Making these meat dumplings Pelmeni is a bit time consuming BUT much easier than you might think! Filled with a savoury beef and pork mix and served in a variety of ways but always with sour cream this recipe will become a family favourite!
If you have too much filling leftover, you can mix it with rice and stuff bell peppers with it or make Porcupine Meatballs.
I am grinning from ear to ear just looking at these little beauties! Making Siberian Pelmeni and sharing them with you have been on my list ever since I started blogging years ago!
I cannot even begin to tell you what an emotional attachment every Russian has to these meat dumplings!
If you ever ask me what defines Russian food, pelmeni would be without a doubt at the top of my list. If you ever ask me what I like to eat when I am sad or happy pelmeni would be way up there as well.
If you ever ask me what Russian food I would like to teach my children, these meat dumplings will be my most earnest answer.
After all, that is what my mom taught me when I was barely my daughter’s age! And not the sloppy ones, she taught me how to make them “properly”. Pelmeni with pretty fluted edges! The embellishments are not at all necessary but they make me happy.
Traditions associated with Russian dumplings
Pelmeni making is an incredibly social affair, you NEVER make them alone!
Traditionally all women of the extended family would gather to make pelmeni! They would make loads and loads and then freeze the lot, which would last them through a long Russian winter.
So it’s no wonder I Skyped my mom and got her to keep me company as I cranked out about 130 of those glorious meat dumplings!! There are many ways to make them.
How do you make them?
The traditional way is handmade but there is also a special mold you can use, that speeds up the process quite a bit! I will attempt to walk you through the handmade method but will also show you images of what mold made pelmeni look like.
The principle of making these meat filled dumplings is very simple and not too dissimilar to Chinese dumplings or even Italian ravioli or tortellini. They are also closely related to Polish pierogi or Ukrainian vareniki.
Essentially, pelmeni dumplings are thinly rolled pasta rounds filled with a raw ground meat mixture, flavoured with salt and pepper, then formed into dumplings. They are then boiled or frozen for later.
Great news is that no special equipment is necessary. No pasta machine or anything else. Just a rolling pin and your hands. No rolling pin? Use a wine bottle!
The image below shows the most common pelmeni shape. A half moon shaped dumpling with the ends pinched together.
Russia is an incredibly large country, so inevitably the size and the vastness of the landscape will play a part in how recipes develop but also diverge from each other.
The most common filling for pelmeni is meat and the most common shape is the one I mentioned above. However, in various parts of the country pelmeni could be stuffed with mushrooms, buckwheat, etc and folded differently.
The part of Russia my grandmother came from the dumplings were made larger and were shaped similar to Vareniki/Pierogi.
If you become serious about dumpling making, you might want to purchase a special mold available on Amazon, which makes the whole process much quicker.
It also leaves you with perfect uniform dumplings pictured below.
If you are a pasta lover, you will be all over these meat dumplings as they are essentially meat filled pasta but not just any meat, it’s so juicy you better watch out or it will drip all over your chin when you bite into one!
The most common meat found in pelmeni is a combination of minced beef and pork with onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
Pelmeni come in different shapes and sizes and I’ve shown you the most common ones.
They do take a bit of time but they are well worth it. It’s truly incredible to see what gorgeous flavour can come out of the simplest ingredients!
Can I make a soup with dumplings?
Traditionally pelmeni are served in a broth with added melted butter or sour cream or both! My mother always added fresh dill or parsley if she had them.
However, you can also make a soup using pelmeni as if they were tortellini or wontons! I like making a standard Chicken and Dumpling Soup but using the pelmeni instead!
How do you eat Pelmeni?
Pelmeni recipe is pretty standard but it varies greatly in how people eat them.
I like mine buttered, sprinkled with fresh dill and black pepper and then dipped in sour cream. Brad likes his pelmeni with dijon mustard and sour cream.
Some people have them with a bit of vinegar and I am getting reports from family in Russia that lately even soy sauce has become a favourite!
I hope I’ve convinced you to venture out into the delicious world of meat dumpling making. I promise you will not regret it!! Or try potato, bacon and caramelised onion dumplings Vareniki.
This recipe was originally published in 01/2016. Updated and republished in 04.2020
Meat Dumplings Pelmeni
For the dough
- 330g/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg large
- 225ml/1 cup cold water
For the meat filling
- 1 lbs extra-lean ground beef
- 1 lbs extra-lean ground pork
- 2 onions medium
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup water
- ½ bunch flat leaf parsley
- ½ bunch dill
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp butter
- sour cream
- fresh dill or parsley
- In a food processor pulse flour and salt. With the motor running add the egg through the tube and then cold water. Let the processor do its work for a minute until the dough forms around the blade.
- Transfer the dough into a bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the meat filling by combining beef, pork, salt and pepper. Then in a food processor blend onions, garlic, parsley, dill and water and add to the meat mixture.
- Use your hands to combine well, then pinch a small amount off and form a meatball. Fry the meatball and taste it for the right combination of salt and spices in your filling. Adjust spices if necessary.
- Divide the dough into quarters and form your quarters into balls.
- Take one dough ball and roll it out on a well floured surface in a thin sheet approximately 1/16" in thickness. Keep the rest of the dough covered to avoid drying out.
- Cut out circles with a 2" to 3" cookie or scone cutter. Put a teaspoon of meat filling into each dough circle, slightly off-centre, fold the dough over to form a half-moon shape and pinch the edges shut with your fingertips. If you want a more attractive look go over the edge one more time and this time pinch the edges together using your two fingers and a thumb and twist them to form a ruffled edge.
- Repeat with the remaining dough circles until you run out of dough and meat.
- Set aside a needed amount of pelmeni for dinner and freeze the rest in a well floured and air-tight container to prevent sticking.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and 2 bay leaves, drop pelmeni into rapidly boiling water and stir to prevent them sticking to the bottom, once they float to the top, cook for 10 more minutes.
- Drain pelmeni and pour meted butter over them, gently stir or toss to coat.
- Serve with sour cream and chopped fresh dill or parsley.
- * Do not thaw frozen pelmeni before cooking. They should be boiled from frozen for 5-7 minutes after they float to the top of the pot.