This Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe makes blini with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish. These are cocktail size blini that are perfect for snacking and entertaining, and while this is a savoury topping you could also spread these little pancakes with jam and cream.

If you enjoyed the Russian pancakes recipe for the blini my baboushka made in the style of French crêpes, which I shared for Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, then use the upcoming Russian Orthodox holiday of Maslenitsa or Pancake Week (from 8-14 March in 2021) as an excuse to try this Russian potato pancakes recipe and this buckwheat pancakes recipe for small blini that are typically topped with smoked salmon, caviar and sour cream.

More like pikelets than pancakes, my blini recipe calls for smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish that’s inspired by ikra. And, yes, of course you can serve these blini with real caviar. I’m just conscious that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and some of us (cough cough) may no longer be able to afford the luxury of caviar. These are blini for those of us currently on a Prosecco rather than a Champagne budget!

Before I tell you more about this Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you make this recipe or any of our Russian dishes or other recipes and you enjoy them, please do consider supporting Grantourismo so we can keep sharing recipes and food stories.

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Now let me tell you about this Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe for blini with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish.

Russian Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe for Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream

The Russian Orthodox holiday of Maslenitsa or Pancake Week – also called Crepe Week or Butter Week – is coming up on 8 March, when Russians stuff themselves with all kinds of pancakes, so that’s as good an excuse as any for you to make this Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe, whether you’re Russian or not.

And if you’re not Russian, ‘blini’ simply means ‘pancakes’ in Russian – ‘blini’ is plural and ‘blin’ is singular. While blini is used to describe any pancakes, whether they’re larger and thin like the crepe-like pancakes in the recipe I shared above, or they’re petite like these, you need to know that there are in fact a whole array of different kind of Russian blini.

For starters, there are syrniki, cottage cheese pancakes made with tvorog, which is typically translated to farmer’s cheese or cottage cheese; oladyi, which are small, fluffy, thick pancakes made with kefir; and draniki, or potato pancakes, which have cousins in the Ukrainian deruny, Israeli latkes, Czech bramboraky, German kartoffelpuffers, and American hash browns. I’ll be making all of these Russian pancakes over coming weeks.

My baboushka didn’t make these small blini often – not to my memory, anyway – but I love this size for blini. They make a fun brunch snack or fantastic finger food, if you’re lucky enough to be able to entertain. I’d had them at cocktail parties and restaurants many times in Australia before Terence, my mum and I gorged ourselves on these small blini with caviar, sour cream and dill when we were in Russia.

We took the day train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, which is my favourite day train journey in the world. Although the Yangon to Mandalay train, while vastly different, also holds special memories for me, and for similar reasons: for the scenery as much as for the insight into local life that the journey provides, not to mention the food.

We ordered one serve of blini and caviar for each of us with vodka, which was all they served on their very limited menu at the time, as most Russian travellers brought their own food. The blini were so good and so stupidly cheap that we immediately ordered another round of blini and vodkas, which, by the raised eyebrows of the train staff must have been unusual.

To cut a very long story short, we ordered yet another round, which we lingered over, and later in the day went back for ‘seconds’, which comprised several more rounds. I don’t know if the train staff were more shocked by the number of blini we squeezed in (if only they knew how many pelmeni and vareniki my family can eat in a sitting!), the amount of vodka we drank, or the total of our bill!

They commented on all three things, as if we’d broken some kind of record! Our blini bill, which the train staff thought was astronomical, and informed us was the most that any foreigners had ever spent on blini and vodka on the train, came to US$110. We thought it was a bargain! We had such a memorable time, the Moscow-St Petersburg train would forever be known as ‘The Blini Express’.

Tips to Making This Russian Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe

Just a couple of tips for making this Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe for blini with smoked salmon, but do let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and I’ll add more tips here if needed.

This recipe calls for both buckwheat flour and plain flour. If you don’t use plain flour, they will be browner in colour and have a coarser exterior, which many people like, but I’m personally not a fan. Feel free to experiment with ratios each time you make these. Do sift the flours to avoid lumps.

I ladle the batter directly into the fry pan or skillet, as I don’t mind if the pancakes look home-made and rustic, however, if you’re entertaining, you can do what Terence, who helped with these, did and use silicon egg rings to create these perfectly round discs. You might also like to try one of these non-stick pancake pans with moulds.

Russian Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe for Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream

Russian Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe for Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Russian Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe for Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: brunch, snack, canapés, appetiser
Cuisine: Russian
Servings: 24 Pancakes
Calories: 93kcal
Author: Lara Dunston


  • 150 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 180 ml milk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 400 g smoked salmon
  • 400 g sour cream
  • 2 whole gherkins finely chopped into tiny cubes
  • 2 pieces red radishes finely chopped into tiny cubes
  • 1 bunch fresh dill roughly chopped


  • Sift the buckwheat flour and plain flour into a large bowl to ensure there are no lumps, then add the baking soda and salt and whisk. Create a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg and milk and whisk well until combined. Leave the batter to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the batter is resting: make a ‘caviar’ by combining finely chopped gherkins and small red radishes in a dish; chop your dill; slice your smoked salmon; and transfer sour cream to a serving bowl.
  • Once the batter has rested, melt the butter and transfer to a bowl to have at hand, then heat a medium-size, flat, non-stick frying pan. Add just enough butter to cover the pan, then ladle a tablespoon of batter into the pan.
  • Once bubbles appear and the edges begin to firm up and brown, use a spatula to turn the pancake over, then cook for another 30 seconds or so until a golden colour and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until you finish the batter. If you’re confident, you can do 3-4 pancakes at once to speed things up.
  • Once they’re done, serve the pancakes immediately with dishes of smoked salmon, sour cream, fresh dill, and the gherkin and radish ‘caviar’ at the centre of the table or on a buffet and let people help themselves if you are enjoying a casual brunch or you can garnish each pancake as we have above if you’re entertaining.


Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 217mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 163IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

Please do let us know if you make this Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe for blini with smoked salmon, as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.

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