PEL’MENI (Russian meat dumplings)


Italy has ravioli, China has wontons, Japan has gyoza, the U.S. has dumplings, and Russia has pel’meni. The combination of dough with a meat filling is appealing to all cultures. Different areas of Russia and the former USSR had their own unique ways to cook and serve pel’meni. Some places stuff them with vegetables, others with meat. They can be boiled, steamed or even fried. They are often served with a garnish of sour cream or simply melted butter (my favorite). A cousin of the pel’meni is vareniki – they are essentially the same thing, but filled with fresh berries (cherries are a favorite), or preserves, and served as a dessert or a sweet breakfast.

Growing up a very very picky eater, to my mother’s huge disappointment, pel’meni were one of very few things I would eat without a tantrum. They are just a real comfort food. Mom always made them from scratch, as she did everything else (although pre-made frozen versions could be purchased and are currently available at my local Russian delicatessen). My inclination originally was to use some sort of pre-made dough, as I have in the past to make my pirozhki, because, to be frank, working with home-made dough makes me nervous. It seems like too much effort before and a lot of clean-up after. But this being my first time making the pel’meni, I decided to do it the right way, and make my dough from scratch. Fortunately, it is a very simple recipe that anyone can manage to follow.


PEL’MENI – this serves 3-4

For the dough:

3 cups white flour

2/3 cup water

teaspoon of salt

1 egg

For the filling:

1 lb ground pork (not too lean – some fat content makes these more juicy and flavorful)

1 medium-sized onion, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste – I recommend a good helping of fresh-cracked pepper here. It really adds to the otherwise simple flavors.

Mix the filling together, cover and set aside in the fridge. Now mix the dough until you can shape it into a ball. If you are as uncomfortable working with dough as I am,  it’s worth looking up a Youtube video on how to properly knead dough in order to avoid getting it stuck to your hands.

Once the dough is ready, let it sit covered, for about 10-15 minutes. Next, place it on a flat and smooth, lightly floured surface, and roll out pretty thin with a rolling-pin. To form the pel’meni, my mom sometimes used this high-tech contraption (that I’m pretty sure every good Russian home-maker owns), reminiscent of a honey comb, to easily form the little meat-filled pockets.

pelmeni mold

Pel’meni mold in three shapes

I do not have the luxury of such technology, nor do I want to take up the space in my kitchen with more utensils, so I just made my pelmeni by hand in the shape of potstickers. They turned out a bit larger than you normally want them (they are supposed to be bite-sized), but they tasted just as yummy as I remember.

Onto the rolled out dough place teaspoonfuls of filling, a couple of inches apart. Now cut out circles around the filling using a wine glass (white wine!) or a cookie-cutter, if you have one, like so:




The dough that is left in between the circles should be gathered up into a ball, and rolled back out to make a second (and third) batch, until you have used it all up.

To shape the pel’meni, just fold over the circles and pinch the edges together. Lay them out on a sheet of wax paper until ready to cook, or freeze individually, then place into a ziplock bag for later use.


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and drop the pel’meni in. When they rise to the top, they are done! I like to eat mine very simply with lots of good butter on top (sour cream is another option), and maybe a dash more fresh-cracked pepper. In fact, I brought some leftover pel’meni for lunch today and I can’t wait to dig in!!! Might make for a sleepy afternoon, but they will be worth it. 🙂


This entry was posted in Russian recipes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to PEL’MENI (Russian meat dumplings)

  1. Pingback: Archive of Comments | Arlen Shahverdyan. Author's Blog

  2. Дорогая Юлия,
    Я обожаю пельмени!! 🙂 Спасибо за статью! И конечно же спасибо за отдельный раздел Армянской кухни!

    С уважением,

  3. steelnino says:

    that is awesome. essentially like dumplings in china. So how does one make the goryachi? 🙂

  4. Poland got pierogi!
    Wow, they look the same but you are making them in such a different way.
    I will get my recipe up shortly…

  5. Lena says:

    Another delicious post! So where I can get those molds in United States? Should I order them online? Any recommendations? Thanks!

  6. Ira says:

    I wonder if it is possible, using the recipe of pel’meni dough, make mashed potato mixed with fine-cut caramelized onion, paper salt filling …hmm…maybe this weekend…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s