Olivier salad

Olivier salad (Russian: салат Оливье, tr. salat Olivye) is a traditional salad dish in Russian cuisine, which is also popular in other post-Soviet countries and around the world. In different modern recipes, it is usually made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots and brined dill pickles (or cucumber), together with optional vegetable or fruit ingredients such as green peas, eggs, celeriac, onions and apples, optional meat ingredients such as diced boiled chicken, bologna sausage, ham, or hot dogs, with salt, pepper and mustard sometimes added to enhance flavor, and dressed with mayonnaise. In many countries, the dish is commonly referred to as Russian salad, in Brazil it is called Maionese, in a few Scandinavian countries (Norway and Denmark) it is called italiensk salat (Italian salad, for the colours of the italian flag are in the salad) and in Dutch it is called huzarensalade (hussars' salad). In former Yugoslavian countries it is called ruska salata (Russian salad) or francuska salata (French salad). In Romania it is known as "salata (de) boeuf."[1]

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

In Russia and other post-Soviet states, as well as in Russophone communities worldwide, the salad has become one of the main dishes on zakuski tables served during New Year's Eve ("Novy God") celebrations.


Hermitage restaurant in the 20th century

The original version of the salad was invented in the 1860s by a cook of Belgian origin, 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.

Olivier salad prepared with the Hermitage restaurant's recipe

At the turn of the 20th century, one of Olivier's sous-chefs, Ivan Ivanov, attempted to steal the recipe. While preparing the dressing one evening in solitude, as was his custom, Olivier was suddenly called away. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Ivanov sneaked into Olivier's private kitchen and observed his mise en place, which allowed him to make reasonable assumptions about the recipe of Olivier's famed dressing. Ivanov then left Olivier's employ and went to work as a chef for Moskva, a somewhat inferior restaurant, where he began to serve a suspiciously similar salad under the name "metropolitan salad" (Russian: Столичный, tr. Stolichny). It was reported by the gourmands of the time, however, that the dressing on the "Stolichny" salad was of a lower quality than Olivier's, meaning that it was "missing something."

Later, Ivanov sold the recipe for the salad to various publishing houses, which further contributed to its popularization. Due to the closure of the Hermitage restaurant in 1905, and the Olivier family's subsequent departure from Russia, the salad could now be referred to as "Olivier."

One of the first printed recipes for Olivier salad, by Aleksandrova, appearing in 1894, called for half a hazel grouse, two potatoes, one small cucumber (or a large cornichon), 3–4 lettuce leaves, 3 large crayfish tails, 1/4 cup cubed aspic, 1 teaspoon of capers, 3–5 olives, and 112 tablespoon Provençal dressing (mayonnaise).

As often happens with gourmet recipes which become popular, the ingredients which were rare, expensive, seasonal, or difficult to prepare were gradually replaced with cheaper and more readily available foods.


Advertisement for mogul sauce and other condiments by John Burgess & Son

The earliest published recipe known to date appeared in the Russian magazine Наша пища (Nasha pishcha, "Our Food") No. 6 (31 March 1894). This magazine, published from 1891 to 1896 and edited by M. Ignatiev, stated that the original recipe contained "mogul sauce" or "kabul sauce" (similar to Worcestershire sauce), manufactured by John Burgess & Son[Note 1] (the brand he reputedly used) and Crosse & Blackwell.

The book Руководство к изучению основ кулинарного искусства (Rukovodstvo k izucheniyu osnov kulinarnogo iskusstva, "Guide to the Fundamentals of Culinary Arts") (1897) by P. Aleksandrova gave a recipe containing grouse, crayfish, potatoes, cucumber, lettuce, aspic, capers, olives and mayonnaise. The author wrote that veal, partridge or chicken could be substituted but the authentic recipe contained grouse.

In post-revolutionary Russia, cheaper ingredients were substituted for the originals: grouse was replaced by chicken or sausage, crayfish by hard-boiled egg, cucumbers, olives and capers by pickled cucumbers and green peas.

Earlier, it always included cold meat such as ham or veal tongue, or fish. The mid-20th century restaurant version involved not just vegetables, but also pickled tongue, sausage, lobster meat, truffles, etc. garnished with capers, anchovy fillets, etc. Some versions molded it in aspic.

In modern usage, it is usually boiled diced vegetables bound in mayonnaise, with Doktorskaya-type sausage. The most common alternative version, where the sausage is replaced with boiled or smoked chicken, is called Stolichny salad, after Ivanov's version.

A multitude of other versions, named, unnamed, and even trademarked, exist, but only Olivier and Stolichny salad have entered the common vernacular of post-Soviet states.

Modern Olivier

Typical Soviet-style Olivier salad

Today's popular version of Olivier salad—containing boiled potatoes, dill pickles, peas, eggs, carrots, and boiled beef/chicken or bologna, dressed with mayonnaise—is a version of Ivanov's Stolichny salad, and only faintly resembles Olivier's original creation. This version was a staple of any Soviet holiday dinner, especially of a Novy God (New Year's Eve) dinner (to the extent that its presence was considered on a par with Soviet Champagne or mandarin oranges), due to availability of components in winter. Even though more exotic foods are widely available in Russia now, its popularity has hardly diminished: this salad was and maybe still is the most traditional dish for the home New Year celebration for Russian people.[2]

Festive Russian and post-Soviet states' homemade versions are traditionally at the cook's whim. While some of the ingredients are considered to be basic and essential, others are either favoured or dismissed as a threat to supposed authenticity.

The biggest Olivier salad, weighing 1841 kg, was prepared in December 2012 in Orenburg.[3][4]

In other countries

European cafes and delicatessens often provide an entire range of potato salads. Additionally, cafeterias, convenience stores, and truck stops sell a number of sub-par factory packaged or locally made versions, mostly extremely simple, using basic ingredients with cheap mayonnaise-like dressing.

Southeast Europe

Serbian Christmas meal

In Serbia Olivier salad is called russian salad and is very common on the New Year and Christmas table. The salad is widely popular as руска салата (ruska salata) in Bulgaria, Serbia, and North Macedonia, and sallatë ruse in Albania. The Bulgarian version of the salad usually consists of potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles and some sort of salami or ham. In Bosnia and Herzegovina both the ruska salata and francuska salata (which is essentially Russian salad prepared without meat) are very popular, especially during holidays.

In Croatia and Slovenia it is typically prepared without meat, and is usually called francuska salata in Croatian and francoska solata in Slovene, both meaning French salad.

The Romanian variant, called salată de boeuf ("beef salad"), is considered a traditional dish. It is a combination of finely chopped beef (or chicken) and root vegetables, folded in mayonnaise and finished with murături, traditional Romanian mixed pickles. It can also be made vegetarian.

In Turkey it is known as Rus salatası ("Russian Salad"). The Turkish version consists of boiled and sliced carrots and potatoes, sliced cucumber pickles, boiled peas and mayonnaise and is sometimes decorated with boiled and sliced eggs, black olives and beet root pickles. It is served as meze and is used as a filling for some sandwiches and kumpir (jacket potato). Another Turkish name for Olivier salad is Amerikan salatası ("American salad"), a euphemistic misnomer originating from the Cold War period.

Central Europe

In Slovakia it is called zemiakový šalát ("potato salad"). There are several versions; however, it typically consists of boiled and cubed vegetables (potatoes, carrots), finely chopped onions and pickles in a mayonnaise dressing, often with diced hard-boiled eggs and canned green peas. It is seasoned with salt, black pepper and mustard. Some fluid from the pickles may also be added.

In Czech it is called simply bramborový salát ("potato salad"). It consists of boiled and cubed vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsley and celery root), finely chopped onions and pickles in a mayonnaise dressing, often with diced hard-boiled eggs, some kind of soft salami and canned green peas. It is the side-dish of choice to go with schnitzel or breaded carp, staple Christmas meals in the Czech Republic.

Sałatka jarzynowa, Poland

Polish sałatka jarzynowa or sałatka warzywna ("vegetable salad", often simply called sałatka) is vegetarian, consisting of peas, hard boiled eggs, and the mirepoix, always cut into small cubes, seasoned with mayonnaise, salt, pepper. Recipes usually vary by region (tart apples or pickles can be added) and even by household, sometimes even adding meat (e.g. ham). One such notable exception is szałot (Polish pronunciation: [ˈʂawɔt]), a Silesian variety which may include not only boiled potatoes, carrots, peas and boiled eggs, but also bacon, sausages or pickled herring.[5] Such salads are often served on family celebrations, in particular on Christmas Eve.

In Hungary the meatless version is called "Franciasaláta" (French Salad)." Versions with meat added are called "Orosz hússaláta" (Russian meat salad). With or without meat, it is a popular food all year round.

Ensaladilla rusa, Madrid, Spain

Southern Europe

In Greece it can be found on almost any restaurant's menu and is called ρώσικη σαλάτα (rossiki salata); it usually contains no meat. Ensaladilla rusa ("Russian little salad") is widely consumed in Spain and it is served as a tapa in many bars. It typically consists of minced boiled potato, minced boiled carrots, canned tuna, minced boiled eggs, peas, and mayonnaise.[6] In Italy, Insalata russa has the same ingredients. A similar version is also popular in Portugal, where it is called salada russa. It is usually served either as a standalone dish or as a garnish to fish dishes, particularly fish fillets.

Northern Europe

In Norway, Iceland and Denmark it is called russisk salat, and contains carrots and green peas in mayonnaise dressing. It may also include small shrimp.[7] Often the salad is paired with smoked meat on bread. A similar but distinct salad known as italiensk salat is also available in Scandinavian countries, consisting of shredded cabbage and carrots in a mayonnaise dressing. The two salads, russisk salat and italiensk salat, are often confused.[8] In Finland, the regional salad italiansalaatti contains carrots, peas and ham in mayonnaise dressing but replaces potatoes with spaghetti or macaroni. In the Netherlands there is a similar salad called Huzarensalade ("Hussar Salad"), but this salad already existed in the 1840s. Its name probably derives from the Dutch hussar regiments, and refers to the original ingredient of horsemeat.[9]


Russian salad, Hanoi, Vietnam

Olivier salad (Persian: الويه) is popular in Iran, where it is known as salad Olivieh and usually made with potatoes, eggs, Persian pickled cucumbers, carrots, chicken, peas and mayonnaise, and is frequently a sandwich filler.[10]

Russian salad, Karachi, Pakistan

It is a popular salad in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India as well, where it is usually made with potatoes, peas, apples or pineapples, and mayonnaise and is frequently used as a side dish in cafes. Another version of Russian salad is also very popular in Pakistan which bears no resemblance to Olivier salad and instead is a cabbage and apple slaw.

Japanese potato salad (potesara, ポテサラ), is often said to be a yoshoku version of the Olivier salad, differing in a semi-mashed consistency of the potato, chopped ham as a main meat ingredient (instead of traditional poultry) and a liberal use of rice vinegar and karashi mustard in its dressing.

Olivier salad is believed to have been introduced as a "Capital salad" or "Niislel salad" in Mongolia during the Soviet period. It usually consists of minced ham and carrots, minced boiled eggs, minced boiled carrots, and potatoes dressed with mayonnaise. It is widely popular amongst Mongolians, especially during the festive seasons.

Latin America

Argentinian ensalada rusa

The dish is also very popular in many Latin American countries where it is called ensalada rusa and has been reduced to its minimum: minced boiled potatoes and carrots, green beans and abundant mayonnaise-based dressing. In Argentina it is usually served on its own as a first course, or with a very thinly sliced beef wrapping called matambre, in a dish called matambre con rusa. Argentinians of Eastern European Jewish origin may make the salad with tuna. In Peru, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina it is a traditional Christmas side dish. In Haiti, “salad russe” is made of diced boiled vegetables including beets, carrots, potatoes and sometimes corn, mixed with mayonnaise and spices. It is often served as a side dish.

See also


  1. Now owned by the Greencore Group Archived 2012-08-14 at the Wayback Machine


  1. "A salad that no nation wants to call their own". tasteatlas.com. Retrieved 2023-01-04.
  2. Russian Salad (Olivier)
  3. "Самый большой салат "Оливье" [The largest Olivier salad]" (in Russian). The book of records of Russia. 2012-12-16.
  4. "Мировой рекорд по приготовлению салата "Оливье" установлен в Оренбурге" (in Russian). RIA Novosti. 2012-12-16. Archived from the original on 2012-12-19.
  5. Marek Szołtysek, Kuchnia śląska, Wydawnictwo Śląskie ABC, Rybnik 2003, ISBN 83-88966-07-3 (in Polish)
  6. "ensaladilla-rusa-recipe-russian-potato-salad". spanishsabores.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  7. "Delikat Russisk Rekesalat". Delikat (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  8. "Mærkelige madnavne: Hvorfor hedder det italiensk salat og russisk salat? | Samvirke". samvirke.dk (in Danish). Retrieved 2022-06-06.
  9. Nicoline van der Sijs (2022-10-01). "Etymologica: de huzarensalade". Neerlandistiek.nl.
  10. Salad Olivieh - My Persian Kitchen

Further reading

  • Alan Davidson, The Oxford Companion to Food, Oxford, 1999. ISBN 0-19-211579-0.
  • Anna Kushkova, "At the Center of the Table: The Rise and Fall of the Olivier Salad", Russian Studies in History 50:1:44-96 (Summer 2011) publisher's page (pay)
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