The National Dish from Russia – Pelmeni

Pelmeni or pelemeni are dumplings from the former Soviet Union. Today they are considered the national dish of Russia and are eaten among a lot of Slavic countries. Traditionally they are filled with meat, I took a mix of beef and pork. My dough contains butter, which makes is easier to work with. We will first “burn” the flour, which may sound a bit crazy, but bear with me, I tell you, even beginners managed to make the most beautiful pelmeni. Pelmeni require a lot of work as they are small and are prepared by hand, often an entire family will sit together and form these. But I promise, they are worth the effort.

I do remember vividly how one day I was making pelmeni with my cousins. As pelmeni are rather small and you need about 20-25 for one portion, we were busy for quite a while. We did use a so called “pelmeniza” which is a tool to make the preparation faster. However, as we were easily ten people, I remember us all sitting in the kitchen and making pelmeni for several hours. At some point somebody suggested filling one pelmeni just with onions and garlic. We felt  (I think I was 16 at that time) that that would be a horrible filling, no meat, but just onions and garlic. Unfortunately, it was my aunt that got to eat this one pelmeni and she actually loved it. So much for this prank that didn’t work out!

Pelmeni, this is probably easy to guess by now, do require time. You cannot rush the process, this is definitely not a dish you can prepare within half an hour. It’s not unusal to invite friends to a “pelmeni party”, so everybody will be forming pelmeni, you will happily chat, “taste-test”, and just have a good time. Usually enough pelmeni are made to have a second batch. This one will be frozen and taken out at another time. Pelmeni freeze beautifully. They taste delicious in winter as well as in summer. My family liked to eat pelmeni with sour cream and dill. We would eat them as supposed to, which is after they were boiled. However, I got to meet other families that liked to pan-fry the pelmeni in a second step. This way they are more similar to Polish pierogi. You may serve pelmeni with some vinegar and/or some caramelized onions.

Pelmeni can easily be frozen. For this I like to use a cutting board onto which I put floured parchment paper. Line them up nicely. After about an hour or two like this in the freezer, you can transfer them to a freezer bag.

Pelmeni- the national dish from Russia

Serves: About 60-70 pelmeni for about 3 people
Prep Time: 2 1/2 hrs Cooking Time: 6min Total Time: 2 1/2 hrs

Pelmeni are dumplings with meat filling from Russia. I serve them here with a very workable dough containing butter.


  • Dough
  • 240 grams of water
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 eg
  • 375 grams of all-purpose flour

  • Filling
  • 1 onion
  • 400 grams of miinced meat (I had a mix of pork and beef)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper, chives, garlic to taste
  • Serve with sour cream and dill, you may go for a bit of vinegar and/or caramelized onions as well



In this reel you can see how I make them. First we are going to make the dough. Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil, the butter should melt. Once melted, add about half of the flour, stirring vigorously. Once this forms into a ball, take off heat. I like to immediately transfer the dough ball to the bowl of the Kitchenaid and beat it to cool it off quicker. Once at room temperature, add the egg and remaining flour. Knead for about five minutes. The dough should be shiny and firm. Let sit covered at room temperature for at least half an hour.


For the filliing cut the onion finely, it is important you have small cubes as you will mix the onions with the meat and these dumplings are tiny. You don't want to eat large onion pieces. You you want to, you can fry the onions prior to mixing with the meat, this takes away some of their strong flavor, but normally the idea is to mix the onions with the meat and just have it boiled. Once done, mix all ingredients for the filling. You can add about a half teaspoon of other spices, I like to add chives, and usually also garlic powder. Feel free to add according to your preference.


Now making the pelmeni is the longest part. Take a good chunk (about 1/4 of the dough) and roll out thinnly (about 2mm) on a floured surface. Be sure to cover the remaining dough so it doesn't dry out. Now cut out circles about 7cm in side with a cookie cutter or the top of a glass. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of the circle and then fold over one half so that you have half circles (see picture or reel). Pinch together the thin ends of the half circle. If needed, use water to glue everything together with your fingers. It is important that no filling is shown and the dumplings are properly sealed. I like to place prepared pelmeni on floured parchment paper. Then I cover them with a kitchen towel. This way they don't dry out. Pelmeni should either be cooked immediately or frozen. Don't let them sit for too long, worst is overnight, they will get soggy. If you want to prepare them in advance, you can freeze them easily. See how I do that above in the description below the picture.


Pelmeni are prepared the same way as pasta. Bring a large pot filled with water and a bit of salt to a boil, you can add a bay leaf or two for flavor. Keep water rolling and add only the amount of pelmeni that would cover the bottom of your pot. This probably means no more than one portion. Now wait until the pelmeni come to the top. Once floating, cook for about five minutes. Do not overcook or they will open. Mine usually need between 5-6 minutes. Take out with a ladel. If you use frozen pelmeni, you don't need to defrost them, just put them frozen in the water, they will need longer until they float (about 5 minutes), once floating, wait 5 minutes again until you can serve them. You can serve pelmeni with sour cream, some melted butter, vinegar and/or dill. You can pan-fry them and serve with fried onions. If doing so, they are much closer to Polish pierogi.

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  • Reply
    Elena D.
    Friday September 22nd, 2023 at 08:37 AM

    Hey Jenny,

    kennst du eigentlich schon die “Einfach Köstlich”-Reihe mit russlanddeutschen Rezepten? Vor allem das erste Band enthält viele traditionelle Rezepte. Einige davon habe ich modernisiert und veganisiert, weil ich sie nach meiner Ernährungsumstellung erhalten wollte. Allerdings nur auf meinem PC.

    • Reply
      Saturday September 23rd, 2023 at 07:44 PM

      Hi Elena, ja, die kenne ich. Viele Rezepte davon machen viel Arbeit, aber manchmal muss man auch einfach viel Zeit mitbringen. Ich habe bei diesen Pelmeni sehr in Erinnerungen geschwelgt!

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