Best of Ukraine
Title: Ukrainian cuisine
Printed on  25.07.2024


General information

Ukrainian cuisine has been formed during many centuries. Among Slavic cuisines Ukrainian is considered the most diverse and the richest by right. It spread out over the borders of Ukraine a long time ago. The most typical feature of the Ukrainian National Cuisine is a combined heat treatment of the vegetables and meat in the oil or butter, so called "Ukrainian frying", and only after that, stewing, boiling or baking (for ex. Ukrainian borsch).


Ukrainian cuisine is quite regional. That’s why the same traditional borsch tastes differently and prepared differently in every region.


For every national cuisine, the place, where food is cooked has the great influence. In Ukraine, such a place was an oven, fire of a closed type. That is why Ukrainian cuisine mainly uses the techniques of boiling, stewing and baking. Even Cossacks, after shooting a game, were trying to make a bouillon out of it, but not to fry it, which is more typical for Germans, for example.


Ukrainian cuisine borrowed some techniques from neighbors, for ex. Tatar and Turkish cuisines, partially modifying them. For example, frying of products in the overheated oil/butter, which is peculiar for the Turkic cuisine, was regenerated into the “Ukrainian frying" (so called “paseruvannya” (browning) of vegetables which are used for borsch or second courses). This is, for example, not peculiar for Russian cuisine.


From Germans, Ukrainians borrowed ground meat (“sichenyky” – cutlet type dishes out of ground meat, eggs, vegetables, mushrooms, etc.), and from Hungarians – the usage of paprika.


If to talk about meat, pork is widely spread in Ukraine, comparing with beef, which is more typical for Russian cuisine or mutton for Tatar. Oxen were more like the working animals in Ukraine, and their meat was not as tasty and soft as the pigs’ meat. It has also been considered not as clean as pork.


Potatoes became widely spread in Ukraine in 18th century. Even though it didn’t become “second bread” like in Belorussia, but became very popular and used in first, second courses and garnish for fish and meat dishes. Also, potatoes began to be used in getting starch, used for preparing different types of sweet dishes, including “kissel” (a sweet drink resembling thin jelly).


In 18th century sunflower and mustard appeared in Ukraine. This played an important role in the development of the Ukrainian cuisine. Sunflower oil began to be widely used instead of the imported Greek olive oil, and mustard is used for making oil and spices for meat and other dishes. Nowadays sunflower oil supplanted nearly all other oils. There are two types of sunflower oil widely used: hot extracted with a strong peculiar smell of fried sunflower seeds (favorite type among Ukrainians, used mainly in salads) and cold extracted type (used for frying), better known and used abroad.


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Meat and Fish

Salted dried fish

The most popular and favorite meat product in Ukraine is a pig’s fat, in Ukrainian - “salo”. Salo is used fresh, salted, smoked, fried, boiled, stewed, and is a fat base of a lot of dishes.


Fish takes a big part in Ukrainian cuisine as well. It is very common to see Ukrainians having a beer with the dried salted fish. Fish caviar is very popular too.


Do you know that it is impossible to oversalt salo. You could put as much salt as you like on it for salting, but it will take as much salt as it needs, not more and not less.


Fruits and Vegetables

Ukrainian Honey Seller
Ukrainian Honey

Carrots, beet, radish, cucumbers, pumpkin, horse radish, dill, cumin, mint, tormentil, apples, cherries, plums, cranberries, cowberries, raspberries are widely used in Ukraine.


Honey was playing a significant role in Ukrainian diet, as there was no sugar at that time. Different types of the animal fats and oil, vinegar and nuts have been widely used for cooking. Read more about honey in Ukraine


Later, from Asia the mulberry tree and water melon have been brought to Ukraine, from America – corn, tomatoes, cayenne peppers. Later on, these plants have started to be grown in the Southern Ukraine and widely used.


The main hot meal was meat or fish broth with addition of vegetables, which was called “yukha”, later in Ukrainian – “yushka” and in Russian language transformed into “ukha”.



Do you know that the name for the most famous Ukrainian dish “borsch” came from the old Ukrainian name for beet – “brsch”.



Main national Ukrainian drinks came out by the way of the natural fermentation, for ex., honey, beer, kvass (kind of sour fermented drink) and grape wines. Horilka (which means "vodka" in Russian) and different liqueurs appeared in 14th century. Read more about horilka here.


Other popular drinks in Ukraine are: stewed fruit (uzvar), juices, milk, buttermilk (kefir), mineral water, tea and coffee. Various alcoholic drinks complement the meals. It is customary to offer a drink to guests, who must not refuse it except for health or religious reasons.


Fish seller
Fish seller

Onions, garlic, dill, cumin, peppermint, anise, savory, red and black pepper, bay leaf and cinnamon (for sweet dishes) are widely used in Ukraine. Vinegar is very popular in Ukraine and sometimes overused.


Ukrainians prefer to eat at home, leaving restaurants for special occasions and generally avoid exotic meats and spices. The traditional Ukrainian food includes pork, beef, chicken, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh and pickled vegetables.


Popular traditional dishes are: varenyky (boiled dumplings with potatoes, meat, mushrooms, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, cherries or other berries), salo (salted or smoked pork fat with garlic or other spices) and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots and meat). The main and well known dish is Ukrainian borsch (soup made of beets, cabbage, meat, beans), served with sour cream and "pampooshkas" (fresh little buns with garlic and melted butter on top).


Famous Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake.


Ukrainian cuisine in pictures and where to taste it!

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