Pelmeni

Pelmeni are famous Russian meat filled dumplings. This recipe has a really unique dough that is so easy to make and is a dream to work with. Serve them boiled until they are tender or pan fry until golden and crisp.

Pelmeni Russian dumplings


Pelmeni are a staple in the Russian cuisine. Almost every country has a dumpling filled with meat in its repertoire – pierogi, ravioli, tortellini, wontons, etc. Similarly, in the the Russian culture, Pelmeni are a big part of the menu. The dumplings have a ground meat and onion filling, encased in a tender dough.

These recipes get passed down from generation to generation. We have been making them in my family for as long as I can remember. With my Mom and sisters, we would have Pelmeni making days, making HUGE batches to store in the freezer to have on hand for quick dinner options. I love traditions like this one. Homemade Pelmeni are such a treat and a labor of love.

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 classic recipe and grew up making, about 15 years ago I experimented with a different type of dough and I was instantly converted.

This 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. I even use it to make Blueberry Vareniki too. The texture of the pelmeni is very tender too. 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 Slavic families.

What Are Pelmeni?

Pelmeni are Russian meat filled dumplings. They are tiny morsels that are a perfect mouthful. In most cases, they are boiled in water, however, they can also be sauteed in butter until the dough is golden brown.

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). 

Ingredients:

Pelmeni dough:

  • butter
  • water
  • all purpose flour
  • salt
  • eggs

Meat Filling:

  • ground meat (most of the time ground pork is used, but you can also use ground chicken, turkey or beef)
  • salt, pepper, dry herbs and spices
  • onions, garlic
Ingredients For Pelmeni

How To Make Pelmeni Dough:

  1. Make the first part of the dough in a pot on the stove.
    • Bring the water and butter to a boil.
    • Add the salt and two cups of flour all at once, mixing vigorously with a wooden spoon, until the flour is incorporated and comes together.
    • Next, take it off the heat, cool slightly.
  2.  After that, finish making the dough in a mixing bowl. You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or your hands. It’s very easy to work with.
    • Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl, and add the eggs, one at a time. 
    • Add the remaining flour, mixing until combined.
    • Cover, and set aside, letting the dough rest for about 20 minutes. 

If you want to try another dough, I really like this one from Natasha’s Kitchen.

How to make pelmeni dough. This dough is a dream to work with. It rolls out easily, doesn't stick to the counters and cooks up really tender.

How To Assemble the Dumplings

(Traditionally, raw onions are used in Pelmeni, either chopped finely or grated. They have a really strong flavor, so I prefer to saute them first before adding to the meat filling. Cooking the onion and garlic mellows out their flavor and adds a sweet note to the onions, not harsh.)

  1. Make the 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. Cool slightly.
    • In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooked onions and garlic, salt, ground black pepper, any dry herbs and spices that you like and 1/4-1/3 cup water.
  2. Next, roll out the dough. I like to roll it out thinly, but be careful that it’s not too thin, or the filling will come out, or the dough will tear easily.
  3. After that, shape the assemble the pelmeni.
    • Cut out circles in the dough. I use a biscuit cutter that is 3 inches wide.
    • Place 1 heaping Tablespoon of meat filling in the center of the dough.
    • Fold the circle in half, bringing the edge of the dough over the meat filling and lining up with the edge of dough on the other side. Seal the edges together, sealing the pelmeni, making sure to push out any air. If there is any air inside the pelmeni, they will burst when you cook them.
    • Bring the corners of the half moon shaped dumpling together, creating the classic Pelmeni shape.

Best Way to Cook and Serve

You can cook the pelmeni right after making them. That’s my favorite dinner while having a Pelmeni making party. Of course it’s necessary to taste test the Pelmeni and make sure they turned out alright:).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, just like you would for making pasta. You can add a bay leaf and some peppercorns to the water for extra flavor.

After the water comes to a boil, add as many pelmeni as you want to cook. Keep the water at a medium rolling boil, until the pelmeni float to the top and for only about 5 minutes after that. Don’t overcook them or they will fall apart. Drain the pelmeni and serve them hot with a generous helping of sour cream on the side. (You can also serve the Pelmeni with some of the cooking water, using it like a broth.)

Another delicious way to serve Pelmeni is to pan fry them until golden on both sides. Usually, in my family we boil the Pelmeni first, drain them and then transfer them to a skillet with butter and pan fry. However, you can also place them into the skillet raw, saute until golden on both sides. You will need to cook them a bit longer, to make sure the meat filling is completely cooked through.

How to make Pelmeni, Russian dumplings. 
How to assemble the meat filled pelmeni by hand.

How To Freeze Pelmeni

Pelmeni freeze beautifully, in fact, that is how we store the majority of the Pelmeni that we make.

  • Sprinkle flour on a wooden board or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Next, arrange pelmeni in a single layer on top of the flour. 
  • Place in the freezer for 20-30 min, until the pelmeni are completely frozen and hard.
  • After that, transfer the pelmeni to a freezer ziptop bag or an airtight container and store in the freezer for 6 months or up to 1 year.

When cooking frozen Pelmeni, there is absolutely no need to thaw them first.

How to freeze pelmeni, Russian dumplings.

Helpful Tips

How to serve Pelmeni

Pelmeni are usually served on their own, with sour cream. You can also add them to soups, they can serve as both a dumpling and meatball in one:).
Other garnish options:
– fresh herbs, especially dill, parsley, and/or green onions.
– melted butter
– a splash of vinegar with some of the pelmeni cooking water
– sauteed onions and bacon

What Meat Is Best For Pelmeni

Most of the time ground pork is used, but you can use any ground meat that you want. I also like using ground chicken. Ground beef or ground turkey are also good options. Make sure that the ground meat that you use isn’t too lean, or the pelmeni will be tough and dense.
Other Filling Options:
Add some sauteed mushrooms to the meat filling.
Some fresh herbs will also be a great addition, such as dill or parsley.

How to Prevent Pelmeni From Opening While Cooking

1. Don’t roll out the dough too thin.
2. Make sure to get out as much air as possible when sealing the dumplings. If there is any air inside, the pelmeni will burst when cooking.
3. Don’t overcook the pelmeni. If you cook them too long, they will fall apart. The dough is really tender and the dumplings are small, so it doesn’t take too long to cook them.

How Long Can You Freeze Pelmeni

Keep your freezer stocked with these delicious Russian dumplings. They are so convenient to have on hand.
You can freeze them from 6 months to a year, as long as you pack them well to protect from freezer burn.

Russian Pelmeni
meat filled dumplings
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Pelmeni

Pelmeni – the famous Russian meat-filled dumplings. This recipe has a really unique dough that is so easy to make and is a dream to work with. The pork filling has the addition of napa cabbage, onion and garlic, which add flavor but also make the filling incredibly tender. 

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 150200 1x
  • Category: Appetizer, Main Course

Ingredients

Scale

Dough:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup or 8 oz butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 cups all purpose flour

Meat Filling:

  • 3 lbs ground meat (I prefer pork or chicken)
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/23 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/21 Tablespoon dry herbs and spices, optional
  • 1/41/3 cup 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. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  3. Take off the heat, cool slightly and add the eggs.
  4. Add the remaining four cups of flour. Mix until combined.
  5. 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. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Cool slightly. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooked onions and garlic, salt, pepper, herbs and spices and water. Mix to combine. 

Assembling the Pelmeni:

  1. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet. (While assembling the dumplings, keep the remaining dough covered, so it stays soft and pliable, protecting it from drying out.)
  2. Cut out 3 inch circles, using a biscuit cutter or a cup. Place 1 heaping Tablespoon of meat filling in the center. Fold the dough over in half, sealing the edges together. 
  3. When sealing the edges together, make sure to squeeze out all the air, so the pelmeni don’t burst open while cooking. 
  4. Take hold of the corners and pinch them together, creating the classic pelmeni shape. 

To cook:

  1. Add 1 bay leaf, and some peppercorns to a pot of water. Season with salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the pelmeni, (no need to thaw if using frozen Pelmeni).  Cook just until the pelmeni float to the top, for about 5 min. Make sure not to overcook them.
  3. Drain the water or use some of it and serve it with the pelmeni as a broth. 
  4. Serve with  sour cream. Other garnish options are melted butter, sour cream, vinegar, fresh herbs, sauteed onions and bacon. 

Notes

Freezer Storage:

  1. Sprinkle flour on a wooden board and arrange pelmeni in a single layer on top of the flour. You can also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  2. Place in the freezer for 20-30 min, until the pelmeni are frozen hard.
  3. Transfer the pelmeni to a freezer ziptop bag or an airtight container and store in the freezer for 6 months – 1 year. 

Keywords: how to make pelmeni, Russian pelmeni, Russian meat dumplings

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 This is an updated version of the Pelmeni recipe that was published originally on January 24, 2012. I updated the photos and clarified the instructions.

73 Comments

  • NatashasKitchen.com

    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!

    • Olga K.

      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:)

    • Olga K.

      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.

  • Jody

    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.

  • Christina

    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!

  • Oksana

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

  • Oksana

    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?

  • theresa

    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..

  • Liza

    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!

    • olgak7

      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.

  • Oksana

    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!

    • olgak7

      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.

  • Oksana

    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! 🙂

  • irina

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

  • Robyn Ferrari

    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

  • olga

    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.

  • Irina

    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

  • Chris

    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!!

    • olgak7

      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.

  • Vanessa Grenader

    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!

  • Kirk Johnson

    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!!!

    • olgak7

      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.

  • Bianca

    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

    • Theresa

      I have used mashed potatoes..Highly seasoned..with a little bit of beaten egg added (if they eat eggs). You can also just not use the egg. You can also add sauteed mushrooms and onions to the potatoes. Very delicious!

    • olgak7

      Mashed potatoes with cheese or green onions.
      Mushrooms, onions, garlic and herbs.
      Sauerkraut or fresh cabbage sautéed with onions and carrots.
      Farmer’s cheese or ricotta with parmesan or cheddar cheese an egg yolk and herbs.
      I hope you enjoy these, Priscilla.

  • Nafis

    Hi Olga, thanks for great recipe..i want to try this out but am afraid that cant afford it so i want to make less amount for first time..Could you please kindly guide me how much can i reduce from each ingredients?
    will it work good if i change the amount as follow:

    1 cups of water
    1 sticks of butter
    1/2 tsp of salt
    1 eggs
    3 cups of flour

    Thanks in advance!

  • Nafis

    also kindly guide how you freeze remain pelmini? do you freeze the only dough or is it possible to freeze ready pelmini with meat inside and cook them after various days?
    Thanks!

    • Theresa

      I line cookie sheets with foil and then dust them with flour. Prepare your pelmeni. Put in freezer on the cookie sheets. Then freeze. In 4 or 5 hours they are frozen. Then bag in freezer bags. Put back in freezer. Cook from frozen. In Siberia they used to put them outside in winter and cook them as needed. My mother in law was from Siberia, she taught me to make pelmeni.

    • olgak7

      Make the pelmeni (roll out the dough, fill with meat, shape into pelmeni).
      Dust a baking sheet or a large cutting board generously with flour and place the pelmeni (not cooked) in a single layer on top of the floured surface and place in the freezer for an hour or two, until the pelmeni are frozen solid. Transfer the frozen pelmeni into a freezer bag or a tightly sealed container.
      You can freeze them up to 6 months. To cook them, boil water and place the frozen pelmeni into the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes.

  • Alicia

    This is the most amazing Pelmeni dough recipe I’ve used. I’ve tried so many but this one is my favorite, easy to work with and more flavorful.

  • Alina Margolis

    Hi Olga, I been making pilmeni for about 25 years. I use to old fashion way,egg,no egg,sour cream, milk,sparking water,you name it,witch is much harder to make,but the comes out very nice.my mom use to make them just with flour and boiling water, witch was very easy to make but the dough was very plane and had no flavor. Your recipe was the best dough I ever work with,but when I boil them,they all came a part.what did I do wrong? Any tips on that.thx

      • olgak7

        This is the recipe that I use, Alina. I did not try it with eggs and no butter. If you want to experiment, that is great! I can only recommend what I can personally vouch for.
        I also have other recipes, but the dough is harder to work with. This dough is very tender, so you need to be careful not to overcook the Pelmeni. They take less time to cook than the traditional Pelmeni dough. I have found that they come apart when you overcook them.

  • Kat

    I’ve been making Pelmeni my whole life, and this dough is the best thing since sliced bread. It makes the process of rolling and cutting and folding so much easier! Thank you so much!!!!

  • Pam

    I have a question I am hoping you will answer for me. As a child, we ate pelmeni made by a Russian friend. I remember loving it, and getting excited when she would bring over a big batch for our family! A new restaurant has opened in my sister’s town in Alaska and they serve only Pelmeni. It has a choice of 3 kinds of sauce — one seems to be very spicy [Siracha?]. Another seems to have curry. I can’t identify the third – which is tasty. Granted, I am OLD [70], but I don’t remember a sauce. Can you help? I haven’t eaten Pelmeni in years, but of course, the memory is making me crave it — and finding your recipe has me ready to try making some. Thank you so much for any help you are able to give me.

    • olgak7

      Hi Pam.
      In our family we always serve Pelmeni with sour cream. We never use any sort of sauce and everybody I know does the same. I haven’t heard of anybody serving it with any sort of sauce. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more.

  • Pam

    THANKS VERY MUCH! Sour cream rang a bell for me and I called my sister [in whose town the restaurant is located in Alaska]- she agrees that’s how we ate it, too! Onward to the recipe — and maybe even Pelmeni for dinner tonight.

  • ANGIE CHOP

    Olga, thank you for this BOMB recipe!!! The dough is fun to make, a dream to work with, and most importantly…Delicious! Your recipes never fail! Everything I make from your blog is always “yummylicious” as my kids say!

  • Avigeya

    Amazing recipe!!! I just got married and made this for my mother and father in law, I had eaten pelmeni since I was a baby but never made them myself. I was so nervous to cook these for them but they were incredible- I used turkey instead of pork because I prefer it and it was perfect- everyone loved it. Thank you Olga!!

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