Russian Beet Potato Salad Recipe for Holiday Feasts (2024)

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This Russian beet potato salad recipe makes vinegret, a creamy pink potato and beetroot salad that is fragrant with dill and delightfully tangy, thanks to the gherkins and capers. Based on my Baboushka’s recipe, it was a staple at family meals and holiday feasts, Sunday lunches and summer picnics.

I’ve been making babouskha’s traditional Russian beet potato salad recipe for vinegret (ВИНЕГРЕТ in Russian) for as long as I can remember, and it’s one of our best beetroot recipes. As Russian Christmas is approaching – I just made a big batch of my baboushka’s Russian pelmeni recipe – I’ve spent the last two days cooking the Russian food I learnt to make in the kitchens of my mother and baba as a child growing up in western Sydney.

There would rarely be a family meal at baba and papa’s Blacktown home without this Russian beet potato salad called vinagret (not vinaigrette), and my mum made it every time we had a backyard barbecue. Despite the fact I can make it in my sleep, this beetroot and potato salad turns out a little differently each time and the main difference is the colour. I’ll explain why in my tips to making this Russian beet potato salad recipe below.

Over the next week I’ll be cooking and sharing more Russian family recipes and will add links to them here once they’re published. Look out for my recipes for Russian cabbage rolls, a classic garden salad, traditional borscht, Russian varenyki (potato filled dumplings), chicken kutleti (meat patties), piroshki (hand pies), an Olivier salad, and more.

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Russian Beet Potato Salad Recipe for Family Mealsand Holiday Feasts

My Russian beet potato salad recipe makes vinegret, a classic pink potato and beetroot salad found in Russia, Ukraine, countries of the former Soviet Union, and in the Russian-Ukraine diaspora.

Perfumed with fresh fragrant dill, and delightfully tangy courtesy of gherkins and capers, this creamy potato beet salad was a staple of my baboushka’s legendary Sunday lunches that turned into dinners, holiday feasts for Christmas and Easter, and my mum and dad’s weekend summer barbecues growing up in the Sydney in the Seventies.

Just to clarify that this Russian beet potato salad recipe does not make the Russian salad called ‘ensalada Rusa’ or ‘ensalada Russe’, that’s made right around the world, from South America to Spain. We’ve ordered it everywhere from the best Buenos Aires’ parrillas to tapas bars in Barcelona and Madrid. Many online recipes, even those by writers of Russian heritage, confuse the two salads. Colour aside, even the ingredients vary.

The Russian salad known as ensalada Rusa is more like a traditional potato salad, with the addition of peas and carrots, and all the ingredients are diced. It’s based on the Olivier salad, created in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier, the Belgian-born chef of one of Moscow’s most famous restaurants at the time, the Hermitage. However, the original Olivier salad did not contain beetroot and was definitely not pink.

I’ll tell you more about the Olivier salad and ensalada Rusa in another post. Now let me share a few quick tips to making my baboushka’s Russian beet potato salad recipe for vinegret.

Tips to Making this Russian Beet Potato Salad

This Russian beet potato salad recipe is so easy to make you don’t need many tips. The only tweak I have made to baboushka’s Russian beetroot and potato salad recipe is to add capers as I love the extra tang. For a more authentic Russian beet potato salad recipe you may wish to leave the capers out.

My baba always used fresh beetroots, often those grown by papa in their vegetable garden. However, I’ve noticed many contemporary Russian and Ukrainian beet potato salad recipes use canned beetroots.

In the comments at the end of recipes on food sites and food, blogs there are always questions as to whether it’s okay to use tinned beetroots in the salad instead of fresh beetroots.

While you could use tinned beetroots if you can’t get hold of fresh beetroots, bear in mind that the colour will probably be a pale pink and not the deep dark ruby-pink in this photo.

Fresh beetroots always result in a more vibrant colour than tinned beetroots.

There is a solution if you’re determined to have a deep pink potato and beetroot salad using tinned beetroots and that’s to add beetroot juice from the can, which I did when we photographed the pelmeni recipe (link above).

Take care not to add too much beetroot water, however, as it will turn your salad into pink mashed potato!

Add a little just before serving, gently combine it, then serve immediately; don’t let it sit in the fridge or you’ll find it sitting in a pool of liquid.

Russian Beet Potato Salad (Vinegret) Recipe

Russian Beet Potato Salad Recipe for Holiday Feasts (1)

Russian Beet Potato Salad Recipe

AuthorRussian Beet Potato Salad Recipe for Holiday Feasts (2)Lara Dunston

This traditional Russian beet potato salad recipe makes a creamy pink potato and beetroot salad that is fragrant with dill and delightfully tangy, thanks to the gherkins and capers. Based on my Baboushka’s recipe, it was a staple at family meals, Sunday lunches and summer picnics.

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Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 25 minutes mins

Total Time 40 minutes mins

Course Salad

Cuisine Russian

Servings made with recipeServings 2

Calories 196 kcal

Ingredients

  • 250 g waxy potatoes
  • 250 g beetroot
  • 2 small gherkins - finely chopped
  • 25 g onion - finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp creamy mayonnaise
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill

Instructions

  • Boil the potatoes and beetroots in separate pots for 20-25 minutes until you can easily slide a fork into them, allow to cool, peel, and chop into cubes.

  • In a bowl, gently combine the potatoes, beetroot, capers, finely chopped onions and gherkins, with a tablespoon of creamy mayonnaise. Take care not to combine it so much that it turns to mash.

  • Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and taste. Add more salt and pepper, or even mayonnaise, if you like.

  • Transfer to a salad bowl and garnish with dill.

Nutrition

Calories: 196kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 5gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 399mgPotassium: 1001mgFiber: 6gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 99IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg

Do let us know if you tried my Russian beet potato salad recipe in the comments below, by email or on social media as I’d love to know how they turned out for you.

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Lara Dunston

A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

Russian Beet Potato Salad Recipe for Holiday Feasts (2024)

FAQs

Is it better to boil potatoes whole or cut up for potato salad? ›

Drop a whole russet into the pot and by the time the outside has cooked through, the inside will still be raw. Larger potatoes should be cubed to ensure they cook evenly (peeled first if desired). Smaller potatoes tend to have thin skins and can be boiled whole, no peeling required.

Where did Russian potato salad originate? ›

Image of Where did Russian potato salad originate?
Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia. It is the largest country in the world by area, extending across eleven time zones and sharing land borders with fourteen countries. It is the world's ninth-most populous country and Europe's most populous country.
Wikipedia

What kind of potatoes are best for potato salad? ›

To keep your salad from falling apart into mush, it's important to use the best potatoes for potato salad. Skip the russet potatoes and use a waxy variety instead, like Yukon gold, red potatoes or fingerlings.

How to make potato salad Martha Stewart? ›

Directions
  1. Put potatoes in a large pot of salted water; bring to a boil. Cook until just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; let cool.
  2. Stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Peel potatoes; cut into 1-inch chunks. Fold into mayonnaise mixture.
Feb 25, 2021

Should you add salt to water when boiling potatoes for potato salad? ›

Dense potatoes don't absorb seasonings easily, so you'll need to salt the water liberally so that the water the potatoes do drink up also carries in seasoning. And because potatoes are so timid in flavor, they need that salt to bring them out of their shells. Pour some salt in, then keep going.

What do Russians call Russian Salad? ›

Authentic Russian Salad 'Olivye'

What is Russian potato salad made of? ›

This is no ordinary potato salad. This salad consists of potatoes, turkey hot dogs, pickles, scallions, hard-boiled eggs, and sweet peas. All of the ingredients are finely chopped and dressed with mayonnaise.

What is another name for a Russian Salad? ›

Olivier salad
Alternative namesRussian salad, Stolichny salad
CourseZakuski
Place of originRussia
Created byLucien Olivier
Main ingredientsPotatoes, vegetables, eggs, meat, mayonnaise
3 more rows

Why are my potatoes hard in my potato salad? ›

Not Getting The Cook Time Right

It's a delicate balance to achieve soft, tender potatoes for that just-right potato salad texture. Defer to your recipe for specific cook times, which depend on the type of potato being used, but a good rule of thumb is to boil them until you can pierce the spuds with a fork.

How to keep potatoes from falling apart when making potato salad? ›

Texture: Allowing the potatoes to cool helps them firm up slightly, preventing them from becoming too mushy or breaking apart when you mix them with other ingredients. Flavor Absorption: As the potatoes cool, they have the opportunity to absorb some of the flavors from the dressing or other ingredients in the salad.

Why does my potato salad get watery? ›

Potatoes can retain moisture. To prevent this, drain the potatoes very well in a colander or pot. Allow all the steam to escape the potatoes before mixing them with the dressing and other ingredients.

Does potato salad contain vinegar? ›

All you need is four ingredients for this simple potato salad recipe: scallions, mayonnaise, white-wine vinegar, and Yukon gold potatoes.

Should I boil potatoes whole or cut? ›

Some people prefer to boil their potatoes whole, while others prefer to cut the vegetables into pieces before boiling. Smaller potatoes (like red gold) will cook faster whole — about 15-20 minutes in boiling water. Larger potatoes (like russet) take a little more time — about 20-30 minutes.

Is it better to cut potatoes before boiling? ›

Cutting potatoes before boiling does aid in removing excess starch. Excess starch can make potatoes gummy or gluey. That said, cutting the potatoes too small can lead to too much water absorbing into the potatoes. A good rule of thumb is to go with a 2-inch dice on the potatoes before boiling them.

How do you not overcook potatoes for potato salad? ›

Cut the potatoes into similar-sized cubes or slices so the same cooking time works for all. The smaller you cut them, the higher the risk of overcooking them, so keep an eye on them and drain them when they're just tender. How long you boil them depends on how big you cut them.

Should potatoes for salad be cooked whole? ›

The potatoes for a salad should be cooked whole then peeled and cut in order to preserve the texture of the potatoes. What happens if potatoes are cut before cooking? If potatoes are cut before cooking, they will absorb more water while boiling. This leads to an undesirable texture of the potatoes.

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