6 Ukrainian Desserts Everyone Should Try

LydiaMae (CC0), Pixabay

Ukrainians aren’t shy on hearty savory meals and foodgasmic desserts inspired by Hungarians and Poles. That, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t bring anything authentic to the table. On the contrary, there’s a plethora of sweet treats endemic to Ukrainian cuisine, which haven’t been derived and adapted from foreign trends. The following ones are some of the most outstanding examples.


Albeit most popular as a garnish to borscht and other soups, the pampushka bun doesn’t necessarily have to be seen only as a type of garlic bread. As a matter of fact, sweet pampushky are just as delicious as their savory counterparts. Unlike the latter ones, which lack any stuffing, dessert pampusky are typically filled with jam-like varenye, whole fruits or poppy seeds, sometimes mixed with cheese, tvarog or similar dairy products, and garnished with powdered sugar. They are small buns made from yeast dough, which is most commonly baked, but some variations are also fried – similarly to a donut. Pampushky buns can be eaten as breakfast, dessert, side dish or main course.

Full recipe: here


Ryazhanka or ryazhenka is well known across Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. In old Soviet recipes this sweet beverage is credited as Ukrainian prostokvasha, although most people think it was invented by the Russians. In a nutshell, it’s a beverage made from pasteurized milk, which is then left slowly simmering at a low temperature and finally left to ferment through a lactic acid fermentation process. Due to the fact that in the old days the simmering was carried for a minimum of 8 long hours inside a Russian stove, the beverage also carries the label “baked milk”. Some variations of the commercially produced ryazhenka no longer call for the baking step, though.

Full recipe: here

Kiev cake/ Kyiv cake

Widespread by the USSR in former Soviet counties, the ultimate Ukrainian crown dessert is irrefutably the Kyiv cake. Dating back to the middle of the 20th century it has been diversely modified both in terms of ingredients and appearances. Originally it didn’t even have the horse chestnut leaf that’s commonly portrayed on top of it today. The nutty meringue, chocolate and buttercream are the base that makes the unforgettable taste of this delight, but the decorations, nuts and colors of the cake vary to such an extent that nowadays there is no right or wrong version of it.

Full recipe: here


Similarly to the Kiev cake, the pliatsok pastry has a vast variety of shapes and colors. What makes it truly unique is the fact that each slice of pliatsok has a vivid range of swirls, layers, patterns and fillings on the inside. As the popular saying goes, we eat with our eyes first, and no other maxim is more fitting for this Ukrainian dessert. The best thing about it is that you can literally take any recipe and modify it beyond boundary. Go as crazy as you want with all of your favorite fillings, cake decoration techniques and flavors because when it comes to pliatsok cakes, there’s no such thing as too much.

Full recipe: here


Based on choux pastry, the povidlyanka is a delightful treat every Ukrainian babushka is familiar with. Unlike most choux pastry desserts, this one is prepared with semolina instead of traditional flour. The sweet, nutty flavor in it is achieved by mixing finely crushed walnuts inside the dough, but depending on the formula, some variations call for almonds and other nuts, as well as for a small amount of alcohol spirits, such as brandy, sweet liquor or rum.

Full recipe: here


Last, but not least, comes something foreigners might overlook since it’s traditionally served during the Honey Feast and Christmas celebrations. The shulyky are thinly rolled out and baked cake-slash-cookie bits, which are served soaked in a mixture of honey, poppy milk and baked poppy seeds. The result is an unconventional, yet delicious dessert that will leave you pleasantly surprised and most likely longing for another portion.

Full recipe: here

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