Improv Challenge: Potato and Cheese Pierogi


When I read that the ingredients for the Improv Challenge were potatoes and cheese, I immediately knew what I was going to make. Homemade pierogi has haunted me for almost three years now. After trying multiple recipes without success I decided the only way I was going to learn to make homemade pierogi is when I could steal borrow someone's Polish grandmother.

But then I came across a recipe in Eating Well magazine and I decided that I would take one more shot at making pierogi from scratch. If you're still hung up on the first sentence and wondering what in the world an Improv Challenge is, read on.

Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker created a monthly challenge where participants had to make a recipe with the two challenge ingredients. It could be any type of recipe they wanted, with the ingredients as the main stars or just flavors that blend into the recipe, as long as the recipe they made was new to their blog. Since I'm addicted to joining challenges like these, I obviously needed to participate again for March.

Potato and Cheese Pierogi
Adapted from: Eating Well, November/December 2011
Yield: 50 pierogi
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Dough Ingredients:
    • 3 cups whole wheat flour
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/4 cup warm water
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 2 tsp. salt
    Filling Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and cubed
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2-3 tbs. milk
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
    • 5 tbsp. water, divided
    • melted butter, green onions, parsley, cooked onions for garnish
Dough Directions:
1. In a large bowl combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil.
2. Pour the eggs and oil into the flour mixture and then add the water. Stir to combine, adding more flour or water (1 tbs. at a time) if necessary.
3. Continue stirring until a lightly tacky dough has formed. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for 1 minute.
4. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and form each piece into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Filling Directions:
1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook onion until soft and lightly browned.
3. When potatoes are done, drain excess water. Add the milk and mash potatoes. Then add in the onion and cheese, stirring until combined. Set aside.
Assembly and Cooking:
1. Lightly flour a surface and roll out one disc of dough as thin as you can get it. Using a round cookie cutter or glass (approximately 3" in diameter), cut out dough. Remove excess dough and wrap up in plastic wrap.
2. Spoon about a teaspoon of the potato mixture into the center of each dough circle. Fold the ends together, pressing down with your finger to seal the dough all the way around. Use a fork to crimp the ends of the dough, ensuring that it is sealed. Repeat with remaining discs of dough.
3. Lightly flour two large baking sheets. Transfer the sealed pierogi to the baking sheet.
* At this step, you can place the pierogi into the freezer for 2 hours on the baking sheet. Once cooled, transfer into plastic bags. *
4. Preheat the oven to 200 and lightly spray another baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pierogi in batches of 5 or 6 at a time until they float. Place them on the sprayed baking sheet. Repeat until baking sheet is full.
5.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and water each in a large skillet over medium heat. Place 8-10 pierogi into the pan. Place the remaining pierogi on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Cook the pierogi for 4-5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
6. Repeat with remaining pierogi. Serve with melted butter, green onions, parsley or cooked onions.

Meh. These pierogi were much better than my last attempt but they were still kind of thick and somewhat gummy. I think its because I'm not rolling out the dough thin enough. For anyone who has made pierogi before, does that make sense? So I've decided that unless a Polish grandmother would happen to fall into my lap, I'm not going to attempt pierogi again until I have a pasta roller and can get the dough super thin. 


  1. Wow, that looks like quite the project! They sound really good. Great job.

  2. I've found that homemade pierogies tend to be thicker. I don't know why but I agree that I don't like it. I think it's awesome that you made them from scratch!

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets these results. And thanks! :)

  3. Even if they didn't come out as you'd have liked, I'm totally impressed that you gave making homemade pierogi a try.

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my Improv Cooking Challenge entry: Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

    Cook Lisa Cook

  4. They sound yummy...maybe you just need to invest in the pasta roller, or a Polish grandma :)

  5. I've always wanted to make pierogis but never thought to try them with whole wheat flour - the ratio to white flour could perhaps have why they were a bit gummy? Either way, I'm impressed!

    1. Thanks! I think the flour might have something to do with it too. Maybe there's too much gluten in whole wheat flour. I'll have to look into it.

  6. I am always in awe of those who make their own pasta doughs! If you thought these were thick...I can't tell. But boy...they still look good! : )

  7. Darn! I was really excited when I saw you were using whole-wheat flour in your pierogies ('cause I've been afraid to try it...) But then I got to your "meh" =(

    They look pretty, though...

    1. I'd still say they were worth trying. Just don't expect them to be like boxed pierogi. :)

  8. I think yours look great - I would have never thought to use whole wheat flour - fantastic!

    I think I might know a little trick - something that could help - its something I learned when making homemade pasta to roll it out thinner. When the dough becomes stubborn and won't roll thinner, let the dough rest right where it is for about 20 minutes. It allows the gluten to relax and then it will roll out thinner when you begin again. Hope this helps! : )

  9. Great job on your pierogies. Practice makes perfect either that or pasta roller.

  10. My mom and grandmother always make potato and cheese pirogi for Christmas and Easter, but I've always been too intimidated to try making them myself. Perfectly happy to eat them, though :)

    Neither Mom nor Grandma use a pasta roller -- just a rolling pin and their dough comes out quite thin -- but they only use all-purpose flour in their dough. Maybe that makes a difference? The only pirogi-making tip I ever really picked up was that you shouldn't handle the dough too much because it makes it tough.

    1. I think another part of my problem is I just can't roll the dough thin enough. I probably just need more practice. Thanks for the tip about handling it too much!

  11. These look really good!! I like that you used whole-wheat dough!

  12. Like a bunch of others, I have always wanted to make pierogis, too. Yours look fab!


  14. we've got the Polish grandma at our house :P


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