Desserts

19 Traditional Russian Desserts

From Russia, with love – and sweets!

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.
Learn more about me
Updated August 23, 2022

What better way to savor Russian culture than through sampling Russian desserts? These recipes will give you an authentic taste of Russian cuisine, and they’re easy to make in your own kitchen.

Russian desserts

Russia has the largest territory of any country in the world, so its culinary traditions are incredibly diverse: there’s way more to Russian food than borscht and sour cream. (Although those are delicious too!)

This collection of recipes has everything from cakes to crepes, fudge to baklava. I’ve even included a recipe for chak chak, a special dish of tiny honey-drenched fritters.

These are 19 delicious dessert options, so whether you’re inviting Russians or Americans to your next party, everyone will say “spasibo!” (Thank you!)

01. Russian Chocolate Salami

If you’re short on prep time but want an elegant treat, this is a great dessert to make.

It only takes 10 minutes to throw together! (But make sure that you leave at least 2 hours for it to chill.)

Chocolate salami is a traditional dessert that only uses a few ingredients, but it’s very versatile. You could add extracts, chopped nuts or dried fruit, or even a splash of rum.

This is one of those delicious recipes you’ll make again and again because it’s so easy and tasty!

02. Bird’s Milk Cake

This cake may have a strange name, but the taste is incredible. It’s been around since the Soviet era, and it’s one of the popular Russian desserts for special occasions.

There are three parts to this confection: chocolate cake, custard buttercream, and chocolate ganache. And when you layer them all together, the texture is light and silky.

Each bite will melt in your mouth!

03. Zefir (Russian Marshmallow)

Don’t be scared of making your own marshmallows! It’s not hard, and they taste much better than the bagged kind.

These Russian marshmallows will satisfy any sweet tooth. Plus, they’re extremely elegant when you pipe them with a star-tip nozzle.

This recipe uses raspberry Jell-o to give you a pastel pink treat, but feel free to use your favorite flavor. Or, make several batches for a set of rainbow marshmallows!

04. Honey Cake (Medovik)

Sour cream frosting perfectly balances the sweetness of this Russian honey cake. So it’s perfect for after dinner or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

It’s also a very simple recipe: the cake only has 5 ingredients, and the frosting only 2!

Just leave enough time for the cake to sit for an hour before serving. That way, the sour cream can soak into the layers and soften them.

05. Paska Bread

Move over, hot cross buns — try making these Easter paska buns instead!

The citrus syrup and melted butter make these treats very soft and scrumptious. And the cream cheese buttercream with powdered sugar is a simple, but tasty, frosting.

You can tint the buttercream with food coloring or add colorful sprinkles on top. Or for an Easter party, you could decorate them with marshmallow chicks and bunnies for adorable desserts.

06. Chak Chak

As with so many Russian desserts, the ingredients for chak chak are very simple. But the preparation makes this dish extraordinary.

First, you make a dough of flour, eggs, and vodka or cognac. Then you fry thin strips, pour honey syrup over them, and top with toasted nuts.

And if you like to play with your food, then you can have fun shaping the sticky fritters into pyramids or other shapes.

Chak chak is popular in many countries that used to be part of the former Soviet Union and across Central Asia.

07. Russian Royal Cake (Korolevskiy Cake)

This elegant layered cake will impress the guests at any party!

You start with a base of sour cream cake, and you add different mix-ins to each layer you bake. These include poppy seeds, walnuts, cherries, and chocolate chips.

Then you top this with chocolate ganache and dulce de leche buttercream. It’s truly a cake fit for royalty!

Don’t cut corners and leave the cake layers whole. By splitting them in half and frosting between, you’ll create a picture-perfect interior for when you slice through.

08. Baklava

Baklava is one of the beloved russian desserts with versions from across Europe. And this Russian recipe is certainly one to add to your repertoire.
an
Rather than using phyllo pastry, you make your own rich dough with sour cream and egg yolks. Then, use the egg whites to make a meringue with toasted walnuts.

Finally, drizzle everything with melted butter and honey.

Cut the baklava into squares and share these sweet treats with everyone you know!

09. Apple Sponge Cake

For your next Thanksgiving feast, why not change up the tradition and try this Russian dessert instead of apple pie? With its golden crust and fresh autumn flavor, it’s the perfect centerpiece!

The batter is a simple sponge cake raised with eggs and baking powder. But the sour cream makes it especially moist.

For extra festiveness, you can make the quick almond topping. Just sprinkle it on for the last few minutes of baking time.

10. Russian Tea Cakes

These tasty treats are actually cookies, not cakes, and they have lots of names. But whether you call them snowball cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, or Russian tea cakes, they’re always delicious.

This recipe only takes 20 minutes total, and it makes 4 dozen cookies, so you can share them with all of your friends. They’re also a great addition to a holiday cookie plate.

I love them with a cup of tea in the afternoon. The little sugary bites are the perfect pick-me-up.

11. Russian Pancakes (Syrniki)

These traditional pancakes are similar to American-style flapjacks, but they have farmer’s cheese in them! This gives them a more complex flavor and texture than regular diner pancakes.

For a lighter texture, you can add a teaspoon of baking soda.

Serve them the traditional way with powdered sugar, sour cream, and jam. Or, branch out and try chocolate sauce or caramel sauce.

12. Kartoshka Potato Balls Recipe

While there’s no potato in these traditional Russian desserts, the little chocolate balls do look a bit like potatoes. But they’re actually a mix of crushed cookies, butter, sweetened condensed milk, chopped nuts, and cocoa powder.

The cognac is optional, but it will make the flavor profile a bit more complex. Either way, your taste buds will be happy.

These cookies remind me of little truffles — and it’s hard to stop popping them in your mouth!

13. White Russian Pudding Shots

You probably won’t find these pudding shots in Russia because they’re based on the classic White Russian cocktail. But just because they’re not traditional doesn’t mean they’re not delicious.

You can make them in plastic shot cups for a low-key party, or individual ramekins for a more refined look. Also, the dessert is quite boozy, so this is definitely an adult pudding.

14. Russian Napoleon Cake

Don’t be put off by the prep time for this layer cake. Napoleon cake is time-consuming, but it is definitely worth it!

It’s one of the national desserts of Russia, and for a good reason. The many layers of pastry and custard are very elegant, and the textures and flavors blend together perfectly.

The cake is named after the Russian defeat of Napoleon in 1812, and the recipe itself is 100 years old. This old recipe is a classic and definitely worth trying!

15. Blackberry Icebox Cake

When you have a bowl of ripe summer berries, this is a great way to celebrate them. Blackberries shine in all elements of this layered dessert: jam, buttercream, and whipped cream.

You can layer the blackberry elements with chocolate cookies as the recipe suggests, or try vanilla wafers for a different taste.

And if you’re short on time, you can still make a delicious dessert. Simply use store-bought jam and whipped cream.

16. Russian Sugar Cookies

Russian sugar cookies make American ones look positively anemic. These treats are like little golden suns on a plate, thanks to the egg yolk wash.

This recipe makes simple butter cookies, but it’s such a delicious dough you’ll want to eat it before it’s baked. And don’t forget the finishing dip to make them sparkle.

These cookies are easy to store in the freezer, so you can make a big batch. Then, when you want to eat them, just pop them in the oven to heat up.

17. Russian Fudge

This fudge has an irresistible caramel flavor, and the salt keeps the sweetness perfectly balanced. You can also top the fudge with flaked salt for a refined finish.

You’ll want a candy thermometer for this recipe, unless you’re familiar with testing sugar syrup at the “soft ball stage.” The technique for fudge isn’t complicated, but working with sugar can be tricky.

Along with the tea cakes, this would be delicious on a holiday cookie plate.

18. Bird’s Milk Cake

This is another version of a bird’s milk cake, and it’s perfect for cutting into squares for a big party.

In this dessert, you only have 3 layers: cake, sour cream mousse, and chocolate ganache. But together they give you the perfect bite.

The dessert is only slightly sweet, so it won’t overwhelm you. And the tang of the sour cream balances the sugar and chocolate really well. Grab a cup of tea and have a slice!

19. No-Bake Chocolate Spartak Cake

Since you don’t have to bake this cake, it comes together in 20 minutes. Simply layer chocolate graham crackers, ganache, and frosting. Voila!

If you want an extra tang, add a layer of raspberry jam every time you repeat the layers. And for perfect squares, dip your knife in hot water before each slice.

19 Traditional Russian Desserts

Directions


  1. Choose your favorite Russian desserts.

  2. Gather your ingredients.

  3. Get baking!

  4. Take your family and friends on a culinary adventure.

Russian desserts - Pinterest