Salad Summer

Russian Beet Salad with Sour Cream and Dill




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Russian style beet salad in a white bowl

Russian Beet Salad with Sour Cream and Dill is going to be my vibrant stand in for potato salad this summer. I toss sweet earthy beets with a creamy dressing and lots of fresh dill for a knockout salad with Eastern European flair.  


Russian beet salad in a white bowl

This vivid pink beet salad will pop on the potluck table!

It’s no secret that I love summer salad season, I think it’s a time when even people who don’t go in for salads the rest of the year start to crave them.  And not only green leafy salads, either.  Sometimes the most enticing summer salads are super creamy and almost decadent! If you haven’t had beets in a while, this is a must make.

Chopped beets, with steam rising, in a glass bowl

Easy beet salad is a nice change from potato salad or macaroni salad, and who can argue with that gorgeous color?

It’s a treasured Eastern European recipe but if you don’t happen to have any Russians or Ukrainians in your social circle, you might not have heard of it.  The salad celebrates a veg that is under appreciated here in the US. Beets (aka beetroot) have a silky texture and a lovely sweet flavor, plus they’re super healthy.  A common variation is a beet and potato salad, so if you’re not quite ready to embrace beets on their own, try that, you’ll still get the rich pink color.

I’m doing my part to get the word out about beets: I’ve made lots of beets salads, that’s probably my favorite way to use them, but I’ve also made beet kettle chips (which are addictive) beet latkes, and even beet popsicles!!

Adding fresh dill to cooked beets

How to cook beets for salad ~ 2 easy ways

Cooking beets is really simple, and can be done up to several days in advance of using them.  In a pinch you can use ready-cooked beets, but I prefer to do it myself for best flavor.

  1. For this salad my preferred method is to peel the beets with a vegetable peeler, then cut into bite sized pieces, and boil until tender (salt the water well!)  Depending on your beets, this might take 15 minutes or more.
  2. You can also roast your beets whole in a 400F oven.  (Be sure to line your pan with foil.)  The beets are done when you can pierce them easily with the tip of a sharp knife, the time will vary depending on the size of your beets.  Let them cool enough to handle, then peel off the skins and dice.

Diced beets dressed with sour cream dressing, Russian style

Make this beet salad ahead

Feel free to make it the day before, it will keep perfectly, and  become even more gorgeously saturated overnight.  I  like to scatter extra fresh dill on the salad just before serving because the colors are so pretty.

What to serve with beet salad

The vivid pink color of this salad makes it a great choice for Valentine’s Day, Easter, or any time you’re wanting a splash of color on the menu.

Russian style beet salad

My salad as written is very simple, the natural sweetness of the beets is offset by the tang of the sour cream and the fresh herby dill.  The green onions add a little bite.  There are lots of ways you can build on this base to create your own unique recipe…

Variations on Russian beet salad

  • Use other types of beets such as golden or pink chioggia.
  • Add chopped potatoes for a traditional Ukranian beet potato salad or salade Russe.
  • Add summer corn kernels, or garden peas, lightly steamed.
  • Red onion or shallots can replace the scallions.
  • Add garlic or garlic powder, but go easy on it.
  • Chopped celery adds a nice crunch.
  • Add hard cooked eggs, chopped, sliced, or wedges.
  • Chopped walnuts or dill pickles are traditionally Russian.

Variations on the sour cream dressing

  • Substitute yogurt for the sour cream and/or mayo for a lower calorie salad
  • Add creamed horseradish ~ add to taste, it’s powerful.
  • Add prepared mustard.
  • Sweeten with a little sugar.
  • Add a little lemon juice or vinegar for a touch of acidity.
  • Dress with a classic vinaigrette of oil and vinegar.

Pretty pink beet salad in a white bowl

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Russian style beet salad in a white bowl
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5 from 14 votes

Russian Beet Salad

Russian Style Beet Salad with Sour Cream and Dill is a pretty in pink and so delicious with sweet beets, a creamy dressing and lots of fresh dill!
Course Salad
Cuisine Russian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped peeled raw beets, chopped in 1/2 inch chunks
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (if you use onion salt, limit any extra salt)
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill fronds
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Put the beets in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the beets are just tender, adding more water if necessary. Drain the beets and chill until cold. Note: if you want to cool your beets more quickly, rinse them in cold water first, or even submerge them in an ice bath.
    Chopped beets, steaming, in a glass bowl
  • Blend together the mayonnaise and sour cream until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the beets are cold, toss them in the dressing, making sure to get them evenly coated. The white dressing will turn a lovely shade of pink.
    Diced beets dressed with sour cream dressing, Russian style
  • When ready to serve, toss the salad with the dill and green onions. Top with more pepper, if you like.
    Russian Beet Salad in a glass bowl with dill

Notes

  • For a creamier dressing, increase the sour cream and mayo to 2/3 cup each.
  • Double the recipe to feed a crowd.

Beet Salad Pin

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15 Comments

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  • Reply
    Mary
    August 27, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    5 stars
    Thanks for another topnotch recipe, Sue. This is the third time I’ve made these this summer; they’re that good! And I didn’t even have the fresh dill, just a good quality dried dill and fresh out of the garden green onions, both of which I erroneously mixed in at the beginning of the recipe. And I can’t imagine it tasting any better than it did after doing that and letting all the ingredients intermingle for a day. Your site has become the first one I go to when I’m looking for something new; you really rock culinary creativity!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 27, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      I’m so happy to hear this Mary, thanks <3

  • Reply
    Elaine Defelice
    July 31, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    5 stars
    Ohhh myyy was this delicious. What a great recipe and idea. I used sour and a little yogurt. All the add ins you suggested sound great. The variations of sauce sounded great too. All the vegs and herbs are right out side my door growing. First good thing that’s happen this 2020 covid year. All be well and safe.

  • Reply
    Sue R
    July 8, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    5 stars
    I made this last night and it’s a winner! Pinning it to my favourites list. Thanks Sue.

  • Reply
    Jen
    June 30, 2020 at 8:00 am

    5 stars
    Love that I can make this ahead of time. The day of is always so busy with decorating or getting everything ready. This would be perfect to pull out of the fridge and not have to worry. I love beets!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 30, 2020 at 8:34 am

      I swear it gets brighter pink as it sits in the fridge!

  • Reply
    Luci
    June 30, 2020 at 7:57 am

    5 stars
    I love summer salads too! This beet salad is delicious and full of flavor. I love how simple it was to make and the creamy dressing tied it all together!

  • Reply
    Alisa Infanti
    June 30, 2020 at 7:49 am

    5 stars
    This was such a delicious recipe and so easy to make for a weeknight dinner. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Kushigalu
    June 30, 2020 at 7:38 am

    5 stars
    What a great flavor combo. Totally love this beet salad

  • Reply
    Rika Livingston
    June 30, 2020 at 7:35 am

    5 stars
    My daughter loves beet! This recipe would be perfect for her! She is going to love it.

  • Reply
    Sue R
    June 29, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    5 stars
    Lovely recipe. Next I’m going to steam the beetroot (I’m in Australia and we call them that, not beets) in the pressure cooker, electric or stove top as I have both and either put them in whole with skin on or diced depending on how I feel at the time. I’m guessing I’ll go with whole since I’m a bit lazy. The skin peels right off and dice easily when cooked.

    I’m half Ukranian by the way. I have eaten beetroot all my life in soup, salad, pickled what have you but I cannot for some reason stand roasted ones. They taste like dirt to me for some reason. Lots of fresh dill and green onions in our herb garden right now too so great timing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kari MacKinnon
    June 28, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I live in Winnipeg, Canada and we have a large Ukrainian population here and we are fortunate to have many mom n pop restaurants serving Russian and Ukraine food! I’ve had this dish at a friend’s house, and it is delish. I’m so happy to have the recipe!

  • Reply
    Lynn Adams
    June 27, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    5 stars
    I’d like to point out a small error. Sugar beets are not the same as the type of beets eaten as a vegetable. For one thing, they’re off-white colored and shaped more like a turnip. They are only grown for making beet sugar, or sometimes mixed with grains for cattle feed.
    My Russian grandmother used to make this salad and it IS delicious!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 27, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      I stand corrected, and fixed, thanks Lynn!

      • Reply
        Lynn Adams
        June 27, 2020 at 6:30 pm

        5 stars
        You’re welcome!