Appetizers

12 Traditional Russian Finger Foods

Rustle up some culinary delights from Russia

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated August 16, 2022

“Zakuski” or Russian appetizers are the perfect original dinner idea if you want to impress your guests.

Packed with eastern flavors, these Russian recipes use easy-to-source ingredients such as mushrooms, cheese, berries and eggplant.

And if you’re a vegetarian you’ll find plenty of recipes to taste!
Russian Appetizers

Here, you’ll find delicious Russian feast dishes such as tasty eggplant caviar, exquisite cabbage salad and hearty soups. So get reading and immerse yourself in some of the finest dishes from Russia!

01. Sauerkraut Soup

Serve up a nourishing meal for the whole family with this Russian soup.

Made with healthy veggies, you can swap out the bacon if you want to make it vegetarian-friendly.

And the star of the show is the sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage. This is good for your gut health and also gives the soup a tangy taste.

I suggest you add the optional quinoa – full of fiber and protein. With this ingredient, you’ll feel fuller for longer.

02. Stuffed Eggs

Put together one of the most popular Russian finger foods.

These tasty stuffed eggs need just 5 common household ingredients. And they’re a quick appetizer that can be served cold.
This means you can make them ahead for when you’ve got guests coming around for dinner.

The egg yolks, cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic mix is also easy to pipe. And you can demonstrate your artistic skills with the toppings – use parsley, paprika, or chips, and get decorating!

03. Eggplant Caviar

Do you want a popular appetizer that can be served hot or cold, on its own, or with meat?

This caviar dish is Russian comfort food at its best, slow-cooked to give you maximum taste.

The recipe offers suggestions on what spices to use. But the great thing about this eggplant spread is that you can put your own stamp on it – use as much or as little heat and ingredients as you like.

You can get on with other chores – or relax! – while the mixture cooks on low heat. And use up any leftovers as a snack on some crusty bread or crackers.

04. Mushroom Julienne

In less than half an hour, you can prepare this creamy and decadent Russian appetizer.

All the ingredients are easy to come by in your local grocery store.

Simply make sure you have thinly sliced mushrooms – with a sharp knife for example – so that they’ll saute quickly and evenly.

How about serving this dish in individual ramekins to give a professional look to your zakuski table.

And if you want a more indulgent taste, substitute heavy cream for the sour cream. The traditional recipe uses mozzarella – but if you like a stronger cheese, why not give that a try instead?

05. Smoked Salmon with Blinis

Who doesn’t like pancakes? These savory, miniature versions are great when served with any type of fish or black caviar.

This recipe opts for smoked salmon. I advise you to try and source a really good quality one (Scottish/Irish if available) so that you get all the intense, smoky flavors. Then the garlicky, zesty aioli will do its magic and complement the taste.

These little appetizers are great as an aperitif. And you can serve them slightly warm or at room temperature.

06. Cabbage Soup (Shchi)

This Russian dish will keep you warm on those cold winter nights. It’s a staple of Russian cuisine and is really easy to make.

You just need to pan-fry some vegetables – think onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots – and add them to a broth. Bay leaves, salt, and ground pepper give you the seasoning.

Good news: you can keep this dish vegetarian, or add meat such as beef or chicken if you like.

But according to Russian tradition, you must add the sour cream on top at the end for an extra tang!

07. Beet Salad With Sour Cream And Dill

Add a pop of color to your buffet style table with this salad made of healthy, fiber-rich beets.

Simply boil or oven roast your fresh beetroot and then it’s ready to use in a variety of dishes and salads.

This Russian twist combines the earthy but sweet beets with a creamy sour cream and mayonnaise dressing. Then the final flourish of the green dill adds more flavor and another bright color.

You can easily double or even triple the quantities if you’ve got a large crowd to feed! And, feel free to add chopped nuts or pickled cucumbers for an extra crunch.

08. Garlic Cheese

Combining two popular flavors – garlic and cheese – this cheese spread or cheese salad is a key part of Russian parties.

The shredded cheese used by Russians is traditionally Havarti, which is mild and creamy and should be available on a specialty cheese counter.

You can make it up to 2 days ahead and keep it in the fridge. And it’s so simple to make: shred the cheese with the big holes of the cheese grater, mix it with the other ingredients and that’s it!

You can serve this dish with bread or crackers. Or it’ll also go really well with caviar or meat such as a sliced sausage – so it’s a crowd-pleaser that suits everyone’s tastes.

09. Potato Salad

Your display of Russian appetizers wouldn’t be complete without this long-established potato salad recipe.

It was invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier at one of Moscow’s most renowned restaurants, and is now a firm favorite at Russian family gatherings.

Boil cube-sized potatoes and carrots and mix with eggs, mayonnaise, and meat which can be chicken, ham, or bologna. Dill pickles add a tang and a crunch.

You can put your own twist on this salad by adding other vegetables – or even some apple if you want a bit of sweetness.

Also, you might want to invest in a special slicer that will cube the vegetables for you, saving you time in the kitchen.

10. Russian Piroshki

Do you like making your own bread? Then this recipe for Russian piroshki, the Russian word for “stuffed roll”, is for you!

You can use a bread machine if you have one, otherwise making the rolls by hand is fine.

And then it’s time to get stuffing – this recipe uses flavored cabbage. But you can change this to potato or meat depending on your personal preference.

There’s enough to make 12 rolls, but you easily double up to make more. And if you fancy a sweet version, just add more sugar to your dough and opt for a fruit or chocolate filling.

11. Russian Pelmeni

Make the Russian version of Chinese dumplings or Italian ravioli.

This is an authentic recipe used by the Russians for their unleavened dough parcels that are filled with a mixture of beef, lamb, and pork.

You can use a small white wine glass to cut out small rounds of the dough.

Once filled, they only take about 10 minutes to boil. Then you don’t need a fancy sauce for serving – mayonnaise, mustard, or just some butter will do.

And, you can freeze these little dumplings before cooking. So you’ll always have some on hand for unexpected guests!

12. Borscht

Opt for this healthy and comforting soup if you’re in need of a little pick-me-up in the colder months.

Made with beets, onions, potatoes, and carrots, it’s full of flavor and nutritious.

You can keep it vegetarian by choosing a veg broth rather than the traditional beef one. Or, to go vegan, omit the sour cream (or choose a vegan substitute) – the choice is yours.

Plus, you could try adding a pepper or mushrooms to up the veg content. And it’ll last for up to 2 months in the freezer, making it ideal for batch-cooking.

12 Russian Appetizers

Directions


  1. Choose your favorite recipes from our list of appetizers. How many you pick might depend on who’s coming for dinner!

  2. Gather all the ingredients together.

  3. Pre-cook or make as much as you can beforehand, before finalizing your dishes on the day.

  4. Dazzle your guests with how well you’ve done on your culinary journey, and encourage them to eat a Russian appetizer or two.

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