This naleśniki recipe is one of the favorite dishes from my childhood. It consists of crepes filled with sweetened Polish twaróg cheese with a touch of vanilla. They taste absolutely amazing and are easy to make!
Naleśniki are basically crepes! I know you probably associate crepes with France, but they are really very popular in many European countries, including Poland. This is not a ‘new’ Polish dish, that is beginning to gain popularity in Poland, like for example carrot cake or anything pumpkin. My grandma was making them since I can remember. Polish crepes with cheese filling are called ‘naleśniki z serem’ in Polish, which means ‘crepes with cheese’. Naleśniki is plural, the singular is one naleśnik.
So what makes them Polish? The cheese filling! This is the most popular filling for naleśniki. It’s made with Polish twaróg cheese, sugar, and egg yolks (optional). Other fillings are pretty similar to what is eaten in other countries like nutella, jams/preserves, whipped cream, and berries. Savory crepes are also very popular, like these smoked salmon crepes. I also like a simple ham and cheese filling or spinach/feta/sun-dried tomatoes filling.
What is twaróg cheese:
Twaróg cheese is a very popular Polish curd cheese, it’s our most important, national cheese. It’s really delicious, fresh, slightly sour. Twaróg cheese is also called white cheese in Poland. When you’ll say ‘go and buy white cheese’ everyone knows that you’re meaning twaróg cheese. It is made from soured milk, that is warmed up, then cooled and strained.
It’s hard to find a cheese with a similar taste. You can substitute it for farmer’s cheese – it tastes almost the same (it’s just a little less sour in my opinion and more crumbly). Similar cheeses like cottage cheese, Italian ricotta, German Quark, Austrian Topfen come close but can’t really be substituted.
Cottage cheese looks similar but is much sweeter and the grains don’t clump to each other. Ricotta is too creamy and mild-flavored, just like the Quark and Topfen.
You can find twaróg in any Polish supermarket (as well as in Russian or Ukrainian supermarkets). It should be labeled ‚Twaróg tłusty‘ / full-fat (my favorite kind for this recipe) or ‘Twaróg półtłusty’ / reduced-fat or ‘Twaróg chudy’ / low-fat cheese. Twaróg cheese is also used to make Polish cheesecake (sernik).
In my childhood, I often ate it on a toast spread with butter, and drizzled with honey – it tastes heavenly! Also, the Polish version of ‘mac and cheese’ from my kindergarten – macaroni pasta with twaróg cheese, sprinkled with sugar on top. Yum! (I always thought that this is ‘the mac and cheese’ haha!).
Here’s what you need to make crepes:
- all-purpose flour
- milk – it can be cow’s milk or any plant-based milk like almond milk or oat milk (but not coconut milk)
- melted butter or vegetable oil
- sugar – I like to use vanilla sugar or add some vanilla extract to the batter, you can also use more calorie-friendly xylitol instead
Here’s what you need for the sweet cheese filling:
- twaróg cheese (I’ve written more about this cheese above)
- sugar – to sweeten the cheese, you can also use xylitol instead, which is more calorie-friendly
- egg yolks – optional but they bind the filling + they give it a rich, amazing flavor, make sure to pan fry the crepes at the end to cook the egg yolks
- vanilla extract – you can use vanilla paste or vanilla sugar instead
- heavy cream – to thin out the filling, you can use milk instead
A similar filling is also used to make sweet cheese pierogi!
How to make Polish naleśniki step by step:
How to measure flour: if you use a kitchen scale to measure out all the ingredients, it all goes easy breezy! But if you’re using measuring cups, remember that 1 cup of flour can weigh 120-150g, depending on how you’re filling your cup. Don’t scoop the flour directly into the measuring cup, which can compact it! 1 cup of flour in my recipes weighs 125g. To correctly measure the flour, you need to:
- Fluff the flour by stirring it in the bag/flour container with a spoon.
- Spoon the flour and sprinkle it into your measuring cup.
- Sweep off the excess flour with the back of a knife.
STEP 1: Prepare the crepe batter: In a large bowl, mix with an electric mixer (or just with a whisk) flour, eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt together until smooth. The batter will be thin. Cover and set aside for 15-30 minutes.
STEP 2: Cook the crepes: Heat a small amount of oil in a crepe pan/non-stick skillet (only for the first pancake) over high heat. Ladle a portion of the batter into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom, tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly around it, cook until the edges of the crepe are crispy/dry, slide a spatula under the crepe, flip it over and cook briefly on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
STEP 3: Make the sweet cheese filling: Add all the ingredients for the filling into a medium bowl. Stir with a fork until combined or mix with a mixer. Twaróg cheese consistency may slightly vary depending on the brand and what kind of cheese you’ve used (full-fat or low-fat). So you may need to add more or less of the heavy cream to thin out the filling. The filling should be more on the dry side (but also not completely dry) – it will become more runny when you pan fry the crepes at the end.
STEP 4: Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto each crepe (don’t add too much, these pancakes are thin).
STEP 5: Fold the crepes into triangles (fold them in half, then again in half). You can also just roll them up.
STEP 6: Pan-fry the crepes: heat some butter (best is clarified butter) in a non-stick pan. When hot add the crepes and cook on both sides until golden. This step is necessary to cook the egg yolks in the filling, but I’ve also found that the crepes with cheese filling really taste so much better pan-fried, even if the filling is without egg yolks (this is not necessary for other fillings).
Serve the naleśniki on their own or with whipped cream, cinnamon, and fresh berries.
Storage/how to make them ahead:
- You can store crepe batter for 2 days in the fridge.
- You can store raw filling for 2 days in the fridge.
- You store cooked crepes with the filling for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat in a dry pan on both sides until warm. They will be a little bit drier so it’s good to serve them either with whipped cream or for example strawberry sauce (pureed strawberries with powdered sugar) or chocolate sauce (melted chocolate with heavy cream).
- I prefer to store the cooked crepes and the filling separately, then just before assembling I thin out the filling with more milk (it will be drier), then spread the crepes with the filling, roll up and pan-fry in a pan.
You may also like:
- Faworki recipe (Polish angel wings)
- Rogaliki recipe (orange walnut rugelach)
- Apple tart with meringue topping
- Sernik (Polish cheesecake)
Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!
Polish crepes with cheese filling (naleśniki z serem)
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for the crepes (naleśniki):
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup (300g) milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
- pinch of salt
for the filling:
- 18 oz (500g) Polish twaróg cheese, or farmer's cheese
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
make the crepe batter:
- Add all the ingredients for the crepes into a medium bowl (flour, eggs, milk, vanilla, melted butter, sugar, salt). Whisk until combined and smooth (although small lumps are ok), you can do that by hand, with a mixer, in a food processor or a blender. The batter will be thin.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth or plastic foil and set aside for 30 minutes.
cook the crepes:
- Brush the pan with a small amount of butter (I’m only adding the butter before the first crepe). The pan should be well-heated, I’m cooking my crepes over high heat. Holding the pan in the air (it shouldn’t be on the burner), pour in the batter, tilting the pan simultaneously until the batter evenly coats the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on the burner and cook for about a minute.
- The crepe is ready to turn over when its edges look dry and lacy and its bottom is golden brown.
- Slide the spatula under the crepe (make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan) and flip it over.
- Cook on the other side just briefly, for about 10 seconds, until set. The crepe should be soft in the middle and a little crispy on the edges. Transfer on a plate.
make the sweet cheese filling:
- Add all the ingredients for the filling into a medium bowl.
- Stir with a fork until combined or mix with a mixer.
- Twaróg cheese consistency may slightly vary depending on the brand and what kind of cheese you’ve used (full-fat or low-fat). So you may need to add more or less of the heavy cream to thin out the filling. The filling should be more on the dry side (but also not completely dry) – it will become more runny when you pan fry the crepes at the end.
- Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto each crepe (don't add too much, these pancakes are thin).
- Fold the crepes into triangles (fold them in half, then again in half). You can also just roll them up.
- Pan-fry the crepes: heat some butter (best is clarified butter) in a non-stick pan. When hot add the crepes and cook on both sides until golden. This step is necessary to cook the egg yolks in the filling, but I’ve also found that the crepes with cheese filling really taste so much better pan-fried, even if the filling is without egg yolks (this is not necessary for other fillings).
- Serve the naleśniki on their own or with whipped cream, cinnamon, and fresh berries.
- How to measure flour (if not using a scale): Fluff the flour by stirring it in the bag/flour container with a spoon. Spoon the flour and sprinkle it into your measuring cup. Sweep off the excess flour with the back of a knife.
- Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!