A step-by-step guide on how to make the classic Russian Pelmeni Recipe. Thin dough rolled out and filled with a garlic chicken and pork filling then tossed in butter and served with sour cream. Comfort food at its finest.
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what is pelmeni?
Pelmeni are meat dumplings originating from Russian cuisine and now popular in most European kitchens. The unleavened dough is filled with seasoned ground meat and boiled, then tossed in butter and served with sour cream or vinegar.
Pelmeni can be made with a mold (like THIS one), or by hand and we’ll go over both in detail in this post.
what is pelmeni dough made with?
Traditional pelmeni dough is made with water, egg, salt and flour. However, I love what milk does to the dough. The dough comes out soft and pliable and so easy to roll out and work with. If you’ve never tried adding milk to the dough, you must give it a try.
how to make pelmeni dough-
In a stand-up mixer (with a dough hook) or in a bread maker, add the water, milk, egg and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the flour and mix until dough is pliable and easy to work with. The consistency of the dough should be thick and not stick to your hand. Once you allow the dough to rest about 30 minutes, covered so it doesn’t become dry.
TIP: If you are making a large batch of the pelmeni, bread maker does much better than a stand-up mixer.
what filling do you use for pelmeni?
The most traditional meats for pelmeni are either ground pork and beef or a mixture of pork and beef, or pork and chicken, or even beef and chicken. Though we like pork and chicken best, whenever I am making a large batch of dumplings to freeze, I typically do all three types of meat (pork, chicken, and beef).
how to make pelmeni filling-
In a bowl, mix together the ground chicken and pork, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, dill, vinegar and water. Refrigerate until ready to use.
how to shape pelmeni (with mold)-
Generously dust pelmeni mold with flour (so the dough won’t stick).
Cut off and roll out enough dough to cover the pelmeni mold. Fill each hole with meat (don’t overfill or you’ll have a hard time getting the pelmeni out). Roll out another dough to cover the top of the filled meat. With a rolling pin, press on the dough and keep rolling until the shapes of the pelmeni are separated.
Flip over the mold and gently push out the pelmeni. Transfer to a well-floured plate or platter and repeat until remaining dough and filling is used.
how to shape pelmeni without mold (and have NO leftover dough)-
This is a method my mother-in-law taught me, and I just love it. I love that you don’t have any leftover dough that gets tougher to roll out ever time you reuse it.
Divide the dough into three balls. Take one ball and roll out the dough until thin, we don’t like a lot of dough so I roll ours out really thin.
Take the dough and begin by overlapping until all the dough is used and shape looks like an accordion. Cut the dough into even strands (the bigger the strands, the bigger the dumpling will be).
Once cut, stack the strands and cut into even squares.
Fill all the squares with meat.
To shape the pelmeni, take one square and bring together to close the square securing the ends. Then, shape the ends into a dumpling.
how to cook pelmeni-
FRESH- If cooking freshly made pelmeni, bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt to taste and add a bay leaf. Once the water is boiling, add the meat dumplings and cook 2-3 minutes.
FROZEN- bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt to taste and add a bay leaf. Once the water is boiling, add the meat dumplings and cook 2-3 minutes.
FRY- To fry cooked pelmeni, add the dumplings to a skillet with butter and cook until desired crispiness is reached and pelmeni are heated.
can I freeze pelmeni?
Yes, pelmeni are extremely popular to freeze. Because they are a bit messy and time-consuming, you typically make several batches at once and freeze the dumpling. They can stay frozen 2-3 months in a freezer bag.
To freeze the pelmeni, lay them out on a generously dusted cutting board or plate and dust tops of the dumplings with flour as well. Freeze until completely hard (time will vary depending on your freezer). Once frozen, transfer to a plastic storage bag.
how to serve Russian pelmeni?
Once cooked, strain the pelmeni and transfer to a serving bowl. Add cubed butter and toss to coat.
Serve dumplings with the traditional sour cream. I add hot sauce or Sriracha to my sour cream for some spice. Add fresh dill and enjoy.
TIPS for the BEST pelmeni-
- To work with pelmeni, keep the working surface generously coated with flour at all times. (This means countertop, rolling pin and any plates used.)
- When adding flour, add in three batches, mixing well after each addition. All flour is different and you may need just a little more or less than the indicated amount.
- Keep the dough that you aren’t using coved tightly so it doesn’t become dry. Very important. I just cover it securely with a kitchen towel.
- Don’t speed the process, the dough really does need to rest.
- Okay, so we love Vegeta in this recipe. I know, I know, it’s not so popular in the states. But it really is popular back home. Add some of the seasonings to the filling and water when cooking, if desired (by “if”, I truly mean you totally “should”).
- Don’t overcook the dumplings. They will start to fall apart and become mush. The dumplings cook really fast.
- Store leftover dumplings in an air-tight container. Like any pasta, it will dry out and not taste pleasant.
- The SECRET to the most delicious filling and not having that taste in your mouth after you’re done eating is vinegar. Yup, you heard it. You cannot taste it in your mouth but it helps the dumpling settle in the stomach better. A lot of people have belching issues after eating pelmeni, the added vinegar will stop those issues. You totally are welcome. 😉
I am just so excited for you to give our version of the popular Russian dish a try. I’m just as excited to hear your feedback so don’t forget to leave a comment below.
try these other recipes-
- Potato and Chicken Casserole-hearty casserole.
- Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce-for the mushroom fans.
- Homemade Sheperd’s Pie- pure comfort food.
- Easy Meatloaf Recipe- classic dish the whole family will love.
Pelmeni Recipe (Meat Dumplings)
- Add the flour in three batches, mixing well after each addition. Once all the flour is added, mix until flour is well incorporated and doesn't stick to sides of the bowl.
- Keep covered and allow the dough to rest at least 20-30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the filling until well incorporated.
- Cover and set aside until ready for use.
- Add enough water to completely cover pelmeni once added.
- Bring water to a boil and season.
- Cook 2-3 minutes once the pelmeni float to the top.
- Serve the meat dumplings with sour cream.
- FLOUR- All flour is different and can make a huge difference. Start out with 4 1/4 cups flour and add more flour as needed. We use Canadian flour and always end up using the whole 4 1/2 cups flour.