This Russian piroshki recipe makes perfect savoury minced meat-filled pastries, also known as Russian hand pies. Eaten as a snack or with borscht, my baboushka also served piroshki as one of an array of Russian dishes for family gatherings. While we preferred deep-fried piroshki, these can also be baked. They taste even better the next day.
My Russian piroshki recipe makes the perfect deep-fried minced meat-filled pastries my baboushka made when I was growing up in Sydney in the 1970s and during my university years in the mid-Eighties. She’d often send me home after a stay with a bag full of the addictive savoury buns that our American friends call Russian hand pies. They’d be wrapped in tea towels to keep them warm and I couldn’t resist digging into my bag to sneak one to nibble on the train home.
I was almost tempted to call this a Russian-Australian piroshki recipe, because baba’s minced meat filling contained the fine, clear, bean thread noodles that come from China and are used throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. I never questioned baba’s inclusion of noodles until we tried this street food snack for the first time in Russia, twenty years ago in Moscow.
The Russian piroshki we tried in Moscow was sold as a street food snack outside markets and served in restaurants with soup. While there were many kinds of fillings on offer, both minced meat and cabbaged-based, none of them contained noodles. I have a few theories why my baboushka might have added noodles to her Russian piroshki recipe, but first I have a favour to ask.
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Russian Piroshki Recipe for Perfect Savoury Minced Meat Filled Hand Pies
This Russian piroshki recipe – as with all the recipes for traditional Russian food that I’ve been sharing since the Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve, including my baboushka’s Russian pelmeni, stuffed cabbage rolls, beet potato salad, classic garden salad, and a Russian kotleti recipe for minced chicken patties – are a combination of my family’s recipes, the recipes of my memory, and Russian recipes that I’ve been cooking and have adapted over 20 years living abroad.
That’s to say that these traditional Russian recipes might differ to your Russian recipes – or your Ukrainian recipes, or Lithuanian recipes, or Latvian recipes, or Uzbekistani recipes, and I could go on. By sharing these recipes here as Russian dishes, I am not questioning or disputing their origin. I’m documenting, recreating and reinterpreting the traditional Russian food of my Russian grandparents and mother, that’s all.
There’s no denying that there’s a strong case that Russian borscht originated in Ukraine, however, the beetroot-based soup has still been made by Russians for at least five centuries, perhaps longer, according to written references, and has long been made all over Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Food travels – as a lifetime of travel has taught us. We return from journeys with recipes we’ve learnt on our travels. As refugees, immigrants, expatriates, and long-term travellers, we all take the dishes of our motherlands with us to our new homes and the places we travel to, and while some might not leave our own kitchens, others are incorporated into local culinary cultures, through the sharing of food and exchange of recipes.
So by all means, dear readers, tell me in the comments that piroshki are also made in Ukraine – or Moldova or Mongolia or wherever – but rather than tell me they are not Russian, why not share your experience of piroshki, how your grandmother or mother made them, and your favourite filling or way of eating them?
Here’s my Russian piroshki recipe based on how my baboushka made her delicious minced meat pastries that filled our stomachs, hearts and memories.
Russian Piroshki Recipe for Perfect Minced Meat Filled Pastries
- Stainless Steel Whisk
- 450 g plain flour
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 300 ml warm water
- 1 ½ tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 100 g dried bean thread vermicelli noodles
- 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 125 g onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 300 g minced pork
- 250 g minced beef
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- To make the piroshki dough: in a big mixing bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt, then create a well in the centre of the flour into which you need to pour the water and vegetable oil and stir until combined.
- Sprinkle a little flour onto your kitchen workspace before transferring the piroshki dough there, then knead the dough for a few minutes. When the dough is smooth and stretchy, lightly oil a mixing bowl, drop the dough in, cover it with a clean cotton tea towel, and set it aside for around one hour.
- When the piroshki dough has doubled in size, punch it down, then remove the dough and knead it on your lightly-floured work space for a couple of minutes or until the dough is smooth. Return it to the bowl again and set it aside for another 30 minutes to prove.
- While the dough is resting, make the piroshki filling: soak the dried bean thread vermicelli noodles in a bowl of water that completely covers them and set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a big frying pan, skillet or wok over medium-high heat, then add the finely chopped onion, fry until soft, then add the finely chopped garlic cloves, and fry until the onion is near translucent.
- Add the minced pork and minced beef to the fry pan, using a stainless-steel whisk to break up lumps. Add another tablespoon of cooking oil if needed, along with salt, black pepper, paprika, and sugar, and fry until brown.
- Drain the bean thread noodles, add those to the minced mixture and combine well, tasting to ensure it is well-seasoned. If not, add more salt, black pepper, paprika, and/or sugar to suit your taste. Set aside to cool a little, then just before you’re ready to make the piroshky, add the finely chopped fresh dill and combine.
- Clean down your kitchen work space, sprinkle lightly with flour, then drop the piroshki dough onto the surface and knead for a minute or so until the dough is smooth.
- Shape the piroshki dough into log of around 30cm in length, cut it into 16 portions, and cover the pieces with your tea towel. Fill a small dish with water.
- As best as you can, roll a piece of dough into a round, about 10-12cm in diameter. This dough is not as easy to shape as pelmeni or varenyki dough so don’t be too concerned if it’s not perfectly round.
- Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the minced mixture, place it onto one half of the dough round, and bring the other half over to cover the filling. Dip a finger into the dish of water and run it down the rim of one side of the dough then press the edges together to seal the piroshki. This results in a smooth seam, which is how my baboushka liked her piroshki.
- Repeat until you have filled all of the dough pieces with the savoury mince mixture, keeping the finished piroshki on a flour-dusted tray, covered in a clean tea towel.
- Half-fill a deep small- to medium-sized frying pan with cooking oil and heat to medium-high heat. Using a Chinese spoon or large slotted spoon, transfer one of the piroshki from the tray to the pan, and gently slide it into the hot oil. Transfer another one or two piroshki, and fry them in batches of two or three, ensuring they don’t touch.
- Fry the piroshki for a couple of minutes, then turn them over to fry the other side. Turn them again if necessary, until the pastry has puffed up and is a deep brown, then transfer them to a clean tray lined with a kitchen wipes or paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
- Repeat the process until you’ve made all the piroshki. Serve them warm with a dish of sour cream (smetana) sprinkled with fresh dill. If you’re not ready to eat them yet keep the piroshki wrapped inside a tea towel in a basket. They’re even more delicious once they’ve softened.
Do let us know if you make our Russian piroshki recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you. You can leave a comment below, email us or connect with us on social media. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to our social media accounts where we share these posts.