No matter where you are in the world, Christmas has its rituals, foods, and traditions. In Ukraine, the Christmas season officially starts on December 6th with the Feast of St Nicholas and ends on January 14th with the Feast of the Epiphany.
During this time, Ukrainians don’t only celebrate the birth of Christ but also have time to relax, spend quality time with family and friends and enjoy their favorite Ukrainian Christmas food.
Not to worry, you won’t be left out of the fun. As part of your year-end holiday celebrations or planning to visit Ukraine, here is the Ukrainian Christmas food register that entails delicacies you need to try.
1. Mushroom Broth
The mushroom broth is an important Ukrainian Christmas food served on Ukrainian Christmas. This deliciously warm soup is often eaten with a spoon and has a soft, velvety texture that melts in your mouth.
Usually, the dish is made from dried mushrooms, garlic, onions, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Depending on the cook’s taste, other ingredients, such as hard-boiled eggs or vegetables like carrots or celery, can be added.
Blini, also called Vushka, is a Ukrainian Christmas food that is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. The word blin comes from the Russian word pryanik, meaning bread cake. Blini are traditionally prepared with buckwheat flour and mashed potatoes.
Furthermore, they are usually topped with sour cream, butter, caviar, and crumbled hard-boiled eggs. This dish is sometimes known as the poor man’s dinner because they are inexpensive to make and can feed many people.
The tradition of eating blini can be traced back to ancient Russia when it was called pryaniki. Also, it was served in pagan rituals during winter solstice celebrations.
Borshch is a type of soup that is served during the holidays in Ukraine. It is a hearty, rich, and flavorful soup that can be served as either an appetizer or as the main dish. Borshch, a typical Ukrainian Christmas food, tastes best with homemade noodles.
Additionally, it can be made with any combination of vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and more.
The vegetables are simmered in water or stock for about an hour before adding the borscht base. This typically includes tomato paste or ketchup and spices like dried thyme and bay leaves.
Varenyky is a dumpling typically boiled or fried and served with sour cream or butter. Varenyky come in a variety of shapes, but they are commonly round. Plus, they are stuffed with potato, cheese, or sauerkraut.
To make this special Ukrainian Christmas food, wheat flour is combined with eggs, salt, sugar, and water to form a dough.
Then the dough is rolled out thin and cut into circles before adding the filling. Lastly, it is sealed shut by pressing the edges together to seal them closed like ravioli.
A traditional Ukrainian Christmas food is holubtsi. These are cabbage rolls stuffed with pork or beef and rice, baked in a tomato sauce.
In addition, they are served with mashed potatoes and sometimes eaten alongside other Ukrainian dishes like borscht.
The word holubtsi comes from the word hollow, which refers to the shape of the dough wrapped around the filling.
Holupki, another traditional Ukrainian Christmas food, is similar to holubtsi. This dish is made of boiled cabbage leaves that are filled with ground meat, onions, and rice.
Then, they are cooked on top of each other in boiling water until they form one large roll-shaped mass. Also, it’s often served with mashed potatoes, but it can also be eaten alone!
7. Jellied Fish
A jellied fish is a popular Ukrainian Christmas food. It’s usually made with carp, but you can use any type of fish. Jellies are made by cooking the fish in a broth that has been seasoned with salt and spices.
Further, the cooked fish is then skinned and cut into cubes before being put into a bowl with the broth, which has been reduced to make it jelly-like. The meat is removed from the bones and added to the jelly mixture before it cools.
Kholodets is a Ukrainian Christmas food that is made from pieces of meat, usually pork or beef, boiled in a pot with water or stock.
The meat is then removed, cut into small pieces, and returned to the pot. These pieces are simmered for about an hour until they are very tender, at which point they are strained off and set aside.
The broth left in the pot is reduced to a jelly-like consistency and served hot as an appetizer with black bread. Kholodets can also be eaten cold, but it becomes more of a gelatinous soup rather than serving as an appetizer.
9. Cured Herring
Cured herring is a dish that is traditionally served during the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Christmas. It is prepared by salting fresh herring and curing them with salt, bay leaves, allspice, peppercorns, and other spices.
The fish must then be soaked in water for about two hours to remove the excess salt and spices before being eaten.
It is important to note that not all Ukrainians eat cured herring for their Christmas meal, as it can be considered a regional dish in some areas of Ukraine.
Cured herring has been an iconic dish in Ukraine since at least the 17th century. That was when they were a staple food item among Ukrainian Cossacks who had access to large quantities of fish along rivers like the Don or Danube.
Vinegret is a popular Ukrainian Christmas food in Ukraine. It is a salad made of boiled beets, carrots, potatoes, and pickles.
The word vinegret comes from the Russian word for beet, vinograd сердцевина ягодичной плодов. Vinegret traditionally has a raw egg yolk that is mixed in at the end.
This helps give it a sour taste and makes it more filling for people to eat at night. Especially before bedtime to help keep them warm during the winter months.
11. Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes are a staple of Ukrainian Christmas dinner. You can make them in various ways, but they’re most often boiled.
Then, they are baked with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and green onions. Plus, the potatoes are served as an appetizer or main course, depending on the occasion.
The dish is usually served with a dollop of sour cream on top and a sprinkle of dill for decoration. Serve this Ukrainian Christmas food to your guests and see them in the fullness of their tasty glory!
A Ukrainian favorite, kutia, is not left out of the Ukrainian Christmas food specialties. It is a sweet porridge from wheat berries boiled for hours with milk and honey, sugar, raisins, and cinnamon.
The porridge is often set out on tables during the holiday season as a symbolic reminder of the grain that was offered to animals in the stable at Bethlehem.
Moreso, Kutia can be enjoyed in many ways. It can be poured into bowls and sprinkled with cinnamon or walnuts. Or served with a spoonful of fruit jam or compote, topped with whipped cream as a dessert.
Also, it can be mixed with chopped nuts and served as an appetizer dip with rye bread cubes or crackers.
The traditional Ukrainian Christmas food is uzvar, a beet, and apple soup. It is served with a dollop of sour cream and dill on top.
The soup has a sweet taste from the apples and some spice from the garlic, onion, and pepper. Specifically, this dish is served as an appetizer and an entree.
For an appetizer, it is usually only one bowl per table. In this case, it’s often served in individual bowls. For dinner, the soup is usually served in larger quantities for two to four people per bowl.
The kalach is a type of pastry that is usually shaped like a loaf. It is typically made with eggs and vegetable oil, which are mixed until they form a dough-like consistency. Then, the dough is rolled out into a rectangle before being spread with butter and sugar.
Moving on the dough is then folded in half to make it more compact before rolling it out again and folding it over one more time to create the final shape.
After this, the kalach can be decorated or flavored with cinnamon or other spices if desired. With plenty of amazing options for every palate, this is one Ukrainian Christmas food you can make on this festive occasion.
Kisel is a Ukrainian Christmas food with many variations depending on the region of Ukraine. It can be made with either rye or wheat flour, with pork fat and boiled eggs.
Uniquely, the dough is rolled into ropes and then braided into various shapes (such as a snake or an apple). Also, it can be twisted and turned in a way so that it looks like a rosette. The kisel is then deep-fried in oil and served with sugar, honey, or powdered sugar.
A popular Ukrainian Christmas food is Pampushky. Pampushky is a dough that has been deep-fried and can be eaten as an appetizer or a main course.
Often, it is served with sour cream, onion, garlic, and dill. The most common pampuska stuffing is minced meat mixed with mashed potatoes which have then been mixed with eggs and salt.
17. Sweet and Colorful Jelly
The color and flavor of this jelly are hard to beat! You need a pound of fresh fruit (usually apricots or peaches), sugar, and a lemon to make it. To start with, peel the fruit and remove the stones.
Next, make syrup by bringing sugar to a boil with water. Simmer for some minutes until the sugar dissolves completely.
Then, add fruit, bring to a boil again, and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the fruit becomes tender but not mushy.
After that, drain in the colander and let it cool down. Stir together with lemon juice and place in jars while still hot.
Finally, allow it to be set at room temperature overnight before storing it in the fridge. Very simple steps to attain this delicious Ukrainian Christmas food!
Sometimes, unsweetened pampushky without stuffing that has been cut into halves is used in place of bread as the base for sandwiches.
On Christmas Eve, sprat fish, a tomato or lemon slice, a leaf of parsley, and mayonnaise are added to these for decoration. Though simple yet very nutritious Ukrainian Christmas food!
19. Layered Liver Cake
There are many different types, but one very popular Ukrainian Christmas food is layered liver cake. This particular dish is made with a mixture of boiled pork livers, kidneys, and other meats (depending on the recipe).
These are blended with eggs, flour, onions, garlic, and spices. Going further, the dough is made into thin layers baked in an oven.
When cooled to room temperature and cut into pieces, it’s served with a side of sour cream or mayonnaise and horseradish sauce.
20. Olivier Salad
Olivier Salad is one of the most popular dishes to prepare on Ukrainian Christmas. It’s a salad with all sorts of ingredients, including potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, and corn.
Plus, the salad is dressed in mayonnaise and is topped with grated cheese, which gives it a nice cheesy flavor.
It’s the holiday season, and you’re probably looking for a new Ukrainian Christmas food to surprise your family. Here’s a great option!
21. Minced Meat Pancakes
Mincemeat Pancakes are a popular Ukrainian Christmas food served during the winter months. They are typically made with flour, eggs, butter, milk, and mincemeat. To make them, you will need a bowl, a whisk, a frying pan or griddle, and a spatula.
Mix all of your ingredients in the bowl, but save one egg white. Next, whisk until everything is well mixed, then add in your last egg white to create bubbles.
Afterward, put some oil on the griddle or frying pan and then pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto it for each pancake.
Finally, allow cooking for about 5 minutes before flipping to cook the other side for another 5 minutes. With this, we’ve come to the end of our Ukrainian Christmas food list!
This year, be sure to enjoy the Ukrainian Christmas food and drinks on your holiday table. It’s the perfect way to get in the spirit of the season. Some people may think it’s a lot of work to create such a large menu, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Christmas is one of the most traditional holidays that Ukrainians celebrate each year. So it’s only fitting that some unique foods and drinks are associated with Christmas in Ukraine.
While there are no strict rules on what food should be served during Ukrainian Christmas celebrations, there are several foods that are traditional to the season in Ukraine – foods that you might find on your Ukrainian friend’s table this December.
We hope you put the Ukrainian Christmas food register above to better use! Till later!
Happy/Merry Christmas is known in Ukrainian as ‘Веcелого Різдва’ Veseloho Rizdva (Merry Christmas) or “ристос одатс” Khrystos Rozhdayetsia (Christ is Born). There are many more languages to say Merry Christmas.
Ukraine’s traditional Christmas season begins on January 6. (Christmas Eve in the Julian calendar). It continues until the Epiphany Feast on January 19. At the same time, a growing number of Ukrainians observe Christmas on December 25, according to the Gregorian calendar.