How to Cook The Best Ever Ukrainian Borscht: Top 5 Recipes

Ukrainian borsch with sour cream and pampushky

Borscht is often considered the pillar of Ukrainian cuisine and definitely is the most famous dish served in every corner of the country. Many Ukrainians argue that the iconic soup should only be homemade. That's why we picked 5 recipes you can try at home to cook the best Ukrainian borscht ever - it's easier than it seems.

Borscht (sometimes "borshch", transliterated from Ukrainian) is a vegetable-based soup, made of beetroot, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes and dill. Sometimes, meat or fish is added to the dish. Borscht has been one of the main dishes on Ukrainian cuisine way back since the 14th century. The word borshch originates from the Proto-Slavic language, while borscht comes from Yiddish. In any case, the name appeals to hogweed, which used to be the main ingredient before it was replaced with beetroot.

Apart from the classic Ukrainian red borscht recipe, where beetroot gives the soup its recognizable color, many Ukrainians also love “green” borscht, where the main component is sorrel leaves. It is often served in summer and considered a ‘light’ dish. Red borscht is traditionally served with pampushky — small, fluffy buns often sprinkled with garlic and dill. Flaky dough with sweet taste helps to enhance the taste of borscht.

As the main dish of Ukrainian cuisine, borscht has numerous recipes. They often differ even in neighboring villages of the same region, not even mentioning different cooks. However, there are common regional recipes of borscht - for instance, Odesa borscht with sweet pepper, cabbage-free Lviv borscht or Polissya borscht with mushrooms.

Classic Ukrainian borscht recipe

Classic Ukrainian borschtAs mentioned before, borscht has numerous variations and therefore recipes. The classic borscht recipe usually refers to red borscht and includes beetroots, beef and cabbage. It is quite dense and the ingredients are usually largely-chopped. The classic recipe calls for serving borscht with sour cream - and pampushky, in case you drop by the bakery.


  • 300-400 g beef
  • 1.5 kg cabbage
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 beetroot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5-2 l water
  • 100 ml sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. First, prepare the broth. Wash the meat, put it in a pot and pour in cold water. When the beef boils, remove the foam and cook the broth for another 20 minutes.
  2. Peel beetroot, grate on a large grater and fry in oil. Add a little meat broth and stew on a low heat.
  3. Finely chop onions and fry in oil until golden color. Add the carrots, pour some more broth and stew for another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Peel the potatoes, cut into cubes, add to the broth and wait until it boils.
  5. Put the shredded cabbage in the broth and cook for 15 minutes more. Add salt, pepper, stewed beets, herbs and bay leaf.
  6. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it steep.

Kyiv Borscht

Kyiv BorschtIf you look closely at the map of Ukrainian cuisine, you will notice that the further to the West, the fattier the dishes. So how to cook Ukrainian borsht Kyiv-style? Keep to the golden middle. The soup’s main peculiarity is the absence of various additives like crushed garlic or salo (pork lard) that are usually spread in the South. If you really adore garlic, prepare a sauce to pour on pampushky - vegetable oil, water and minced garlic mixed together.


  • 300 g beef
  • 2 large beetroots
  • half a glass of white beans
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsley root
  • ¼ celery root
  • half of a bell pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 glasses of chopped white cabbages
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • sour cream
  • greens
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 l water


  1. Prepare the broth: wash meat, put in a saucepan, pour cold water and put on the heat. Take off foam as it boils. Reduce the heat once the meat is boiled, put soaked beans and cook for 30 minutes. It's best to soak beans beforehand for 5-6 hours. Then add onions, carrots, parsley root and half a green pepper.
  2. Boil for another 30 minutes. Keep the heat average, so that the broth boils a bit. Add chopped potatoes, and after another 15 minutes add sliced cabbage, bay leaf and beet pulp.
  3. Prepare garnish: take a saucepan, pour oil and quickly fry crushed garlic. Then add grated beets and celery. Fry everything for 5 minutes. 3. Add salt, vinegar, sugar and tomato paste to the garnish. Stew for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove meat, onion, carrots, green pepper and parsley from the broth. Grate the carrots, cut the meat into small pieces and put them back into borscht. Add garnish.
  5. Add salt to taste and sauté for another 30 minutes on a small heat. Serve with sour cream.

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Polissya borscht

Polissya borschtUkrainian region Polissya provides a nice vegetarian borscht recipe - it is meat-free; instead the soup acquires its iconic taste with mushrooms and vegetables. For this recipe, you will also need pickled cabbage brine. In Polissya, borsch is often served with boiled crushed beans and sour cream.


  • 3.5 l water
  • 150 g white mushrooms
  • 2-3 beetroots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • ¼ white cabbage
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ground black pepper
  • 5-6 tbsp oil
  • 50-70 ml pickled cabbage brine
  • sour cream


  1. Soak mushrooms in cold water for several hours. Then rinse well, chop into straws.
  2. Take a saucepan, pour in water and boil. Add salt, mushrooms, and cook on medium heat until mushrooms are soft. 3. Wash and peel vegetables. Slice beets and carrots into straws (or grate on a large grater), then cut onions and potatoes into cubes, and shred cabbage into large pieces.
  3. Put the beets in a frying pan. Add oil, water, tomato paste and a part of the cabbage brine. Stew until almost ready.
  4. Add potatoes and cabbage into the mushroom broth. In 5 minutes, add sautéd carrots and onions. Finally, add stewed beets, spices, salt to taste, and the rest of the cabbage brine.
  5. Remove the pan from the heart and leave it to steep for about 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Green borscht

Green borschtThe classic green borscht recipe revolves around eggs. Apart from the greens like sorrel and parsley, eggs are definitely paid extra attention when it comes to green borscht. It can be served hot or cold in summer or prepared regardless of the season.


  • 1.5 l chicken broth
  • 1 bunch of sorrel
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of leek
  • 2 potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ onions
  • salt and pepper


  1. Prepare the broth: wash meat, put in a saucepan, pour cold water and put on the heat. Take off foam as it boils.
  2. Cut the greens, boil 2 eggs and clean the potatoes and onions.
  3. Fry onions. Cut eggs once boiled. Add onions and greens to the broth.
  4. Cut the potatoes in cubes and add to the soup. Add salt and pepper.
  5. After 20 minutes, pour the raw egg into a broth, stir and continue to cook until the egg hardens.
  6. Add boiled eggs to the borsch and remove them from the flame. Serve green borscht with sour cream.

Odesa borscht

Odesa borschtThe iconic regional Ukrainian borscht recipe comes from Odesa. This dish is cooked with salo (pork lard), sweet bell peppers and vinegar that give the borscht a fatty dense structure and a sour taste. Some recipes from Odesa also call for using fish instead of meat.


  • 1 kg beef
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 400 g white cabbage
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 onion
  • 2 beetroots
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50 g salo (lard)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (9%)


  1. Thoroughly wash beef. Put it in a saucepan, pour cold water, bring to a boil, and remove foam. Add salt to taste, add a few black peppercorns and peeled onion. Simmer for 1.5 hours.
  2. Take out the cooked meat and boiled onions from the broth.
  3. Finely chop the onion, grate the carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden brown.
  4. Peel beetroot, grate on a coarse grater. Melt pork fat in a pan, add beets, pour in vinegar and 2 tablespoons of broth. Simmer the beets on medium heat until soft for about 15 minutes. Then add tomato paste. Stir and simmer another 5 minutes.
  5. Peel potatoes, chop into large pieces. Finely chop fresh cabbage. Remove seeds from peppers, cut out the pith, cut into strips. Put vegetables in boiling broth. Boil for 10-15 minutes and add the browned onions and carrots. After another 5-7 minutes, add the stewed beets and bay leaf.
  6. Boil the borscht for 5 minutes, then fill with crushed salo and garlic. Bring to a boil under a lid, remove from heat, let steep for 20 minutes.
  7. Borscht in Odesa is served with sour cream and chopped greens.

Photo sources: All images belong to their rightful authors.

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