I must admit, I’ve never been to Russia. But I like to cook eastern-flavored dishes from time to time.
And for French apéros I try to be more authentic and stay away from the traditional “crisps-peanuts-saucisson(-red wine)” combo.
After a bit of research, I came up with this list of delightful Russian appetizers!
From tasty eggplant caviar to exquisite cabbage salad and Russian mushroom julienne, I hope you’ll like my selection.
What I enjoy the most is that “Zakuski” recipes use easy-to-source ingredients such as mushrooms, cheese, berries, and eggplant.
Plus, most of them don’t require meat, offering plenty of recipe options if you want to experiment with vegetarian dishes.
01. Sauerkraut Soup
This Russian sauerkraut soup is a traditional, hearty, comforting meal.
Of course, it’s made with veggies. But it also includes succulent chopped bacon pieces for more greed.
Thanks to the sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage, this soup has a delicious tangy taste that pairs perfectly well with the richness of the potatoes.
Many sauerkraut soups exist throughout eastern Europe. But this one is the original Russian version if you don’t include the optional quinoa.
02. Stuffed Eggs
These tempting Russian stuffed eggs are the eastern twist to the classic beloved deviled eggs.
What sets this version apart is the addition of pickled herring – basically a type of forage fish that has been preserved by pickling.
This innovation brings a briny flavor that complements so well with the bold and rich flavors of the eggs and mayonnaise mixture.
03. Eggplant Caviar
Eggplant caviar doesn’t look particularly tasty. But it’s so delicious!
This succulent Russian eggplant caviar, or “Ikra,” is made from flavorful roasted eggplant and red peppers that are blended together. They’re then combined with fresh, chopped onions, garlic, herbs, and vegetable oil.
You can eat it right from the spoon or spread it on rye bread.
04. Mushroom Julienne
This decadent Russian appetizer is creamy, and guess what? It has a strong French influence!
Thinly sliced mushrooms are first sautéed with minced shallots, then traditionally cooked in a French cream sauce base or sauce béchamel. Finally, they are covered with gooey mozzarella cheese.
(This recipe uses a mixture of heavy and sour cream, though).
The result is a divine mushroom julienne full of flavors – especially if you’re a mushroom lover like me!
Serve with mashed potatoes for a complete meal.
05. Cocktail Blini
Similar to French blinis, these savory mini-fluffy crepes are incredibly tender and delicious.
The blini batter is easy to make and requires a few basic ingredients only. You drizzle a bit of batter in your pan, let it bubble, turn it and let it cook for an additional minute.
Once cooked, the blinis have this perfect, slightly crisp exterior and fluffy interior that melts in your mouth.
They’re the perfect pancakes for smoked salmon, creme fraiche, shrimp, or even caviar!
It’s one of my favorite recipes for apéro!
06. Cabbage Soup (Shchi)
I’m not particularly a soup lover. But this one is a must-try!
This nourishing soup has a delicious, slightly meaty taste and tender texture. According to Russian tradition, you must add sour cream on top at the end for an extra tang.
Plus, it’s really easy to make.
You just need to pan-fry some vegetables – onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots – and add them to a broth. Season with bay leaves, salt, and ground pepper and voilà!
07. Beet Salad
Add a pop of color to your table with this fresh, exquisite beet salad!
Shredded raw potato is golden fried until it gets perfectly crunchy. The other ingredients are also shredded before being all combined with a creamy, garlicky mayonnaise dressing.
It’s that simple!
This Russian salad is often served as an appetizer for Easter. Double or triple the quantities if you are feeding a crowd.
08. Garlic Cheese
This Russian garlic cheese is incredibly creamy, garlicky, savory, and so tasty.
This delectable spread is also known as Russian cheese salad. It doesn’t require any complicated ingredients. You just have to combine shredded cheese (havartu), garlic, green onion, radicchio, and mayonnaise.
It’s delicious on its own, obviously. But it tastes better on crusty bread.
If you can’t find havarti cheese in your local store, replace it with gouda or Monterey jack cheese. They’ll do the trick perfectly!
09. Potato Salad
Try something different with this refreshing Olivier potato salad!
This Russian spin on American potato salad is super creamy and ridiculously addictive !
For this scrumptious recipe, boil cube-sized potatoes and carrots and mix with eggs, mayonnaise, and a meat of your choice! Finish with dill pickles to add a tang and a crunch.
10. Meat Cheese Piroshki
Russian piroshkis are a staple in Russian cuisine and it’s easy to understand why.
A decadent baked dough is stuffed with tender beef, gooey mozzarella-cheddar and sweet onion.
Plus you can prepare it in two different ways : oven-baked or deep-dried depending on your eating habits.
This succulent recipe can also let your creativity speak by changing the beef with other filling options such as salmon, turkey or pork.
11. Russian Pelmeni
Pelmenis are the Russian version of Italian raviolis and feature unleavened dough parcels filled with juicy a mixture of beef, lamb, and pork.
They may take a bit of time to make them from scratch but they taste incredible!
Thankful the recipe includes step by step instructions and photos to show you how to make them in details.
You can eat them on their own or combine them in a vegetable broth to cook a flavorsome Pelmeni soup.
Famous for its vibrant red color, this comforting Borscht soup is full of flavor.
It’s made with delicate and sweet beets, onions, potatoes, and carrots that are simmered until extra tender.
This soup is vegetarian. Of course you can add minced meat to elevate it.
Add a dollop sour cream to balance the beets’ sweetness. It’s also exquisite with Russian sliced bread.
12 Russian Appetizers
- Choose your favorite recipes from our list of appetizers. How many you pick might depend on who’s coming for dinner!
- Gather all the ingredients together.
- Pre-cook or make as much as you can beforehand, before finalizing your dishes on the day.
- 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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