Struggling to find the perfect topping or sauce to complement your homemade pierogi? Savory or sweet, the secret to unforgettable pierogi lies in the right sauce or topping. But navigating the myriad of options out there can be overwhelming.
Imagine serving your carefully crafted pierogi only to realize the topping is too overpowering or doesn’t match the filling. It can be a real letdown, especially after investing time and effort into making these delicious dumplings.
But don’t fret. This comprehensive guide has got you covered.
We’ve compiled an array of time-tested pierogi sauces and toppings. To make things even easier, we’ve divided them into two categories – savory pierogi and sweet pierogi. This will help you quickly find what you need and understand which toppings work best under different circumstances.
So, let’s jump in and ensure that your next pierogi meal is an absolute feast of flavors!
Sauces and Toppings for Savory Pierogi
When choosing the perfect topping for your savory pierogi, you’ve got some tried-and-true favorites. Sour cream, melted butter, and sautéed onions never disappoint, and let’s not forget the buttered bread crumbs—a Polish classic.
Other toppings, however, are more situational. Their suitability depends on the specific filling you choose.
Sour cream is a firm favorite when it comes to pierogi toppings and for a good reason. It adds a tangy twist to any pierogi filling, and the cool cream contrasts nicely with the warm dumplings.
Sour cream works well with savory pierogi as-is without any extra seasoning.
If you’re out of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, skyr, or a vegan-friendly alternative can step in. Make sure it’s tangy, not sweet.
Related: Here’s how to make vegan pierogi.
To serve, you can either spoon it over the dumplings or place it in a separate bowl for dipping.
Melted butter is another topping that pairs well with all kinds of savory fillings, adding a richness that’s hard to resist. If you pan-fry your pierogi—which I highly recommend—you simply pour the melted butter over them, and voila, they’re ready to serve.
You can substitute clarified butter or ghee, but I’d avoid oil for this purpose. If you’re pan-frying the pierogi in oil, it’s best to leave it in the pan.
Onions are a surefire way to enhance the flavor of savory dishes, including pierogi.
Chop an onion or two and sauté in a lightly greased skillet until they’re soft and translucent, which usually takes up to 10 minutes.
You can then either scatter the onions over your pierogi or add the pierogi to the pan and sauté them together with the onions for a flavor boost. If you opt for the latter, consider adding more butter or oil to prevent the pierogi from burning.
Yellow onions work best, but you can sub in red onions or shallots in a pinch.
(In theory, you could carmelize the onions instead of simply sauteing them, but that takes way too long in my opinion.)
Fresh Herbs (Dill, Parsley, Chives, etc.)
Topping your pierogi with fresh herbs can be a great idea, but make sure to choose ones that complement your fillings.
Parsley is a pretty universal herb that goes with lots of savory fillings. Others, like dill, are more specific in their pairings. For instance, dill works well with asparagus pierogi but doesn’t mesh as nicely with lentil pierogi.
Before garnishing your pierogi with freshly chopped herbs, make sure they pair well with the fillings.
Polish Buttered Bread Crumbs
This topping is a step up from melted butter, and it’s very popular in Poland. You can pour it over many dishes, including Polish potato dumplings and steamed veggies.
The preparation is straightforward. Melt 2 oz of butter (half a stick) in a pan and stir in 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture turns golden brown. Pour it hot over your pierogi.
For garlic lovers, why not add more of that flavor to your pierogi? You can make garlic sauce with your favorite recipe and pour it over the dumplings or serve it on the side for dipping.
But keep the fillings in mind. While garlic sauce works great with meat pierogi, it might not pair as well with sauerkraut and mushrooms pierogi.
Mushroom sauce can be a versatile topping for savory dishes, but it requires a bit more effort to prepare. That’s why I listed it last.
If you’re looking for a recipe, check out this one.
Sauces and Toppings for Sweet Pierogi
Selecting the perfect accompaniment for your dessert pierogi hinges on how sweet your filling is.
Adding extra sweetness with powdered sugar might be overkill if it’s already pretty sweet. A tangy sour cream or a flavor-rich option like maple syrup could be a better choice in such a case.
But if your filling is not too sweet or even a tad sour (like when you make strawberry pierogi using whole berries), a sprinkle of extra sweetness won’t hurt. That’s when powdered sugar, honey, or any all-purpose sweetener comes in handy.
If you’re feeling unsure, fresh fruit, a simple berry sauce, jam, or jelly usually hit the spot. They offer a balance of sweet and sour that keeps the pierogi from being overwhelmingly sweet or too tart.
Here are your choices:
Surprisingly, sour cream works just as well for sweet pierogi as it does for savory ones. It adds a tangy balance to sweet fillings and gives a nice temperature contrast with the hot pierogi.
If you’re unsure about your dessert pierogi topping, try sour cream. If it’s too tangy, a dusting of powdered sugar can soften the sourness.
You can sub in a dense yogurt, like Greek yogurt or skyr in a pinch.
Powdered sugar is a sweet and simple choice when your pierogi need a bit of extra sweetness. But remember, if the filling is already sweet, the sugar might not enhance the flavor unless paired with something tangy like sour cream.
Powdered sugar works particularly well with sweet and tart fillings, as in many fruit pierogi.
If you’re considering sweetening your pierogi, honey is another flavorful choice. It provides a different taste from sugar, making it a worthy alternative to powdered sugar.
Though sweet like honey, maple syrup offers a more robust and complex flavor. It’s a great topping if your filling is a little bland (say, your farmer’s cheese pierogi aren’t sweet enough, and you skimped on the vanilla extract) or if you want to add an exciting taste note to the pierogi.
Transform your pierogi into a full-blown dessert by crowning it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. As the ice cream melts, it combines with the pierogi to create an irresistibly sweet sauce. Or, for a bit of adventure, try caramel ice cream.
Choose an ice cream flavor that matches the filling (strawberry ice cream for strawberry pierogi, for example) or won’t overshadow the pierogi. That’s what makes vanilla or salted caramel safe bets.
Simple Berry Sauce
Simple berry sauce is an excellent choice as it provides a balance of sweet and sour, plus it looks great, especially when garnished with a few berries.
To whip up a quick berry sauce:
- Puree two handfuls of fresh or defrosted berries with an immersion blender.
- Add a couple of teaspoons of thick yogurt (like skyr, Greek yogurt, or even sour cream) and half a teaspoon of sugar.
- Stir thoroughly (avoid blending at this stage) and adjust the sweetness to your liking.
This zesty sauce drizzled over your pierogi is a real game-changer.
(This is a great topping for all sorts of sweet pierogi, including sweet cheese pierogi.)
Pairing sweet pierogi with fresh fruit offers a refreshing contrast to the comforting warmth of the dumplings. Berries are usually a top choice, but feel free to experiment. Adding a dollop of sour cream to this combo is always a hit.
Jam or Jelly
Jam or jelly might not be the most common toppings, but they can certainly enhance your pierogi’s flavor profile. Both offer their unique sweet and sour notes that complement pierogi well.
You can also use commercially available all-purpose sweeteners, like chocolate syrup or vanilla syrup. Basically, anything that you would pour over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream works for sweet pierogi too.
Keep in mind that these syrups are usually quite sweet, so a more tart filling might balance them better.