Russian Winter Salad (Olivier salad)

 This salad is a traditional dish in Russian cuisine, and most of the time it is associated with New Year celebration, when it’s always served on a festive table along with another popular salad – “shuba”.

 The very first and original version of this salad was invented in the beginning of 1860s by chef Lucien Olivier, who was the owner of the renowned Moscow restaurant “Hermitage”. “Olivier Salad” quickly became popular among restaurant visitors, the salad brought him a great fame and became the signature dish. The recipe and especially the dressing was kept in a big secret, and unfortunately the fact is that the exact recipe is still unknown. But according to some notes, it’s known that the salad contained hazel grouse, veal tongue, black caviar, fresh salad leaves, crayfishes or lobster, some pickled, fresh cucumbers, capers and boiled eggs. And the secret dressing was prepared from fresh raw eggs, some secret herbs and olive oil. 
 As you can see, all ingredients were posh and expensive. So, lately during Soviet time, these fine ingredients were replaced by cheap and widely-available, like boiled kolbasa (bologna sausage) or meat, boiled potatoes and carrots, pickled cucumbers and peas, dressed with store-bought mayonnaise instead of home-made French dressing. Such simple and nourishing salad was widely-popular, and soon it became a staple and traditional dish of Soviet holiday dinner, and particularly of New Year’s Eve. Lately, it’s even got a second name – “Winter Salad”. Beyond Russia this salad is often called as “Russian Salad”.Russian Winter salad
 Nowadays, the salad is still a traditional part of New Year celebration, but there are lots of versions – with boiled beef or chicken, beef tongue, fish and caviar, fresh or pickled cucumbers and so on. My recipe is a common version of the Winter Salad – with boiled beef, pickled cucumbers and mayonnaise. It’s a little bit on a dark/unhealthy side of my diet 😀 but consuming it on the holiday dinner is also a part of Russian tradition, so eating it once a year don’t make anyone fat. 🙂 Enjoy!
Olivier or Russuian Winter salad

Russian winter salad (Olivier salad)

  • Servings: approx 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
You can garnish the salad with some peas and chopped dill or parsley.
*Add more cucumbers if using small gherkins.
350g beef (one whole piece, without any bones)
300g/ 2 large potatoes
1 large or 2 medium carrot
4 medium eggs
4 medium pickled cucumbers*
1/2 medium brown onion
1 can of green pea
mayonnaise, to taste
salt, to taste, optional
  1. In a pan, put meat and cover with cold water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes or until meat is ready. Completely cool and cut the meat into small cubes (about 1 cm).
  2. In another large pan, put potatoes and carrot in their skin, cover with water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until veggies are soft. Cool, peel and cut into small cubes (about 1 cm).
  3. In another pan, hard-boil eggs. Also cut into cubes.
  4. Finely chop the onion, put in a bowl, drizzle with some apple vinegar and cover with hot water. Leave for 15 minutes, then drain.
  5. Also cut the cucumbers into small cubes.
  6. In a large serving bowl, add all ingredients along with drained peas. Dress with mayo to suit your own taste.
You can keep the undressed salad in the fridge up to 2-3 days.
Enjoy Russian Winter Salad!


  1. Darya says:

    It’s funny, whenever I go to a Russian party, even when it’s not around the New Year’s Eve, there is always a salad olivier on the table. My mom is probably the only Russian on Earth who doesn’t make it! Ever! Your boiled beef version sounds quite delicious. С Новым Годом!

    • milkandbun says:

      Happy New Year to you and your family, Darya!!!
      If everybody around you is making this salad for the NY Eve, I think there is no sense to make it at home , just visit your friends and eat it there😄

  2. One of my favorite winter salads! Interestingly, it is also very popular in Israel, brought by many Russians immigrants. Over there it is simply called “Russian Salad” and usually made without meat. 🙂

  3. Absolutely gorgeous presentation, Mila. It looks with full of flavor and so inviting.
    Salad Olivier is very popular in Iran. Although we do call it ‘Salad’e Olivier’, most Iranians don’t know that we got it from our neighbor, Russia. 🙂 For the Iranian version, we use chicken meat (I have a post too). 🙂

    • milkandbun says:

      I used to make and eat it with sausage too, but now I don’t like it and prefer with meat- healthier as well 😀 if only salad with mayo dressing could be somehow healthy! 😀

  4. chef mimi says:

    I had an Eastern European acquaintance who made this salad and it was so addicting. I also have a Russian cookbook, “To the Table” and it explains the origin of this salad, which is so interesting! Love it!

    • milkandbun says:

      Of course we can’t ban mayonnaise for life (or just don’t want). 😀 it’s pretty nourishing salad-good for cold winter days. Thank you for the commenting, Diane! And Happy New Year to you!

  5. Pingback: Russian Salad – a simple recipe – Blender & Basil

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