Blini (Russian buckwheat pancakes)

Savoury pancakes can be topped with many different things!

Blini – one of the most well-known Russian treats – are very small, savoury pancakes with a unique and appealing flavour. While some blini recipes call for yeast as a leavening agent, using baking powder instead speeds things up very nicely. Iron-rich buckwheat flour is – despite its name – not actually made from wheat and is gluten-free. If you are making blini for people with gluten intolerance you can either use all buckwheat flour, or substitute your favourite gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose flour. Blini are best eaten immediately after cooking, but if you wish to prepare them ahead of time, they can be reheated in a 400F oven for about 5 minutes, until hot. Blini are the perfect vehicle for loads of delicious toppings; the most traditional in Russia are smoked salmon and caviar, usually with an accompanying dollop of sour cream. There’s some great caviar being harvested sustainably in Canada now, including the delicious Northern Divine brand from the Fraser River in British Columbia.


  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter for frying
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) smoked salmon
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
  • caviar
  • dill sprigs


  • In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt.
  • Add milk and beaten eggs to the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. The batter should be smooth. The batter can be made up to an hour ahead of time and refrigerated. Stir it well before cooking your blini; you may need to add an extra tablespoon or two of milk if it has become too thick to spoon out easily.
  • Heat a large non-stick or cast iron frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, brush it with melted butter, just enough to barely coat the surface.
  • Drop heaping teaspoons of the batter into the hot pan; your blini should be about one inch (2.5 cm) to one and half inches (3.75 cm) in diameter. Cook as many at once as your pan can accommodate.
  • Cook the blini for 3 – 4 minutes, until golden on the bottom and small bubbles have appeared on the top.
  • Flip the blini and cook for 2 – 3 minutes longer until golden on both side.
  • Remove from the pan and add desired toppings – either smoked salmon, followed by sour cream and dill, or sour cream followed by caviar and dill.
  • Serve hot.

Makes about 40 very small blini.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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