Pelmeni – Пельмени

Pelmeni are a staple in Russian cuisine. Almost every country has a dumpling filled with meat in its repertoire – pierogi, ravioli, tortellini, wontons, etc. The dumplings with meat filling are tiny morsels that are a perfect mouthful. We usually make a HUGE batch and store them in the freezer to have on hand for a quick dinner option. In Russia, one of the most famous types of pelmeni are the Siberian pelmeni. It is said that the women would make large amounts of pelmeni and take them outside in the winter, where they would freeze quickly and be stored for many warm dinners in the cozy izba (cabin). Usually, they are boiled in water, but they can also be sauteed in a small amout of butter or oil. Traditionally, the dough is made from water, flour, egg and salt and the filling is ground meat, salt, pepper and onions. Although I love this version and it’s the one I grew up eating and making with my Mama, I am offering another version that you may like to try.

The dough is an absolute dream to work with. I don’t even use any extra flour to roll it out, it doesn’t stick to my hands and is soft and pliable. The texture of the pelmeni is very tender too. For the filling, I borrowed a technique from the Chinese potstickers by adding very finely shredded napa cabbage. This cabbage is much softer than the regular cabbage, which ensures that it will cook through and since it tastes much more mild, the cabbage doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the meat filling. The addition of the cabbage makes the filling extremely soft and juicy, not balled up into a hard, dense knob in the center of the dough. This recipe will give you 150-200 pelmeni. You can easily halve it and make less. With a little butter and sour cream, this is the ultimate comfort food for many Russians.

Yields: 150-200 pelmeni

Ingredients:

Dough:

2 cups of water

2 sticks of butter

1 tsp of salt

2 eggs

6 cups of flour

Meat Filling:

2 1/2 lbs of ground meat, I prefer pork

2 onions, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter

1 head napa cabbage, finely chopped (about 4 cups)

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoon pepper

6 Tablespoons of water

Pelmeni Dough:

In a medium pot, bring the water and butter to a boil. Add the salt and two cups of flour all at once.  IMG_5392 Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. IMG_5396 Take off the heat, cool slightly and add the eggs.  IMG_5400 Add the remaining four cups of flour. Mix until combined.

You can use a standing mixer, hand mixer or your hands. It’s very easy to work with. Cover, and set aside, letting the dough rest for about 20 minutes.  IMG_5404

Meat Filling:

Melt butter in a skillet. Add the onions and cook for about 5-7 min, until tender and starting to turn slightly golden. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Another option is to finely grate the onion or process it with the water in the food processor until it looks like slush. If I use raw onions, I don’t use as much, just because the onion will overpower the meat and I also don’t add any fresh garlic. 

Cooking the onion and garlic mellows out their flavor and adds a sweet note to the onions, not harsh.

Add to the ground meat.

This is napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage. You will find it in the grocery store next to the regular cabbage. If you can’t find it, you can easily omit it, just add double the amount of water to the meat. You can use regular cabbage ONLY if you cook it first.  IMG_5409 Add the cabbage. It should be cut very finely.  IMG_5415 Add the salt, pepper and water and mix to combine.

Assembling the Pelmeni:

Roll out the dough into a thin sheet. Cut out 3 inch circles, using a biscuit cutter or a cup. Place 1 heaping Tablespoon of meat in the center.  IMG_5436 Fold it in half. Pinch the edges together, making sure not to have any air remain. If there is air in the dumpling, it will burst when you cook it.  IMG_5430 Take hold of the corners and pinch them together.  IMG_5432 To store in the freezer, sprinkle flour on a wooden board and arrange pelmeni in a single layer on top of the flour.  IMG_5446 Place in the freezer for 20-30 min, until the pelmeni are hard. Transfer the pelmeni in a ziptop bag and store in the freezer.

To cook, add 1 bay leaf, 3-5 peppercorns to a pot of water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Add the pelmeni, (no need to thaw) and cook just until the pelmeni float to the top, about 5 min. Make sure not to overcook them. This dough is very tender and cooks REALLY fast.  IMG_5903 Serve with butter, sour cream, vinegar, fresh herbs, etc. Russians like to top it with crispy bacon bits and diced onions, cooked in a skillet until golden brown. Another great recipe for pelmeni dough that I loved can be found at Natasha’s Kitchen. Natasha’s Pelmeni Dough. IMG_5888

Pelmeni
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 150-200 pelmeni
Ingredients
Dough:
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups of flour
Meat Filling:
  • 2½ lbs of ground meat, I prefer pork
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1½ Tablespoons butter
  • 1 head napa cabbage, finely chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons of water
Instructions
Pelmeni Dough:
  1. In a medium pot, bring the water and butter to a boil.
  2. Add the salt and two cups of flour all at once.
  3. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  4. Take off the heat, cool slightly and add the eggs.
  5. Add the remaining four cups of flour.
  6. Mix until combined.
  7. Cover, and set aside, letting the dough rest for about 20 minutes.
Meat Filling:
  1. Melt butter in a skillet. Add the onions and cook for about 5-7 min, until tender and starting to turn slightly golden.
  2. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add to the ground meat.
  4. Add the cabbage. It should be cut very finely.
  5. Add the salt, pepper and water and mix to combine.
Assembling the Pelmeni:
  1. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet.
  2. Cut out 3 inch circles, using a biscuit cutter or a cup.
  3. Place 1 heaping Tablespoon of meat in the center. Fold it in half.
  4. Pinch the edges together, making sure not to have any air remain.
  5. Take hold of the corners and pinch them together.
Freezer Storage:
  1. Sprinkle flour on a wooden board and arrange pelmeni in a single layer on top of the flour.
  2. Place in the freezer for 20-30 min, until the pelmeni are hard.
  3. Transfer the pelmeni in a ziptop bag and store in the freezer.
To cook:
  1. Add 1 bay leaf, 3-5 peppercorns to a pot of water. Season with salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the pelmeni, (no need to thaw) and cook just until the pelmeni float to the top, about 5 min. Make sure not to overcook them.
  3. Serve with butter, sour cream, vinegar, fresh herbs, etc.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Olga, thank you so much for the compliment :) Your pelmeni look so good! Tasty and pretty (mine look a little bit like diapers when I make them by hand. I’ll try fold them like you do next time). I’ve been craving pelmeni all week long. I guess I shouldn’t be lazy and just make some!

    • says

      Lol. Actually, mine look just like yours when I use the pelmeni mold. This dough makes them look pretty. I LOVED your dough. It was so great to work with, and it cooked up so well too. I definitely use your recipe now whenever I make the more traditional style pelmeni. I like stocking the freezer with them. It’s a great option during the days that I’m working:)

    • says

      Ground chicken would be great too. Just use ground chicken from both dark and white meat; using only breast meat might make it a little tough, although the napa cabbage solves most of that problem. Ground turkey will work as well.

  2. says

    Wow. I’m a little envious. With having three Russian born children we try to eat some Russian foods…but mine never end up looking even halfway as pretty as this. :) Perhaps I should go do some practicing.

  3. Christina says

    Ok, I’ve made pelmeni several times over the last few years, but this dough recipe is the BEST I’ve ever used. The dough rolls out as smooth and pliable as playdough (better really!) and really makes it easy to stuff, pinch and fold. For those that haven’t made pelmeni before, a good dough like this one makes all the time spent wrapping the pelmeni’s so much easier and enjoyable. THANK YOU OLGA!

  4. Oksana says

    Olya, have you made vareniki using this recipe? If so, could you tell me how long would I need to cook them for?

  5. Oksana says

    I have never seen butter in a pelmeni/vareniki recipe. If I make these and freeze these, will they taste good after the butter has been frozen in the dough?

  6. theresa says

    I have been making pelmeni for many years. I was taught how to make them by my mother-in-law who was born in Siberia. I am having trouble getting the dough as light as she used to make it. I saw your recipe using butter and like several other postings have never seen this before. Does the dough taste similar to the pelmeni made without butter? I will be having Russian family here VERY soon and want to treat them to pelmeni but need for them to taste like the real pelmeni..

    Thanks for your advice..

  7. Liza says

    Wow, this dough is amazing! I used my pelmeni mold to make it and it was just beyond words! They tasted great – just like any other pelmeni dough I’ve tasted, but most importantly, the dough is EXTREMELY easy to work with! I used to dread making pelmeni before, because I never felt like rolling out dough – not anymore!

    Thank you!

    • says

      I’m so happy to hear that you were pleased with the results, Liza.
      I certainly agree with you about the dough. It makes the whole process of making pelmeni so much more manageable when the dough is easy to work with.

  8. Oksana says

    Hey Olya, I have a question for you regarding the dough. My grandma makes her pelmni dough with milk, egg, flour, etc. I see that your recipe uses water. Do you think the flavor of the dough would change if I substitute milk for water? Have you ever tried making this recipe using milk before? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Oksana,
      No, I’ve never tried making this dough with milk. I personally don’t think it needs the milk, but you can certainly try it. I don’t think it will hurt it.

  9. Oksana says

    When I will have free time, I’ll make the recipe both ways – half water/ half milk and compare the results. Thanks for the quick reply! :)

  10. irina says

    hi again Olga :)
    when you say 2 sticks of butter, can you tell me how many grams please and is it salted?
    thank you

  11. Robyn Ferrari says

    Hi there,
    Cant wait to try making Pelmeni for the 1st time. Been looking at the different versions and I like the sound of your dough best. I have already ordered my pelmeni mold.
    My question is … how much butter is added ? I live on Australia and we dont do ‘sticks’ here as a measurement, I have no idea. Can you please tell me in grams ?
    Thank you,
    Robyn

  12. says

    Olga, i’v never saw cabbage in pelmeni. Is it good? I want to try to make it one day. We recently got married so i want to try new things.

  13. Irina says

    Olga, for the cabbage do u only chop up the leaves or the entire leaf? I’m making these tomorrow I want to make sure I do it right. You didn’t specify which parts to use our not to

  14. Chris says

    Hi Olga, I had the pelmeni all over Russia and couldn’t remember name till now. Your recipe sounds amazing!! Also had an appetizer in the Urals consisting of ramekin and believe with sour cream sauce, mushrooms, chicken and a pastry top. Have you heard of this kind of recipe?
    Thank you for your amazing site!!

    • says

      Yes, Pelmeni are awesome, Chris! Such a Russian classic.
      As for the other dish, I think you mush be talking about “Julien”. It’s delicious stuff. You can sauté some mushrooms, onion, garlic and then mix it with some sour cream, herbs and fill the ramekin dish and top it with puff pastry. Hope that helps. I don’t have all the measurements for this recipe, but maybe I’ll work on it and post it sometime in the future.

  15. Vanessa Grenader says

    Wow! This recipe is amazing! My husband, is Russian and his mother used to make these all of the time for him when he was growing up. She does not live close to show me how its done, so I made your version and he loved it too! Thankyou!

  16. Kirk Johnson says

    Thank you for the great recipes. I took my adopted son Alex (now 19) to Russia to meet his relatives for the first time in everyone’s life this year. We enjoyed the families, people, history, culture, cities — best visit of my life. Now I am trying to prepare a Russian meal for our family of 4 and another family that also hopes to visit Russia. With your help, I am preparing Borsch, Cabbage Rolls, and Pelmeni. спасибо!!!

    • says

      That’s wonderful, Kirk. You are really on a roll.
      That’s so great that you took your son to Russia. I’m sure you all enjoyed the trip a lot.

  17. Bianca says

    Hi Olga,
    Love this recipe, only issue is the dough, i’m a first time pelmeni maker and I halved the recipe. I found the dough was ‘crumbly’? i could roll it out but it would break if i lifted it up. Could it be due to too much moisture? Or maybe i didn’t let it cool down enough with the egg….?
    Any tips ?

    Bianca

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