What Are Pierogi Actually Stuffed With?

Many cultures have their own version of a small stuffed pocket of dough. The Japanese have gyoza. The Italians have ravioli. The Argentinians have empanadas. And the Poles (and Polish-Americans) have their beloved pierogi.

No one is quite sure when and where pierogi were first made (Ukrainian immigrants is one thought), but what is known for sure, according to Pierogi Heaven, is that the stuffed dough item has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, an early recipe for the delicious treat first appeared in a 16th-century Polish cookbook. In the beginning, pierogi were eaten by the poor or peasants because they were filling and inexpensive to make, reports My Recipes. Eventually, however, its popularity grew, and pierogi is now Poland's national dish that appears on menus and dinner plates all year, especially at Christmastime.

People in other countries also fell in love with pierogi and began to eat it in nearby European countries, such as Austria and Germany, and other Central European countries (sometimes by another name like pirohy in Slovakia), per Pierogi Heaven. Eventually, immigrants brought the meal to the United States where it is a staple at Polish Fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana.

A variety of fillings

There is no one standard filling for pierogi, but The Culture Trip says pierogi Ruskie is the most traditional version of the dish. This serving comes with a filling of cottage cheese, potato, and onion, and is served with sour cream and pork crackling on top. 

Of course, although pierogi Ruskie might be the oldest version of the meal, it's far from the only popular edition. The Culture Trip also lists 11 other kinds of pierogi, including pierogi z łososiem (filled with salmon), pierogi z serem (equipped with a cream cheese or cottage cheese filling), pierogi z szpinakiem (filled with fried spinach), and pierogi jagodowe (a blueberry filling).

Pierogi can serve as a hearty lunch or dinner, a snack, or even as a dessert, depending on the filling, per The Polonist. If eaten on Christmas Eve, pierogi are filled with wild mushrooms and sauerkraut. However, Christmas Eve isn't the only special occasion for which pierogi are appropriate. Pierogi kurniki, an iteration of the meal stuffed with chicken, is also popular at weddings (via Ancestral Findings). 

For traditional pierogi, go with cheese, potato, or meat filling. For sweet pierogi, go with any fresh fruit, such as apple, plum, raspberry, strawberry, or cherry. Of course, if the meal's history has proven anything, it's that the versatile dish can be crafted to fit whatever ingredients you have on hand or for your personal food cravings.