Estonian Food: Pirukas

Famous Estonian food - Pirukas
Famous Estonian food: Pirukas

Jump to delicious Estonian Pirukas recipe!

What is the Estonian dish Pirukas?

Close your eyes and let your senses take over as you embark on a journey to Estonia, where the delightful aroma of Pirukas permeates the air. This iconic Estonian snack is a testament to the country’s culinary heritage and ingenuity, a mouth-watering treat that promises to tantalize your taste buds.

As you bite into the flaky, crumbly crust of the dough, you’re greeted with a burst of flavors that dance across your tongue. You can choose from a variety of fillings, each more tempting than the last, ranging from savory meats like ham, and tender cuts of beef, to fragrant rice, hearty mushrooms, and sweet carrots.

Pirukas is a versatile snack that can be classified into three categories based on how it’s cooked. The small, baked küpsetatud pirukas is made from a buttery, flaky puff pastry, oozing with flavorful fillings that delight the senses. The small, fried praetud pirukas, on the other hand, has a crispy crust that crumbles with every bite, giving way to the rich, juicy filling inside.

But the pièce de résistance is the large, baked plaadipirukad. This mammoth snack is stuffed with only the choicest ingredients, featuring succulent cabbage, tender meat, and sweet carrots, a perfect balance of flavors that come together in a symphony of taste.

As you savor each bite of Pirukas, you can’t help but marvel at the skill and expertise required to make this delicious snack. The dough, whether made from a crumbly, flaky puff pastry or regular bread dough, is crafted with precision and care, ensuring that it bakes to perfection every time.

In Estonia, Pirukas is not just a snack, but a way of life, a testament to the country’s rich culinary heritage and traditions. With its mouth-watering flavors, evocative aroma, and exquisite presentation, Pirukas is truly an unforgettable experience that will leave you craving for more.

What are the origins and history of the Estonian dish Pirukas?

Pirukas, the iconic Estonian snack, has a rich history that dates back centuries. This beloved dish was initially created to provide sustenance for Estonian farmers who spent long hours working in the fields.

The origins of Pirukas can be traced back to the medieval period when merchants and traders traveled to Estonia, bringing with them a variety of culinary influences. Over time, these influences blended with the local flavors and ingredients to create a unique Estonian cuisine.

The earliest versions of Pirukas were simple dough pockets filled with meat and vegetables, intended to provide a hearty and filling meal. These pockets were portable and could be eaten on the go, making them a popular choice for farmers and travelers.

As Estonian society evolved, so did Pirukas. The snack became a staple of Estonian cuisine, with each region and household putting their own unique spin on the dish. The fillings were expanded to include a variety of ingredients, such as rice, mushrooms, and carrots, providing a diverse range of flavors to suit every taste.

In the early 20th century, Pirukas became a symbol of Estonian identity and was celebrated as a national dish. It was often served at festivals, family gatherings, and special occasions, and its popularity continued to grow.

Today, Pirukas remains a beloved and iconic snack in Estonia, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Its history and origins are deeply ingrained in Estonian culture, a testament to the country’s rich culinary heritage and traditions. Whether you prefer the baked or fried version, Pirukas is a delicious treat that is sure to satisfy any craving.

What are some dishes from other countries that are similar to the Estonian dish Pirukas?

Pirukas, the delicious Estonian snack, shares many similarities with other dishes from around the world. Here are a few examples of similar dishes from other countries:

  1. Empanadas: These savory turnovers are a staple of Latin American cuisine and share many similarities with Pirukas. Empanadas are made from dough pockets filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices, and can be baked or fried.
  2. Pirozhki: This Russian snack is made from dough pockets filled with savory ingredients such as beef, mushrooms, and potatoes. Pirozhki can be baked or fried and are often enjoyed as a quick snack or a light meal.
  3. Samosas: These triangular snacks are a popular street food in India, Pakistan, and other parts of South Asia. Samosas are made from a crispy pastry shell filled with a variety of spiced vegetables, meat, or cheese.
  4. Börek: This savory pastry is a staple of Turkish cuisine and is similar to Pirukas in that it is made from flaky dough pockets filled with a variety of ingredients, such as spinach, feta cheese, or minced meat.
  5. Knish: This Jewish snack is made from a dough pocket filled with mashed potatoes, onions, and other savory ingredients. Knish can be baked or fried and are often enjoyed as a snack or a light meal.

These dishes may have originated in different parts of the world, but they all share the same basic concept as Pirukas – a savory filling encased in a dough pocket. Whether you prefer Pirukas or one of its international counterparts, these snacks are sure to satisfy any craving for a savory, portable snack.

Vegetarian & Vegan options

Is the Estonian dish Pirukas vegetarian / vegan? If not, can it be made vegetarian / vegan?

The traditional Estonian dish Pirukas is not always vegetarian or vegan, as it often contains meat or dairy products in its filling. However, it is possible to make vegetarian or vegan versions of Pirukas by modifying the filling ingredients.

For vegetarian Pirukas, the meat can be replaced with vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, and peas. Cheese or tofu can also be added for additional protein and flavor. For vegan Pirukas, the cheese can be replaced with a vegan cheese substitute, or omitted entirely.

It is also possible to modify the dough recipe to make it vegan, by using plant-based milk and butter or oil instead of dairy products.

In recent years, vegetarian and vegan versions of Pirukas have become increasingly popular in Estonia, reflecting a growing interest in plant-based eating. These versions of the dish are often made with creative and flavorful fillings that are just as delicious as their meat-filled counterparts.

Whether you prefer traditional Pirukas or a vegetarian or vegan version, this beloved Estonian snack is a delicious and satisfying treat that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Traditional Estonian Pirukas Recipe

Pirukas is a traditional Estonian snack that is both delicious and easy to make. This pastry is filled with a variety of ingredients and can be baked or fried, making it a versatile dish that is perfect for any occasion. Here is a recipe for baked Pirukas that serves six people.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 200g butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 200ml sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the Filling:

  • 200g ground beef or lamb
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 potato, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add the chilled butter and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms.
  4. On a floured surface, knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and pliable.
  5. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm and cut into 10cm circles.
  6. In a frying pan, cook the ground beef or lamb until browned. Add the chopped onion, grated carrot, and grated potato to the pan and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place a spoonful of the filling on each dough circle and fold the dough over to form a pocket. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal the filling inside.
  8. Place the Pirukas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: Per Serving (1 Pirukas):

  • Calories: 426
  • Fat: 27g
  • Carbohydrates: 33g
  • Protein: 11g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 2g

Note: Nutritional information may vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

More Pirukas Recipes (in the Estonian language)

Karjala pirukas

Karjala pirukas

Krõbedad suitsukalapirukad

Pärmitaigna porgandipirukad

Pirukas FAQs:

  1. What is the origin of Pirukas? Pirukas is a traditional Estonian snack that has been enjoyed in the country for centuries.
  2. Can Pirukas be made with a vegetarian filling? Yes, Pirukas can be made with a vegetarian or vegan filling by substituting the meat with vegetables, cheese or tofu.
  3. Is Pirukas difficult to make? No, Pirukas is relatively easy to make, as it requires simple ingredients and basic baking skills.
  4. Can Pirukas be frozen? Yes, Pirukas can be frozen for later consumption. Simply wrap the pastries in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
  5. What is the best way to reheat Pirukas? The best way to reheat Pirukas is to place them in a preheated oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, they can be reheated in a microwave on high for 30-60 seconds.

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