Syrniki Recipe – Russian Cheese Pancakes

7 Min Read

An easy Syrniki recipe: make these delicious, pillowy-soft, Russian cheese pancakes for a tasty breakfast treat. Serve these with syrup like traditional American pancakes, or with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and a spoonful of fruit preserves.

Syrniki pancakes are one of my all time favorite things to eat… Out of ALL THE FOOD in the world.

My mom and grandma made them as a special treat when we were growing up in Ukraine and even after we moved to the US, and I had to learn how to make them myself once I moved out on my own.

What are syrniki?

Syrniki are slightly sweet, cheesy Russian pancakes made from Farmer’s cheese. They are a traditional Russian and Ukrainian recipe, typically served for breakfast or as a snack or light lunch. They are super soft and just slightly sweet on the inside. These pillowy pancakes of cheesy goodness are just so delicious.

syrniki recipe russian cheese pancakes

‘Syrniki’ is pronounced SYR-nee-kee, where “y” in ”SYR” sounds like the “i” sound in ”bill.” Come on, say it out loud. 🙂

(You can also spell them as “sirniki” sometimes.)

Syrniki pancakes are made from farmer’s cheese, which is somewhat similar to ricotta cheese, but a little dryer and more crumbly. Farmer’s cheese is perfect for combining with a little flour, sugar, and eggs to make breakfast and dessert recipes, like syrniki or zapekanka.

Where to buy farmer’s cheese:

Look for farmer’s cheese in the refrigerated dairy section, next to ricotta, cottage cheese, and sour cream.

Farmer’s cheese is available at most major grocery stores in the US and in pretty much all Slavic/Russian/Ukrainian grocery stores.

If you don’t see it, make sure to ask someone in the dairy section. And if they don’t carry it, make sure you ask the store to get some farmer’s cheese! Did you know a lot of stores listen to input from their customers about what items they should carry?

If you can’t find farmer’s cheese, you can use ricotta cheese – just drain it in a colander overnight in the fridge to get the extra liquid out, otherwise your syrniki will fall apart when you form them.

Package of farmer's cheese

I remember being excited every time my grandma made sirniki when I was a kid. Sadly I just don’t think to make these often enough! That has got to change now that I nailed down this recipe.

I started with asking my grandma for her recipe, and in the usual grandma fashion, the response I get was ”oh, I don’t know, you need farmer’s cheese, eggs, flour, a little bit of sugar… just add the flour until the texture is right, don’t add too much or they’ll be tough.”

It took a couple of tries, but I got the recipe down. I guess years of hanging around the kitchen impatiently waiting for syrniki to be ready gave me some intuition about what looked ”right” for the batter. 🙂

A few tips for making Syrniki:

  • Make sure you start with a farmer’s cheese that is dry and a little crumbly, it should be packed like a brick. If it is packed in water or has a texture similar to ricotta, you’ll need to strain it in a fine-mesh colander until it is dry and crumbly. Otherwise, you’ll need to add too much flour to the syrniki dough and it will be too doughy and not cheesy enough. If starting with ricotta, you’ll need to strain it too.
  • The “batter” will be much thicker than American pancake batter – it will be more like dough.
  • You can add raisins to the recipe, if you like raisins. I usually skip them. Nothing against raisins, just not my thing in pancakes.
  • You’ll need to dredge the syrniki in flour after you form them but before you fry them. This will make sure that the syrniki don’t stick to the pan.
  • You’ll want enough oil in the pan to coat it slightly. You can use a spoon to help you flip these pancakes easily.
  • You can cook a few syrniki at a time, but don’t crowd the pan!
Syrniki - Russian Cheese Pancakes

What you’ll need to make syrniki:

A squeeze-release ice cream scoop makes it very easy to form these pancakes and make them all a nice even size. I use this ice cream scoop for syrniki, as well as for scooping out regular pancake batter, muffin batter, and of course – ice cream.

Syrniki should not be fried in olive oil – it has too much of a strong savory smell. You’ll want to use a neutral vegetable oil such as canola, or coconut oil. If you love coconut oil, then definitely make sure to get non-refined coconut oil. It will have a lovely fresh coconut smell to it.

Don’t forget maple syrup or some blueberry sauce to go on top. You cannot go wrong with Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves – all their preserves are so delicious. Or you can try making your own blueberry sauce like I do in my Blueberry Greek Yogurt Pancakes recipe.

How would you serve syrniki pancakes, you ask?

Just like traditional American pancakes, these are amazing with maple syrup on top. Or try them with homemade syrup, such as mulberry syrup (get the recipe here: mulberry syrup). If you can’t find fresh mulberries, you can make the syrup with blackberries and it is SO GOOD. Syrniki are also great with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

But my favorite is the traditional Russian way: with sour cream. We Russian people put sour cream on EVERYTHING.

syrniki recipe - russian cheese pancakes with sour cream and blueberry preserves

So I like to eat these syrniki pancakes with a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of blueberry sauce or mulberry syrup. If sour cream is not your thing, try a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Either way, you’ve got to try this recipe and switch up your breakfast routine!!

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