Russian salad on a plate

Do Russians Really Eat Russian Salad? (RECIPE INCLUDED)

“Russian Salad”, served in the restaurants outside of Russia, is usually just a bleak copy of the most popular salad of the country. In most cases, Russian salad abroad is a plain potato salad, which has just several ingredients, cut in large chunks. Our version has 6-7 ingredients, all finely cut in small cubes. We love it, but we never call it Russian salad here.

Russian salad in Russia is called Olivier, by the name of its creator – French chef Lucien Olivier, who had a chic Parisian-style restaurant “Hermitage” in Moscow in the end of 19th century. This salad was one of the magnets, which attracted people to his restaurant.

Chef Olivier kept the recipe in such secret that researchers still argue about the original composition of ingredients. Main ingredients of his version of this dish are thought to be: hazel hen, black caviar, veal tongue, crayfish tails, lettuce, cucumbers, capers, olives and boiled eggs. Provencal sauce was prepared from French vinegar, olive oil and egg yolks.

Soviet time corrected the recipe of Olivier salad almost beyond recognition. Chicken (or bologna sausage) replaced hazel hen, caviar was eliminated, and potatoes and carrots were added. To the credit of Soviet chefs though – they changed the name of the salad to “Stolichny” (from “Stolitsa” – Capital). But all Russians still call that salad – Olivier.

And we do love it! Olivier salad is always present at the festive meals, especially at the New Year meal. To us Olivier is a symbol of festivity and abundance.

Here is the recipe of the Russian Salad – Soviet style (cooked by the author):

1) First step is to assemble all the ingredients:

Ingredients for Russian Salad

Ingredients for Russian Salad (minus mayo)

2) Next task – chop them! Key to success is in fine cut – look at the close up – all cubes should be equal or smaller to the peas!

Russian salad - how to cut ingredients

Main secret – fine cut of the ingredients

Russian salad secret

All cubes should be equal or smaller to peas


3) Next step – mixing the salad and adding mayo. You may make mayo from scratch if you have time, if not – try to buy the provencal variety:


Russian Salad - adding mayonnaise

Russian salad requires a lot of mayo. If you are weight and health conscious – use low calorie mayo

4) Finally – the presentation:

Russian salad on a plate

Do not let this dollop of salad fool you. I recreated the restaurant serving of Russian salad in my kitchen… but the usual portion is several times bigger

Enjoy! And let me know if you want to see any other authentic Russian recipes in my blog!

Leave a Reply

  • George - 8 years ago

    Good stuff! I had heard about stolichni salad but didn’t know it was the soviet version of Olivier

    • Tanya Golubeva - 8 years ago

      Thanks a lot George! I will post more on both Soviet cuisine and modern Russian cuisine. It is always so interesting to trace how socio-economic changes impact what people cook at home and what is served at the restaurants. I also plan to write about how multinational modern Russian cuisine is – it really reflects the demographics of the country. And, when Russia opened the Iron Curtain, cuisine from other countries also started to come to Russia. I have a view on why some cuisines are more popular in Russia than others. In my opinion that has to do with organoleptic preferences for spices, herbs and tastes, which developed for centuries.

  • Luis Barranco Duque - 8 years ago

    Very nice pics Tanya.Thanks for the recipe!

  • Nina - 8 years ago

    I have Ukrainian friends that have made this salad before to celebrate New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day and it is absolutely delicious. I finally decided to try making it myself by following your recipe and it came out great. I did not add the apple though since I had put too much of everything else (potatoes and pickles are my favorite).

  • ak - 7 years ago

    There are two main schools of making this salad. One calls for carrots in the recipe and the other is strongly against it. Apples, onions, and fresh cucumbers are also optional (there were no fresh cucumbers in the Soviet-era recipe for a New Year dish for sure because of lack of them in winter time).

    • Tanya Golubeva - 7 years ago

      That is very true! I think apple is the most controversial part of the Russian salad.
      As for fresh cucumbers – that may have depended on the city. I do remember that in Moscow it was possible to buy a long cucumber (not sure how to call it – it is the kind of cucumber that does not have much taste and is wrapped in plastic). Also I assume that some people did buy a cucumber or two for the New Year salad at the market. But I will double-check that with my mom))
      The other point of argue was and still is a type of meat in the Russian salad. Some people prefer salad with sausage (doctor sausage), some – with chicken, some – with meat. I personally do not buy sausage in a normal life, but for some reason prefer to add sausage rather than meat in Olivie. I think this has to do with the taste that I remember from my childhood))
      Thanks a lot for this comment!
      If you think of any other recipes to share or any food that is interesting to describe – I would love to hear about it!

      • ak - 7 years ago

        In our family, slices of red apples were used to decorate the top of the dish (along with crumbled boiled egg yolk) but not diced in the salad itself. As for fresh cucumbers, if you managed to buy one cucumber in December you would prefer to eat it separately, just thinly sliced, not hidden in some salad. And we prefer to use sausage (bologna) as well, we buy it for this salad only (not the healthiest option but some other ingredients are not very healthy as well, and we do it only for an occasion).

  • ak - 7 years ago

    No, I live in Halifax, Canada for the past 15 years :) But I’m from St.Petersburg originally.

  • Anonymous - 5 years ago

    Looks great, thanks for sharing:D