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Hawaij spiced sweet potato pierogi with sumac caramelized onions

Recipe by Zoe Primeaux
Makes around 18 pierogi

While these pierogi are not traditional in the classic sense, I like to think of them as a fun culinary fusion of the Jewish diaspora. Pierogi (or varenikes) are beloved Eastern European dumplings and Hawaij is Yemenite spice with a warmth that balances beautifully with sweet potatoes. While these lil babies are made with inexpensive pantry ingredients you may already have on hand, they’re admittedly a true labor of love with an emphasis on labor. This is for when you have plenty of time and wanna channel your inner Bubbie. They are absolutely worth the effort because nothing says “I love you” more than handmade pierogi!

**It should be noted that while all the ingredients listed are plant based, you can absolutely substitute ghee or melted butter in place of oil.


1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly diced
1 ¼ teaspoons Hawaij seasoning
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 clove grated garlic (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley

1.5 cups all purpose flour
½ cup reserved sweet potato water, warm but not hot
2 tablespoons neutral oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Caramelized sumac onions
2 large yellow or sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon sumac
Pinch of sugar (optional)


Prepare sweet potato filling! Place peeled and diced sweet potato in a pot of lightly salted water and bring to a boil until soft, around 15-20 minutes. Carefully drain the sweet potatoes but reserve the starchy water! Set it aside to cool until it’s warm but not hot. If the water is too hot when you make the dough, it’ll become gummy and that’s not a vibe. Mash the sweet potato in the same pot and add Hawaij, oil, salt, pepper, grated garlic and parsley. Stir to combine and let cool completely.
Make that dough! There are a few different journeys you can take here: you could make it by hand for maximum bubbie realness or use an electric stand mixer or food processor. Regardless of the journey you choose, combine the flour, salt, oil and reserved sweet potato water all together until you have smooth and elastic dough. Wrap with plastic wrap or cover with a slightly damp towel and rest for an hour to relax the gluten.
Caramelized onion time! While the dough is resting, prepare the carmelized onions. Coat a large sauté pan or skillet with oil on medium-low heat until you can see ripples in the oil. Add onions and spread evenly on the pan. Gently stir occasionally until onions are deep brown and the natural sugars are released, around forty-five minutes. You may need to reduce the heat or add an occasional splash of water or oil to prevent burning. After around thirty minutes, add the sumac and salt. Once onions are a deep shade of brown and your kitchen smells like allium heaven, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Form the pierogi! Roll out dough to ⅛ inch thickness and cut out 2.5 inch diameter rounds using a mason jar or cookie cutter. Add a tablespoon of the sweet potato filling and a teaspoon of the carmelized onions to the center of each round. To seal the pierogi, wet your finger and trace the border of each round, then fold over and pinch the ends to seal. There are some more advanced sealing techniques out there but a fork gets the job done just fine. Toss the pierogi gently with flour. (At this point you can set some aside to freeze. To prevent your pierogi from clumping together, spread them evenly leaving an inch of space between each pierogi on a cooking sheet and place in the freezer. Once pierogi are frozen, transfer to a sealed bag and store for up to two months)
Cook the pierogi! Bring around two quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Working in batches, add a few pierogi at a time and cook for five to six minutes until they float to the top. You can serve them boiled or go the extra mile and fry ‘em up in a pan with oil until crispy. Serve with the remaining caramelized sumac onions and sour cream/vegan sour cream on the side. Enjoy!

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