WHAT are PELMENI?
Pelmeni are meat dumplings originating from Siberia, Russia (though some claim Ural). They have become so popular and served in most European homes and restaurants.
The unleavened dough is filled with seasoned ground meat and boiled, then tossed in butter and served with sour cream or vinegar.
What is the difference between Pelmeni and Pierogi? You use the same unleavened dough in both but pierogi traditionally are stuffed with a potato filling and larger while pelmeni are stuffed with ground meat and smaller in size. Some regions in Poland and Eastern Russia use the terms interchangeably.
Are Vareniki and Pelmeni the same? They both use the same dough, but the filling and size are what differentiates them. Vareniki can be filled with a sweet filling, sauerkraut, or even sauteed vegetables and larger in size while pelmeni are filled with ground meat.
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 work with. If you’ve never tried adding milk to the dough, you must give it a try.
HOW TO MAKE PELMENI DOUGH-
Making dough for pelmeni is so easy and we have a detailed post on How to Make Pelmeni dough HERE.
- In a large mixing bowl, add water, milk and whisked egg, give the mixture a quick stir.
- Add the flour and mix until combined.
- Allow the dough to rest for 15-30 minutes.
WHAT FILLING DO YOU USE FOR PELMENI?
The most traditional meat used for pelmeni filling is pork and beef. However, we love adding ground chicken to the filling as well.
HOW TO MAKE PELMENI FILLING-
- Grate the onion on the protruding side of a box grater.
- In a bowl, mix together the ground chicken and pork, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, dill, vinegar and water.
How to Shape Pelmeni?
Pelmeni may be shaped with a mold or by hand, we’ll go over both in detail.
MAKE PELMENI WITH MOLD:
We love THIS mold for shaping pelmeni. It’s inexpensive and works great.
- Generously dust pelmeni mold with flour, so the dough won’t stick.
- Cut off and roll out enough dough to cover the pelmeni mold. Be sure to roll the dough almost paper thin.
- Fill each hole with meat, don’t overfill the holes or you’ll have a hard time getting the pelmeni out.
- Roll out another dough to cover the top of the filled meat, this one can be a little smaller than the first since it won’t be filled.
- 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, you can do so by hitting the edge of the mold against a cutting board. Transfer pelmeni to a well-floured plate or platter and repeat until remaining dough and filling is used.
MAKE PELMENI BY HAND-
Be sure your work surface is generously covered with flour along with your rolling pins so the dough doesn’t stick.
- Divide the dough into three equal parts and shape each part into a ball.
- Take one ball and roll out the dough until thin. We don’t like a lot of dough in our pelmeni so I roll out the dough super thin. It’s easier to roll out if you are going from the center of the dough outwards.
- Take the dough and begin by overlapping until all the dough is used and the 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.
- Add meat to the center of the squares.
- 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 3-4 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 is 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 for 2-3 months in a freezer bag.
- TO FREEZE: Generously dust a cutting board or plate and lay out the dumplings in a single layer, don’t overcrowd. Dust tops with flour. 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 and serve. Add fresh dill before serving.
- Dumplings are traditionally served with sour cream or vinegar. I add hot sauce or Sriracha to my sour cream for some heat.
TIPS FOR THE BEST PELMENI-
- Be sure to keep the working surface generously covered with flour at all times. (This means countertop, rolling pin and any plates used.)
- Keep the dough that you aren’t using covered tightly so it doesn’t become dry.
- Don’t speed the process, the dough really does need to rest.
- Vegeta is an amazing seasoning to add to the filling, add some if you enjoy Vegeta. It can be added when boiling the water as well.
- Don’t overcook the dumplings. They will start to fall apart and become mush.
- 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. So don’t skip the vinegar in the filling.
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.
I am just so excited for you to give our version of the popular Russian dish a try. Don’t forget to leave us feedback if you try the recipe.
MORE RUSSIAN RECIPES-
We grew up on Russian and Ukrainian cuisine, we share so many recipes of Russian cuisine! Here are some of our most popular recipes:
Pelmeni Recipe (Meat Dumplings)
- Make a batch of our classic pierogi (pelmeni) dough.
- 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.