Pelmeni (Пельмени), the Famous Russian Dumplings

12 Aug
Pelmeni / Пельмени

Pelmeni / Пельмени

Originally popular in Siberia, pelmeni spread all across Russia and its neighbouring countires and they are still a favourite dish for many people.  In modern Russia and Ukraine pelmeni are commonly made at home and can be bought in stores. The store-bought variety is considered to be a fast food and is associated with students’ or bachelors’ lifestyles.

Pelmeni come from the family of dumplings, and are cousins to Ukrainian varenyky and Polish pierogi. There are 3 important differences between pelmeni and varenyky:

  1. The size – a typical pelmen’ (singular) is about 2 to 3 cm in diameter, varenyky are often twice that size.
  2. The dough – as thin as possible,  with a higher proportion of filling to dough
  3. The filling –  always raw meat (varenyky filling is typically precooked), and never made with anything sweet (varenyky could be made with cherries, sour cherries, sweet cottage cheese, blueberries, etc.)

Russian people are somewhat obsessed with their pelmeni, same as Ukrainians are obsessed with their varenyky, and each family has their own recipe and preparation method. Pelmeni could be a royal pain in the you-know-where to make 🙂 During my recent trip back home my aunt gave me her old pelmeni mold (pelmennitsa / пельменница) – it speeds up the process tremendously!  Enlist some help if making pelmeni by hand – I am a great believer in child labour in kitchen 🙂

Pelmeni Mold / Пельменница

Pelmeni Mold / Пельменница

Yields about 65

Pelmeni filling

  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Finely grate the onion or chop it into very small pieces in a food processor.
  2. Add it to the ground meat along with salt and pepper and mix everything very well;
  3. Use any leftover filling to make meatballs, chili, or meatloaves.

Note: 50/50 mixture of beef and pork is traditional; you can also try lamb, chicken, or turkey or any combination you may like.

The doughclick here


  • Butter, vinegar, sour cream – my favourite combination
  • Chopped dill, chopped green onions, ketchup


If using a pelmeni mold: 

1. Roll out a chunck of dough into a circle.
2. Place over mold. Place 1/2 tsp meat into each pocket space on the mold.

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

3. Roll out another chunk of dough and place over the mold.
4. Use a rolling pin, roll the top, working from the center – outwards

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

5. Turn the pelmeni maker over and push the pelmeni out onto a well-floured cookie tray.  I used some waxed paper to invert pelmeni on.

Ready to boil or to freeze

Ready to boil or to freeze

6. Arrange evenly, sprinkle with flour and place the tray in the freezer.
7. Once pelmeni are fully frozen, put them in large plactic or ziploc bags, and keep them in the freezer for future meals.

If making pelmeni by hand:

  1. Roll out dough, cut out small circles by using a tall shot glass or the smallest round cookie cutter
  2. Place meat in the middle, and seal, by pinching the edges together.
  3. Connect the two edges together like so

Making pelmeni by hand

Cooking Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot (to allow apmle floating space) of water to boil and add 1 tsp salt
  2. Add FROZEN pelmeni and return to a boil. After pelmeni float to the top, boil for another 3 mintues
  3. Drain pelmeni and place them in a clean bowl. Toss pelmeni with your favourite toppings and serve hot.


29 Responses to “Pelmeni (Пельмени), the Famous Russian Dumplings”

  1. roodonfood August 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I love pelmeni! Thanks for the post. One of my favorites is a version with lamb.

  2. Darya August 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Yummy! I love Pelmeni! I don’t ever have them here in France, though you make them sound so easy! I should give them a try!
    I remember discovering a brand of frozen pelmeni in Moscow called “Дарья”, which I obviously though was really funny! I love them with lots of sour cream, a little vinegar, and dill! 🙂

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      I love pelmeni too! They are not hard to make just very time-consuming.
      You can buy frozen ones in any Russian or Ukrainian deli store – I saw one in Paris in the 17th arrondissement this May. I want to say it was called St.Petersburg but can’t remember exactly.
      P.S. If pelmeni are named after you it’s impossible not to love them 😀

      • Darya August 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

        Oh yes, I have seen pelmeni in Russian delis, my parents live near one in the 15th and they sell them (as well as lots of other stuff 🙂 ). It’s just that I never got any… and I haven’t found a Russian deli in Lille yet, though there must be one. I should ask around!

      • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

        OMG, the other stuff in Russian stores… глазированные сырки, пряники, ледендцы, “Птичье Молоко” so good!

  3. scolgin August 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Those look delicious! Wish I had one of those dumpling pressie things!

  4. abrooke65 August 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    This is quite impressive. I know you say they’re easy to make, but yours look absolutely gorgeous. I get these near the Russian market in Brighton Beach where my grandma lives, but I wouldn’t dream that making these would be possible. You lay it out so easily. What an incredible dish. Thanks for sharing.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Thank you for the lovely comment. Like many Eastern European dishes this one is not hard to make, just takes time.
      I am going to be in Brooklyn over the Labour Day weekend and plan on visiting Brighton Beach. Any Russian markets that you can recommend? I want to impress my non-Russian boyfriend by taking him into the most colourful Russian Deli.

      • abrooke65 August 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

        Ohh. Fun! I don’t know of any markets, per se, but I recommend having a meal at Volna along the boardwalk or Tatianas. If you have a Yelp app, definitely use it. It’s like little Odessa over there! There’s so much good food, it’s hard to go wrong. Take him on the Wonder Wheel too. It’ll be a romantic view of all of NY. Have fun!

      • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

        Thank you for recommendations!
        I just checked Tatiana’s – they have Russian pop-stars from time to time 🙂

  5. Ese' s Voice August 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    MMMM…something really delicious that has come all the way through my childhood and survived all the governments and everything else till now. And wil even more – I am sure! By the way, I do have Пельменница at home – exactly like yours 🙂

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      I will probably request them on my death bed 😀
      My aunt wanted to give me her newer пельменницу but I insisted on packing this one – a bit heavy (cast-iron), bought back in the 80s in the Soviet Union.

  6. acuriousgal August 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    These look delicious!!!

  7. Boomdeeadda August 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I like how simple the dough recipe is. The mould really speeds things up too. I had Pierogi yesterday at the Ukrainian Cultural Village, they were ok but I’ve had better. Plus the line up was banana’s

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      I used to add an egg to the dough (like my mom did) but my Aunt convinced me to try her version. I do like it better without the egg, the dough is more elastic and rolls out eaiser.
      There is always line up whenever pierogi/varenyky are served! Hmmm… the ones you blogged about couple of months ago looked delicious!

  8. Ajaytao2010 August 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    I Nominated you for A Bunch of Awards – 13 Nominations

    please choose any 2 awards out of the 13
    accept it and oblige

    there are no linkbacks for this award

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      Thank you kindly!

      • Ajaytao2010 August 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

        Thank Kay dear
        A beautiful cook and a Salsa dancer and teacher

      • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

        Awww (blushing)…thank you 🙂

      • Ajaytao2010 August 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

        thank you dear I dont forget easily

  9. russianmartini August 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    I mayhave to break down and get yet another implement for my little kitchen. Pelmeni are just so yummy but without the pelmennitsa they are a lot of work. Next time I’ll have to just spend half a day making a whole bunch and then freeze them!

  10. radhika25 August 20, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Interesting! It looks so much like ravioli. What is the dough made of? Is it rice flour or wheat flour?
    There is an Indian sweet that has a sweet coconut filling with a rice flour based outer cover, which is steamed! I thought that it was unique, then I move to Singapore and find dumplings in every street corner with a variety of fillings- pork, chicken, veggie, red bean! I guess people have been travelling carrying food over millenia, inspiring others to come up with innovations!

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves August 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Thank you! I believe every culture has dumplings and I am yet to eat a dumpling that I didn’t like 🙂
      The dough is made of all purpose wheat flour and water, I didn’t want to make this post longer than it already is and included a link to my previous post which has more details.

      • radhika25 August 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

        Food is such a uniting factor! We now share via the Internet…and in the past trade and travel -and food- brought people together.

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