Olivier Salad, or Russian Salad, is a traditional Russian potato salad made with diced boiled potatoes, eggs, ham, and vegetables mixed in a creamy mayo dressing. Super easy to make, it is a popular holiday side dish, especially during Christmas and New Year celebrations.
What is Olivier Salad
Olivier salad (салат Оливье), also known as Russian salad or Olivye salat, is a traditional dish in Russian cuisine. It is a cold salad made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, brined dill pickles, green peas, eggs, and cooked meats like ham or bologna, though the specific ingredients vary. All the components are mixed with mayonnaise and seasoned to taste.
The Olivier salad was created in the mid-19th century by Lucien Olivier, a Belgian chef who worked at the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow. His exact recipe was a closely guarded secret, and while there have been many speculations about its original ingredients, they have never been confirmed. As a result, countless variations of the original have been created throughout Russia and across the globe.
In many former Soviet countries, Olivier salad is a staple at holiday feasts and special occasions, especially during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The specific ingredients in Olivier Salad vary based on personal preferences and regional variations, but traditionally, the following are the primary components:
- Boiled Potatoes: They provide the bulk and starchiness to the salad. They are usually peeled and diced into small cubes. You’ll want to use waxy potatoes like red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes as they maintain their shape even after boiling. Make sure to dice them into even-sized pieces for consistent texture throughout the salad.
- Boiled Carrots: These add color and a mild sweetness. Like potatoes, they are typically diced.
- Boiled Eggs: They give the salad a rich texture and added protein. The eggs are hard-boiled, then peeled and diced.
- Green Peas: You can use canned green peas, frozen peas, or fresh peas.
- Brined Dill Pickles: They contribute a tangy flavor to the mix. These pickles are diced and mixed in. Never use bread and butter or sweet pickles.
- Meat: Traditional recipes often call for chicken, ham (like leftover holiday ham or ham steaks), or bologna, though the choice of meat can vary. Vegetarian versions might omit meat altogether or use substitutes like cooked portobello or shiitake mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, or white beans.
- Mayonnaise: This acts as the binder for all the ingredients, giving the salad its creamy texture. Depending on personal preference, some might add a bit of mustard or sour cream to the mayonnaise for added flavor.
- Seasoning: Salt and pepper are generally used to season the salad. Some variations (like this one) might include fresh herbs like fresh dill (a staple in Slavic cooking) or chopped onions for added flavor.
Optional Ingredients: Fresh cucumbers, apples, beets, green onions, or seafood.
How to Make Olivier Salad
1. Boil the Veggies: Add the potatoes and the carrots to a large pot. Fill with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes and carrots are just fork-tender – careful not to overcook or the potatoes will turn mushy. Remove the potatoes and carrots from the pot and set aside on a large cutting board. Add the frozen peas to the pot and let them boil for 2 minutes. Strain them out and set them aside to cool.
2. Hard-Boil the Eggs: Add eggs to a large saucepan and cover with 1-2 inches of cool water. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs cook in the hot water for 10-12 minutes. Immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking, then remove from the water and set aside.
3. Chop the Veggies and Hard-Boiled Eggs: Once cooled, peel the potatoes and the hard-boiled eggs, then cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, dice the carrots, and carefully dice the eggs.
4. Mix Everything Together: In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill, and salt, then add the ham, dill pickles, and minced onion. Mix well to combine before gently stirring in the egg, carrots, and potatoes.
5. Season to Taste: Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped dill, if desired.
- Don’t overcook the potatoes: They will become mushy, falling apart in the salad as you mix everything together.
- Do not use Russet potatoes: Just as bad as over-cooking the potatoes would be using super starchy potatoes like Russets. Russets are perfect for baked potatoes but will crumble apart in your potato salad.
- Pre-cook the vegetables and eggs: This allows the vegetables and eggs time to cool, ultimately saving time when it comes time to put the salad together.
- Use fresh dill: Fresh dill (and dill pickles) are key to authentic Russian salad. Dried dill won’t have the same fresh taste.
How to Store Leftover Olivier Salad
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container or a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator as soon as possible if it’s not being eaten immediately. For the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to enjoy Olivier salad within 2-3 days.
Freezing is not recommended.
More Salad Recipes
- Watergate Salad
- Nicoise Salad
- Green Goddess Salad
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Cobb Salad Recipe
- German Potato Salad
- Creamy American Potato Salad Recipe
If you try making this Olivier Salad Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Olivier Salad (Russian Potato Salad)
- 2 pounds yellow potatoes - scrubbed clean
- 2 large carrots - peeled
- 2 large eggs - hard-boiled
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup mayonnaise - full-fat
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon fresh dill - minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups ham - diced
- ½ cup pickles - diced
- ½ cup Vidalia onion - minced
- Add the potatoes and the carrots to a large pot. Fill with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender, but not mushy, approximately 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your vegetables.
- Remove the vegetables, then stir the peas into the pot and let them boil for 2 minutes. Strain them out and set them aside to cool.
- Once cooled, peel the potatoes and the hard-boiled eggs, then cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, dice the carrots, and carefully dice the eggs.
- In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill, and salt, then add the ham, dill pickles, and minced onion. Mix well to combine before gently stirring in the egg, carrots, and potatoes.
- Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped dill, if desired.
- Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)