Russian Blini (Buckwheat Pancakes)

Russian Blini (Buckwheat Pancakes)

Traditional Russian blini (BLEE-nee) are made with yeast-raised buckwheat and/or wheat flour that gives them a nutty and distinctive flavor. Fantastic for all occasions, and especially during holiday celebrations, blini are a perfect appetizer served alongside sips at a cocktail party, or included in a pretty brunch spread, as their smaller size make for easy-to-handle bites that can be topped with anything you'd like.

Traditional preparations suggest blini served with smoked salmon, salmon roe, caviar, and sour cream, but the sky is the limit when it comes to these versatile little rounds. Fresh fruit, ricotta, whipped cream, chopped hard-boiled eggs, cured meat, cheese, and sweet or savory spreads are just a few of the things you can put on top. Think of blini as a blank canvas for any combination your taste buds desire.

All About Buckwheat

Buckwheat flour doesn’t come from a type of wheat or other cereal grass but instead from the seeds of a flowering plant that is botanically related to rhubarb. It has been cultivated in Asia for more than 8,000 years and has never been genetically modified.

While it was a common crop before the invention of nitrogen fertilizers, it lost out to wheat once those came into widespread use. The bran or grain covering, not the hard outer husk, is typically left on, resulting in a light brown flecked flour that’s highly nutritious. Buckwheat also is cracked into groats, known as kasha, and steamed or boiled into porridges, puddings, and stuffings.

Tips for Making Buckwheat Blini

  • Make these gluten free— Buckwheat flour is considered a gluten-free flour, so you can make gluten-free blini using half buckwheat flour and half of any gluten-free flour mix of your liking for texture.
  • How to whip egg whites—Properly whipped egg whites ensure your blini are dreamy and light. If you’re not sure how whipped is “too whipped” be sure to check out these instructions for how to whip egg whites to perfection and then fold them into your batter.
  • Not too hot—Don’t heat the milk up to boiling or it will kill the yeast, meaning the blini won’t rise. The ideal temperature for yeast is around 110 F, so if you have an instant-read thermometer, use it to check the temperature of the milk before adding it to the flour mixture.

What You’ll need to make these buckwheat blinis A Mixing Bowl A Whisk A Non-Stick Skillet

“This easy recipe yields impressive, delicious, and crowd-pleasing results with infinite options for toppings. Buckwheat flour adds a delicious nuttiness to the recipe alongside the wheat flour which makes the blinis fluffy. You can dress them before your guests arrive, but my favorite way to serve them is in a ‘build your own’ style.” —Cara Cormack

Russian Blini/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast

  • 1 cup warm milk

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking

  • 1 large egg, separated, room temperature

Steps to Make It

Make and Proof the Batter

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make Russian Blini pancakes

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, and 1 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast.

    pancake dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. Make a well in the center and pour in 1 cup warm milk, whisking until the batter is smooth.

    pancake batter in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Cover the bowl and let the batter rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

    blini pancake batter in a bowl covered with plastic

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Enrich and Rest the Batter

  1. Stir 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1 egg yolk into the batter.

    Blini batter in bowl with egg and a wooden spoon

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg white until stiff, but not dry.

    whipped egg whites in glass bowl

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. Fold the whisked egg white into the batter.

    blini pancake batter in bowl

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Cover the bowl and let the batter stand 20 minutes.

    blini pancake batter in bowl covered with plastic

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

Pan-Fry the Blini

  1. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

    fry pan with oil

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  2. Drop quarter-sized dollops of batter into the pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 1 minute or until bubbles form.

    blini cooking in fry pan

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  3. Turn and cook for about 30 additional seconds.

    blini cooking in fry pan

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

  4. Remove the finished blini onto a plate and cover them with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. Add more butter to the pan and repeat the frying process with the remaining batter.

    blini on plate covered with orange towel

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

How To Store

Blini are best eaten right after they're made, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


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