized what is now Moscow. The same blood and shared food history of these nations go back for many centuries.
Vareniki with Cottage Cheese
Sometimes it's hard to find Farmer's Cheese or Tvorog in a supermarket. In this recipe, I use the word Tvorog and Farmer's Cheese interchangeably. All Russian deli stores have Tvorog. You can also use German Quark. I have an easy Farmer's Cheese recipe you can make at home. Other times it's easier to use Cottage Cheese. If you are using Cottage Cheese, do not use the creamed Cottage Cheese, but find a dry curd instead. I find the Creamed Cottage Cheese filling is too runny.
When making the filling, if the Farmer's Cheese you bought or made is less dry than you'd like, start mixing one egg, as you dont want to have your mixture too runny. It shouldn't be juicy.
How to Make Vareniki
Every tasty dumpling begins with a great dough recipe! Mine is really simply and versatile for any Slavic dumplings, see other recipe ideas below. Mix together flour, egg, salt, oil and water together until it makes a sticky ball. Knead it using your hands for about 5 minutes. This will feel like forever, but keep going for 5 minutes! Cover it with a bowl and allow it to rest for about an hour (can use it at 30 minutes if in a hurry).
While the dough is resting, make the Farmer's Cheese Filling. Mix together the Farmer's Cheese, eggs and salt. It's that easy! Roll out the dough to about ⅛" thick on a floured surface and cut some 3" dough circles. Place a spoonful of tvorog filling in the centre of the circle. Carefully fold in half and pinch to seal the Vareniki shut. Careful not to have the filling touching the edges, or it will unseal in the water.
Place the Vareniki on a tray and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Place the individually frozen Vareniki into a Ziplock bag for an easy dinner later. This is such an easy recipe that makes such an easy dinner after a busy day at work! Making Vareniki is great as a group activity. Sounds strange, but invite friends over, everyone making Vareniki, and share your hard work. It goes much faster in a group!
Vareniki Filling Ideas
- Savory Tvorog, Farmer's Cheese or Quark
- Potato and Caramelized Onion
- Potato, Bacon and Onion
- Potato, Cheddar and Onion
- Fresh Blueberries, Strawberries or Cherries
- Sweetened Tvorog
- Potatoes and Mushrooms
How Long to Cook Vareniki?
If you are making fresh Vareniki, you will likely want to eat some right away! This is the faster way to cook them. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully drop your Vareniki in them, and cook them until they start to float. This will take 5-7 minutes. The Vareniki are ready when the pasta dumpling dough is ready. Using a spoon, carefully stir the dumplings as they can stick to the bottom of the pot. The trick is to be so careful when stirring, that you don't tear the Vareniki! Frozen Vareniki will take a few minutes longer.
How to Serve Vareniki
After removing the dumplings from the stock pot, either with a slotted spoon or into a colander, place them into a bowl. Toss them with a few slices of butter, until they are all coated in buttery goodness. Serve with sour cream, homemade is best! If you have leftover Vareniki, fry them in a frying pan with a few teaspoons of butter. All dumplings taste better fried in butter. Leftover Vareniki that are fried in butter are my favorite way to enjoy them, slathered in sour cream!
Check Out My Slavic Dumplings
- Classic Pelmeni with Beef
- Pelmeni Using a Mold, with Turkey
- Manti - Central Asian Dumplings with Beef and Pumpkin
- Georgian Khinkali Dumplings
- Potato and Cheddar Perogies
Vareniki are Slavs ideal comfort food, made sweet or savory. Make ahead and flash freeze them on a tray before freezing in Ziploc bags for an easy meal later on. Homemade always taste best. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
How to make Vareniki dough
- 4 cups flour plus ¼ cup extra flour for kneading
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup lukewarm water
Farmer's Cheese Filling
- 2 lbs /1kg Farmer's Cheese or Tvorog
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix the flour and salt, place into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Crack the egg and add oil into the flour. Using a fork, stir into the flour. Slowly add the water while kneading, until the dough forms a sticky ball.
- Continue to knead the dough on a floured surface until dough is soft but not sticky. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
- Cover the dough with a bowl and allow to rest for about an hour. If you're in a hurry you can use after 30 minutes of rest, but an hour is best.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the Farmer's Cheese filling. In a bowl, mix together Farmer's Cheese, eggs and salt until combined.
- Roll out the dough about ⅛" thin on a lightly floured surface. Using a 3" cookie cutter, cut out circles. Re-mix, roll out and reuse the extra dough to make more circles. Cover the dough that you aren't using so it doesn't dry out.
- Place a spoonful of filling in the centre of the circle. Carefully fold in half and pinch to seal the Varenik shut. Careful not to have the filling touching the edges, or it will unseal in the water.
- Place the Vareniki on a tray and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Place the individually frozen Vareniki into a Ziplock bag for an easy dinner later.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the Vareniki into the water and boil until they float to the top, about 5-7 minutes. Frozen Vareniki will take longer. Serve tossed in butter and sour cream.