Several readers have asked about gluten-free pierogi dough recently, so I’ve been wanting to try this for weeks.
Pierogi are such an important part of Polish cuisine. They are the epitome of Polish comfort food. To give them up for your health, to abstain when the rest of the family is enjoying the iconic dumpling would be sad indeed!
I understand why you would want to make gluten-free pierogi dough for yourself or a loved one. I get it!
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most grains. As the dough is worked gluten strands develop a structure that allows the dough to become elastic and stretch. The more gluten, the chewier the end product.
This is why some recipes, such as a delicate cake or muffin recipe will caution about overworking the batter. Chewy might be good for a chocolate chip cookie, but not for a cake. Bread flour is higher in gluten than cake flour.
Working with gluten-free flours
Gluten-free flours are made from things other than grains. Common sources include nuts, legumes, and coconut among other things. This site has a nice list of gluten-free flours, suggested uses, and their nutritional value.
I grabbed a bag of gluten-free cassava flour, not knowing what it was. I now see that it’s related to tapioca. They both come from the yuca root.
Trying to roll our the cassava flour dough was similar to making the gluten-free biscotti my daughter and I included in our home bakery line up years ago. It wanted to crack, tear, and crumble.
Using gluten-free flour is frustrating. It makes you realize the vital role gluten plays in making pasta or baked goods. I wish I had a magic tip to share that would make it easier, but I haven’t found it yet.
I usually roll pierogi dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch or 3 mm, but I couldn’t do that with this gluten-free pierogi dough. It would tear as I rolled it, tear as I tried, ever so carefully, to remove it from the counter. I had to work with the dough thicker, closer to 1/4 inch.
Even then, as I folded the thicker dough around my scant filling (and it had to be scant because I knew I couldn’t stretch and pull the dough over a generous amount of filling), the dough cracked in many places. I just tried to smooth them back together and began to worry that this temperamental dough would disintegrate in boiling water.
Would it hold together? Should I steam them instead? I decided to only risk one of my labor-intensive gluten-free pierogi in barely simmering water.
I worried for nothing. They were fine in boiling water and perhaps held together better than my usual pierogi.
I used a mushroom filling because, silly me, I had intended to make gluten-free uszka (the little ears pierogi folded into an unusual shape), but folding these twice, in two different directions, seemed like too much stress. I’ll mix up one of my usual pierogi doughs for the remainder of the filling to become uszka to go along with the beet zakwas I have fermenting on the kitchen counter.
After I’d finished my small batch of GF mushroom pierogi by browning in butter and topping with caramelized diced onion, Ed and I each tried one. We agreed that the flavor was nice. The dough was too thick in proportion to the filling, but if you haven’t ever had pierogi or you haven’t had them in a long time, that might not matter.
The remainder of our GF pierogi is going to Ed’s young friend and former colleague who has to eat a gluten-free diet. He is very excited to try them.
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I’ll close by saying that if someone makes gluten-free pierogi for you, they love you. They love you a lot, and you owe thank many, many thanks.
If you’re looking for gluten-free recipes, I do have a few others on my website, although most are not Polish.
Looking for pierogi filling ideas? How about these gluten-free filling options?Print
Try this gluten-free pierogi dough with your favorite GF flour and any filling.
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (120 g)
2/3 cup milk (160 ml)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (300 – 350 g, depending on your flour)
your favorite pierogi filling
- Whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the GF flour, and mix until well combined in one mass. Cover the dough and set aside while you prepare your filling.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Sprinkle some of your GF flour on the work surface and roll out the dough one piece at a time. Roll to a thickness of 1/8 – 1/4 inch. Cut into 3-inch circles. Add a small amount of the filling to each circle. Fold the circle in half around the dough and crimp the edges to seal.
- The dough will crack as you do this. Simply smooth out the cracks and carry on. Set the pierogi so that they’re not touching and continue to repeat the process with all 4 pieces. You can re-roll the scraps if you have enough filling for them.
- Gently place the pierogi in simmering, salted water. They should cook until they float to the top of the water. You may want to gently move them to be sure they’re not stuck to the bottom or to each other. You’ll want to cook them in batches to be sure they’re not crowded while in the water. The number of batches or the number of pierogi will depend on the size of your pan. I was using a small saucepan and only cooked 4 at a time. As you remove them from the pan, again, make sure they’re not touching.
- At this point, you can serve the pierogi. I prefer to saute them in butter, and I think the texture of the GF dough benefits from that. The bottom side of the boiled pierogi felt a little gelatinous before the second cooking in butter.
Popular garnishes – caramelized diced onion, sour cream, bacon bits. For sweet pierogi, sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon, possibly serve with sour cream with a bit of brown sugar stirred in.
Keywords: gluten-free pierogi dough