How To Make Kopytka, the Polish Potato Dumplings That Instantly Fill Me with Comfort

published Jan 19, 2021
How To Make Kopytka

A step-by-step recipe for making potato dumplngs with onions and bacon.

Serves6 to 8

Prep20 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 35 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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kopytka sits on a white plate with a blue ring on a wooden table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Tender, light-as-a-feather kopytka have been one of my favorite comfort foods for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up I never actually knew they had a name (I just called them potato dumplings), but as I got older and wanted to re-create them for myself, I began to familiarize myself with all things kopytka.

Kopytka are the Polish equivalent of gnocchi, made with potatoes, eggs, and flour, and can be dressed up or down however you like. As a kid I always ate them with onions and bacon, and the classic combination remains my go-to. It’s the perfect mix of textures and flavors, and a wonderful reminder that simple food is often the best.

This step-by-step will guide you through making tender, perfectly plump kopytka in less than an hour. Let’s get started!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

The Best Potatoes for Making Kopytka

The base of these dumplings is mashed potatoes, but you don’t want to just use the leftovers you have in your fridge. Standard mashed potatoes made with dairy are too wet and will prevent your dough from coming together, so instead, you’ll need to boil potatoes and mash them yourself. This recipe calls for Russet potatoes, which makes the kopytka smooth and light. Russets are also fairly dry potatoes, so you won’t have to add a lot of flour to your dough (less flour = more tender dumplings).

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Are Kopytka the Same as Gnocchi?

Kopytka dough is pretty much identical to potato gnocchi dough, but the two are shaped and served differently. Gnocchi is often shaped with a fork to create small ridges that trap sauces, while kopytka are shaped like small diamonds. In fact, the word kopytka (pronounced koh-pit-kah) translates to “little hooves,” because their distinct diamond shape resembles the hooves of small animals.

When it comes to serving, gnocchi is often tossed with some sort of sauce (like pesto or a tomato-based sauce). Kopytka can also be served with sauce (I am fond of mushroom sauce myself), but is more typically topped with ingredients rather than tossed with them.

Read more: How To Make the Absolute Best Gnocchi from Scratch

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

3 Tips for Making Perfect Kopytka

Before heading into the kitchen, keep these tips in mind.

1. Test your potatoes often. Undercooked potatoes will result in lumpy kopytka, while overcooked potatoes will make your dough too wet. As soon as your potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a knife, stop cooking them.

2. Knead the dough just until it comes together. Overworking the dough can produce too much gluten and result in tough dumplings, so don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely smooth after kneading it.

3. Try serving with mushrooms, breadcrumbs, or butter. Our recipe tops the dumplings with onions and bacon, but you can serve them with pretty much anything you want. Mushrooms and crunchy breadcrumbs are also delicious options, as is melted butter.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell
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Here's how to make kopytka.

How To Make Kopytka

A step-by-step recipe for making potato dumplngs with onions and bacon.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    russet potatoes

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the water

  • 6 slices

    thick-cut bacon (about 7 ounces)

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • Optional toppings: chopped fresh chives, freshly ground black pepper

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Large pot

  • Parchment paper

  • Colander

  • Rimmed baking sheet

  • Potato masher, ricer, or food mill

  • Slotted spoon

  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon

  • Aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Boil the potatoes. Peel 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes and chop into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender and can be easily pierced with a paring knife but not falling apart, 11 to 13 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the bacon and onion.

  2. Chop the bacon and onion. Cut 6 slices thick-cut bacon crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups).

  3. Drain the potatoes. When the potatoes are ready, drain through a colander and return to the pot. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and no large lumps remain. (Alternatively, pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill back into the pot.) Let the potatoes cool uncovered until warm but not hot, about 10 minutes.

  4. Make the dough. Transfer the potatoes into a large bowl. Wash the pot and fill with water and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, add 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 large egg, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the potatoes. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until most of the flour is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms.

  5. Knead the dough. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead, adding an additional 1 tablespoon of flour if it’s too sticky, until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough is very smooth.

  6. Shape the kopytka. Dust the work surface with more flour and divide the dough into 4 portions. Working with one piece at a time, use your hands and roll into a thick rope that’s about 3/4-inch thick. Gently flatten each rope into a thick, rounded belt that's about 1-inch wide.

  7. Cut the kopytka. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with all-purpose flour. Cut each portion crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1-inch (diamond-shaped) pieces, then transfer them onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

  8. Boil the kopytka. Add half the kopytka to the pot of boiling water and stir so they don’t stick together. Boil until they float and are cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining kopytka and loosely cover the platter in foil to keep them warm. Empty and dry the pot.

  9. Cook the bacon. Add the bacon to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl.

  10. Cook the onion. Pour the bacon fat into a small heat-proof bowl, then measure out and return 4 tablespoons to the pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, 7 to 9 minutes.

  11. Toss everything together. Turn the heat off. Add the bacon and kopytka to the pot and gently toss to combine. If the kopytka are no longer warm, cook on low heat, stirring often, to reheat, 1 to 2 minutes. Seve immediately with chopped fresh chives and black pepper if desired.

Recipe Notes

Topping options: Kopytka can be served plain or with a variety of toppings such as mushroom sauce, breadcrumbs, or onions and bacon (like in this recipe). If topping with something other than onions and bacon, skip the last 2 steps in this recipe.

Make ahead: Uncooked kopytka can be kept on a lightly floured sheet pan tightly wrapped in plastic stored in the refrigerator up to one day in advance. They can also be frozen solid on the sheet pan, then transferred to a zip-top bag and frozen for up to 2 months. Boiled frozen, they will take 5 to 7 minutes to cook.

Storage: Cooked kopytka can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.