Top 15 Russian Appetizers

russian cuisine: russian starters

Here is Russian rating for traditional Russian starters that are good with vodka too.

So meet top 15 Russian appetizers.

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Famous Russian pickled cucumbers. It’s a must on all the Russian tables, goes fine with any dish. Every Russian know them from the birth.

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In Russia bacon is called “SALO” and people it it raw, the less meat and the more fat in it the better it is. They put it in the fridge, right in the freezer, it is not cutted but in one big piece, then take it off, slice it thin and eat with Russian bread and garlic.

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Fermented or sour cabbage is number three. It’s almost as popular as pickled cucumbers, and every old school Russian party has it. Kids are being told stories that eating this cabbage would let them grow tall and strong. Many Russians especially like drinking it’s juice on hangover, together with the pickled cucumbers brine.

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Russian meat jelly or aspic. One of the most favourite cold meat dishes from Russia. It takes a lot of meat first boiled and then left in cold place to the jelly appear, then is served with some toppings or just in this way. Almost any Russian would tell you he ate it alot in childhood when family gathered to celebrate some New Year party or something other.

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Potatoes. Almost every Russian family eats potatoes daily, and on parties the potatoes is a must too.

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Salami with Russian bread and butter. Also can go with cheese or ham, as on picture. People eat this for breakfast often.

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Pickled mushrooms. They are another Russian homemade gourmet item. It usually has long history – first they are being hand picked by family members in the woods in fall, then precisely prepared to being pickled and then those delicious jars are opened only for the great parties or holidays.

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Marinated herring and black bread, often goes with onions. Some Russians call it “one of the most tasty foods ever”. There are also songs in Russia where this appetizer is being mentioned, like “Russian vodka, black bread, selyodka!”, selyodka – is this marinated herring.

russian cuisine: russian starters 10

Caviar. Yes when we say caviar, we often keep in mind Russia. It’s true Russian people are mad about caviar and eat it very often on the big ocassions too, usually on bread, eating caviar with just a spoon always meant to be the sign of luxury in Russia. Also because of its usually high price and non-availability in Soviet times it’s not in the first five.

russian cuisine: russian starters 11

Pickled tomatoes. Them together with their pickled brother veggies, cucumbers, fermented cabbage and pickled mushrooms are being usually hand processed at home by Russian wifes to be ready for the New Year or some birthday parties.

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In summer time Russian people thing going to barbeque is a must, they call it “SHASHLIK” after the Southern term meaning fried meat.

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Home made fish soup, called “UKHA” is another thing that Russians consider to be traditionally Russian. Usually the recipe is very easy – any fish, could be freshly caught from local river, then a few potatoes and some carrots and onion, salt and here you have another appetizer for drinking outside. Also black pepper is often being added.

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“Borsh”, the red beet and meats soup is far more complicated to prepare. It’s always topped with “SMETANA” – the sour cream.

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Some Russians thing that beer is a perfect starter too. It can compensate when it’s not enough vodka to become drunk more faster. As we already mentioned there is a Russian saying: “Vodka without beer is just a waste of money”.

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And the last but definately not least is “OLIVJE” salad. This one is a true must at any party, especially the most beloved Russian New Year party. Go ask any Russian about this strange, once was French word and he would for sure tell you he know this stuff. This salad is made of boiled potatoes, a lot of mayo and wurst, also green peas participate. Russians joke that olivje salad is often used as a table pillow, for those who got too much vodka and can’t hold their head – they simply drop it down to olivje plate. It was called so strange after a French cook who lived in St.Petersburg and was preparing this dish initially.

So now, on your next trip to Russia, if it would ever happen, or just on a visit to Russian rest you can have an idea on what to order first.


102 thoughts on “Top 15 Russian Appetizers”

      • The fat in the first picture (Topic picture) is very tastey. It is expensive though! In orphanage we don’t get such good foods but now I can afford the caviar

    • OMG Russian foods looks so cheap and nasty. I prefer my delicious Big Mac any day, then again it cost their daily wage to buy a big Mac in Russia 🙁

      • Honestly, Big Mac is not that good at all, and definitely, it is not tasty. Red caviar is much more expensive than Big Mac, Russians eat caviar a lot. Also, in America, Big Mac is for poor peasants who abuse government help. ;))

      • Kozaks never cry! ;P Don’t worry about me. I’m just pointing out the difference, but nevermind.
        PS. I’m already an attoman 😀

    • @kozak
      Some of them are popular everywhere between Russia and Germany. For example aspic – you can eat it in Russia, it’s very popular in Poland and also in Brandenburg in Germany.

      Different example – fermented cabbage sauce – it’s popular in Russia, you can buy it in Germany (Sauerkrautsanft) but I’ve never seen it in any shop in Poland.

      Potatos – we all eat them – Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Germans (i very like some sorts of Kartofellsalat).

      @Pacific NW
      Yum? What exactly is the jelly?

      It’s gelatin boiled out from the bones ;-]

      • Sauerkraut is popular all over Central Europe. Quite tasty and relatively healthy dish is “sauerkraut perkelt”, a dish locally called “Szegedin goulash” after the Hungarian town. Nobody is able to explain the name – the same perkelt is surely prepared in Budapest or Szekesfehervar 😀
        I buy (occasionally) quite good canned aspic made by a German “Dreistern” company and available in local Lidl for silly money.
        There is no doubt that Mediterranean cuisine rocks, but the local peasant recipes based on what grows in the colder parts of Europe should not be forgotten. Less cheap pork, more vegetables – what you get is a dish ready for the 21th century!

    • Yes, you may have Salo and Borsh in Ukraine, but that does not make it “only Ukrainian.” Ty navernoe kakoi-to tupoi zapadenec

    • Yes. We like fat and mayonnaise and food without vitamins !! It gives us our remarkable blue-ish white complexion, chubby-ness and out notorious bad breath ! The pickles are nice.

    • First of all, Ukraine is one of Russian regions. Even though is was temporarily disconnected from the rest of Russia, it does not change the fact, that Ukrainian culture is just local subversion of Russian culture.

      • You don’t know what you’re talking about. Russia’s ancestry started on Ukrainian soil – Kyivs’ka Rus’ – Ukraine is NOT a Russian territory. If anything, Russia’s culture comes from Ukrainian roots. Slava Ukrayiny!

        • If anything Ukraine was considered the outskirt throughout the history, and when “kievskaya rus” originated there were no ukrainians nor russians, rather tribes that were close to vikings. Next time read a history book that is not written by a Ukrainian nationalist

  1. Olivje description reminds me of a fav dish here in Croatia, we call it “French Salad”, and it’s mate of potatoes, carrots, green peas and mayonaise. From there anything goes, some put ham, some apples. Win-win at parties 🙂

    • Interesting. In Germany and Austria, they prefer fatty mayonnaise salads and they consider leafy green salads “French” salads. I’m American and prefer the typical leafy “French” salad. Too much mayonnaise makes me sick! I’m not very familiar with these Russian foods, but I do like caviar and pickled herring. And vodka!

      BTW: I have traveled in Croatia and like it very much. Sretno!

  2. Mmm. Most of that seems like it would be tasty, though I’m not sure how much I’d like the meat aspic–I’d certainly try it though…

    • you can also buy it in the west, i’ve seen it in Berlin as well. It is not very healthy, though. Also, now you know why there are no vegetarians in Russia. On the streets, that is, because to be a vegetarian is considered a mental disease.

  3. Beet soup is common to the eastern slavic language nations that I have visited. Each claims it and many of the same dishs as its own. I try to order Borsh in each city I visit. It is never made the same. Ya, the list of items used is mostly the same but the taste is always different.

    I have enjoyed all those listed but the pickled tomatoes. I will make a point of trying them on my next visit.

    If you have not gone, go visit and eat, eat, eat. Russians know how to cook. Enjoy the food!

    • of course that they are common for slavs and very popular in the west. But here I was talking about origin. In Russia, the dish that is close to “Borsh” calls “SHI” and it’s not red. That is their main difference let alone the taste.

  4. aspic and Å¡aÅ¡lõk (shashlik) are the best of the bunch. most of the dishes are also commonly served in estonia as well. And don’t be put off by the look of the aspic – it’s actually very tasty although here in estonia we have about 1/6 jelly/meat ratio.

    • aspic is great, here we call it “Holodetz” (meaning “dish served cold”). Dunno how it is in Estonia but almost all families make it, and mostly around New Years.

      “Shashlik” is definately one of my favorites as well. It’s not just fried meat as it says in the description. It has to be marinated in for at least 24 hours. My family experiments with different marinades and sauces but it’s pretty much the same concept. The dish itself is of Souther Russian/Caucasian/Turkish origin.

      goes to say that most of Russia’s cuisine is very diverse and influenced by alot of different cultures. Salo and Borscht are Ukrainian but alot of people love it here and have adopted it.

  5. Like in most northen countries foods are primarily nutrious. Tasty and diverse foods can be more found in the south-european cousine.

  6. MMMM good food,my wife barbecued shish kebabs at her parents dacha.

    I don’t like the jello food.

    Butered bread with meat and cheese and tea or coffee,Offered to you any time of the day.Russian hospitality is the best.

  7. There is similar to aspic dish in Poland called “legs in gelatin” – usually chicken or pork legs in gelatin… as awfull as aspic:)

  8. what the hell, didn’t even mention shuba? That should be on the list.

    but the rest of the list, I agree.

  9. I ate something similar to that home made jelly on a train from Moscow to Ekaterinburg, but it had fish on it, it was really tasty, a nice russian guy called Alexander offered it to us, and we invited him to spanish “jamón ibérico”, great dinner! But I can’t stand russian bread, it’s too dry, you need vodka to just swallow it! But who can say no to a glass of great russian vodka??

  10. We have many of these meals in Hungary too (pickled cucumbers are a big favourite, bacon, cabbage, aspic, saslik also).

    I’ve never heard of “Szegedin goulash” before, we don’t use that name in Hungary. The Hungarian name is “Székely káposzta” (Székely cabbage, named after a guy called Székely).

  11. I must point that the Olivje salad is actually called RUSSIAN SALAD in Spain, but adding some tuna to it instead of any meat (ham, saussage, whatever…)

  12. About Olivje: nobody mentioned that this salad must contain a choped sausage or meat. And if you add some “kvas” (Russian traditional soft drink), it will turn into “okroshka” – Russian cold soup.

  13. Rofl, it is all basic stuff, on bread. Excellent warrior nutrition though. Potato’s EVERY day? Wow… Wish I could do that. Instead of fitting out I would prolly just become one.

  14. Do Russians eat salty snacks such as potato chips or peanuts? In a bar with vodka would Russians eat some sort of snack?

  15. If we drink we will die,
    If we don’t drink we will die.
    So we might as well say, “What the hell!”
    And let our glasses clink.

    Whatever your name,
    You’ll be dying just the same.
    So as long as we are going to die,
    It’s better if we drink.


    Pass the pickles around, and I’ll have another bottle of vodka.

  16. “Do Russians eat salty snacks such as potato chips or peanuts? In a bar with vodka would Russians eat some sort of snack?”

    Yes-yes! Russians love salty snacks with their beer.
    Most common salty delight is…”vobla” – dry salted fish.
    Dry salted calamari and octopus have also gained their popularity among the Russians.

  17. If haven’t ever tried that dishes you shouldn’t talk about that it is nasty… you don’t even imagine how delicious it is..

  18. many of them are very popular in Poland too. except tomatoes (you may find sometimes green ones, sliced and pickled, but it’s not very popular), salo, in Poland called “sÅ‚onina” (it’s all fat, no meat!) is quite hard to obtain now, because lot of us gone crazy about “healthy food”.
    we don’t eat much caviare, simply because we have to import it, and it’s quite expensive, considered as “luxury”.
    someone said that hasn’t seen sour cabbage in Poland. Mistake! It’s as popular as cucumbers, however little different prepared, thus looks different. but juice alone is rare, i don’t know why – but it’s very easy to make your own 😉
    salad is known simply “vegetable salad”, has more ingredients, and no meat – we have it on any family meeting
    fish soup is very little popular, but known, and beer and vodka are common 🙂

  19. The author knows about Russian Appetizers as much as I about nano technologies….

    Half of the list is UKRAINIAN dishes…

    If you like to know, most russians prefare ukrainian Nemiroff, becouse russian vodka is no so good? same with pickled cucumbers.

    And what about SALO, dear author, every russian prove that it’s ukrainian food. Same with tomatoes, borsch….

    Fell the difference.
    It’s like you will say american on a british

    • Crazy Ukro-nazi indeed. Yes, rus say SALO is ukranian, but SALO is being eaten all over Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok, while its originated in ukraine territory – it became truly russian. Well, from childhood i always regarded my favorite borsh as russian, and i still do.

      I mean, Ukraine is part of Russia from ancient times. Russians and Ukraines are the same, they share one history, one life. What RUssians like, the same like urkainians. Tomatoes are ukrainian??? WTF. – it sounds as crazy as ukro-ultra-nazi’s claim that proto-ukros invented math, astrology, geometry, and dig up black sea, lol, seriously, that what they say.

      You Ukro-nazis are really went mad with your fuked up nationalism, trying to be something you are not.

  20. The olivje is also eaten in Argentina, where is called… Russian Salad. Instead of wusrt, carrots are used (diced and boiled). Is a perfect sidedish for a roasted baby pig (lechon asado).

  21. “Miss India says:
    May 21, 2009 at 7:50 am
    OMG Russian foods looks so cheap and nasty. I prefer my delicious Big Mac any day, then again it cost their daily wage to buy a big Mac in Russia”

    *LOOOOOL* cheap and nasty…yeah..sure… tasty is what i’d say… but hey… what could you expect from someone who thinks McDonalds’ food is DELICIOUS? *LOL* I guess it’s looking so “cheap and nasty” because it’s selfmade and not bought in a box and every dish has its own taste and not everything’s tasting the same… ^^

    i eat pretty much of that stuff regularely, i guess many of it is pretty international:D
    what’s cool to know and new to me is that “shashlik” is from russia:)
    greetz from germany

  22. █▀▀▼▀▀█

  23. “OMG Russian foods looks so cheap and nasty. I prefer my delicious Big Mac any day, then again it cost their daily wage to buy a big Mac in Russia”

    Lol, you fail at eating, and life. Where I’m from, only the underclasses eat this swill. And it’s the one of the reasons Scotland is one of the most unhealthy, fat nations in the world, just after the US

    McDonalds is the worst, processed trash food it’s ever been my misfortune to eat. It’s disgusting.

    The food in this article looks excellent. I’ve only had caviar and herring, but I’ll be pestering my eastern European friends to see if they have any similar dishes. In Scotland we have some quite similar food though.

  24. Nationalists from Ukraine are quite annoying in their attempts to privatize our common culture and our common history. There is a cliche that borsch and fat are Ukrainian dishes, but they are equally popular and widespread in Russia as in Ukraine.

    • I would say russian nationalists have no “limits”, it like old days THIS is mine and that is mine. EVERYTHING is mine….
      I would say my grandmother told me story about “moskali” (russian soldiers) in 1939 when they got to western Ukraine when were asking her for cucumbers told her give a ripe ones (I would say yellow). And here I could sea great green ones
      I do assume they learned.

  25. Hello i run across your website with my newly, unusual browser Abolimba Multibrowser and need to say you that the homepage is shown like in the pattern web browsers.

  26. I love the borsh, it’s easy to prepare and very healthy too. Else there were to much pickled things on the list for my taste:)

  27. SALMON ROE/ikura caviar!!! I luv ikura 😀 😀 😀 I havent had it for a few months D: it’s so pricey in the states and I like eating straight ikura. xD I also love a lot of that food xD it must be my Russian blood haha 😀

  28. UKHA…is very similar with Korean fish soup. Only thing different is Korean soup is very, very…hellish spicy. And fishes are basically hosts of parasite worms. You can find cooked parasite worms in Korean fish soup. For someone who have never studied biology, those worms in soup look like parts of flexible fish bones…:)

  29. GREAT RECIPE!!!!! THEY WERE SO EASY TO MAKE! THANKS! I have a cooking recipe site as well and I¡¯d like to exchange links with you. Let me know if this is possible. Thanks.

  30. Oh, I agree with some of the appetizers on this list, though their availability vary from region to region. For example, Shashlik is mostly eaten in hotter regions or in some of the Baltic republics, whereas in the Ural region, Shashlik isn’t so popular. And concerning the appetizers (as well as their description) that I don’t agree with:
    -Potatoes. We, Russians, don’t eat potatoes “practically daily”. You know why not? Because we have tastier, richer and healthier grains that we can eat instead. Potatoes are rather poor vegetables.
    – Beer. Again, we do not drink beer as an appetizer, unlike, let’s say, Germans, because we have better drinks such as Kvas. And if beer is drunk, it’s drunk not as for starters during a meal.
    – Caviar. I agree with Caviar being a rather prevalent appetizer in Russian Cuisine. My mom and myself have caviar on buttered black bread as hors d’Å“uvre on many festive occasions. “Also because of its usually high price and non-availability in Soviet times it’s not in the first five.”
    My mother was born and raised in the Soviet Union. After the destruction of the USSR and during the Czars’ times, caviar became nearly non-available, not during the Soviet times. During the USSR, caviar was at a respectably low price and in good amounts in many shops, including supermarkets. *sigh* English Russia, stop pretending your Russian. I already bumped into this site before, expecting a pro-Russian website in English and unfortunately found this…stuff…instead.
    Leave Russian cuisine, lifestyle and traditions to us, the real Russians. *facepalm*

    • What are you talking about? Shashlik isn’t so popular? Everyone cook it at picnic, especially in forest. It’s originally dish from Caucasus, but we eat it even in Murmansk, one of the most northern towns in Russia.

  31. 1.- WTF SALO? this is Ukrainian and non Russian does it
    2.- Jelly meat? yeah right, probably in the former republic, again no a Russian thing even if there are people who eat it
    3.- Marinated herring ? more like Scandinavian mate, yes you would eat herring in Russia but the cooking process is a lot different
    4.- “OLIVJE” salad is a jewish thing, once again no Russian now I agree that Potato Russian Salad is well consumed but not an appetizer.
    5.- Shashlik!!!!??? yes maybe in the Baltic states but again, HEY! no everyone in the Russian territory with a Russian passport is Russian, there are a large amount of ethnicities out there but they are not Russian.

  32. @ miasto-maßa-maszynabut “I’ve never seen it in any shop in Poland.” – in regards to pickled cabbage.

    Have you ever BEEN to Poland?
    How would we make bigos without pickled cabbage?
    It is in EVERY shop.

    I love most of these starters we have them in Poland too.

  33. @Pyruslav “I must point that the Olivje salad is actually called RUSSIAN SALAD in Spain, but adding some tuna to it instead of any meat (ham, saussage, whatever…)”

    Sałata jarzynowa in Poland (:

  34. Hi,

    What a great list. I am always on the look for top lists, and your list is great starting point. Lists are very useful.

    I found your blog from google. Really Great post.

    Will visit again.

  35. Almost identical to appetisers in Poland. My wife’s family are from Warsaw and I always make sure I eat lots of delicious treats like this when I am there, although range of Polish food in UK supermarkets is improving. Polish also make a classic soup called “Barszcz UkraiÅ„ski” so perhaps it did originate in the Ukraine.

    Słonina is particularly tasty as is Śledzie and wash it all down with nice cold wódka!!!

  36. I’ve traveled to Russia twice and have to say I generally don’t like their food, the best things probably being bread (nice and firm) and fish/herring. The pickled herring is delicious with vodka. However, Russian food really isn’t that nutritious at all; unlike American food, dairy isn’t pasteurized and so goes bad very quickly, and their food generally isn’t ‘vitamin’ fortified like American stuff is. Many of the women I traveled with lost their hair due to vitamin deficiencies, because they were so used to the vitamin overload you get from American foods. I was lucky and lived next to a Tajik rynok that had fresh fruit, meat and veggies brought in, so I didn’t have to live solely on Russian cuisine.

    Russian cuisine is also generally pretty fatty and salty; it’s got almost a bitter bite to it in some cases which most Americans disagree with. Perhaps it’s one reason why Russians have always had such a low life span (about 65 years). If you look at cuisine popular in America, outside of fast food, it tends to be the ‘favorites’ of other cultures; the good stuff immigrants bring in sticks around, the less appetizing stuff goes away… that’s why there is an Italian restaurant in every town instead of a Russian one! It’s also why you can find caviar throughout the U.S., but schi or pickled tomatoes are a little bit harder to come by. Caviar just appeals to more palates.

    Of course much of it is what you’re brought up with. Russians, for example, eat far more sweets and candy than Americans. We eat a lot more dairy. That’s just culture!

    • “Russian cuisine is also generally pretty fatty and salty”

      american cuisine too, dear.

      “Russians, for example,eat far more sweets and candy than Americans”


  37. looks delicious. nothing there too different than things we eat in the american south, except for the aspic. mississippi river sturgeon have delicious black caviar.
    I really enjoy this site, and encourage close east-west friendship and relations. As much as we each accomplished seperately during the cold war, imagine how much we could accomplish TOGETHER, TODAY! OH! AND GOD BLESS YURI ON 50TH ANNIVERSERY OF HIS SPACEFLIGHT! THE WORLD MISSES HIM!

  38. ive noticed most russian cuisine has to be raw.. or if not, has to be pickled and femented.. plus they dont eat lots of food with salt, theyve got unique taste buds..

  39. ive noticed most russian cuisine has to be raw.. or if not, has to be pickled and fermented.. plus they dont eat lots of food with salt, theyve got unique taste buds..

  40. On “Olivje” Salad… By Lucien Olivier… get it?

    “The original version of the salad was invented in the 1860s by Belgian Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow’s most celebrated restaurants. Olivier’s salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage regulars, and became the restaurant’s signature dish.

    The exact recipe — particularly that of the dressing — was a jealously guarded secret, but it is known that the salad contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck, although it is possible that the recipe was varied seasonally.

    The original Olivier dressing was a type of mayonnaise, made with French wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil; its exact recipe, however, remains unknown.”


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