My Russian devilled eggs recipe makes very moreish Russian stuffed eggs with a creamy filling of the yolks of hard-boiled eggs mashed with mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, dill pickles, purple shallots, and perfumed dill. A feature on the zakuski buffets before the elaborate banquets of Russian emperors they were popularised during the Soviet period.
This Russian devilled eggs recipe will make you another Russian retro-classic which, like chicken Kiev and beef Stroganoff, spread like wildfire around the world, featuring on formica trays of hors d’oeuvres at every swinging soirée from Sydney to San Francisco in the 1960s and Seventies.
My groovy mum in her maxi-skirt and pig-tails offered Russian devilled eggs as finger food before weekend barbecues and dinner parties. Baboushka preferred to serve whole boiled eggs alongside a jar of Russian caviar, which wasn’t considered the luxury then that it is now. Caviar was just something we ate with eggs – washed down with vodka, of course.
Dating back to Roman times, devilled eggs were a feature of Russian imperial cuisine, laid out on the elaborate spreads of zakuski or hors d’oeuvres on buffet tables overflowing with silver trays of snacks and small plates. Guests would enjoy some bites before they’d enter the sumptuous dining room for the extravagant sit-down banquets of Russia’s emperors.
This Russian devilled eggs recipe is the latest in our recently revived Weekend Eggs recipe series for quintessential egg breakfast and brunch dishes from around the world, which we launched with Grantourismo over a decade ago. They make a great addition to a leisurely Sunday brunch table.
Recipes published so far in our rebooted series include a Turkish poached eggs recipe for çılbır, a Turkish scrambled eggs dish called menemen, Calabria’s take on ‘eggs in purgatory’ with spicy ’nduja, Thailand’s son-in-law eggs (fried soft-boiled eggs), the puffy Thai omelette kai jiaw, Cambodian steamed eggs, and Singapore and Malaysia’s half-boiled eggs with kaya jam and toast.
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Now let me tell you about my Russian eggs recipe…
Russian Devilled Eggs Recipe for a Zakuski Table Fit for a Russian Tzar
My Russian devilled eggs recipe makes a deliciously addictive morsel that my parents served as hors d’oeuvres at the weekend dinner parties and backyard barbecues that they’d hold regularly when I was growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney in the 1970s.
Google ‘devilled eggs’ and you’ll find that multiple countries and cuisines identify these ‘stuffed eggs’ or ‘Russian eggs’ as their own. Devilled eggs recipes on food sites are typically tagged as ‘American’. Yet devilled eggs were so popular in the Sixties and Seventies they were served everywhere from Moscow to Madrid.
Dig deep into culinary history and you’ll learn that ‘stuffed eggs’ date to Roman times and one of the earliest documented recipes was from Spain. They featured prominently during imperial Russia as finger food on the zakuski buffet that guests enjoyed before an extravagant multi-course feast that the Russian tsars hosted.
These Russian stuffed eggs experienced a rival in the USSR during the Soviet era. Perhaps because eggs were a staple – as was mayonnaise, which was ubiquitous. It was a cheap dish, especially if you had your own chickens, and it didn’t take much in the way of ingredients or seasoning to make it a bit special – especially if you piled some caviar on top.
You’ll find countless recipes for devilled eggs in cookbooks and online – they’re also called stuffed eggs or Russian eggs – but this Russian devilled eggs recipe is my family recipe with a couple of tweaks.
Tips to Making This Russian Devilled Eggs Recipe
Just a few tips to making this Russian devilled eggs recipe as it’s super easy and comes together quickly. The yolks of hard boiled eggs are combined with the most quintessential of Russian ingredients – mayonnaise, mustard, dill pickles (pickled gherkins), and fresh dill.
Probably the hardest things about this recipe is peeling the eggs so they’re perfectly smooth. See Terence’s guide to boiling eggs if you need help there and just a few tips to peeling hard boiled eggs.
Tips to Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs
For perfectly smooth eggs, note that older eggs are easier to peel. If using fresh eggs, chill the boiled eggs in iced water immediately after boiling them. When they’re cool, roll each egg on your kitchen bench to crack the entire shell, then soak them in a bowl of water for a minute. This allows the water to get between the shell and eggs, making them easier to peel.
Always begin peeling eggs from the wider bottom of the egg, where air pockets usually form. If you’re still finding it tricky to peel off the shell, try peeling the egg while it’s submerged in the bowl of water or under a tap of gently running water. Exercise patience, as there’s nothing worse than eggs with holes on a zakuski plate.
Making Your Egg Stuffing
Paprika is not particularly Russian, it is Hungarian, but sprinkling paprika over devilled eggs is what makes the eggs dish ‘devilled’ or ‘spiced’. Instead of sprinkling paprika on top of the eggs I’ve added it to the creamy egg mixture. When I’m making this for myself I’ll use chilli flakes.
I’ve also added turmeric, garlic powder and purple shallots because we’re in Southeast Asia and I often add finely chopped purple shallots instead of brown or white onions to European dishes because they’re more readily available and I prefer the taste. Turmeric adds a subtle spice as well as colour if you don’t have bright yellow yolks.
I mash the ingredients all together with a fork rather than blitz it in a blender or food processor to retain the texture of the finely diced gherkins and purple shallots. It also helps to keep the yolk filling firm and give it shape.
You could pipe the mix into the egg white using a piping bag, but unless you dice your gherkins and purple shallots super-finely, which you should anyway, the mix will get stuck in the bag.
What to Serve on Your Zakuski Buffet
If you are serving a zakuski buffet or a zakuski platter before a Russian meal, also see our Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe with smoked salmon, dill and sour cream; Russian potato pancakes recipe; Russian piroshki recipe for minced meat-filled pastries; our Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra; sauteed mushrooms with dill; and our recipe for individual DIY mimosa salads served in glasses.
All will work very nicely with your Russian devilled eggs – as will small plates of various salamis and cured meats, pickled gherkins, caviar on boiled eggs, a variety of hard cheeses, rollmops or salted herrings, and small bowls of salads, such as a pink beetroot potato salad, an Olivier salad (ensalada Rusa), and a Russian garden salad.
Russian Devilled Eggs Recipe
- 4 pieces hard-boiled eggs peeled and halved
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise, creamy
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 small dill pickle finely diced
- 1 shallot small purple finely diced
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp fresh dill finely chopped
- Boil eggs until the yolks are firm, then chill in the fridge.
- Once eggs are cold, carefully peel them, then slice in half, cutting lengthwise. Clean your knife between eggs for smooth slices.
- Use a teaspoon to carefully remove the yolks, transferring them to a mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, then use a fork to mash together, taste, and adjust seasoning as you like.
- Spoon the creamy egg mixture back into each egg white.
- Garnish with sprigs of dill, transfer to a plate, and serve with shots of chilled premium vodka.
Please do let us know if you make my Russian devilled eggs recipe in the comments below. We’d love to hear how it turns out for you.