On my first day in Krakow back in 2015, I lucked into the annual pierogi festival. Loosely defined as Polish dumplings, pierogi is a national dish of Poland, and one of my favorite. Thus, when I had the opportunity to take a homemade pierogi class during my Trablin conference, I leapt at the chance!
Urban Adventures Krakow
Urban Adventures Krakow is a team of eleven guides leading over a dozen group and private tours around the city. One of those tours is called Home Cooked Krakow. While the format of the tour can change slightly depending on the day, the premise is the same. The guide will take you to someone’s home for everyone to learn how to make homemade pierogi from start to finish.
Tomasz is the co-owner of Urban Adventures Krakow. I and three other travel bloggers had the honor of getting him as our guide. We couldn’t have been luckier with what he had planned for us (not that the usual tour isn’t just as good).
The first step of our tour was the local farmer’s market. Not just any market. The oldest in town. Stary Kleparz originally opened in the 15th century and has been a local favorite ever since. Six days a week, local farmers or their wives bring fresh produce and dishes to town.
Tomasz first taught us how to say “Good day. I would like to purchase…” in Polish (Dzień dobry! Poprosić…), along with the six ingredients we needed for the pierogi. We would be making “Russian” pierogi with a cheese, potato and onion filling. The six ingredients were high-quality flour, rapeseed oil, cheese, onions, eggs and potatoes. We each got to order one or two items in Polish, which happens to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn.
On the way to our cooking station, Tomasz stopped off at a bakery where Pope John Paul II (who used to live in Krakow) gets his favorite pastry Kemowka, which we purchased as a post-meal snack. We also picked up some drinks to enjoy with our meal.
Making it Personal
With everything in hand, we made our way to our kitchen. Or more specifically, the kitchen of Tomasz’ mom! Even though it was her anniversary, she opened up her home to teach us her world’s best homemade pierogi. We gave her some flowers we picked up at the market and then began the class in earnest.
The first step was peeling and cutting the onions and potatoes. While the potatoes boiled and the onions fried in butter, we watched the mom mix the flour, rapeseed oil, eggs, warm water and a dash of salt into the dough, which then was properly kneaded by several pairs of washed hands.
Setting the dough aside under a bowl to keep it moist, we mashed the potatoes, onions and cheese together, along with lots of pepper and a bit of salt. Tomasz taught us to go heavy on the pepper, as some would dissolve when boiled. We rolled this mixture into dozens of small balls each a little under an inch in diameter.
Finally, the dough was rolled out into a nearly translucent sheet. Every house in Poland has its own pierogi shape-cutter. We used an old mug with a thin edge and just the right size – about 3 inches across. As one person cut out circles of dough, the rest of us placed a ball of the mixture into the dough and closed it up, taking care to ensure the dumpling was completely sealed and no water would get in during boiling.
By the time we ran out of dough, we had made nearly 80 pierogi! These were placed in a pot of boiling water in small batches. Initially, the pierogi would sink. They were done when they floated to the surface. Tomasz served us plate after plate of our own homemade pierogi topped with grilled onions.
They were delicious! Not to crow or anything, but we made them better than anything I’ve had yet in a restaurant. Surprisingly, the mom agreed. After we left, she made another batch with the leftover filling!
Perhaps the only problem with the class was…well…we made too many! They just kept coming. We were all stuffed long before we ran out, and I think I was the only one who could eat the custard pastry which was meant for dessert. Barely.
Throughout the tour, Tomasz gave us a steady stream of information. We learned about Polish food and the market, and also about history, customs and traditions, and even got a taste of local music.
Homemade Pierogi Recipe
Click here for the full homemade pierogi recipe.
Booking the Krakow Urban Adventures Home Cooked Tour
- Meeting Point: 1 Dluga Street
- Starting time: 10:00 a.m.
- Price: €60 ($72)
- Phone: (+48) 665 015 665
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Krakow Urban Adventures
- What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes and a big appetite.
- Best time of year to visit: Jan-Dec. As a good portion of this tour is outside, it’s better to book on a sunnier day if possible. Tram tickets will be provided if needed due to the weather, but otherwise not a lot of walking.
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Krakow is one of my favorite cities I’ve visited in my travels. Here are some other activities and guides to help you out when you arrive there yourself.
- Click here to read about my first adventure in Krakow back in 2015.
- A Humbling Day in Auschwitz
- 10 Cool Things I Learned About the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow
- I Ate Too Much Good Food on the Food Tour in Krakow
- Exploring Krakow by Bike with the Cruising Krakow Bike Tour
- Krakow Revisited: Returning to One of My Favorite Cities in Europe
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?
- Click here to claim your $25 credit with AirB&B
This post may contain affiliate links. These links help give me the wherewithal to continue traveling at no additional cost to you. For more information, click here.
Such a lovely experience to visit the farmers market, buy fresh ingredients for your class and then learning to make a local dish (in this case, pierogi) in a local family’s home! The cheese and potato dumplings look great and the whole experience sounds very unique and interesting. Thanks for highlighting it!
You’re welcome. And thank you! It was so much fun. Hope you can do it yourself someday.
Cooking classes are the best way to create a connection with the local culture and one of the fastest. My wife and I make sure to take at least one whenever we get to a new country! It looks like you guys had a lot of fun making way too many pierogis! I love the fact the official pierogi cutter was an old mug! Though that custard pie looks to die for, even after 80 pierogis! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks. Cooking classes in every country should be a must for all travelers! What better way to learn about the local culture?
Cooking lessons are such a lovely way to experience the culinary culture. I love pierogis! I would love to learn how to make them! I’m drooling reading your description! So jealous!
Thanks. I hope you can take the class too someday.
That’s a such a great concept, I love the idea of cooking in someone’s home rather than in a designated kitchen of usual cooking classes. 80!! That’s really impressive -also that you still had room for desert! ????
It was such a great atmosphere. And I just got an email about how much the mom enjoyed having us over. The recipe will be added later today.
I love taking cooking classes in other countries. Food is definitely a universal language! Those pierogis look amazing!
Thanks. Hope you can take that one sometime.
The dumplings sound so good I can see why you thought everyone wouldn’t have room for the dessert. It sounds like fun and you got to learn how to make them. Now you can make them when ever you want, which is awesome.
Yes, and I plan to. The recipe is quite easy, although I’m finding a surprisingly high number of Polish who don’t know how to make them.
Wow! Pierogi’s! Coming from Ukranian heritage and growing up with Pierogi’s its amazing to see all the fuss about them and a whole Urban adventures tour around it. I’d love to get to that farmers market in Krakow and take in the experience (and see what all the fuss is about!)
Thanks. It really was cool to take the class. Did you ever learn how to make them in Ukraine?
I surely would love to do this in every country-learning how to make their iconic food. I had been looking for pierogis that would be better than the ready-made ones available in Costco.
Ooh, I think it would be hard to go back to Costco pierogi after trying these. There really are some meals around the world which are incredible. I want to learn how to make them all too.
I love the idea of doing a pierogi making class in Poland…mostly because I’m Polish and have never once even tried to make one! But I sure love eating them! Haha.
They’re fairly easy to make, and totally worth it. I hope to get the recipe added soon.
What a great experience. I love that you went to someone’s home to learn – and I am 100% sure your pierogi were wonderful. I’ve only tried shop/restaurant ones – and I love them, but I’d really love to taste home made ones.
It was certainly a unique experience. Tons of fun!