Ukrainian Christmas Recipes

Over the years, on the Nash Holos blog I’ve shared many authentic, traditional Ukrainian  recipes—including, of course, Ukrainian Christmas dishes—that have aired on Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio.

The traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve meal is arguably the most important to Ukrainians. It’s special because there are twelve dishes, each one lenten … no eggs, meat or dairy is permitted. Despite these restrictions, the dishes are out of this world delicious!

Every family has its own spin on what are the essential dishes for this meal. In my family, it was a combination of “musts” each and every year, along with “whatever works” to add some variety. The “musts” are kutia & borsch to start the meal, then a smorgasbord of perogies, cabbage rolls, fish (fried pickerel, salmon, herring), mushroom gravy and various veggie and dessert dishes needed to bring the total to 12.

Perogies and fried onions

Bread was also a must. A few times we had kolach, but usually we just had buns or rye bread. The traditional braided Christmas bread is lovely, but no one wanted to eat bread with candlewax on it. Mom did not like to waste food!

On this page you’ll find links to recipes for both Christmas Eve that contain no eggs, meat and/or dairy, and also for the rest of the Christmas season that do. 

Perogies: A recipe for perogy dough perfect for Christmas Eve perogies, as it contains no eggs (like my recipe does). Common fillings for Christmas eve are mashed potato with onion, sauerkraut, poppyseed, prune or other fruit like blueberries.

Beet & Mushroom Salad: A lenten recipe perfect for Christmas Eve or any dinner. This is an unlikely but absolutely delicious combination and a very attractive addition to any festive table. Plus, it’s quite easy to make. And, a great make-ahead. Enhanced with onion, garlic and olive or sunflower oil, this salad was a surprise and delight the first time I tried it. Now it’s a traditional favourite!

Onion Salad: Another great salad at Christmastime. Marinated slices of sweet onions in a creamy dressing laden with celery seeds. Lenten, but just as great a side on a Christmas table with meat & dairy, or at any time of year. Marinating the onion slices mellows the bite while retaining crunchiness. This is not a common salad in North America but should be! Super delish. 

Ukrainian Honey Cake: Traditional at Christmas! A viable option for those who don’t like fruit cake but still like something sweet and fruity. It’s best made early and allowed to ripen a bit before tucking into it. This was a favourite of the late Sylvia Molnar, who produced the Ukrainian Food Flair feature for Nash Holos for many years.

Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon: – no Ukrainian gathering is complete without this favourite dessert!

Cabbage Rolls: This recipe calls for buckwheat filling, but is equally delicious (and common) with rice and onion filling. Both are a must for Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner. Insanely delicious smothered in mushroom gravy.

Cabbage Roll Casserole: A tasty substitute for the time-strapped who love cabbage rolls. Also, for those who, like me, find that the juice of the scalded cabbage leaves burns my skin. For that reason I have never been able to make traditional cabbage rolls. But I love them, so this alternative is my go-to whenever I needed to satisfy my craving for holubtsi!

Homemade sausage: No Christmas Day platter is complete without it!

Almond Fish: Popular for the traditional Christmas Eve meatless dinner, but delicious anytime of year!

Mashed Beans: The Ukrainian answer to hummus, this garlicky dish is great as a dip or side dish and traditional for Ukrainian Christmas Eve. As a young child, when my grandparents were still alive and hosted Christmas Eve dinner, I recall that it was called біб (pronounced beeb) and consisted of mashed broad beans. Mom didn’t care for beans so she never served it. But I have developed a fondness for it. I use other kinds of beans that are more readily available, and come in a can which is great when there’s no time for soaking and cooking dried beans. 

Studenetz: This is another dish that is not common in North America, but very popular in my house! Delicious shredded lean pork in a savoury jelly sprinkled with vinegar. It contains meat so it is a treat we always look forward to enjoying come Christmas Day. 

For more Christmas recipes, tune in to the December 2018 editions (or podcasts) of Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio!

If you’d like a print copy of Christmas recipes as heard on Nash Holos, head over to our Patreon page and sign up on a tier that offers them as a reward. Also offered is a 2019 calendar, collection of proverbs, and more!   

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